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First Impressions from Google’s Android

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Surprisingly enough, HTC Magic is the first Android smartphone that officially entered the market of Indonesia. I got the chance to try the OS along with Andira and Nyonyo when I went to the Festival Komputer Indonesia yesterday. My first impression is that the OS is definitely usable. It might not be the iPhone OS — which is obviously my first preference — but I can say that this is far better than the Symbian, and in fact, this is so much better than that, that it blows Windows Mobile to the dust.

When I tried browsing around the interface, I have a few thoughts about it:

  • The OS seemed a bit lagging compared to the iPhone and BlackBerry. Nevertheless, this is the first smartphone OS that Google came out with, so I think we can excuse them for this. Although I do expect that it should have lots of improvements for the next years to come.
  • Usability-wise, I’m not too fond of how they lay out all the menus. At first try, to me, everything seemed a bit too cluttered, and at the same time it has inconsistent hierarchies. iPhone and Palm still provide the most elegant solution for this. Most normal users wouldn’t want complicated menu items.
  • The keyboard is actually excellent, for an on-screen keyboard. Up to this point, I still feel that the iPhone still holds the most responsive screen keyboard that I have ever tried (I’m still looking forward on trying the Palm Pre), and although the Space key lags sometimes, it is far usable than BlackBerry Storm’s. No offense, but when I opt for on-screen keyboard, I’d like it to respond at my first effort. I simply think that having to highlight a key and pressing it (and at the same time moved to another key and pressed that instead) is a major turnoff.

One thing that I don’t like is probably the build quality of HTC phones. Seriously, they suck. One thing that they should think about if they want to put Android on a smartphone without a physical keyboard is probably not using plastic for the screen. Compared to the iPhone and BlackBerry, it feels like a crappy second-grade Taiwanese cellphones.

Bottom line, if I have to choose between the Android, Symbian, or Windows Mobile, I would definitely pick the first one, regardless what the hardware they’re in. But that is if. Right now, I would still pick the iPhone any day.

Is the iPhone Really That Bad? No, It is Not.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lately, or to be precise, since the day iPhone was born, people who don’t know shit about Apple often commented on how bad the phone was, how the hardware lacked features, et cetera, et cetera. I bought the iPhone because I’m a Mac user, and it serves the purpose of convenience. So, I don’t mean to be a fanboy, but I’d like to say a few things:

1. iPhone Killers
There are numerous attempts on trying to make an iPhone killer. Let’s just name it, HTC Touch, Sony Ericsson XPeria, Samsung Omnia, Samsung Instinct, BlackBerry Storm. And let’s face it, except BlackBerry Storm, which one has succeeded in surpassing the iPhone’s popularity and consumer loyalty? BlackBerry Storm was just released, so we can’t really judge that now as well. And yes, iPhone has managed to pile 17.3% of the worldwide smartphone market as of Q3 2008. Bad? That means 17.3% of the world’s smartphone users is either an idiot or a blind nitwit. That’s a pretty bold statement to say about smartphone users, isn’t it? Therefore, think again.

2. Touchscreen
Some said that iPhone’s touchscreen is bad. Oh really? Have you ever tried typing on an HTC Touch or any of Sony Ericsson’s smartphones with your bare fingers? Only an insane person would say that it is comfortable. Have you ever thought why they supplied you with a stylus on every HTC Touch? That’s because the touchscreen sucks, and I know you know it. How can you call a touchscreen good, if you have to use your freaking nail to input something? And if the touchscreens are REALLY that good, why aren’t they confident enough to ditch the stylus? I’ve used and tried numerous PDAs in my entire life, including Palm Zire 71, 72, Sony Ericsson P series, iPaqs, XDAs, Dopods, even some Windows Mobile devices that I don’t give a damn about, and the iPhone has the most intuitive and responsive REAL touchscreen until now. If I were you, I wouldn’t even compare it to Motorola, they can’t even make a proper GUI for their regular phones, let alone touchscreens. Chimpanzees in suits could probably design a better GUI for Motorola phones. And don’t give me that it’s-bad-because-I-can’t-text-while-I’m-driving crap, because you shouldn’t text while driving on any phone. I’m not going to compare the iPhone to the BlackBerry Storm yet, because I haven’t tried that yet. But I trust David Pogue on this one.

