Sporadic contributor Patrick emailed me a challenge, to pitch Android to him for his impending phone acquisition, and in order to make it even more challenging for me I figured I’d open this up to input from any of you who want to steer him away from my advice. Chime in one way or the other please, give this man some closure of being well-informed:

On 11/9/2010 4:43 PM, Patrick wrote:

Alright Simmons,

I’m considering Android. Want to tell me a little about your experience and ‘sell me on it’? Additionally, any recommendations on the current (and/or upcoming) AT&T devices?

I’ve been waiting for WP7 forever, but with so many key elements missing, I’m not sure if it’s worth waiting for this gen of their phones. 

Patrick

On 11/9/2010 5:48 PM, Doug Simmons wrote:

Android’s been doing a good job selling itself without my help. I’m about to run a quick article on this but it just topped the Consumer Reports charts again in devices overall by carrier:

Verizon:

  • 1) Motorola DROID X
  • 2) Motorola DROID 2
  • 3) HTC DROID Incredible

Sprint:

  • 1) HTC EVO 4G
  • 2) Samsung Intercept
  • 3) HTC Hero 

T-Mobile:

  • 1) Samsung Vibrant
  • 2) HTC myTouch 3G Slide

AT&T:

  • Samsung Captivate
  • iPhone 3G
  • HTC Aria

That tells me that the smart OEM money is on Android because the consumers’ demand’s on Android and Android would not have earned that demand if it didn’t satisfy the market of taste overall, and super well in order to break into the market late in the game. In the US there are more Android phones being sold every day than any other platform and in spite of that growth into dominance and popularity it’s just as open as it’s ever been in terms of being able, with a Motorola exception or two, to modify most things about the phone’s software a la WinMo if you’re inclined (except the rom chefs don’t rely on Win CE builds to summarily fluff up, they have access to the whole Android source code).

Google for the most part does not incorporate morality posturing or carrier ass kissing into their decisions regarding both their own software and what goes on their market, Google feels like they’re on the consumer’s side and not so much the carrier’s which is nice (good luck tethering with WP7, for example or getting SIP Google Voice VoIP in any form which is strongly rumored to happen in the next release of Android, cellular or just wifi unknown. Why would you want Microsoft over that? Big downside.

Google provides a bunch of excellent services like Gmail, Google Maps, Google Voice, Talk, News, Reader, mobile search, Picasa, Latitude, Youtube and on and on not to mention excellent products like Chrome. You probably use at least one more of these routinely in addition to your email. Wouldn’t it make sense that the platform which blends these services into it the best be Google’s? Yes, and that’s the result I’m seeing on my phone. Google has made strong efforts, even legal ones, to get Apple to accept some of their software (like Voice) but Apple (or AT&T) didn’t want it so they said no thanks. In contrast there are a bunch of high-rated Bing apps on Google’s Android app store as well as a total Bing substitute with some Verizon/Samsung phones. And you get to pick whichever you want.

I’ve never had a phone that’s made me not look forward to its successor arriving like my Google phone has mde me, though I guess that’s a Nexus-specific remark. The Captivate is a hell of a phone though, and now it has at least one cousin in a WP7 form. I can easily picture you going home with either Samsung device and being more or less equally blown away had you gone with the other, but once that excitement wears down, a chief complaint of way too few apps out there will emerge and it may leave you a bit winded.

I can find anything on the Android market. Wardriving apps, augmented reality wardriving thing, wifi cracker, 4chan frontend, a plethora of great SIP clients, all sorts of GPS tools, a remote control for my Google TV setup (love that, though it’s also on iphone in the spirit of openness), great Google Reader client, Samba server, FTP server including proxy to get through the carrier’s blockade of incoming connections, a torrent client client which I can use on wifi or cellular to tell my fast server to search thepiratebay for whatever and start downloading it, and then download it directly from my server over FTP — or use a full-fledged bittorrent client, an app that tells me to which cell tower I’m connected over Google maps. Little shit like that, not just Google Earth — it’s all there.

Great Google Analytics client, a program that lets me tell my phone to do whatever I want based on whatever conditions I choose, like to turn off push syncing and toggle down to Edge, mute the speakers etc around bedtime and so on. The largest chunk of collective developer interest is aimed squarely at Android and that matters if you turn your phone from a device, a utility, into a hobby, which you have and will continue to do.

In addition to that, it also gets the job done quite well for someone who just wants a phone and maybe some email. In the event of your getting obsessed enough with Android that you want to get in on the action and program, if you learn Java and then you decide phone stuff isn’t for you, go write Java programs for any other platform. Nice and universal like that as it was intended to be in every form they could come up with, and they just keep on coming up with more forms to please their customers all the time while improving the existing channels. Google’s relatively full-throttle on Android and because it’s open they’re not the only ones full throttle on Android which is largely why I am so full throttle on Android.

But hey, most of the WP7 reviews I’ve seen are positive, so I suppose you can’t go wrong with either. That said, get an Android phone.

