First 10 Days with Android

It’s been ten days, which I think is a pretty good time to have settled into using a new Phone. Unfortunately I have some major gripes about my G1 and the underlying Android OS.

First, Contacts. I’ve talk about this before, but its now a MAJOR headache. The contact application in Android needs an overhaul. There is no way to sort contacts by anything other than first name. This is fine if you are on a first name bases with everyone you know, I however am not. I have a couple of hundred contacts, and 50+ of those are not people, but Companies. These are manly contacts to support numbers, reservation numbers, sales numbers, etc, etc. These 50+ not sorted by First name (because they have no “name” in the contact) but rather they are sorted numerically via the “work” number. The “Company Name” field is not even displayed in the Contact List. So trying to find any one of these companies is pointless, and my contact list is cluttered up with 50+ numerical entries I have to scroll through to get to the other contacts. I’m sure that someone will tell me that I can somehow edit my contacts to fix this, but the fact remains that my as they stand my contacts look correct on Gmail and correct on Apple Address Book, and I d not have the time or inclination to edit all my contacts to overcome an OS problem.

Third Party Apps. I know it’s only been 10 days, and I know that speaking as a model, Android has the best chance for real third party apps, but I’ve found almost nothing in the Android Market that could not already be done on the iPhone, even with it’s limitations. The noted exceptions are:

ShopSavvy. Because the G1’s camera can be focused, and the Android SDK allows direct access to the camera, this product is the sort of thing that will work on G1 but is unlikly to ever work on iPhone.

Caller ID by White Pages. This is one of those applications that is AWSOME in concept and miserable by implantation. The ideal is that when you are getting a call, the phone goes out and “looks up” the number of the person calling you. Various bits of information are then displayed such as Name, Address, or Business Name. Now this is a great concept. I receive sales calls all the time. In fact the aformentioned Contact Problem is in part because I get lots of sales calls. When I get a call, the Caller ID shows me a number, but I can never tell from that number WHO is calling me. So to weed out my calls, I have taken the time to put in contacts for various sales people, so that when they call, I can send them to voice mail. This system is about 40% effective. With a program like Caller ID by White Pages I am given data on a phone number regardless of weather or not it is in my contacts list. See, great concept. However in implementation, the program is not so hot because it requires a data connection at the time of the call, meaning 3G or wifi. EDGE data is cut the moment a call comes in, so by the very fact you are getting a call, means that you cannot look that call up. While this program is mostly useless in practice, it’s one of those things that the iPhone SDK will not allow a developer to do, and why I feel that Android is a better platform.

As to the rest of the Third Party App on the Android Market, there are some good ones out there, but we still have a long way to go.

My third biggest gripe about the G1 is the hardware.

The Keyboard is hard to use, and REQUIRES two hands. People have talked about the USB charging port on the “chin”. I’ve not really had a need to both type and charge at the same time, but I can where it would be difficult/impossible.

The Screen is not exactly alined. When the unit is shut, I can “feel” a tiny overlap on left side of the unit. I have my doubts if this screen moving will hold up over two years of use. After 10 days, the screen when open wobbles a bit. Not at all inspiring.

Battery life. This one is killing me. I’m on the go about 16 hours on any given day. With Bluetooth active, using the Internet for about an hour total and 90 minutes of talk time total, I get around 13 hours out of the battery. If I use wifi or GPS for more than a few minutes, I’m lucky to get to 10 hours.

The SD card is near useless. I cannot store Apps on the SD card, and the phone is NOT a personal media player. I’m running out of application space on the device.

Bluetooth. I need more than just headset access.

In the end, after 10 days, I find myself looking at the iPhone more and more. I hate that I’m doing it, but I just feel like I could do more with it than I could with my G1. In the end, it sill does not feel as productive as my Windows Mobile World.

Here are some thing thing that I need my G1 to do:

CLI – Command Line Interface. I how the G1 is hard to type on, but having command line level access, with all my shell tools would be nice.

VNC – both a server and a client.

VLC – A Port Video Lan Client, This will let me play and stream media.

Nmap – so I can use my G1 for Basic Pen testing (would work better if we had CLI)

Wifi and Bluetooth scanning – good to see what is around me.

Tethering – I need to be able to hook my laptop up in a pinch and get access.

Skype and VoIP – I need to be able to use Skype from the phone over IP (wifi or 3G), and not with an iSkoot hack.

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