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August 11, 2009

From iPhone to G1 and Back

Andre Torrez switched to HTC Dream (also known as T-Mobile G1) after using Apple's iPhone for two years. "I've gone from absolutely loving Apple as gatekeeper to my device's software to just flat out hating it. The past few months have been a parade of sad stories of developers getting bit by app store policies, or us, the users, losing out on software that would have been great to have. Google Voice, for example, has been something I've been eagerly waiting for every since I was invited to use the service."

Switching to an Android phone wasn't a pleasant experience for Andre, who found Android apps less polished, the virtual keyboard was disappointing, while the hardware was slow.

The bright side of switching from the iPhone to an Android phone was that applications could run in the background. For example, Andre found a very useful open source application called Astrid that lets you manage your tasks.
Astrid has a feature that is not even possible on the iPhone. Using a Locale plugin, you can assign tags to task items that trigger alarms when you are in certain situations. For example, you can have a task to "buy batteries" and assign it a tag of "store". Then in Locale you connect the tag "store" with a situation in which you are near your local hardware store. Or simply maintain "home" and "work" task lists with reminders.

Here's a real example I am now using this for: I have a task called "buy muni pass" which is only available a few days before the end of the month and only from certain retailers. I walk by a place that sells them, but I always forget to buy them during the window and I usually remember when I'm nowhere near the store.

Sometimes you have to choose between a great user experience with many limitations and a less polished interface that's more open to the future. Google should invest more on improving Android's interface and on making it easier to develop great looking apps. One of the reasons why Windows Mobile isn't very popular is that Microsoft couldn't develop a compelling interface that encouraged people to use the product.

Unlike other smart phones, the iPhone made it easier to search Google, to browse the Web and to upload videos. "The iPhone OS has only 8% of global smartphone market share, but generates 43% of mobile Web requests and 65% of [web] usage", according to an AdMob report from May 2009.

Update: Andre switched back to the iPhone: "I give up. I thought it'd be fun to see what life was like on a different platform but I think I've seen more than enough on this hardware. The device is definitely too slow to get anything done and I have found myself not going to the phone when in a situation where I used to check my mail and catch up on Twitter. I stood in line at the ATM and just didn't bother."

{ via John Gruber }

23 comments:

  1. well, it is not that clear if it is Android, it could be HTC hardware.
    Anyway, there is always a lot to improve in Android :)

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  2. Apple products focus on usability, and of course on sucking your money thought itunes.

    There are a lot of mobile phones with the same or even more features, but when I take Iphone and just want to browse, enjoy and search for new apps. It is so easy

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  3. Is there google support of the palm pre? If there is then that is the smart phone for me.

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  4. I'm the proud owner of the HTC Magic (on Vodafone in the UK) and although I have never owned an iPhone, I have used them before - a lot of my friends have them. I found the Android much easier to navigate on first sight - it's easy to get to wherever you want to get to quickly, like the dialling screen, contacts, the web or messaging.

    I much prefer the look of the Magic (the phone itself and the system) and think the iPhone looks ugly (phone and system). The iPhone keyboard is harder to type with, the Magic's is much easier and although it is not perfect and lags sometimes, it's much better.

    The customisable home screen on Android is perfect for the user to arrange exactly how they want - so messaging, contacts, dialler, web, gmail, calendar, maybe a bookmark or two, maybe even the latest twitter updates from their friends or another widget - with the option of having less important icons and widgets to the left or right side home screens.

    You can read my Android review article here: My First Two Weeks with Android

    Ben

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  5. Where is the "and back" part?

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  6. Day 7 - "I give up. I thought it'd be fun to see what life was like on a different platform but I think I've seen more than enough on this hardware. The device is definitely too slow to get anything done and I have found myself not going to the phone when in a situation where I used to check my mail and catch up on Twitter. I stood in line at the ATM and just didn't bother."

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  7. I found the Android interface superior to that of Apple. Nor is my G1 ever to slow for me. But that is my taste obviously.

