Android OS: What I Learnt in Under a Week

Android robot logo.

Image via Wikipedia

Well, if you look back across my posts, you could see that I was fairly anxious for my new phone, the HTC Desire HD.
Well, I finally got it, and haven’t been able to tear it away from my hands since. This is not a review, so I have said my say of this beast.

In my short time of owning an Android device, I have come to realise a few key things about the platform, the community, and the app ecosystem.
I would not say I am an expert – I am far from one – but these are a few things that I would have considered before choosing Android. Not saying I would not have chosen ‘droid, but I would have been better prepared. I still like Android, and would have chosen it anyway.

First: Android is data hungry

Tell the truth, what modern internet-connected platform isn’t? But I, naturally and naïvely, assumed that much of the functionality was simply opt in and data-friendly. Short answer, no, it isn’t. It’s opt-out, and in some rare cases, perma-on.
There is a good reason many of the American and British retailers offered unlimited data! Because you will need want it. If you aren’t careful, you will eat through your data bundle/airtime. Oh, and it seems many app dev’s simply don’t code for lower speeds/signal. I have noticed many apps just don’t like a slow connection. They crash, or don’t respond. A pity, but that’s what happens when you have an open development platform.

I have use a hellava lot of data so far. I’ve downloaded many apps, which average around 2megs; using said apps, which could really use some trimming in regards to adverts (If you want it free, expect ads); and then simply stuff that the phone wants to do. Like start every piece of software that the phone shipped with. I do not need an update on stocks every 5 minutes. This is a limitation/fault of the company you get  the phone from though, so not the ‘droids fault.
A naked install of Android does not come with any bloat, so yeah, there you go. A good reason to root.

Note: You are going to need a data monitor on your phone, look around for one. I am using 3G watchdog for monthly usage tracking, Network Usage for per-app monitor (It’s not perfect, but works)

Second: Android is about the apps

Again, these days, every smartphone has an app store. But really, Android is like Firefox. It works. It does what’s required, but without the plugins(apps), you really aren’t using the program correctly, smartly or even as intended.

Android’s SMS client is perfectly capable, but there are better ones via apps. Hell, the default client is an pre-installed app! Everything is modulated, so everything (well, just about) can be changed. Some require rooting, something I expect I will only do far down the line.

The phrase “there’s an app for that” really captures the mood for I get from Android. I’m certain that iOS is the same. Except for the interchangeability of, well, anything.

Thirdly: Android users need tech knowledge

I’m not talking about coding experience, I’m talking about user-friendliness. Android, on the surface, is very user-friendly. And you really can use the phone perfectly fine, and everything works and the sun is shining, but if you don’t have ample data, or battery life, you are going to need to start menu-diving. Android is intimidating.

Android seems to ship with a cubic-sh*tload of menus. If it exists, there is a menu behind it. And usually a sub-menu. This is not a problem in strictest sense, because you can really make your android yours, the way you want it to work, play and fail. iOS doesn’t allow the same fun depth, but these are two different markets I feel.

Android users tend to be people in the tech sector, or at least people who love tech. We don’t like our software treating us like we are stupid, so we chose a platform that can challenge us when we want.

This stems from the same branch as app popularity. Firefox used to be a 1337 browser, the Linux of browsers, reserved for sessions between Star Trek and D&D. Firefox is now a major player is the browser market, more than just the geeks use it. Firefox is modular, addons were the order of the day, and the reason I switched. All those plugins were an early model for the apps of today. Firefox isn’t the easiest browser, but arguable the most powerful, and certainly the most extendable. Open-Source for ya!

Anyway, the Android platform wants you to learn how it works so that you can use in ways you wouldn’t think it was capable of. It’s a great payoff, but requires time, and some tech experience to really break into. If you haven’t yet figured out how to change the background of your desktop, stay far away from Android.

Anyways, I’m done with this post, think I’ll post some great app finds next time.
I wrote this via my Desire HD, using the WordPress app. As yet, can’t find a proper global spellcheck option, or app. Limitation or opportunity?

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