Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Adventures: From iPhone to Android

I've been an iphone user for a long time. I've owned every version of the iphone and know the product well. I'm use to syncing it with iTunes on the mac and love how simple it is. However I do jailbreak so I can do whatever I want with it. The primary use of the iphone for me is : texting, email, facebook, twitter, podcasts, music and random apps (games and tools). I use it for TomTom GPS while driving and sometimes as a remote control for the home theater PC. Sometimes I use the 3G for wifi tethering too. I like this device and the iphone4 is the best device i've ever used next to the 13in Macbook Pro.
I know of Android. I know it's openess and feature sets. I know it's GPS turn-by-turn is better than iphones. However I also know there is no centralized management system like that of iTunes. How do you subscribe to podcasts? How do you mange music on it? What is the best app store (there seems to be many)?. There are a lot of questions, all of which I'm about to find out.

This will be a log of me coming from the iphone and going to android for a full month.

I've ordered a mico-SIM adapter so I can take the SIM from the iphone4 and just put it into the NexusOne. I already have a grandfathered account for AT&T on unlimited data plane. I'm already full "google" - meaning that on my iphone all my contacts, Voice, docs, calendar, Reader and mail are already setup with Google and synced. This was kind of a foresight a while ago when I set this up so I could move back and forth from iphone to android at any given time, so the transition will be simple (i assume). So obviously Google ownz my ass (let's hope they always like me).

Will I switch all the way and never use iphone again? I doubt it, but I'm going to full jump in to android and not touch my iphone4 for a whole month. I'll update this post as I go through the experience.

NexusOne - 2.2.1


Day One:
I received the Nexus One in the mail. It came with Android 2.2.1, 4GB Micro SD and no SIM. Just as I thought it would. I have already made a purchase of a Nexus One Otter box case, 16GB Class6 microSD. I am still waiting on these items.
So I booted up the N1, made my language selection, set it to connect to our wifi at work and am "playing".

First off, I notice the weight of the N1 vs iPhone4. The iphone4 has the bumper case on it, the N1 is naked. They feel really close to the same weight, but I'm pretty sure the IP4 is slightly heavier, but they are really close.

The iphone is faster and easier to spring awake than the N1 is from a sleep. Using one hand anyways. This is due to the iphone having the home button and slider next to the thumb you want to use ; the N1 makes you reach to the top edge, then back down to the bottom to slide and unlock. Sounds strange to say, but you notice it. As an iphone user, you attempt to use the little buttons or the little ball at the bottom to wake it up, but that wont work.

The N1 display is slightly larger than the iphone. The iphone4 is a higher rez screen, but the N1 looks so good, you don't notice it.

I logged into my google profile on the N1 and there was my life - brought down and put into place for me. My phone contacts, email and calendar where all there. I wont have a cell SIM in it until tonight, so I cannot make calls. But everything is working on wifi just fine. Knowing the Google Maps 5 just came out and caches maps for you (meaning you don't need to be connected to a cell tower once you plot a map), I installed this update and plotted from work to home. I want to see if I can use this turn-by-turn even without a cell signal. (ill update this once I know).

GPS and phone
Google Maps 5 worked as I thought it might. I didn't have a SIM in the phone so no cell service or was not online at all to get turn-by-turn directions. If you plot you course while on wifi, then you wont need to connect at all. Which is great. This tells me I could use the NexusOne as a standalone in-dash GPS/MP3 player with no service fees. Don't expect to be able to hit 'layers' and add Gas stations or anything new while driving with no connection however.
Although I must say, the TomTom on the iphone is a much better turn-by-turn GPS system. It's not built in and costs, but it's faster, smoother and more accurate. TomTom app is about 2GB. So it has all the maps locally - you don't need to have the iphone connected to a carrier either.

Got home, turned off both devices, pulled the microSIM from the iphone4, put it into the adapter and put this into the N1. Powered on the N1. It worked from the start for calls/SMS.

One major the N1 has over TomTom is the voice to address. Just speak where you want to go. That is much more efficient. Also Google GPS speech got some street names wrong.

Phone calls sounded fine. On speaker phone, this N1 sounds very 'tingy' and not very good. I think we all know though, you can buy the same iphone over and over again and the speakers always seem to be slightly differant. But for these two devices I have, the iphone on speaker phone sounds much better.

