Last week I picked up an Android mobile phone. With Nokia’s planned move to Windows Phone, I wanted to see what options are out there for something a little better software wise than Symbian until Nokia release their first Windows Phone. For those interested, I personally don’t think it will be that long until we see something; internally Nokia had phones running Windows Phone available for staff to look at within days of the announcement, and although they may not be shipping large volumes until next year, I believe they will be announcing and planning to ship models this year.
So, after a few days with an Android device, what are my initial reactions? Actually, it’s some of the little things that have been built into Nokia hardware and Symbian software that I miss, like a hardware unlock switch on the side of the phone (especially useful when in the car). Having said that, the Symbian default browser is rubbish compared to Android’s default. In terms of applications, there seems to be multiple choices to achieve anything on Android, which although gives choice does seem to make it more difficult to choose a good product; some aren’t kept up to date, and, as with all mobile platforms, there are few that truly stand out.
We’ve covered a number of “stand out” Android apps over the years (see here for reviews of some), and these were some of the first to get installed, including purchasing some that I know will come in handy over time.
So, what have I missed; some apps such as Gravity and ViewRanger (I need to arrange to transfer the maps so this is just in the short term). Equally, having many more options for widgets (of different sizes) on the homescreens is a pleasant change, plus access to apps where the developer hasn’t yet (or may never) release a Symbian app. Also, as a heavy Google Calendar user, having my calendar updates available within minutes instead of hours is a pleasant change; in fact, I have some services that feed into additional Google Calendars which then appear on the phone; given it can take Google a few hours to update the calendar in the first place, it meant it could often take a couple of days to appear on my Symbian phone; reducing that time down to the same day is an impressive start.
Oh, and Ovi Maps. Offline maps, and more importantly, offline satnav means a lot to me, especially when we aren’t yet at a universal position with unlimited data rates, so I’ve missed this. Strangely, I’ve also missed the other services built into the Ovi Maps client; Qype, TripAdvisor etc.; yes, I can install separate apps, but it did seem neat all wrapped into one application. The traffic information was pretty good too, plus the walking mode, where it would vibrate just before reading out a new instruction (given you time to bring the phone close enough to your ear to hear it) was pretty useful too.
Having said that, on my phone, it was nigh on impossible to get both Ovi Maps and Gravity running together as both take a fair chunk of memory, so hopefully the new phone will make this easier.
Will I stay with Android, or move back to Symbian? I think I may well move my main phone number over to an Android phone, but I suspect I’ll still carry a Symbian phone with me for some while…
I’ll provide more details on my experiences soon, including long term usage of an Android tablet too!