Sunday, June 27, 2010

Revisiting the iPhone, versus Windows Mobile and Android on the Motorola Droid

About 6 months ago one of my clients gave me an iPhone 2G (the original, first generation iPhone) when he upgraded to a 3GS. Prior to that time, I didn't really toy around with the iPhone much, but this gave me a great chance to experience the iPhone and understand how it works. I had been using Windows Mobile as my primary phone, but definitely leaning towards a switch to either an Android or iPhone platform. My wife has had the Motorola Droid on Verizon's network for 6 months, and I've gotten to play with that as well ... it certainly has it's advantages.

Three of my friends got the iPhone 4 on the very first day it was available. I got to play with it quite a bit (including discovering the "death grip" problem with the external antenna without 5 minutes of using the phone).

I remember seeing a news item about a prototype of the iPhone 4 being discovered in a bar, and it was in a case that made it look like an iPhone 3G. I wonder if all of the prototypes were field tested in those disguise cases -- maybe that's why they didn't catch the death grip issue before launch? Or maybe some executive just said "ship it" and the underlings had to obey ... we'll probably never know.

I previously posted a blog about the top 20 reasons why I wouldn't switch to an iPhone -- I thought I would re-visit those reasons relative to the new iPhone 4 and the Motorola Droid.

1) The iPhone has no physical keyboard. Once you type a text message with a real keyboard, you can't go back.

1-Now) After using the iPhone screen keyboard, I've found that you can get pretty fast with that keyboard. It's still a little slower than a mechanical keyboard, but definitely usable. Add a little application called "Dragon Dictation" and you can talk to your iPhone pretty easily ... it works great in the car. The mechanical design of the keyboard on my Fuze is the best physical keyboard I've found so far. For speech input on Windows Mobile, we have Vlingo or Tellme - but neither are really available, just hack versions, and they don't work well in WM6.5 yet on the Fuze. Droid's speech recognition works amazingly well, and is built into the onscreen keyboard no matter where you are in the OS. Winner: Motorola Droid.

2) Can't cut and paste on the iPhone with built in software - and I like cutting and pasting.

2-Now) Cut and paste works great on the iPhone now. The selection method works better than Android. Winner: iPhone

3) No GPS software that can give voice guidance. I use GPS software that gives me voice prompts on my phone, and it works great (Currently using iNAV 4.02).

3-Now) Droid has built in Google based voice guidance, for free, works very well. iPhone has plenty of solutions available (TomTom, CoPilot, Navigon). Winner: Droid if you're in cell network range. Navigon on the iPhone or Windows Mobile iNav iGuidance if you're outside of cell range.

4) No Voice Command. Nothing beats being able to just say what you want when you're driving, and not worry about voice tags to record, etc. Microsoft Voice Command actually works.

4-Now) With Froyo 2.2 on Android, and with the 3G and 3GS, voice command is now built into these more advanced smart phones. Winner: Android (with the latest enhancements), although iPhone is a close 2nd.

5) Most of the useful apps that aren't toys require money with the iPhone. There is an incredible library of free, useful applications for Windows Mobile (mainly found at XDA Developers website).

5-Now) Android and iPhone have incredible free apps! The world of mobile apps has come a long ways in 2 years! For the general consumer, the iPhone has the best apps, hands down. For the IT professional, it's a hard one to call - both platforms have a lot of great tools now (especially if you jailbreak the iPhone).

6) No Video built-in. My camera can take videos as well as still pictures, without paying for an add-on piece of software.

6-Now) The iPhone 4 camera is hands-down the best video and still picture camera I have personally tested.

7) Poor Outlook Sync. I use Outlook on my desktop/laptop - activesync works for Notes, Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, and Email, and I use all of these things ... iPhone and Outlook sync with Tasks? Notes? Not yet anyway. And with the iPhone, you have to install iTunes, and it has to be running to sync things up.

7-Now) Seeing the writing on the wall, about a year and a half ago I migrated to Gmail for calendar, email and contacts. I created contacts that I have just used the notes field for in order to have notes that sync. By doing this, I don't rely on any local software on my computer for those basic functions, and can sync with Google on an iPhone or Android phone with no problem.

8) No built-in voice recorder.

8-Now) Lots of voice recorder applications on both Android and iPhone platforms, and some really great ones, if you're willing to pay for them.

