Technologizer

Going Android: An Experiment

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images
Getty Images

Google's Hugo Barra announces Jelly Bean on June 27 at the Google I/O conference

I’ve logged plenty of hours on Android phones, starting with the very first one, the remarkably rudimentary G1, back in 2008. But the phones in question have always been backups to my main handset (which, since mid-2008, has been an AT&T iPhone). Or they’ve been Android phones that I was reviewing or otherwise experimenting with.

What I’ve never done is just use an Android model as the phone I rely on all day long to get actual stuff done.

The release of Android 4.1 — also known as Jelly Bean — seemed like a good opportunity to change that. At the moment, the new operating system is available only on the Galaxy Nexus units that Google handed out to developers and other attendees at last week’s Google I/O conference. So I took one of those phones down to my local AT&T store on Friday afternoon and had a rep switch my service over. For the moment at least, I’m putting my iPhone 4S aside and going Android full time and will write about the experience.

So far, I’ve mostly been getting up and running. After the switchover, my wife and I couldn’t exchange text messages, which seems to have been an artifact of two glitches: her iPhone initially thought it could still send me iMessages (which only work on Apple devices), and my Galaxy Nexus suffered from a known Android bug that I had to fix by deleting her contact record and starting over.

I’ve also been loading the Nexus up with my favorite apps from iOS — and when they’re not available, hunting for substitutes. I’ve installed Instagram, Instapaper, Flipboard, Foursquare, Path, Evernote and Draw Something. On the iPhone, I use an app called JotNot Scanner Pro to photograph receipts for expense reports; for the Nexus, I found something comparable called CamScanner. And after consulting with Android users on Twitter, I’ve settled (for now, at least) on a Twitter client called Boid. (On iOS, I usually use Tweetbot.)

All of these Android apps look good so far, but I did run into one snag: I was looking forward to reading the entire New York Times in Flipboard on my phone, but when I try to do so, I get a message saying the Times isn’t available on my device. Then again, I also can’t read it on my iPad, even though I’m a paying subscriber; I’m not sure why.

On the iPhone, I’ve been using an inventive new app called Cue, which melds together data from your e-mail, calendar and other sources into a snapshot of your day and the people who are part of it. The Cue folks are working on an Android version, but it isn’t here yet, and I don’t know of anything similar.

Oh, and here’s a case study in Android fragmentation: Bejeweled is available for Android … but it doesn’t run on the Galaxy Nexus. I found a replacement called Jewels Star that mimics the experience rather closely.

While setting up the Nexus, I wanted to install a custom lock-screen wallpaper on the phone while leaving the backdrop otherwise alone, as I did on my iPhone … and discovered that I couldn’t. But it is doable with a utility called WidgetLocker, which lets you tweak the lock screen in a ridiculous quantity of ways. It’s a good example of the sort of third-party customization app that iOS simply does not permit.

Speaking of customization, I set up the Nexus to work with Google Voice for both incoming and outgoing calls; incoming ones work well on the iPhone, but outgoing ones are clunky enough that I rarely make them. On Android, Google Voice is a first-class calling option integrated right into the phone.

That’s about it so far. I feel like I’m still in the process of moving into a new home, getting familiar with the surroundings and unpacking my belongings. More thoughts to come. And hey, Android aficionados: tell me which apps I should be using.

76 comments
MP
MP

Swype. It takes a while to get used to it, but now I couldn't use my touch keyboard any other way.  It's really, really fast.

I wish voice recognition software could figure out my spoken words as well as Swype eerily understands my haphazard Swyping

Element Mobilman
Element Mobilman

 If you own a Mac and an iPod/iPhone and love to program in C and don't mind paying heavy licensing fees, then sure, iOS development is for you.

If you don't have these problems, well....

Michael Permana
Michael Permana

I've been wanting to switch to iPhone but the latest OS market share release hold me. Android user is now 50.9% which is huge, and your article will help me should I move to iPhone or not. Google's keep expanding and the latest feature I like is Google Drive.

What I like most about Google products is that I can sync my contacts, calendar, chat, browser stuff (Chrome bookmarks) whenever I need to change my phone.

Anyway, for the Android apps "must-have" you can take a look at:

1. Norton Mobile Utilities

2. Norton Securities (both will scan the newly installed app and decide whether it's safe or not - which I think it's important as Google Play behaves differently with App Store)

3. And if you like to watch your data usage, you can try Onavo

4. Whatsapp

5. Plants War (a mini dotA like game. Very cool and sometimes it's tough)

6. Try to search on the categories "Live Wallpaper" to make your home screen "alive"

I think that's it for now. Have a nice Android experience! Please keep posting on this.

