A few weeks ago Coolblue started selling the Google Nexus in Belgium. It used to be that you couldn’t order it here – some people went through quite a bit of hassle to get one.
After my previous Android experience
(an HTC Desire S) - I was quite relieved to see that Android has grown quite a bit to a more mature and stable platform.
I’m using the Nexus as my primary phone these days and I must say I quite like the experience.
First and foremost, I love the big screen. I used to be in the “WTF is that in your pocket”-crowd but really, when you use your smartphone as a pseudo-tablet for watching videos and reading articles a bigger screen is a better experience.
The notification system is the #1 best thing about Android. I never use the iOS notification center since it’s so bad. But Android has a nice system where you can swipe away a single notification or dismiss all notifications. Much better than the tiny touch target in iOS’s notification center.
The sharing system between apps is also much better. It’s a lot more “system-wide” than iOS i.e. if you use an app like Pocket once you install it, seemingly every other app can share to Pocket.
Sharing data between apps is often more cumbersome in iOS, where you have to go through hacky bookmarklet ways or rely on the developer to have provided sharing between the exact combination of app X and app Y.
Quality of apps/Holo UI
In terms of UI, more and more apps are respecting the Holo UI guidelines. It’s very flat which sometimes makes it unclear what is tappable and what’s not but overall it’s a well documented and well thought out system.
I’ve mostly used “big name” apps so far like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Instagram.
Overall, their quality is great but sometimes it seems like the Android version is playing catch-up with their iOS counterpart (and losing).
Having seen (and been in) many projects where this exact situation was the case this doesn’t come as a surprise.
Some apps (like DoubleTwist’s Alarm Clock and Instagram) look like a bizarro clash between Android 2.3, Android 4 and iOS where I’m not really sure if the designer ever cared about the Android design guidelines.
I know this is the work of some big name designers (hello Tim and Sebastiaan) but I am wondering what their line of thinking is to not follow Holo. Maybe because the rest of the world is seeing Samsung’s TouchWiz and HTC’s sense interface, both of which have an abundance of shadows and gradients.
Advanced features and tinkering
When Android fans say that iOS has been stuck for years I get what they are talking about.
I don’t necessarily agree with that statement but there are some features in Android that are just really nice.
For example, Android apps auto update in the background.
Google Play is wonderful. You can send apps to download on your device through a website. Developers can comment on app store reviews.
What’s also nice with Android is that you can “tinker” a bit with it. If you want the weather to show up on your homescreen, you can do so.
My iOS home screen is a ridiculous combination of app folders and is nowhere near what I want on my homescreen, which is mostly quick access to system functions like camera/flashlight/WiFi/bluetooth.
The fact that apps can access more system functions comes with a the obvious downside of instability. I’ve experienced a few app crashes which might be related to some of the widgets I’ve installed (I used Widgetsoid).
I’m happy enough to be using the Nexus 4 as my primary phone, which for me says a lot. Google I/O is around the corner. I’m excited what the future holds for Android.