Before I get into this whole mix, I want to point something out, something all of you know but somehow like to ignore or not admit. The iPhone as a cell phone is mediocre at best, the iPhone as a music player is great (I give it this, the iPod is great), the iPhone as a device to use and live with as a serious techie, nothing short of pathetic.
Any system that has 16gb+ of storage that does not allow you to save files onto it, is a piece of garbage. We are talking 1981 technology here, copy to the hard drive style, “copy a:\*.* c:\files\*.*” style here. I found myself in a hotel room armed with only an iPhone wanting to watch a video, I could not. I couldn’t stream it, I couldn’t download it, nothing. Next, I needed to get a zip off of one of my work websites, rarely do I travel without my laptop but this was an exception, I took a quick flight out for a funeral but no problem, I had my iPhone… wrong. I guess I knew all along it couldn’t do these things, but it didn’t become important to me until I actually had to, and could not. Then, in that brief moment of sorrow after researching and realizing I had to download a bunch of jailbreak apps, jump through hoops, section off some of the file system, and hope my phone didn’t crash through all of this that, maybe, I should just get an Android phone.
The next day I met up with a long time friend I had not seen in years, my family and his all went to dinner together. During dinner I noticed his phone, a Galaxy S. I said, “hey let me see that.” He did and I proceeded to play with it. It responded nice, not as smooth as the iPhone I will admit, but I wasn’t after a ball cupping, I was after the long stroke. I wanted to download files, copy them to the hard drive, access them via usb or wifi, play, edit, extract, run, upload, download… I wanted functionality. I got exactly what I wanted, after ignoring everyone at the dinner table for thirty minutes, I had decided, when I get home, my iPhone was going to ebay, and I am switching to Android.
On my island (I serously live on an island, go figure) we don’t have much choice other than AT&T, so we called them on the phone, got a Samsung Captivate (Galaxy S) for $200, and my journey into happiness began. The first thing I did was arm my Google muscle and look up switching from iPhone to Android tips. The most important thing on my mind was to save the contacts… this proved to be very easy. I synced my contacts to Windows Contacts, and proceeded to export the file. I uploaded the exported file into Google and bam, Google had all my contacts. This is important since the phone would log into Google and download all of my contacts, you can pick to save them on the sim, the phone, or Google. I’m happy living in the clouds so this worked out well for me. My work email has always been setup as IMAP so I had nothing to do with that. I use GMAIL as my primary personal email so there was no problem with that either, I quickly realized that aside from my contacts, I had nothing to change.
I figured the time had come so I called AT&T and had the new phone activated. I connected to my WiFi, got synced up with Google, and was quickly raping the android app store. I will admit openly, the app store was a bit of a let down. I also want to point out, it is not a reason to not get an Android phone. If you feel you can’t live without your apps please move to France because you aren’t tough enough to be American. The main app store is full of crap, 1 in 20 apps is worth downloading, some crash, some just don’t work at all. There is an app called “AppBrain” that sorts out the better apps and gives you access to them, so I got myself WinAMP, VLC, K9 Mail, YELP, AIM, Photoshop (you heard me correctly), Astro, Dropbox, Pandora, Websharing (wifi browser based file access upload/download from any pc on the network), MP3 Ringtone Creator, Facebook, and the all mighty One Click Lag Fix (OCLF).
Most of these apps are commonplace so I’m not really going to get into all of them. I will however give an explination of two that you may not know about being a poor lost iPhone user. Astro is a file explorer, it just gives you access to the basic file system on the phone so you can punch through the directories and see what you have, make new folders, delete junk files, you know, extremely basic functionality that you can’t have without jailbreaking your iphone. The second app that I will explain about is the One Click Lag Fix (OCLF). This created, from what I can tell (and I’m sure I will be corrected) a swap file of sorts on my phone, which made my already fast phone much faster. The app also rooted the phone and gave me superuser ability so that I can remove the stock AT&T bloatware, another great feature. This is the single most important app to get for your new Android phone, but not the first one you should get. Get used to the phone, how it functions, and how to get your things done, and then start hacking the crap out of it.
Now onto some of the bad I have discovered. The Android OS is not as user friendly as the iPhone, it is however fully functional. I would not give my mother an Android phone, she needs the training wheels, that is why the iPhone is good for her. This is phone specific and not Android specific, TBH when people have anything bad to say about Android, it’s normally in regards to the phone and not the platform. The Samsung Captivate has pretty shotty GPS. In urban city centers with clear view of the sky, I have no problem with it. On my island is a different story. It cannot find my location, and that would stink if I was just visiting and wanted to use Yelp. In addition to the GPS problems, and to my surprise, the navigation app isn’t very good as well. I’m sure this will change, and I rarely use it anyway since my car has amazing GPS built in, but I’m sure someone will use it, and I’m sure someone else will say that it sucks.
So in the end, I am a happier person, I have broke free of Apple’s death grip, and I have started down the path of my own choosing. I have had the phone for three weeks now, traveled to Vegas with it, taken pictures, video, loaded movies on it (native XVID support), purchased mp3’s from Amazon (did I mention no iTunes, seriously, this may be the best part), and added a 2nd 16gb MicroSD card for a total of 32GB storage. I can now carry around more than one battery so if I run out, I can actually swap another in and keep using my phone (interchangeable batteries, who would have thunk it, oh wait, everyone did, 30 years ago), and the best part, I don’t have to give Steve Jobs any more of my money. I suspect he doesn’t need it anyway.