I have both an Android phone as well as an iPod Touch and I carry both everywhere. I tend to use my Android phone for quite a bit more than calls even though I have had the iPod Touch longer. I admit that the iPod is just “so cooooool” with its one button, lovely user interface and apps-only home screen. But…For someone who uses their device daily to store information, email, browse the web, maps, etc, the Android devices seem to have these little things here and there that make using them a lot smoother than the iPod/iPhone. And the phones look cool too.Disclaimer: My phone has Android 1.5 (hoping to get the 2.1 update soon). The latest version has quite a few more features including turn-by-turn directions for one.
1) One button vs multiple buttons
Android phones have multiple buttons and a trackball/D-Pad as opposed to a single button on the iPhone.
To me, the trackball is a very useful little tool! Anyone who has makes a typo on their iPod/iPhone in the browser URL can tell you what a pain it is to correct. You have to dance with the cursor to get it precisely at the place of the typo or you end up deleting text in order get to the typo. With the trackball I just move the cursor to proper location. Another place I find the trackball useful is when there are multiple links on a page, email, or tweet. It is rather easy to hit a wrong link with the touchscreen whereas with the trackball I can be sure that I have have the right link selected before pressing.
The one touch search button, which I use all the time, brings up a Google search pop up window. Long pressing on the search button will bring up voice search, which actually works quite well. If you are using an application like the Android Market this button can perform searches related to the app.
The back button is great. It’s default action is to go to the previous page in an app or to close the current app and take you to the previous app. For example, if you are using an app and click on a link in it, the browser opens up with the web page. Once you are done just hit back to go back to the app you were using. This is possible also because of the “multitasking” capability in Android. This means that the browser, and multiple other apps can be running at the same time. No need to close the one you are using to open another.
Which brings us to the home button. The default action is to take you to the home screen from wherever you are. Long press on it and it will open a pop up window which shows you all of your currently running apps, and you can switch between them.
The menu (button) is where you find all the extra features, information and navigational stuff for any app that you are using.
2) Amazing Maps integration.
Touch an address in a webpage, and the Maps application is brought up! From there you can get directions, search nearby, etc. Also I love the “my location” in the maps which shows where I am, as I am driving. Yes, I haven’t had gps before.
3) Apps and App Store
Installing apps on the Android phone is better. On the iPhone, the App Store is closed each time you install an app. On the Android phone you can continue browsing other apps. Once installed you can open an app from the Market page itself. This helps when you can’t find it on your phone(has happened to me on my iPod!). You get notifications for all of the apps that you just downloaded, so when you are done browsing you can open all of them from the notifications tab at the top of your home screen.
Any apps you have purchased are remembered. You can uninstall and re-install them later if you want.
The iPhone App Store is well organized, with lots of categories that makes finding apps easy. The multiple “featured lists” and “top 25″ lists in the App Store also help. It has better games than the Android Market.
Most of the top IPhone apps have been ported to the Android Market. You will find what you need in terms of productivity, travel, social networking etc. The Android Market is growing by leaps and bounds everyday!
Come back next week for Part 2! There will be more on Maps and other features that are great about Android.