Archive for the 'iPhone' Category

29
Nov
10

Seeing the Droid X Through iPhone-Colored Glasses

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Last year about this time, I was using my iPhone and peering over at the screen of my Android-owning colleagues, envying the flexibility and customizability that they experienced. I had grown tired of looking at a screen with a black background and five rows of four icons. And while jailbreaking was an option that might give me a bit more control over my device, I guess what I was after was a clean break. I had been an iPhone user since it launched in the summer of 2007 and… well… it was time for a change. Or so I thought.

I’ve been using the Droid X for just over four months now and my experience has been mixed. There are many reasons why I like my Droid X running Android 2.2 (which I’ll go into here in detail) but the long and short of it is that I will be making my way back to the Apple Store, hat in hand, asking them to hand me one of those boxes with the "iPhone 4" stamped across the side.

Let me get this out of the way right now: anyone who knows me personally knows that I’m a huge Apple aficionado. I own three Macs, an iPhone 3GS, an Apple TV and an iPad. But what’s more important to understand about me is that I’m a technologist. I use and have experimented with just about any consumer electronics device and category that you could imagine. I truly wanted my Android experience to work out. Honestly I did. I wanted to carry an Android if for no other reason than to act as a counter to all of this Apple stuff that surrounds me. It’s like calling a guy a racist and then finding out that his wife is of the race you accuse him of showing bias towards. It doesn’t exactly relieve you of the accusation, but it does call it into heavy questioning.

Continue reading ‘Seeing the Droid X Through iPhone-Colored Glasses’

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03
Jul
10

HTC Evo 4G Review (from an iPhone User’s Perspective)

evo-iphone After almost three years of exclusively using an iPhone, I’ve decided to purchase and bond with the HTC EVO 4G.  It’s been three weeks since I picked up the device and I’ve been tremendously pleased in some areas and downright frustrated in others.

So how does the EVO 4G shape up when evaluated by a seasoned iPhone user?  Read on.

(To learn more about my reasons for putting my iPhone aside and testing the waters with Android via the EVO 4G, read Part I where I detail how I arrived at this point.)

Hardware

A child can take look at the EVO 4G and the iPhone and tell you that ‘one’s a bit bigger than the other.’  And while many people think that a bigger EVO 4G screen (4.3 inches versus 3.5 inches on the iPhone) means it’s “better”, truthfully there are more important factors than screen size for me. Form-factor plays a small part in my decision about which device is right for me.  The phone that provides me with the most usable, functional experience will end up in my pocket. But there have been some things about the EVO’s form factor that have stood out since I’ve been carrying it.

Portability

The EVO has a pretty big footprint. When you lay it down next to whatever phone you have now, the EVO will probably dwarf it in size. At the same time, the EVO is not so big that you can’t conveniently carry it around with you.  For me, a 4.3 inch screen is probably as large a size as I’ll consider.  I always felt that my iPhone’s screen was sufficient (and I still feel that way.) But during the times when I was using both phones and went back to open my iPhone to get a contact that didn’t sync, I definitely missed the EVO’s screen real estate. The screen quality of both phones (I’m using the iPhone 3G, not the iPhone 4) is about even. The EVO definitely has the edge when it comes to screen size. Too bad they don’t use that size more to their advantage. (More on that in a bit.)

…But Is It Too Big?

A person with small hands might find the EVO a bit unmanageable.  A few of my female friends who handled the device had a hard time getting a comfortable position with it in their hands. I have relatively average sized hands. And the phone feels comfortable in my grasp. It’s not too heavy, yet it’s certainly not flimsy. But there were times when I was using the phone one-handed where I tried to use my thumb to push a button on the opposite side of the screen. Often, I’d find that my hand will glance past something and launch that instead of what I tapped with my thumb. With two hands, this isn’t a problem. So, as far as the size, it can be a pain depending on what device you’re coming from. The size factor basically comes down to whether you have activities like watching movies or web browsing where those extra pixels would come in handy.

The Wonderful Kickstand

The EVO definitely wins points by having a kickstand.  It sounds very rudimentary, but the kickstand combined with the EVO’s large screen is a dynamite combination. The kickstand works in landscape mode only.  (I kinda wish it worked in portrait mode).  It’s great to be able to use the kickstand to prop the phone up while watching movies. I like to use the kickstand while the phone is on my desk at work, turning it into an expensive desk clock. This is a great alternative to laying the phone down or having to buy an expensive docking station.

Continue reading ‘HTC Evo 4G Review (from an iPhone User’s Perspective)’

21
Jun
10

Using An iPhone… (but getting an Android ‘Jones’)

evo-iphone Since I stood on line that fateful Friday June 29, 2007 inside the Short Hills Mall at the Apple Retail Store, I haven’t known much else on a mobile device except for the iPhone’s OS.  After two years of owning the original iPhone, I bought a 3GS in 2009.  All in all, the iPhone has been a stable, dependable and extensible device.  Calling it a ‘phone’ is almost too limiting and reductive.  For me, the iPhone serves as my everything, do-it-all device. It’s my calendar, occasional video playback screen, audiobook, music player, shopping assistant, GPS device and e-mail tool to name a few of my uses. When I’m out and have moments where I’m waiting on line or just plain waiting, this phone makes those waits so much easier. In short, after nearly three years of steady use, the iPhone has exceeded my expectations in just about every category that matters.

If this were a talk show, Maury or Jerry Springer would be standing off in the studio audience right now, turning towards me, holding up the microphone to their mouth and asking me, “Well, why are you cheating then?”  And truthfully, I’ve pondered about this thought for some time.  And my reasoning is simple: I’m a technologist.  By definition, I’m always looking at newer, more elegant ways of doing things.  While the iPhone has been an ideal match for me in many areas, in several others, it’s missed the mark.  Here are my five key gripes with the current iPhone experience:

    • Information-Rich HUD – When the iPhone originally made it’s debut in 2007, waking the phone to a screen full of icons was acceptable.  Three years later, it’s just getting stale.  As much as I applaud the iPhone OS (now, simply called “iOS”) for it’s ease of use and application availability, at the end of the day, you will always pretty much be looking at rows of icons.   The HUD (Heads-Up Display) is very boring and not at all functional.  Just icons. And after hearing the iOS presentation at the beginning of the year, it doesn’t look like this will be changing anytime soon.  I’m not quite sure whether the interface been revised to add more functionality because doing so would require the OS to be completely re-written or because stylistically Apple doesn’t want to tamper with the iconic iPhone home screen.  Whatever the reason, the UI needs to grow beyond what I’ve been using. ‘Widgets‘ may come across as minor or optional, but they can serve an important role on a mobile communications device.

      I remember one of my first assignments as a manager.  My boss asked me to turn a 12-page monthly report into a one page, glanceable, information-rich tool that could be used to keep our client aware of what was happening in their business.  What we developed from that 12-page report (which ended up being very useful for my client) is the same simplicity that I’m looking for here.  Rather than rows of icons, why not show me the weather?  Maybe the score of my favorite sports teams?  A list of the most recent e-mails I’ve received?  That real estate on the iPhone’s home screen can be used much more effectively than it is now.

Continue reading ‘Using An iPhone… (but getting an Android ‘Jones’)’