An Android update

November 22, 2010 | 2 comments

Following my less-than-stellar reviews of my Android-based HTC Desire, I thought it was only right to follow up. This weekend, O2 finally sent an over-the-air update, which brought me in line with the rest of the Android world – and what a difference it made.

In short: Android 2.2 rocks.

My phone’s battery life has dramatically increased. The “hard disk full” errors are gone, because I’ve been able to move a bunch of apps over to my SD card. (I wish I could set my SD card as being the default location for new apps, but this is still an improvement.) Interface glitches that made the experience feel unfinished have now gone.

Best of all, now that I’m unencumbered, I’m free to see Android’s strengths for what they are. This morning, I recorded a video using the built-in Camcorder app, and saved it directly to Dropbox. That’s not because the Camcorder app has built-in Dropbox integration; it’s because both apps talk to the Android system in a friendly way. Whereas apps on iOS work in isolation, apps on Android interoperate in clever ways.

There’s still room for improvement. For example, I’d love to see well-designed UI component libraries for Android, that developers can just pick up and run with in order to effortlessly create a unified user experience between apps. Having to know about my SD card and manually push apps in its direction also grates. But I’m certain these, too, will get fixed, and all in all, I now don’t have any hangups about recommending Android as a mobile platform.

From iPhone to Android: hilarious addendum

September 14, 2010 | 10 comments

I thought this was worth its own post; you can read about my overall Android experiences over here.

Today, my HTC Desire told me it was out of storage space.

That’s funny, I thought. I installed a 16Gb SD card. That was plenty of space on my iPhone, and I’ve had my Desire for less than a month. There’s no way I’ve used all that.

And, indeed, I hadn’t.

The trouble is, on Android versions less than 2.2, you can’t install apps to the SD card. Indeed, on an HTC Desire, the effective internal storage for app installation is 120 megabytes. Now that’s not something they’re going to print on an advert.

It’s absolutely true that Android 2.2 (froyo) finally fixes this insane oversight. It’s something that should have been in Android from the beginning, but they’ve finally managed to make it available. However, my carrier, O2, has been holding back the update for quite some time – and recently pulled it after finally making it available.

Am I cross? I’m mad as hell. It’s probably my fault for not researching this more fully, but these kind of shenanigans suggest that Android won’t be fit for purpose for some time to come. Meanwhile, I’m stuck on an eighteen month contract; seventeen months of tough love with an unfinished open source mobile operating system to go. I feel utterly cheated.