9) No File System I can access and understand -- anyone know where their music, files, etc are actually stored on the iPhone?

9-Now) This is still an issue with the iPhone. Winner: Android. You can jailbreak your iPhone and access all of the files, but that is definitely not for the ordinary user.

10) No USB tethering. I can tether my phone to my laptop, and get high speed internet with my phone's unlimited data plan on my laptop. No Wifi Tethering. I can share my phone's internet connection via WiFi with WMWifiRouter ($) or ICSControl (free).

10-Now) Android and iPhone both support tethering - using PDANet on Android is very simple. If you jailbreak the iPhone, you can use MyWi - it supports USB and Wifi tethering. And the operators are finally getting around to creating billable options for this. WiFi tethering is available on both platforms. MyWi works incredibly well on the iPhone - I haven't tested Android options with Froyo 2.2 yet, but all reports seem positive.

11) No removeable memory. I have a memory card I can take out, put in a USB reader and back up at high speed.

11-Now) Android has this. iPhone doesn't but gives you plenty of internal memory. This one isn't as big of a deal any more, now that the USB connection options to the phones are faster than they used to be.

12) Non-standard power plug. My phone uses standard mini-USB for sync and charge - no custom cables, and I can buy an extra charger for $6 on ebay.

12-Now) Still stuck with that with the iPhone, although the widespread adoption of the iPhone dock interface actually makes it pretty cool when you can plug it into a speaker system and have a mini-stereo. Android phones have stuck with mini and micro USB standard chargers.

13) Can't search large lists of contacts easily. I can search my contacts by dialing part of their name on the keypad, or search by typing their name on my keyboard.

13-Now) iPhone added contact search, Android works great. This is a tie between the two platforms.

14) Slow calendar launch, and time consuming calendar entry interface. The calendar program in windows mobile launches quickly, and with Pocket Informant I can get a month view that actually works for dragging and dropping events between days. Even with the built in calendar I can cut and paste between days, and drag across a time section in the day view and just start typing to quick-enter a calendar event. Beat that iPhone!

14-Now) Windows mobile still has the best calendar, even with the latest operating systems on the iPhone and Android -- but you can learn to put up with the bad calendar for the sake of the other benefits.

15) No scroll wheel or navigation pad on the sleek iPhone. I read a lot of ebooks on my phone, and it's very nice to have hardware buttons to advance the pages.

15-Now) Although I miss it, I have gotten used to just touching the screen to advance a page.

16) VERY limited multitasking on the iPhone (basically music + one other program at any one time). With Windows Mobile, I can simultaneously can run multiple programs: read a book, browse the web, share the network connection with my laptop, switch to navigation program and see how long until we get there, switch to contacts, talk on the phone, and leave them all running at the same time.

16-Now) Android and iPhone with IOS4 both support multi-tasking, and do it quite nicely. Android is further along on this road, but suffers battery issues because of it.

17) No native support for Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint. I've actually calculated a mortgage payment in Excel before on my phone to help someone out. I guess I'm that geeky.

17-Now) Apps are available (for $) that can do this on both Android and iPhone now.

18) Hardware buttons! For answering, hanging up, hitting ok, taking a picture -- I like having a few hardware buttons.

18-Now) The hardware buttons on my Fuze really ended up annoying me. The on-screen touch buttons on Android and iPhone work great.

19) iPhone centralized application police! Bill Gates can't suddenly decide one of the apps I installed doesn't meeet his approval and remotely yank it off my phone -- but Steve Jobs can do that with the iPhone!

19-Now) Android is way more open than the iPhone. Jailbreak the iPhone does give you lots of options though.

There used to be 20, but I lumped USB and Wifi tethering into one category now.

After all of that -- currently I am using an iPhone 3GS as my primary phone. I bought on ebay for a great price when everybody was dumping their 3GS phones for the iPhone 4. As a phone, it works far better than the Windows Mobile phone did -- it's more responsive to touch input, the call quality is the same or better, and it doesn't keep disconnecting from my bluetooth headset like all of my Windows Mobile phones have.

As a "swiss army knife" of applications - the iPhone and Android phones are really closely tied. If AT&T had a good GSM based Android phone, I definitely would consider it at this point. There is a new Samsung phone just coming out, but it may have GPS issues, so I'm waiting to see how that pans out.

No comments: