Back on Android

When my iPhone was unusable last week, I had to temporarily switch back to Android. At that time an early build of Android 2.2 Froyo came out and I decided to install it, which was, when you think of it, kind of stupid — upgrading your back-up phone when the other one is unusable because of an upgrade — but I did it anyway. This upgrade succeeded, thankfully, and I must say that I like it a lot.

Android feels a lot snappier since the upgrade. I also love the fact that you can tether via wifi without having to hack your phone (as I did with the iPhone). It made me reconsider using the Nexus One as my main phone, and for the past week and a half, I have. To be frank, I’m pretty happy with it.

Sure, the iPhone is more polished and slightly more responsive. It is more user friendly. Android is more like Linux and Windows, and iPhone is more like the Mac. The iPhone is simpler, but with that also more limited. The Android is more complex — you actually have to learn to use it effectively, but when you do, it is more powerful.

Multi-tasking, for instance, is touted as the main new feature in iPhone. Except, it’s not really multi-tasking — it doesn’t do two things at the same time hardly ever (with a few exceptions such as playing music in the background), it just enables faster switching between multiple applications. Does that distinction matter? I thought it didn’t — my main annoyance on the iPhone was when I had to e.g. copy and past stuff from one application to the other; and in that case fast app switching is all you need. However, now that I’m on Android I experienced the advantage of true multi-tasking.

When I wake up in the morning my phone has automatically downloaded new podcast episodes to my phone. I do not have to connected it to my computer to sync them. When I have time to read some tweets, my twitter application has already loaded them; ready for me to read. That is something you simply will not get on the iPhone, currently. On the iPhone you launch or switch to the Twitter app, wait for it to connect to twitter and fetch new tweets, then you read them.

If you’re a (new) Android user, be sure to check the following applications out (just search for them on the Marketplace):

  • CallTrack, to log your phone calls to a Google Calendar.
  • Android Scripting Environment, run Python, Ruby and Javascript scripts on your phone. Program on the REPL!
  • Audible for Android (beta), are you and Audible subscriber? They got a great Android app now.
  • DiskUsage, where did all your storage go?
  • File Manager, a nice clean file manager.
  • Dropbox, are you a dropbox user? This application allows you to upload, download and manage files on your dropbox account (and edit them using other applications)
  • Fring, call other people, e.g. on skype. Also features video chat.
  • IMDB, a nice application for the IMDB movie database
  • Kindle, read your kindle books on Android. Includes whisper sync.
  • Listen, to download and listen to podcasts.
  • QuickSSHd (not free), a nice little SSH server so you can remotely log-on to your phone.
  • Rom buddy/SNesoid (not free), play all those nice old super nintendo games
  • Spotify, are you a Spotify Premium subscriber? Listen to all music on the go.
  • Terminal emulator, access your phone’s command line
  • Twitter, Twitter’s official twitter client.
  • Smart keyboard pro (there’s also a free version), a great keyboard replacement. The key feature of it is that there’s Dutch and Polish dictionaries available for it so I can finally benefit from auto corrections.

And as far as the paid applications goes. Did you know you can return a paid app within 24 hours and get a refund? No reason not to try these apps.