Roberto Lim
Roberto Lim

Swiftkey is my favorite Android keyboard. If you use Google Tasks, take a look at Tasks by Team Tasks. Picsay Pro for photo editing. I use Pocket instead of Instapaper. 

Albert Kim
Albert Kim

Try different launchers as well. It's like Springboard. If you have Jelly Bean on the nexus then you are running the best of the best right now but if you want to see the different customizations you can do, try Apex Launcher or Nova Launcher for ICS, Launcher Pro or ADW as well. Not sure if they are compatible for Jelly Bean.

Also make sure you mess around with the Google Now features. Offline voice recognition, directions, etc.

Try the Google + integrations.

Check out Android Police.com for more apps. They do weekly reviews of the top apps.

Gin Heedneeds
Gin Heedneeds

Text 3060402 to 69937 for 'Night Time by Tyler Shemwell...G-ESTEEM

/I'm i doing too much/Or losing my touch/

...a brilliantly written song about "can't wait until night time to party," with lines like,/Riding through the slum/Where i'm from/A place where crack fiends and fat girls love me the most/Some never made it home to take their work clothes off/Afraid they gonna miss something/.

-"Real and A Good Time"

G-ESTEEM-A tenacious confidence;mental toughness"If god is with me than who can be against me? I can do anything. G-ESTEEM Go hard,we dying soon.G-ESTEEM "The game is in belief"

STAY BOW-LEGGED amp; THICK. G-ESTEEM (Presidential Election Nov 6, 2012) 44-Life

Dan Saint-Andre
Dan Saint-Andre

There is also a calendar app, Pimlical-A, available from their pimlico.com web site for a few US dollars.  It is very high function and high feature.  Sadly, it lacks a "widget" ... yet ... and it is not available from the Market, er "Google® Play™" over-the-air store.

Dan Saint-Andre
Dan Saint-Andre

There is a whole suite of apps, GO xxxxxx, for keyboard, SMS, Contacts, Dialer, Locker, Email, Home pages, and such.  I use most of these. They have no cost for the most part, and they add a lot of ease-of-use to my Galaxy Note.

Mark Robison
Mark Robison

Galaxy Nexus sales have been banned due to a copyright injunction by Apple. And rightly so. Now that apple has become the the most successful company in the world, it seems that hate comes along with that. Iphone still reign number one. Why?? because it is the best. Sorry Android users.

Gabriel E Romero
Gabriel E Romero

Such a cute angry little fight picker! Do another one! Do another one!

Con Meo
Con Meo

 Yes iphone is the best. That's why I move to galaxy family ( galaxy s3 now ).

Cause I want the better phone of the best phone.

And galaxy s3 is the better phone than iphone 4.

use it both than judge.

But I guess you don't have enough money to buy galaxy s3.

Only android user is rich enough to buy both and test it and they now android is a better phone. my history of phone. so I know how to judge.

iphone 1 ( used for 2-3 weeks )

iphone 3gs ( used for 1 year )

iphone 4 ( used for 1 year ) than my 7 years old son use it

iphone 4s ( my wife used atm. piece of rubbish )

galaxy s2 used for 1 years

galaxy note used for 6 months.

galaxy s3 used for weeks now.

galaxy note 2 is my next phone.

do you have enough money to buy all of these phone to test it? no ? poor bastard.

Nazim Aliyev
Nazim Aliyev

I have both iPhone (in my case iPhone 4s) and Android (in my case Motorola Atrix 4g). And in my opinion Android is best platform ever (just my opinion, opinion of UNIX/Linux professional)

AppleJacqueline
AppleJacqueline

What's funny is that a small number of people use Android to their full potential, while the majority have crappy low-spec phones.

perfectlyreasonabletoo
perfectlyreasonabletoo

When a juggernaut like EA says fragmentation is a problem but some knockoff company that can't even manage proper English in their app description hasn't got the same issue, it looks more like incompetence mixed with a "take the money and run" attitude to me.

If you restore a Bejeweled backup from a "compatible" device, what happens? It does a license check, sees that it's not authorized for your type of device, and quits. Well $50 says if I just downloaded a cracked copy with the license check removed it would run fine.

The whole point is to sell me Bejeweled 2 at some point in the future. It's standard EA obsolescence-by-design, like how you can't keep playing your EA Sports games unless you keep paying another $60 every year for nothing more than an updated roster. As if keeping a matchmaking server running is going to break the bank when they've been pumping out an identical set of games every year since the beginning of the console cycle.

harrymccracken
harrymccracken

Interesting take. Of course, for users, it doesn't really matter what causes fragmentation. The end result is the same no matter what.