The call quality on the phone seems to sound a bit better on the N1 over the iphone4.

I am now noticing a blinking green light. I assume this is the magic "light button" that all BB owners get hard0ns for. Green must be for SMS, I thought I witnessed white earlier.. are there different colors or am I going crazy?
Anyways, moving on.

Of course having this pretty blinking notification light telling you to "get over here", you want to push this pretty button. When you push this flashing ball, nothing happens! (why is this thing here again?). You have to use the two-handed unlock to get the phone to be ready. Not only that but right after doing it I still don't know who sent me a message or what was said! So far I'm into many steps to get an SMS message.
Ok, it's not that bad, but hearing your phone and looking at the screen was too easy.. maybe I was spoiled.
Once android was awake and ready, you can now slide down the top of the screen to see your message. To reply, you have to hit another button. It's fine and works. I'm sure I've seen screenshots of people having messages on the lock screen. Maybe that's 3rd party software, maybe that's an app I need in the Market Place - not sure yet.

The wifi works great so far. I turned it off and the phone went to Edge. This is a T-Mobile Nexus One so I wont get 3G on AT&T with this, only 2G and wifi. Nevertheless, I didn't have to call AT&T, just swap the SIM and it works.

TV Media:
I was installing applications. It then hit me. Android users always boasted about flash.. and how wonderful it was. I then tried to find the apps for Hulu and Netflix. Well, they don't exist. I have been enjoying Netflix and Hulu+ on the iphone4 in the past few weeks. We know it will come, but as of today these two main apps don't exist.

(no really, why do I have this little ball on the phone?)

2nd Day: (alarms, notifications, 2g streaming)

Woke up an hour late. The alarm went off at 8am as it should have, then I hit snooze. That's the last thing I remember. Not sure what the default snooze alarm is (someone told me 10min), but I need to make sure it's working.
I jumped in the car, hit the Pandora app (still no sync cable yet) and drove to work. Streaming Pandora over Edge was fine.

I'm noticing this little light ball. I've seen yellow, white, blue and green flashes. It seems it's a different color depending on what notification you are getting. This means I should be able to set certain applications to certain colors - which is cool, I'll look at that later.
However I'm still not sure why this is a "ball button". They could have just made this a flush LED. I wish the iphone had this LED. It would be nice to look across the room and know what notification you have depending on the color of the LED.

Day 3: (apps)

Got the Otter case. VERY nice case. I just use the rubber part, not the hard shell over it. I like the non-slippery feel.

I'm discovering most apps are the same on iphone and android. Although once I found out the little ≠ button at the bottom of the phone is the "settings" button for each app that is brought up front. I'm used to the app having a settings button on their own, but this is fine. Angry Birds is better on the NexusOne due to the slightly larger screen.

I do notice the apps on the iphone feel a bit more polished and fluid. It's not a difference in "what one should I buy", it's just something an iphone user notices.

There is a strange/quick vibration when you navigate around the phone. It almost has that feeling of when your hand gets near electricity and you can feel the vibration from almost getting a shock. It's cool.

Day 4: (music, podcasts and camera)

The 16GB microSD card and USB cables came. Turned off the phone and installed the SD card.
The N1 seen the card right away and it was ready.

Using the MarketPlace is pretty simple once you use it for a while. It took me a while to find the "top" lists (apps, all apps). I'm still not sure how to tell the apps to go to the SD card. It seems you can go into the N1 settings and tell some apps to "move to SD", but not all. What if there where an app that was 1GB in size that had to be downloaded?
Also, if apps are on the SD card, does that mean I can backup the SD card and it also backs up the data for that app as well?

What I like better on the android market is that the market doesn't kick you out of the store each time you acquire a new app, nor does it have you log in every time either (iphone picks the annoying choice in both cases).

In order to drag MP3s to the SD card, you have to plug in the phone, slide down the notification window, select USB sync. Then the drive mounts. I then had to create a folder on the SD manually labeled "music", drag MP3s into that. Apparently the phone knows what to do with this new directory.

This is not ready for "my mom".

To get podcasts pulled down to you, you need an app. It seems 'Google Listen' is the app of choice. I'm a person that can figure things out, but there is noway most people I know would be able to set these things up. You have to go into Google Reader on the desktop, subscribe to the podcast RSS, mark it as a "listen" device, then the app on the phone picks that up a few seconds later.

