I have been an Apple iPhone fanboy for a while now. Ever since my wife purchased me an iPod Touch (1st generation). I was hooked to the simplicity of downloading apps, swiping to change screens. Opening, minimizing applications and switching between full screen apps is simple on iOS. I have spent a bucket load on the Apple App store.
Android has always been around, mostly on the cheaper phone and tablet devices but lately I have noticed more and more high end android devices in the hands of not so tech savvy friends.
Now I am developing applications for mobile devices, I cannot ignore the more than capable Android platform. I downloaded and gave the Android SDK a go but ran screaming from the command line driven emulators http://www.kogan.com/au/ from google. I ordered a Samsung Galaxy S 3 from http://www.kogan.com.au and gave myself a few weeks to get used to the android. Here are my opinions so far.
The Samsung Galaxy S 3 has a large screen, something that iPhone users have been craving for a long time. The camera is very impressive
Although most of the major apps I was wanting (Twitter, WordPress, Dropbox, Chrome, 2Do, 1Password etc) were available on the Google Play store I found the apps lacking key features that are available on iOS.
WordPress does not have an option to resize an images before upload, 2Do does not have dropbox sync feature, 1Password cannot write data back to your password store, the Android camera app does not allow me to click a dark part of a photo and trigger more light into the camera as well as the iPhone does. The GS3 has a fantastic camera but I want more control of the camera in low light.
Talking to friends with iPhones they are saying I found this app to do ____ and this app to do ____. Androids app store seems to be a dumping ground for apps that are half-baked/converted or cheap apps with loads of ad banners. Most android users (that are not nerds) are running the default apps and a few apps from the phone vendor (Telstra quota graphs). The fact that Android apps stay hidden under an Apps menus is not good for prompting people to play around with customising their phone
I also had to dig deep to find a good virus scanner (something iOS users don’t have todo) as well as a data usage app. Loads of apps were available for free but most were rubbish or reported to redirect users to polish search engines.
The GS3 is quite capable hardware wise when compared to my iPhone 4 (http://smartphones.venturebeat.com/compare/45-245/Apple-iPhone-4-8GB-vs-Samsung-Galaxy-S3), the GS4 has a quad-core 1.4Ghz processor/iPhone dual core 1Ghz. The GS3 has 1GB or ram/iPhone 512MB etc but the Samsung feels sluggish.
For example activating the drop down menu sometimes takes three tries, the keyboard in many apps tales 2 seconds to appear, trying to get text input to be ready in Chrome takes 2-3 clicks. I often have to end tasks to get more than 90-MB memory free. I can’t say I have tested the 3D yet on the android but I would imagine it would be OK.
Often bring up photos fails to render icons (even though I copy off photos every few days and have 4Gb free). I can keep 8 months of photos on my iPhone and not have performance issues. Recording 720P videos is great on the GS3 but the file sizes are massive, I would like an option to trim or resize the size of a video before sending like on iOS but I guess Google want me to upload to Google + and Google YouTube instead.
Most things on the iOS side are fast and responsive, I know from developing iOS apps that Apple send notifications to all apps when memory is getting low, i you fail to free memory your app can be closed to free memory for the active app, android do not seem to do this.
Finding my way around Android settings menus can be a bit painful, trying to uninstall and app or finding out what is taking up 3GB or my 16GB phone, reporting 3GB of miscellaneous files is not good enough. The default Samsung and Android software seems to take up 5GB or the 16GB too.
Another problem with the android is the evolving nature of the android platform means major changes in menus from 4.0 to 4.1.2. This is not a problem for tech savvy people but it is for ma and pa who want to follow on screen setup guides for stuff.
What Android do well:
Android widgets are great, nothing better than placing interactive dynamic widgets amongst app icons. Animated backgrounds are good too but really just eye candy.
The Swiftkey adding for Android is a must, having a bigger screen does not make your typing any easier.
There are loads os ways to customise it check out http://mycolorscreen.com for examples.
Has the phone helped me debug apps for Android:
Yes and No. testing apps on a real device is priceless but I am starting to believe that iOS is 95% profit and 5% problems for developers and Android is 95% of problems and 5% of profit but I will plug away as I don’t think Android will be going away anytime soon.
I hope Apple do not stay in the doldrums for long as Android seems half-baked. I have always tried to swap PC computer part manufacturers to keep competition alive 9e.g buying Seagate or Western Digital hard drives or AMD or Nvidia video cards. Look at what has happened to Intel processors now that AMD have officially given up the performance race with intel (desktop processors from Intel have stayed about the same speed for the last 2 years).
Outstanding Issues Log:
– I sent myself a Richtext formatted message from Outlook 2013 with 2 pictures in it and the android cant view the images (they are just black).
– The GS3 image browser sometimes fails to load images at all until the phone is rebooted.
– I cant get custom ringtones working: http://www.androidcentral.com/adding-your-own-custom-sounds-android
– Android File Transfer does not connect to my device (error “could not connect to device, try reconnecting or restarting your device”): http://www.android.com/filetransfer/
– Samsungs “Kies” App for managing my GS3 (iTunes like program) is a joke.
– After installing the official Android Androif File transfer App, Kies fails to load. Uninstalling Android File Transfer fails to fix Kies.
– Cant play music with the Music Player (or winamp) after inserting a SD card and moving pictures and music there. I setup the default location for these locations, most apps don’t read the new locations from the settings. VLC does scan the SD card but it is not stable.
– Trying to add a mobile number to a contract or consolidate contacts is near impossible with the default contacts app.
– When the GS3 was below 5% battery I shutdown the device. Moments later I plugged it into power and powered the device back on but was presented with a battery icon for at least 15 minutes.
– Trying to get text input into a URL bar on Google Chrome required at least 4 presses and or at least 3 seconds for the textbox to receive focus.