Random thoughts of a Brit living in the Imperial Valley of California

Archive for May, 2010

The Droid Incredible vs the iPhone

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As already stated, I’ve ditched the iPhone for a Droid Incredible and now that I’ve had it for a week though I’d try to summarise my thoughts. Let’s get the big question out of the way: how does it compare to the One True Phone?

My first impression was that the Incredible feels every bit as nice to hold as the iPhone, though it’s probably a bit lighter and thinner. Turn them both on though and you’ll be blown away by the sharpness and clarity of the Incredible. It’s like one is 1080p and the other is watching a black and white TV set that’s using rabbit ears to watch a channel 100 miles away.

A lot of people seem to hate the Sense UI, preferring the native Android UI (which is a lot more like the iPhone) but I find it really engaging. Things swirl onto screen, widgets come alive when something alerts them, it’s an experience rather than just scrolling through pages of rows of look-alike buttons. Maybe it will become annoying over time, maybe not.

I hadn’t realised what a big difference multitasking makes and, if it works the same way, iPhone 4.0 users are in for a treat. Friday driving home I was using Google’s turn by turn nav program while listening to Pandora over my MINI’s stereo. At one point I got a new gmail alert, clicked on it and while reading the email (with eyes firmly on the road, of course officer!) Pandora was automatically muted so that the nav app could tell me I needed to take a right turn in half a mile. I deleted the email, clicked on the satnav task button and my map was back on the screen. More about this on my MINI blog later; the google nav app is a big winner.

People are complaining about the keyboard on the Incredible. I’m finding the keyboard easier to use than on the iPhone but I’m not as fast on it, I seem to not be able to use more than one thumb. I love the haptic feedback, feels very good on the tips. And it’s easier to type cuss words than on the iPhone 🙂

Some things I definitely miss: it’s impossible to turn the Incredible on one-handed. I’m used to using the thumb on the centre button to wake up the phone, you can’t do that on the Incredible and the placement of the switch at the top left makes it impossible for me so far to do it one handed. The Android Marketplace simply does not compare to the App Store and a few of the apps I used a lot on the iPhone are cut down versions on Android or just not available. This is a disappointment but also (as a developer) an opportunity. I don’t see the Incredible becoming my Electronic Flight Bag like I had with the iPhone, but perhaps there will be an iPad in my future for that.

I am having some battery life issues which I cannot decide if it’s just the phone (lots of apps means lots of drain) or a faulty battery. A co-worker who bought his the same time as me is getting twice the life that I am getting, though I suspect his usage is much less. But right now I’m finding I have to charge it every day and this is without making any calls, just data. I’m trying different schemes to turn off syncing, wifi etc and that is helping but ultimately I think I will buy an extended life battery so it will last longer. I’m used to having to charge my iPhone every two days so this isn’t that much of an issue, especially given that the Incredible is doing a lot more, but is far from great.

The big win, however, is with the device’s core purpose: telephony. No matter where I was with the iPhone, I could barely hear any call made on it. I think this is partly the device and partly AT&T’s dismal call quality in 90% of the land (yes, Luke Wilson I am calling you a liar). Calls on the Incredible have so far been crystal clear and so loud that I have to turn the volume down rather than up.

Verizon has 3G coverage where I live, AT&T only has Edge so my smart device can be smart almost everywhere I go. It’s embarrassing to whip out the iPhone to do a search for someone and then make them wait 5 minutes to download and render the result. Verizon 3G is fast, I am surprised by just how fast it is. Although I think this is also the phone, the CPU runs at twice the speed of my iPhone 3G and web page rendering is so much faster than on the iPhone 3G.

So am I happy? You betcha. I’ve managed to free myself from Steve Jobs’ tyranny and not had to compromise my experience to do so. I did not expect that, I really thought that I’d suffer through owning a different phone but so far I’m lovin’ it. I know most people who already have an iPhone can’t look at anything else but if you’re not completely wed to the Apple device I definitely recommend taking a look at the Incredible.

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May 11th, 2010 at 7:51 am

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Cooling it with Apple

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Many who know me would say I’m a bit of an Apple Fanboy. I’m no but usually there isn’t a new or revised Apple product that I don’t want to buy. This changed with the ipad which I was very disappointed in, and already said so. Though since then I can see how I might find one useful (if not price-sensible, but then what is there that Apple makes that is?), especially after reading this post about the iPad as electronic flight bag.

Since then, Apple (or rather Steve Jobs) has made a series of statements that are just outlandish, bordering on the insane. His hatred of Flash is well known but HTML5 is still 10 years away, there are going to be websites that the iDevices can’t render long after they have been placed in the dumpster. Then there’s the statement that multitasking took so long to provide because they “wanted to do it right like no one else had”. Yeah, because the Linux box on my desk does a real poor job of it.

The real reasons are obvious – no Flash because they think that websites will be so desperate to run on the iDevice that websites will change of their own accord. Multitasking took this long because Apple really didn’t want to do it but even if the rabid fanboys and girls have been crowing about it.

But these are just marketing strategies: “Don’t question our genius, we are Apple”, and I can respect that. But what I can’t respect are things like the new TOS for the SDK that forbids developers from using any tools other than Apple’s. In particular I can’t use my favourite language (which funnily enough used to be Objective-C until it pretty much died) to write apps on the iDevice. The reason: cross compiled apps are rarely any good. Such BS, Apple wants developers to choose: you are either developing for the iDevice or don’t at all. The majority of developers don’t want to maintain two or more source code trees so if you want to develop for Android, Apple wants you to get lost.

The final straw though was Jobs’ statement that there is no porn on the iDevice, and that if you want porn get a Droid Incredible. This isn’t about porn, it’s about hypocrisy. You can buy a Playboy app, and other titillating things, and any kid can surf as much (non Flash!) hardcore XXX as they can find using Safari.

Steve wants you to believe he is doing this all for you but it’s all marketing, an attempt to squeeze out all competition and have it all. And that’s ok, it’s business, but at least be honest with us. Though when Apple has the entire e-book market, they will decide what books you can read, or what applications can be developed – only the ones that Apple say can.

Anyway, what does this all mean? I’ve canceled my iPhone contract (at a $75 expense) and gone Android with the Droid Incredible. For the forseeable future, I plan to have nothing to do with Apple’s mobile strategy. I’m sure Steve is crying into a beverage somewhere 🙂

Written by admin

May 5th, 2010 at 8:38 pm

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