Can't we just have a "Google Podcast" app? Search, Subscribe, they get pulled over wifi or 3G. done. (would you like these to go to SD?)

The music player is quite horrendous as well. It's like playing music was an after thought (a much, much, much later thought) on android. Although, maybe it's cheating coming from an 'ipod phone' and being spoiled with the long-worked on music platform that is itunes.

Google Voice still does not allow MMS, this is not a comparison from the iphone to android, since it's the same on the iphone.

The N1 has a 5mp camera, so does the iphone4. The iphone4 camera is much better. It's fine, the N1 does take good pictures, but with the iphone4 I felt as though I didn't need to carry a standalone camera. With the N1, I would.

Day 5: (hacing/unlocking)

This is who I am. Play for a while, then hack it.
Decided to root the N1, then install custom ROMs. A ROM is basically like an OS version of the phone. I've heard lots of good things about Cyanogen, so I wanted to get his ROM fist.

So to root android (for the nexus one anyways) I had to play for a while. Decent instructions here. Although.. it was more of a pain than jailbreaking an iphone. Don't worry about "ABD", I found after fighting with it, I really didn't need it.
After downloading the full Android SDK, Fastboot and rooting the N1, I decided to first do CyanogenMod 6.1.1. Once I got through a few snags, I really liked this ROM over the stock 2.2! Tons of tweaks including Trackball wake (like iphone!), bakcup ROMs, install ROMS from SD, etc.

But I still really wanted 2.3 Gingerbread. So I found MicroMod777 Nexus One 2.3 ROM.
The things I liked about Cyanogen ROM where here, but lots more! The N1 looks better, it's more fluid and faster. MUCH improved over 2.2.

Gingerbread is good and getting closer to replacing the iphone.

Day 6:

I had to turn my iphone on. Only for 'TV Forecast' app. I use this all the time and as of now, there is nothing that compares to it on android.

Otherwise, I think android has a ways to go. It's new compared to iOS, but it seems promising. I could get away with only using android, most apps are there it's solid and works well. It's not quite as fluid nor does it really have that integrated feeling, but I think the the things that pull me back most is the lack of a quality camera of that on the iphone4 (tap to focus for one), music organisation and player feel, and podcast integration. If these are not on the top of your list, then either are just fine. If these are what are most important to you, then it's the iphone you want.

For now, I'll hang on to both platforms so I can test and play with either. I like to use custom software and hack them. I can easily say, you cannot come from android to iphone without jailbreaking the iphone - and why not, it's so easy to do on iphone.

My perfect iphone:
- If the iphone quit wasting screen real estate and made the display larger.
- The iphone gets a blinky LED for notifications. (color by type)
- The iOS app store didn't kick you out for each "buy".

My perfect google phone:
- Make the OS and key functionality of a portable computer platform more integrated.
- Get some camera geeks there and wip out something great. Your MP is fine, get software.
- I don't think "the ball" is coming back, but let's not do that again.
- Made rooting android an "on switch". why not. just add disclaimer/warnings.

Winner Winners:
Camera +iphone4
Call quality +NexusOne
Display +NexusOne (larger>rez to me)
Music +iphone4
Podcasts +iphone4
wallpaper +NexusOne (live wallpapers rule)
GPS TbyT +NexusOne (although add $50 for TomTom on iphone, then iphone wins)
App store +NexusOne (less annoying /faster)
App choices +iphone4
App management +iphone4
Speaker phone +iphone4
Jailbreak/root +iphone4 (just easier)
Alarm clock +NexusOne (set multiple day "sets")


TK said...

Looking forward to your thoughts, Jamie. With Verizon possibly getting the iPhone, I want to be able to make an informed decision on which platform I should go with, if/when the time comes.

Bill said...

Good stuff

Brian said...

Good job. I'm on android now, thinking of moving to the iphone when it launches on vzw.

After using a ipod touch for a couple of years and android for the past year the primary difference I see is that the android hardware is more "fiddley". Meaning you have 2-3 buttons/touches on Android for every similar action you would perform on the ipone.

Apple's music management has a 4+ year head start on everyone with itunes. Everything I've seen on adroid is a bit clunky.

I'd also be interested in your experience with a factory reset & reload. Google pulls all this down from their cloud. Apple uses your local itunes right?

Bill said...

Sounds like N1 has possibilities that are untapped. Beta 2 or MS version if you will