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My First Impressions of Android

Last weekend I finally took the plunge and bought myself a smartphone. I didn’t want to sign for an expensive three year contract, so I opted for Wind Mobile and paid up front for an Optimus LG 2X.

LG Optimus 2X

I’m no stranger to mobile operating systems (you know the rules, and so do I). I own an iPod Touch and an iPad, and have a history with pocket sized devices that goes all the way back to primitive PDAs from a decade ago. That said, this was my first modern smartphone.

My first impression, contrary to a lot of what I’ve read online, is that Android is a remarkable operating system. I’m sure my experience would have been much less positive had I opted for a cheap, old device and not a state of the art, blazingly fast dual core smartphone. With proper hardware though, Android is a beauty to use.

I’ve been putting the phone to the test for the past few days and not once I experienced a lock up, screen freeze, reboot, connection dropped or any of the problems I read about months ago while researching Android smartphones online.

Everything runs extremely fast and is responsive without any glitches, from applications and games to 1080p HD content. (I compared my model’s playback capabilities with those of a colleague’s Nexus S, and we found his device to be choppy when playing HD content.)

The quality and quantity of applications I tried so far has been remarkably good. There are no doubt fewer apps than at the Apple App Store, and the ecosystem may currently be less profitable for developers; nevertheless, I have not felt left behind by the Android Marketplace so far. My bank doesn’t have an official app for Android yet, but that’s about it. (They do for iOS.)

The operating system feels organized and well thought out, and its integration with Google’s services is really the killer feature for me. Having tried it, I’m not sure I’d be willing to give up this level of integration if I had to switch to an iPhone in the future. (Assuming it wasn’t possible there as well.)

Things like the ability to edit my contacts in Gmail, and have them automatically appear as my phone contacts (including avatars) are small details that ensure the experience is very pleasant, and they’re making me grow fonder and fonder of the OS. Everything is very configurable. For example, I’ve set my phone so that it only shows me contacts for which a phone number has been stored.

The touch screen keyboard works flawlessly with extreme accuracy, despite my chubby fingers. Surprisingly, I make less errors with Android than on my iPod Touch, despite both devices being roughly the same size. Even my ridiculously complicated passwords were relatively easy to enter.

To be honest with you, I went into this thinking that Android was a runner up I was forced to choose due to the limited number of mobile carriers that support the iPhone here in Canada. Now though, I’m becoming ever happier that I was coerced into trying Android.

It’s amazing how quickly I’ve become accustomed to having this little computer in my pocket. I was afraid it would go unused, that the screen would be too small to read on, and similar concerns. Thankfully, be it the sharp display or the internet in your pocket factor, I’ve not been into anything so much since I switched to Mac a few years ago.

I feel like I have only explored 10% of what Android lets you accomplish, and it’s continually surprising to find more new features and plenty of nice, elegant touches.

Owning this device has allowed me to experience what Android is really all about firsthand, and having done so, it’s darn near impossible not to become enthusiastic about it.

A lot of what I’ve read in the past is puzzlingly different from my own experience. It was either FUD, second-hand opinions, or perhaps Android (and the devices’ hardware) have drastically improved in the past few months so as to significantly affect the user experience.

As more people try it out, I have no doubt that Android will become pervasive, and not just on smartphones and tablets, but also in new environments like your TV, home and car. The prospective of making such environments programmable is very appealing to one’s inner hacker, too.

Android gets two big thumbs up from me, and I have to say, things are looking pretty good for Android right now. Pretty, pretty, pretty good.

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15 Responses to “My First Impressions of Android”

  1. Andrew Champ says:

    Glad to hear an Apple fan have something good to say… thanks for the unbiased opinion.

    Also, I think some hate for the Android comes from somebody new to the device trying a low-end version.

    Not all Android devices are created equal.

    • Skyler says:

      Agreed. My parents and brother all have LG Optimus 1’s. They have a few complaints now and again but every complaint they have tends to be a hardware issue. (to slow, battery dieing, touch screen fidgety. It’s a resistance touch screen).

  2. Paul says:

    I spent about 40 hours with the original HTC Desire. That device was slow and lacked internal storage space. After rooting it, the device became almost perfect, aside from the lag.

    3 things can ruin an Android experience:
    Carrier (call quality/reception), internal storage space (to install apps w/o rooting), and processor speed.

    With those 3 on your side, your android experience is nothing short of amazing.

    • John says:

      “internal storage space (to install apps w/o rooting)”

      Actually, you can move the installations to your SD card via any number of available apps. I use ‘App 2 SD’ and all the apps I have on my Nexus One have successfully been moved there.

  3. Ian says:

    Glad to hear you like the Optimus 2x. I brought an Optimus T from T-Mobile over to Wind Mobile and am loving it. I’m on the Holiday Miracle Plan from last Christmas, so needless to say I take full advantage of the unlimited data.

    In case you haven’t heard, WIND is launching a extremely competitive smartphone plan in a few weeks time for the back to school season:


  4. John says:

    I bought a Xperia arc and I’m happy with it now. When I first brought it home it was rebooting for no reason about twice a day. Since the latest update it’s been perfect. Just started reading the APRESS beginning android book.

  5. Nice post. You’d probably enjoy a (paid-for) app called Tasker, which you can use to “program” your phone to do various things. Mine turns off the auto screen-rotate after 11 at night (because I’m likely to be in bed); reads texts aloud if I have headphones on; sets the media volume to ‘7’ whenever I plug a headset in, but to full blast whenever I plug an aux cable in; etc etc.

    Lots of fiddling, lots of fun. And then, obviously, start programming yourself. (wink)

  6. Larry says:

    Great curb reference

  7. Austin says:

    Just saying that I believe the iPhone does a lot of the Google integration if you modify settings. I know the contacts can be changed and synced along with calendars and mail.

  8. jay says:

    Not to tread hear but wind and koodo are the only networks in canada that doesnt have an iphone so limited avaiablity is wrong to state but on the other hand one less iphone user is a good thing.

    Also, Curb is a pretty pretty pretty good show.

  9. anthony says:

    Pretty, pretty, preeettty good!

  10. Matt says:

    Picking up a good model of android phone can give you a great experience, like yours.

    Picking up a bad one can be a bad experience, though. Sounds obvious, but that’s where the diversity of opinions on it come from. And people are always louder when complaining than when offering congratulations.

    This is unlike apple’s offering, where there is only one phone to pick up, and if your opinion on it differs from the masses’, then it will be disregarded.

    Android being open to modification, it has a lot more places to find trouble, and can be a little harder to troubleshoot (especially when talking about device-specific problems), so apple does win by default there.

    I however humbly regard myself as being able to find out about and solve problems I come across myself, rather than whinging at the first tic I find. And I love android’s openness and the moddability it allows.

  11. Marius B. says:

    «I’ve set my phone so that it only shows me contacts for which a phone number has been stored.»

    Proof that there are so many fine perks within Android, and that even after months of use you never know when you get a nice surprise: my 1200+ contacts left room for only 165 to breathe more relaxed…

  12. I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S II for a few weeks now, and have had exactly the same experience with it, and Android. Loving it, happy with the Google integration, etc…

    And thanks for the great tip about filtering only those contacts with phone numbers!

  13. The only question that arises after reading this post – if you own an iPad and touch why not an iPhone which is times better than Android? (I used both Android and iPhone) :) But thanx for the great overview anyways

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