Anyone feel differently? Patrick’s anxiously waiting, money’s in the line…

Doug Simmons

11 COMMENTS

  1. Alright, now that Simmons went public with my ‘decision,’ I wanted to justify some of my reasons for my OS questioning. I’ve had my heart set on WP7 for about two years now (been holding on to my Tilt 1), but I’m really not sold yet.

    Here’s my laundry list for WP7.

    * No local Outlook/file syncing
    * No usable file system or folders
    * No copy/paste (coming 2011)
    * No tethering
    * No multitasking
    * No MMS support (Confirm?)
    * Small app store (will be built up in time) I’ve accepted the fact that I’ll no longer be able to download CAB-like files on any device.
    * Not mainstream enough, has 1.0/Beta written all over it

    And things I don’t care as much about:

    * Functionless twitter app
    * Youtube support
    * Video chat
    * Flash support (2011)
    * True removable storage
    * Connecting to hidden WiFi hotspots
    * Custom ringtones

  2. Abe: Ahh local syncing not working, i figured it was remote/ota syncing given just what you said, who still needs to sync locally so why complain. No such thing on Android out of the box, just plug in to mount the filesystem (and then sync all your shit with your Exchange server of choice and other services).

    Who still MMSs when you can email?

    Regarding tethering, seems to me like MS wants to be really friendly with carriers so don’t expect to see that sort of thing show up on the market — however, xda might surprise you one day. Maybe not. Anyone want to bet on that?

    But just because a device can lead you adrift into geek mode doesn’t mean it ain’t right for you right out of the box so why shut that door.

  3. I’m answering this as a WP7 user:

    > * No local Outlook/file syncing
    Why are you storing email contacts locally anyway? Google or Windows Live do this quite well and I know for sure that outlook can pull down email, contacts and calendar from the cloud.

    >* No usable file system or folders
    Other than for mass storage, I don’t see the purpose of this. But until we start seeing phones with 200+ gigs of built in storage, I would just use a thumb drive. But I understand the “only carry one device” argument.

    > * No tethering
    Agreed, this is retarted, and I don’t see why they don’t have it yet, other than pressure from carriers. Which is ridiculous.

    > * No multitasking
    I had a conversation with a co-worker who is looking at buying a android device. At the end of the conversation he realized that all he needed multi-tasking for was listening to music while reading email or browsing the internet. Which WP7 does. Yes, third party apps can’t run which your doing something else, but really think about when you would need to do that. The only other time I thought of would be for navigation, which WP7 doesn’t have yet, but I predict (and you heard it here first!) that when the bing navigation update is released you will be able to leave it running and answer a call or read an email. But only if using navigation for walking directions ;)

    >* No MMS support (Confirm?)
    Yes, just tested sending myself a picture. I’m a sexy minx baby, yeah!

    With respect to everything else, yes the app market is still slim, but alot of the main good apps you probably want/need, are there. Some things are missing like flash and copy/paste, multi-tasking. But really sit down and ask yourself what would you use those functions for, what are YOUR use cases. Then wrangle up a friend with each type of device and check it out.

    I’ve been using my Focus for a whopping 1.5 days so far and I’ve used iphone and a couple different android devices. Android makes me want to stay in geek mode to customize and hack it to death. Where iphone and WP7 are more “just be” platforms that “just work”. So depending on the kind of person you are and the things you like to do, each platform is going to give you something a little bit different. I don’t believe in anyone saying “…… is better that all the others OSes”.

    Good Luck

  4. @Abe
    Thanks for your thoughts.
    Main concern with the Outlook issue is that I like to distinctly keep my email and personal contacts separate. My email has 1000+ contacts (with mainly just email addresses) and my local Outlook probably has 150 or so of my needed contacts. I’m sure it’s easy to separate the two, but I’d rather not have to.
    Using Gmail, I’ve always been a big fan of the web interface as well, so I’ve never seen a need to integrate Outlook with Exchange on that end (I do use Exchange for email via my current phone). Additionally, there’s no task support (as I understand it), which is a critical component to my everyday work.

    As for file storage, it’s being able to swap things with ease between the two. Whether it be a word doc, a MP3, or just a file download, I love having a dedicated folder on my desktop that is MY phone’s files (when it’s connected via ActiveSync), and the ability to freely drag and drop between the devices. Being able to touch those files whenever is huge as well (Yes, I do carry a flash drive on my keys and am a big proponent of cloud sync for files). Obviously I can do that with Zune and whatever, but it’s just one more step in the chain..

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to go WP7 for quite some time, and new features such as Xbox Live and the new OS are huge for me, it’s just these few features that are proving to be the toss up. As I see it, it’s not a matter of whether or not I upgrade to WP7, but rather a matter of when (whether being this device or my next one).

    Thanks again for your thoughts, feel free to fire back with more comments/questions.