Milind
Milind

If you are using Google Voice, you should be texting using the Google Voice app as well.  If you use the native messaging app (or a 3rd party app like the excellent Handcent), the other party will see your cell phone number instead of your GVoice number and reply to that and possibly add it as your mobile number in their phone book.  The real beauty of Google Voice is that I have never had to give out my cell phone number to anyone.  I have been able to change carriers with impunity.  And since texting with GVoice is free, you can lower your month bill by opting out of an SMS plan.  You will have to turn off notification from the default messaging app otherwise, it will confuse the heck out of you getting notifications from both GVoice and the Messaging app.  The drawback to texting from GVoice is that the app itself is pretty rudimentary compared to say Handcent.

bluemarc22
bluemarc22

Don;t listen to these guys harry.   Well dne on giving it a fair shot.   If you use gmail or Google Apps, using the gmail app on Android 4 or 4.1 is a game-changer.   And use that Nav app at will, it's very cool.   And check the Google Maps settings for "Lab" settings, I like the Maps Places bubble buttons 

bluemarc22
bluemarc22

Don;t listen to these guys harry.   Well dne on giving it a fair shot.   If you use gmail or Google Apps, using the gmail app on Android 4 or 4.1 is a game-changer.   And use that Nav app at will, it's very cool.   And check the Google Maps settings for "Lab" settings, I like the Maps Places bubble buttons 

bluemarc22
bluemarc22

install shush for muting your phone.  It's cool as hell.   I also like 1weather, zite, all the google stuff.

TheWhiteLotus
TheWhiteLotus

A few words of advice: try using Google Voice with it, NEVER install a task killer (they mess up the OS and cause force closes and poor battery life, and use Google services like Google Music and Google+ Photos to sync everything. You'll never go back to iOS if you do.

Edward Sudjatmiko
Edward Sudjatmiko

If I read correctly last week, New York Times decided not to put their content on Flipboard. If you have Jelly Bean, Google Now is a very powerful platform built into Android. I think that would be the main selling point of Android phones going forward (if there are more 4.1 devices available, of course). 

As far as Android apps, I love FlightTrack if you travel a lot, and make sure you install Google+, so you can do Hangout, which is also a very strong point on Android side. For twitter client, I like to use Tweetdeck, but I know there are other client as well like Tweetcaster. I'm lazy to switch, so I stick with Tweetdeck for now.

For jotting down quick notes, I use ColorNotes because I can sync it to multiple devices. For budgeting app, I like EEBA, for the same reason because I can sync it.

Since widget is one of Android's advantage, I like to have Beautiful Widgets apps on my homescreen.

Kangaruhz
Kangaruhz

Gladly :)

First, don't download apps from your phone (if that's what you're doing). Go to the play store on your computer's browser and log into your Google account. You should see your phone and the apps you have downloaded if you go to the "My Android Apps" tab. 

Besides basic Google Apps (Gapps), here are my recommendations:

Barcode Scanner 

https://play.google.com/store/...

Bible

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Congress

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Google Authenticator (for two-step verification on your Google account)

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Magic Piano

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Flixster

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Paper Camera

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Pocket Whip Free

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Quick Settings

https://play.google.com/store/... 

RingDimmer

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Sky Map

https://play.google.com/store/... 

SoundHound

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Super Dimmer

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Swiftkey3 (you may not want this with the awesome JB keyboard)

https://play.google.com/store/... 

TuneIn Radio

https://play.google.com/store/... 

United States Constitution

https://play.google.com/store/... 

Zedge

https://play.google.com/store/... 

There are many other great apps and games, but this is a good start. Enjoy!

Stephanie Daugherty
Stephanie Daugherty

I've been really impressed with both Tweetdeck and HootSuite for twitter clients. The newest Firefox release is also a must have (the old one was clunky - the newest one is actually on par with the built in browser and sometimes faster).

 Carat is an interesting experiment towards improving battery life on Android (one of the chief complaints I've seen from Android users) but don't expect instant results - rhe app monitors the device for about 7-10 days before it gives it's first reports, but once it does, it gives a clear indication of which apps are to blame for reduced battery life and how much damage they are doing.

Addons detector is useful to see what type of ads are installed with free apps - a few of them use some type of push notification that sends ads even when the app isn't running - this will help you figure out which one to get rid of if you run into such an app.

Cliff Marano
Cliff Marano

I used both on a regular basis (iPhone for work and Galaxy Nexus for personal use).  Both nice platforms but personally I prefer Android.

randymagruder
randymagruder

Personally, having flashed Jelly Bean 4.1 onto my Galaxy Nexus, I'll NEVER go back to Ice Cream Sandwich.  It's kind of a religious experience.  For all of the gloss and neatness that is ICS, 4.1 just murders it.  Google Now, the new notifications, and perhaps best of all the silky smooth and ridiculously fast performance which matches or beats iOS in many ways, will make you not want to go back.  My fear is that without flashing Jelly Bean (available at XDA-Developers.com and Rootzwiki.com) you may still end up being homesick for iOS where performance is concerned.

Jimmy Hendrickson
Jimmy Hendrickson

Also, SwiftKey is a great third-party keyboard that makes typing effortless.

Jimmy Hendrickson
Jimmy Hendrickson

You should check out Wave Launcher.  It's the most useful app I've ever installed on my phone.

Dan Antonson
Dan Antonson

YOU HAVE TO USE MIGHTYTEXT!!! You'll get hooked instantly. Mightytext allows you to send text messages from Google Chrome, there's also a web app. My 100% favorite application. 

Marc Missildine
Marc Missildine

Just going by your description for Cue, try Executive Assistant on Android.  You can have it display a Summary which is like cue, or you can split up calls/calendar events/ sms's separately.  Integrates with Google Voice which I use also.  

Marks ThinkTank
Marks ThinkTank

I develop on both platforms but only recently on iOS. 

Check out my latest app Wave Control. It allows you to control your phone just by waving your hand over it, no touching required. By default it controls music playback so you don't have to unlock your phone to jump to the next song. It great for in the car or at the gym. 

It's a good example of the differences in the platforms. The Android version has much much more capability because I'm just not allowed to do most things on iOS. 

Here's some demo videos of it in action:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...

fredphoesh
fredphoesh

@harrymccracken, instead of using Cue, or trying to find a replacement, consider that Cue is unnecessary on Android as android has widgets for mail, calendar, etc... you dont need to open an app to get a snapshot of your day, its there all the time.

I spent two weeks as the owner of an iphone between my HTC Hero and my first Galaxy S, and just could not take the suffocating Apple Corporation cable, Apple Corporation Quicktime, Apple Corporation iTunes, and then  I could not just drag and drop stuff as I wanted, I had to sync as the Apple Corporation forced... That on top of the boring interface with a bunch of shortcuts on the home screen had me leap back to Android. Now on SGSIII, I have bought a 4s for my wife, its a great phone for a woman who fears technology.

prestone1
prestone1

instead of cue shouldnt u be using Google Now for 4.1?

harrymccracken
harrymccracken

Looking forward to the widgets, and to Google Now, but what Cue does is quite different from either of them.

Jarrod Bush
Jarrod Bush

You want to see 2 things Android can do that iOS will NEVER be able to do?  1.) Mighty Text and 2.) (If you have some time to set it up) Tasker.  Completely automate your phone (i.e. Turn on Wi-Fi when you get home, turn on GPS when you open navigation and auto shut off when you exit navigation, set an alarm clock for you every night, etc etc) without you having to hit a single button almost all day.

Daner Doodle
Daner Doodle

hold on hold on...hold ON. this guy writes for time magazine's tech section, but he took his phones to the atamp;t  store to 'have a rep switch' his service...it's a GSM PHONE! you simply put the tiny chip from the one phone to the other! 

wow.

Cowboydroid
Cowboydroid

Tech journalism is severely wanting these days. Strange, since we're entering a time when the tech industry industry is becoming a behemoth.

crow57
crow57

He admits he's been using an iPhone for 4 years - don't expect too much from him...   But hey, he's smart enough to throw himself into the Android pool and start swimming!

Element Mobilman
Element Mobilman

 Usually people make the switch in the opposite direction. What did Loki say in that new Avengers movie? "People like to bow down." (To him.)

harrymccracken
harrymccracken

No, no, no, no. I don't claim to be an expert on everything. But this much I do know: The iPhone 4S takes a Micro SIM, and the Galaxy Nexus takes a full-sized one. I had to go to ATamp;T to get a SIM which was compatible with the Nexus.

agenius
agenius

there's a list of ways to do that, and you chose what is perhaps the least interesting. I cut my own sim into micro-sim size to fit my ipad (you can find instructions to do this online). I then (admittedly with less ease than I'd like) fit this into my galaxy note's slot, by a random combo of trial-and-error and estimating where i'd sit if I were a micro-sim with sim aspirations...you live, you learn, eh? ; )

Samuel Ford
Samuel Ford

Somehow the reply ended up as a new post, so I'll repost my reply:I'm an iOS developer.What, prey tell, is Google's business of not ads? Last I checked, by their own financial reports 97% percent of all Google revenue comes from ads.If they could figure out a way to make Android a healthy and profitable platform for themselves, their hardware partners, and the developer community without relying on ads, I would absolutely find it more interesting.Especially if it wasn't a Java-based OS.

