One of the things I’ve struggled with over the last couple of months is that I have never owned or developed for Android. Whilst I don’t see this as a limitation, I do feel that I’ve become somewhat overly biased against Android – it is quite common to dismiss what we don’t know. Over the weekend I decided to take action, so I’m now the owner of a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S (Oh, did I mention I’m also paying $30 less per month on my new phone plan!). This post covers some initial thoughts I’ve had in the few hours that I’ve been using it.
Firstly, the hardware, whilst significantly lighter, is very reminiscent of the iphone 3G. In fact, the Samsung experience in general is very much an iphone knock off. That said, it’s much snappier than the iphone 3G I have running iOS4. I’m yet to see what the final Windows Phone 7 hardware will be like.
My complaint about Android has always been that it was designed for the tech crowd. Unfortunately the Galaxy S didn’t disappoint. Like HTC, Samsung have opted for a black box, which opens up to reveal the device. The screen was covered with protector that was coloured with a mess of icons. After digging through the rest of the box to find the battery I managed to boot the device, only to see another mess of icons, this time on the home screen.
The user experience of the Galaxy S is actually not that bad, but it does require a bit to get used to. There are all sorts of things that you can tweak and configure, ranging from the 7 home screen panels through to which services (eg GPS, WiFi) are running. I definitely like having the program meter widget which you can click on to give you a list of running apps and the ability to kill them. Of course, this does bode the question as to why you need this – wouldn’t it be better to control how apps can use the resources of the device?
Connecting the device to the desktop was another challenge in itself. Why do all these phones insist on having heavily desktop companion software? After a lengthy install process and some painful digging to update drivers I managed to get the device connected and syncing. One big thing for me over the prototype WP7 device I’ve been working with was the ability to do internet sharing (aka tethering). This actually worked pretty smoothly and was quick!
Personally my overall feeling about the Galaxy S is that it’s a great device for the technically inclined but to be honest way way way way too complex for the average consumer out there. “Long live the Google geek” – it’s a bit of a myth that everyone likes technology, a bit like “pervasive connectivity” . Like all the hype around Linux, Android will only make it big once they get that building a great phone is about end user simplicity. I should turn it on and it should work!