Friday, August 13, 2010

Assimilated by the Droid

Resistance was futile. My transition from the iPhone to the Droid is complete. As my three readers may recall from my exciting, special effects-laden column from last week, I decided to say sayonara to AT&T after two years of failed promises to deliver high-speed 3G coverage to the Shoals area. Verizon and Motorola introduced a very cool new phone called the Droid X and I’m now a proud owner of this miraculous device.

For those considering jumping ship from iPhone to Droid, there are quite a few things to get used to. I think the experience is similar to what a Mac user experiences when transitioning to a PC. The iPhone (and a Mac) is elegant, refined, well-engineered and does everything beautifully right out of the box. The menu items on the iPhone are exactly where you expect them to be. Music management via iTunes is nearly flawless. Text messaging is intuitive. Integration with corporate and POP (standard) email is excellent. The Droid (not just my Droid X but all phones based on Google’s “Android” operating system) doesn’t do many of those things very well right out of the box. Compared to the iPhone, the built-in text messaging app on the Droid X stinks. You can, however, download a free app called Handcent SMS to give it iPhone-like text messaging capabilities. Menus and options on the Droid are located in confusing and unexpected places which makes the OBE (out of box experience) a little frustrating for those with no technical skills. On the other hand, if evolution has bequeathed you with any nerd genes, the Droid will be your best friend while tweak it to your liking.

The Droid’s built in email application gets the job done but is not as intuitive as the iPhone’s. The Droid doesn’t integrate with Microsoft Exchange accounts as well as the iPhone. The Droid’s calendar isn’t as slick at the iPhone’s. One of my biggest complaints about the Droid is its poor built-in music and podcast management. iTunes does a flawless job of this but iTunes will only synch with other Apple devices. I’ve experimented with a few Droid apps that promise to make this better and found passable application called Doubletwist that allows Droid users to use iTunes. Doubletwist is clunky and buggy but it will do the job until something better comes along.

Those of you who have heavily invested in purchasing songs from iTunes will have to do some trickery before your purchased music will play on any Droid phone. The reason is because iTunes Digital Rights Management will only allow songs to be played on Apple-designed stuff. There are ways around this. Contact me if you need help.

On the other hand, the Droid does some things much better than iPhone. The turn-by-turn GPS is awesome. The phone works very well as a phone. But there is one single aspect of the Droid that makes all my other complaints evaporate like fog in a hurricane: When you touch that button to access the internet, it does so with blinding speed.

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