Apr 06 AT 11:13 AM Guest Blogger 5 Comments

I Fell In Love With An AndroiD<

I bought an Android phone just to check it out (’cause that’s what I’m supposed to do; my friends count on me for that.) I bought it in spite of that fact that I hate T-Mobile, in spite of the fact that Android didn’t support Microsoft Exchange or view PDFs or let me view and edit Microsoft Office documents, and in spite of the fact that T-Mobile wanted to assign me a “ghetto” 510 area code number. None of that mattered. I just wanted to see it. I had 30 days to return it and that’s what I’d do.

Goodbye, Sprint!

What a surprise! After spending 100 hours playing with the phone (downloading software, configuring things, hooking up external devices, even making some phone calls), I had to admit I was in love. Goodbye, Sprint! Nothing else matters.

Why? It’s all about the software. In their attempt to lock you into their platform, brand themselves, and encourage you to buy silly things from them (like ring tones), the carriers all cement a layer of useless bloatware over the phone’s native programming. This junk is always thrown together haphazardly, poorly integrated, and badly designed. Basically, Microsoft and Palm and Sprint each have their own agenda and they are slugging it out in the arena of your phone. (Even now, Sprint is delaying the launch of it’s own Android phone so that Samsung can add a bunch of Sprint crap to the user interface.)

In contrast, Android is designed to be open. There are hundreds of programs available for it, most of which are free, and they all play well together by design. You can add and remove them at the touch of a button without ever having to deal with your carrier.

Zillions of Programs

“Who needs zillions of programs on their phone?”, you ask. Well, there’s one that can use the camera to take a picture of a book or a CD and find the lowest prices for that item in nearby stores and on the Internet. Take that, William Shatner!

There’s an augmented reality program that uses the camera to display whatever you are looking at on the screen, drawing labels over the picture in real time to identify what you are seeing. It will point out Angel Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, San Quentin, and so forth. A similar program identifies the stars and constellations as you point it around the night sky.

Around the house, you can snap pictures of barcodes as you run out of things and it will put them on your shopping list. There’s a compass and a runner’s log and even an audio editing tool to make your own ring tones. It’s a camera and a GPS and a voice recorder, plus email and a web browser. It has visual voicemail, newsreaders and music and podcast players, Skype and Twitter clients. Oh yeah, and it’s a phone!

Plus, if you ever lose it, you can send it a text and it will tell you where it is. There’s also a bunch of games for it, but I’ve been having too much serious fun to play with them.

Why Android and Why Now?

There’s no end to the creativity people are demonstrating with Android, but why this platform and why now? Because Google and the Open Handset Alliance found a secret formula for harnessing the creativity of developers.

First of all, they built a device that has all the hardware you need to do interesting things. It has a GPS, a 3-axis accelerometer and a magnetic compass, WiFi, 3G networking, and bluetooth, a touch screen and a keyboard, speaker and a processor with video and music capability. If you can’t have fun with all that, then you shouldn’t be programming. It even has a multi-color LED.

Secondly, they created an operating system that works like a LEGO set, making it easy to build programs out of pieces of stuff that you and your friends have done before. Need a map of your current location? Just call one up. Need to play an alarm tone at a certain time? There’s a system service for that.

And last, but not least, they made it easy to get your new software creation into the handsets of thousands of grateful users through the Android marketplace. Even if your first creation is free, you can make a ton of money selling the advanced version for $0.99. And the cost to be a developer is just $25.00 (a paltry sum when compared to other developer programs.)

The Future

The Android platform is still in its infancy, but it’s remarkable how quickly the market is maturing. It seems clear that Android’s operating system is going to break out of the phone and spawn a whole new generation of portable computers that will replace the laptops of today. In short, netbooks are going to fall in love with Android, too. Chip manufacturers are already tooling up and companies like HP are making early announcements.

I think Android as a new computing platform makes perfect sense. After living on Android for a week, my big, fast Windows machine feels clunky and out of date. If Android had a little bit bigger keyboard and screen, I’d use it for everything, relegating my Windows machine to really big jobs like video editing, 3D modeling, and first-person shooters.

And what about the iPhone? A beautiful product for sure, and a terrific success story for the company, but once again Apple is headed in the wrong direction by vertically integrating. Silly boys, the future is open! But that’s a story for another time.

My beloved T-Mobile G1.

My beloved T-Mobile G1.

[This article comes from Android lover Rick Scherle.  If you would like to share your own love affair with Android, we would gladly post it.  We hope to build a collection of these pieces so readers can see our passion for the Android mobile platform.]

From time to time we invite guest bloggers to contribute articles about various Android topics. This is one of those times...

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  • abrizz

    oooooh i want one! I so agree with your assessment. I have always been a tweaker, looking for ways to make the devices I use fit me and what I want rather then the other way around. I really hate it when there are possibilities in hardware that are closed because someone thought they could decide better then me how I want to do things.
    I am so excited about the android mobiles coming soon. Sadly i live in Sweden so haven’t had the G1 available to me. I hope we get the HTC magic soon. It appears it will be bound to vodaphone in Europe though, who of course does not carry in Sweden. But hopefully I will be able to get it anyway soon.
    Right now I have a SE M600 which has been great. Mostly in thanks to the GDesk application which has enabled me to tweak the GUI to my liking.
    I have only been reading about the OS and all the different apps so far, but I like them all. I may not have any use for them, but the fact that they exist for those who have the use is wonderful.

  • zajjar

    Really nice article! Thanks for it. I fell in love with an Android as well :-)

  • Nick

    My thoughts exactly! I left Sprint for T-Mobile to get a G1 and haven’t looked back since. T-Mobile has been great to me (the voice service is a little more spotty than Sprint, but nothing major), and getting an Android phone was worth every penny. This is the first phone I’ve actually loved and felt proud to own.

  • Gammax

    the reason why I like android so much is because my current fone the helio ocean has no way to evolve.cant wait to get my g1

  • pupnik

    I am surprised to see how completely ignorant people are of the variety products already out there. See the nokia N810, N900 for an alternative and imho superior offering for linux-based open-source software tablets/phones.