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  8. I am developing an Android app and have to admit that it is much easier to create a good-looking iPhone app than an Android app. For example, there are several user interface widgets missing, that are available in iPhone SDK (one of them - http://www.anddev.org/how_can_i_make_2_buttons_look_like_1_widget-t7425.html).

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  9. yes android is not very mature yet but it has a great potential and UI is OK according to me. It is quite slow in comparison to iphone, but it can be easily changed in future - big benefit is that with new phones that are coming to market many problems will be solved (slowlines, comfortable keyboard etc.).

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  10. Never trust statistics. The report of "43% of mobile Web requests and 65% of [web] usage" is only valid for selected websites in USA that use a ad-system. Not very likely to be found in other countries.

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  11. I agree, the G1's extremely limited memory combined with the stock OS provides a truely dismal experience. In the last few weeks, however, I have come to find that both of the these situations are somewhat easily remedied.

    By rooting the G1 and using a custom ROM (namely Cyanogen's latest) with APPS2SD (stores all your apps on a partition of your SD card)the experience becomes much faster and completely usable.

    If you really want experience Android in it's fullest I would recommend that you try out a custom ROM with APPS2SD set up. Everything you need to know is on xda-developers.com and here is the link to Cyanogen's ROM.

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=539744

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  12. Jailbreak. I don't play well in boxes.

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  13. I agree "Where is the "and back" part? "

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  14. I suspect the enormous number of apps he had installed is a part of that. Locale in particular is a notorious battery hog and whilst an outright ban is too extreme, it's true that a lot of background apps can slow Android down especially if they are buggy.

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  15. I agree. Android has A LOT of potential but just needs some work. I loved the flexibility of what you could do with the Android OS but the user experience of the iPhone out dues that.

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  16. Apple product is really an impressive and people really love to used it. IPhone is one of the best product of Apple. and this makes it more reliable. Great effort. Thanks for info

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  17. I don't experience this slowness Andre did on the G1. Then again, I have rooted my G1 and am running Cyanogen's great custom ROM, which is heavily optimized. I run my apps from the SD card and have over 500gb of my 8gb sdcard dedicated to apps and can make room for more if I want to. I can also remove my phone's battery. LOL Android is just going to get better with time as the open source is there to encourage developers to stretch their legs without fear of the Apple bottleneck. And, gee, they'll get paid for their trouble, too. ;)

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  18. Jailbreak. I don't play well in boxes.

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  19. I think that if you're willing to use Android to its full potential meaning custom roms and root access its much quicker and as for interface the more polished feel is usually a trade off for lesser use. The iPhone is all form and no function. I think that android is trying to make a healthy mix.

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  20. If you're willing to root an Android phone, you're willing to jailbreak, at which point you've got multitasking and all sorts of interesting apps available.

    I understand staying away from the iPhone on philosophical grounds. More power to you. But on raw usability, the iPhone is way ahead of anything else right now. Android has potential, but I'll wait until 50% of it is realized. :)

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  21. At first the G1 WAS really slow, thats because it wasnt on the 3G network at first with T-Mobile. Now it is. And it is way faster. I love my G1. The iphone was way too expensive for...The same thing as the G1. I can use Itunes on my Ipod touch.:)

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  22. Let's face it 80% of the population don't have the inclination or the time to tinker with their phones down to that level, i.e., they just want to use the phone). From the get-go, the iPhone is just plain sexy -- like a hot, sexy, popular girlfriend. The G1 on the other hand, is like that sort-a-cute, chunky chick in your Unix class. You wish your hot girlfriend was sometimes more like that Unix geek chick (so you can talk programming and sci-fi) but you know you would never trade sexy for geeky...

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  23. It laughable to hear folks that claim Android's open OS will be the key to its success. Remember Unix/Linux? Been hearing about how it will eat Microsoft's lunch for years. I'd say 80% of the END USER market doesn't care what OS is running, but how easy it is to use and that it has the applications to do the job. As usual, the 20% geek market thinks it knows how the market behaves and it doesn't. WAKE UP GEEKS -- not everyone has a wet dream thinking about modding their phone! It is about usability for the masses, not techie wet dreams for geeks.

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