June 26, 2010
An HTC Droid Incredible through Verizon.
2. Looks pretty cool. What operating system does it run?
Android 2.1 ("Eclair") plus HTC Sense. Android 2.1 is the operating system, and Sense is an extra user interface layer added by HTC. The native Android UI is a bit inconsistent across the OS and Sense cleans that up a bit.
Rumor has it that I'll get the FroYo, Android 2.2 update later this year.
3. Why an Android phone, why not an iPhone?
While I've wanted an iPhone since they day they were announced three and a half years ago, the right set of circumstances to justify owning one never happened. For the last 18 months we lived in worked in Manhattan where AT&T doesn't provide 3G service. Buying a 3G phone, i.e., an iPhone, here meant existing on the Edge data network when out of range of WiFi. Also, there are reports of dropped calls amongst my iPhone owning friends here in town.
If Apple had opened up the phone to other carriers I would have had a much tougher decision to make, but without 3G I went with Android.
4. What did you give up to gain 3G data?
Nothing. All the use cases I had for a smartphone work wonderfully on the Incredible. In many cases I'm using software from the same producers as I would be using had I bought an iPhone.
5. What are your smartphone "use cases?"
I wanted several things: to read eBooks (specifically using eReader.com as I have 159 titles from them), to access email, to have my calendar, to do some Internet browsing, to access and read PDF files, to have a pocket sized GPS device with navigation, and to have a decent pocket sized camera.
There are Android applications for all these functions and more.
6. What are some of your favorite applications?
I am continually wowed by Google Sky Maps. It and other augmented reality applications are stunning to see and use. As a musician I am enjoying getting to use Cleartune's excellent chromatic tuner application. It provides, among many other features, tuning in true 5ths as opposed to equal temperament 5ths, useful for a cello. And, while I am not a gamer by any stretch of the word, I am enjoying Air Control, where you act as the control tower trying to land as many planes as possible.
7. If there is something about your phone or Android you don't like, what is it?
A couple of the included HTC Sense widgets aren't as full featured as they could be. The default weather application is extremely limited in the locations you can display. Unless your phone as been to a place, and you've deliberately added it, you likely can't see the weather there. For example, I want to add Decatur IL where my father lives. Can't do it. I can add Chicago, but not St. Louis. There are other weather widgets, but those aren't skinned with the Sense look-and-feel.
The alarm clock once it has been snoozed can't be turned off. You either wait the 10 minutes and turn it off when it sounds again, or disable the repeating alarm altogether.
Physically the phone is very nice. Most of the reviews I've read about the Incredible complain about the joystick. (A) you don't really need it, and (B) using it to take pictures is fiddly. I would agree with both of those statements.
8. What surprised you most about the phone?
That I can easily develop and deploy applications for it. In a few hours time (after reading the excellent "Hello, Android" book from Pragmatic Programmers) I was able to create a simple application that displays information about your current WiFi connection and DHCP assigned IP address. I could have done this on an iPhone too, but not as quickly and easily as I already know Java and XML, I would have to learn Objective-C. And I can share my application with any other Android user without going through a centralized application repository.
9. Should I get an Android too?
Rather than ask which phone you should get, make a list of the top 5 things you expect to use the phone for, and then look at the phones that will best enable those uses. Smartphones are expensive and the data plans are costly as well. Buying a phone just to have it is a poor idea, especially in light of the extremely high early termination fees.
10. What do you think the iPhone is better at than Android?
Since Apple manufactures and controls the entire iPhone experience, from hardware (including the CPU) to software, the overall experience is perhaps better integrated. To my way of thinking Apple is all about selling experience rather than any one particular device. The cellphone carriers are only interested in getting you to sign a contract. Android, and other smartphones, by their very nature will always have a more piecemeal feel to them.