3. Camera
Some complained that iPhone is bad because it only has a 2-megapixel camera. Oh well, here’s the deal, BlackBerry Bold also has a 2MP camera, and is it bad? I don’t think so. And at this point, to all of you who has this reason, I’m beginning to think that you might have problems spotting the differences between a camera and a cellphone. Let me give you a hint, cameras are for taking pictures, cellphones are for making calls. If there’s a camera on a cellphone, that’s called a bonus feature. If it’s not a bonus feature, then it’s a camera, not a cellphone. If you want something that has an 8 megapixel CMOS sensor, go get your self the latest pocket digital camera, a Canon Powershot G10 or something and knock yourself out. In case you didn’t know, trust me, real cameras can take better pictures than a cellphone. In case you can’t spot the difference, then you should probably stay gadget-less for life, or get your eyes checked. So therefore, I don’t think a camera is a major feature that you should consider when buying a cellphone or a smartphone.

4. Slow Internet
I’m going to say this short and simple: Blame the ISP. I agree that iPhone’s EDGE is slower than iPhone 3G’s HSDPA, but given the same set of networks, I think the iPhone is in par with any other HSDPA phones. After all, there’s always Wi-Fi and apart from lacking Flash, Safari is still the best mobile browser available on a smartphone as of today (and yes, you can take this from a web designer). The closest thing to it would be Opera, but not something that came by default from Windows Mobile. Internet Explorer Mobile is just the same shit like the desktop version.

5. Music Player
Oh just cut the crap, the iPod is a good mp3 player available on the market, and so is the iPhone. It’s not like the Nokia N-series who gets very slow everytime it has more than 1GB data in it. Why would I want to wait like 5 minutes to open and play a 3-minute song anyway?

I can agree that the iPhone is not the perfect smartphone just yet, to me it’s pretty useless without jailbreaking it, Apple is keeping rather too much control over it and the AppStore, it doesn’t have minor details such as the ability to copy-paste, it doesn’t have Flash, it can’t forward or add a contact to an SMS message without jailbreaking, and I can go on with the list of bad things even with my favorite phone. But to me, the iPhone is a platform with lots of potentials and it’s halfway there. Right now, I’ve been using my iPhone since 8 months ago and I’m not complaining.

Bottom line, if you haven’t tried one, then go ask your friends who have one, try it, then go try whatever you think is good, Nokia 5800, Storm, Xperia, Omnia, whatever, and then compare. Or, you could browse around for real reviews, a lot of them is available on the internet if you want to Google. If you want something objective, then that is what you should do and therefore your complaints will be legit. I thought we all are wiser than that? I guess not. But again, this is my opinion. If you think you have a better one, please feel free to tell the world. After all, unlike what some people thought (and they probably shouldn’t be using the internet just yet for their lack of understanding), the internet is a free place to share your thoughts, whatever that is.

PS: To prove that I’m not a next-door Apple fanboy, and that I didn’t write this whole thing just because I really love my iPhone because it’s an Apple product, here is the list:

  • I’m still eager to try out Android G1, maybe it could really be a Windows Mobile killer like it should’ve been on a better hardware.
  • I am also looking forward for Palm’s next generation OS, although I am still pissed with the idea of Palms using Windows Mobile.
  • I’m serious on wanting to try the BlackBerry Storm, it’s probably ain’t that bad apart from what Pogue said.
  • Again, BlackBerry Bold is a very good smartphone, very well built, and it has a superb craftsmanship. If I ever going to buy a BlackBerry, it would probably be my choice. But you simply can’t compare it side-by-side with an iPhone. It’s an entire different thing.
  • Nokia N-series phones really do suck, but except the E90, I think the rest of the E-series kick ass. They serve the purpose well.