  5. I’ll admit that I lean slightly towards WP7 but that’s because I can really see the potential. Developers so far who’ve developed for all of the platforms think pretty highly of it – one screen resolution (maybe two eventually), built-in trial support (no need to write it yourself), and a relatively decent set of tools (no Objective C :) ). I also like the Zune support. Admittedly it’s still very much a v1 product, but I think the first update will address quite a few issues and MS has got to crank out real updates if they want the platform to succeed. They’ve pretty much bet it all on this platform for mobile devices so they’ve got to make it better.

    I completely agree with a lot of what you’re saying here. No tethering (really?), no direct Outlook syncing, no integrated Twitter (for whatever reason), no tasks, and no task switching at this time, though I’ve heard it’s on the way. Still, I think it’s got potential and as Abe noted – I look at it, do whatever I want to do, and move on. I played/tinkered w/ Android quite a bit and didn’t really get much done, though a lot of that is my fault.

    Still, play with the devices some if you’re torn. Go to a store and play with a Captivate and a Focus – see what both feel like out of the box. (And remember that AT&T locked their Android phones down to prevent side-loading. Another “really?” moment.) Personally, I am enjoying my time with the Focus more than I thought I would for a device w/ no keyboard and still in the early software stages.

    Ultimately, get whatever works best for you. That’s the most important thing.

  6. Hey, maybe we can get a cool “flashlight” app that has an undocumented feature of allowing tethering while it’s running. I’ve heard that’s been done somewhere before. :)

  7. despite there not being local storage you can store photos and mp3s and docs/pdfs. That’s seperate than stand alone docs. You can also use an app that lets you get to additional docs on your desktop (called PC Connector). The apps for WP7 are slick and some are beyond Android aleady. Like Netflix that permits streaming. And WP7 will have a lot more streaming in its apps because of something called Smooth Streaming that is a part of Silverlight so it’s ultra efficient in delivering video based on your connection. The games are already beyond what Android – it’s freaking xbox. And of course, you get the Zune ecosystem for music/movies.
    Getting to the bigger picture, Android is a Swiss army knife It can do anything…want to file your nails – got it. Want to cut a tree limb – done. Problem is, you have to cut that tree with that little saw they give you. For all of the capabilities it has, it really doesn’t do a lot of them spectacularly. it has a WinMo problem. The market expects you to give away apps so it’s hard to profit unless you want to rely on ads. So a lot of the apps are mediocre. Beyond this, the multitasking is horrendous. Yes, it fully multitasks – until your battery is dead. I’ve said it a number of times. I’m not a fan of the iPhone but put it next to Android and I’d take it every time since it’s a lot more polished and of course the apps are lightyears ahead and ecosystem (games, apps, movies, music) is way ahead. And of coruse, the hardware for Android can be great but there’s no oversight of it – want Android 2.2 on a 2 year old device? OK done. Don’t want to update the OS? Ok, move on. It’s just a free for all in Android world and the openess is a ouble edged sword. Its sales are mostly due to the fact that there was limited competition – iPhone is a single carrier…and then there’s what, blackberry and symbian…so no surprise it’s been selling against nothing…

  8. The apps for WP7 are slick and some are beyond Android aleady. Like Netflix that permits streaming.

    And over at Android headquarters most of our apps, including the good ones, have not yet been ported from horribly inefficient Java to Silverlight/C#/.NET/Whatever and probably won’t for a long time. And the apps we do have, both ones that are beyond and not beyond WP7’s counterpart, guess what, almost all of them are being constantly and aggressively improved, upgraded and augmented, many of them open source projects with many people tuned in to help improve it — like Android itself.

    As for Netflix, that’s on the way. How’s your browser handling all the networks’ websites that stream their episodes in Flash? We’re doing fine. Whatever movie format we have on our computer, odds are extreme that it’s compatible with a free player. Can you play all the major formats? Well I guess that’s not that big an issue considering you’re not supposed to swap out the factory chip for a 16 or 32GB.

    If the market’s so bad for developers then why are polls of developers showing definitively the most interest in Android even over iphones and ipads combined, not to mention WP7?

    In my experience without task killers multitasking is fantastic. What experience do you have with Android phones? Oh, ports to winmo phones? RunningPlease. Every carrier’s number rated phone by Consumer Reports is an Android phone. What’s up with that? Because they’re not AT&T only? You really attribute their extreme success (which you dispute even exists, relative or otherwise) that you never saw coming and even bet against to American carrier availability?

    This chaotic free for all anarchistic den of sin as you portray it, it seems to be catching on pretty quick for something like that, don’t you think? Almost as if it doesn’t sucks at all? Or can you just come out with some piece of crap and say Hey AT&T, Sprint, TMo, Big V, here’s a big free piece of crap with potential, do whatever you want with it, and swiftly hop up to the number one spot in US sales?

    Will you ever cut the cotton picking bullshit.

  9. Anger issues Dougy? This is why you make the big bucks. You really know how to win friends and influence people. Nice….

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