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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 }

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