Samuel Ford
Samuel Ford

I'm an iOS developer.

What, prey tell, is Google's business of not ads? Last I checked, by their own financial reports 97% percent of all Google revenue comes from ads.

If they could figure out a way to make Android a healthy and profitable platform for themselves, their hardware partners, and the developer community without relying on ads, I would absolutely find it more interesting.

Especially if it wasn't a Java-based OS.

Jardin J
Jardin J

I'm still on Ice Cream Sandwich, but here are my favorites:

DropboxPandora

TED

Mint

Lair Defense: Shrine (If you like tower defense games)

Alarm Clock Plus (option to make you do math in various levels of complexity to turn the alarm off)

Waze

Actually, the TIME app is not that great. Won't recognize that I am a subscriber or allow my to comment. Something you might pass along?

harrymccracken
harrymccracken

Thanks! And I'll take a look at our Android app.

Chris Fatica
Chris Fatica

Here are my recommendations.

1. Nova Launcher - more customization control over home screens, app drawer and more

2. Light Flow - Full control over the phone's LED  

3. TweetDeck - great Twitter app and can connect to facebook as well if you want

4. DoggCatcher - best podcast app I've found

5. Pulse - another news app alternative to flipboard

6. Droots - fun little live wallpaper where you can plant seeds and watch them grow

7. Flixster - movie reviews and theater times

8. Netflix - looks great on the GN's large screen

9. Osmos HD - fun game 

10. PriceCheck - Amazon app to price compare

11. Ringtone Maker - take any of your MP3's on the phone and make a ringtone out of it

12. SlideIT Keyboard - sliding keyboard, swype alternative

13. WeatherBug - weather app that puts the temperature in your notification bar for easy access

zgryfx
zgryfx

Some Apps to consider:

Glympse is a nice cross platform app that allows you to temporarily share your location.  Wife asking where the heck you are?  Send her a Glympse.  It times out automatically (15 min to 4 hours, set by you), lots of options, and works on Android, iOS, web browser and BB.

 Torque is a nice app that lets you communicate with your car's OBD2 port via $15 ELM327 module (can be found on Amazon). Easy to install.  Lite version lets you view and reset Check Engine light as well as view basic telemetry from your car.  Very handy.

Pulse and Currents are good supplements to Flipboard

Camera360 is a fantastic photo app.  Take a picture and the app allows you to try out and change to different effects like HDR, tilt shift, sketch etc.  Want to change a Bamp;W effect to a LOMO? No problem.  Can share to FB, Flickr, Google+ etc.

WiFi File Transfer allows you to share the contents of your Android with your Laptop or PC.  Upload, Download, Edit files and folders etc.  Free version has a 4MB filesize limit.

Dropbox, Box, Evernote, and Google Drive are all available.

Where's My Droid.  Free app that can take the phone out of silent mode and ring or send it's location to you, if you text a specific message to it.

Osmand nice offline GPS navigation app.  Allows you to preload maps of different areas on your phone.  Good if you visit 3rd world countries with spotty internet.

Runkeeper.  lets you trend your pace and other work out.  Gives you audible cues via headset and uploads your route and pertinent telemetry on their website.  If you're serious about training, you can get the Pro version, but the free version is quite good.

Cowboydroid
Cowboydroid

I recommend almost every application that Google provides. They're all top-notch and well designed, and you could almost live with just those on your device. Everything else I have loaded on my Nexus is sort of filler. 

Many "popular" applications are just ports from iOS, in which the developer decided it was easier to be lazy and not optimize the application for Android and its design guidelines (Draw Something is a prime example of this). They're OK apps, but once you've seen an app that's been properly designed for 4.0, you'll get frustrated with the ones that aren't.

FrillArtist
FrillArtist

Way to see the light, Harry. A nice app I would recommend is "Chrome to Phone". Very handy for sending links to your phone from your computer.

Cowboydroid
Cowboydroid

That's if you have an older device. The new Chrome for Android makes that redundant, as it syncs all open web pages across devices.

FrillArtist
FrillArtist

Yes but not everyone uses the Chrome browser. I have a GNex and I much prefer to use the stock browser so I still use Chrome to Phone. I'm sure over time the stock browser will become Chrome though. I think Chrome coming out of beta is a good sign.

EvilBadger69
EvilBadger69

As far as I'm aware the Nexus 7 comes with Chrome preinstalled as default.