For all of you who are not up to date on my latest news, I’ve got a new phone last week – a Motorola Milestone running Android 2.1 (I expected more Moto* application with the Motorola brand, but I only got a Media Dock home app and a driving home app – not even the “Motonav” navigation software, not that I mind – I use Waze).
Its a pretty cool device and (to my surprise) it allowed me to abandon all the other phones I was carrying with me, pretty much with in a couple of days (I expected it will take me at least a week to transfer all the things I was doing with mobile connected devices to a new device). So now – probably to the surprise of many of my friends – I carry just one phone instead of 3.
After 1 week of usage, I have to say that I’m very happy with what it can do and it has definitely upgraded my communication experience – I get a better email experience (and that was hard to improve on the Ericsson P1i I was using previously), better synchronization for the address book and calendar (now I get both Google calendar and the company’s calendar synced) and I even have IM connected most times (which is to say – if you try to IM me and I’m less then responsive, likely I’m driving or something).
Things that I’m still not happy about:
- I can’t get tethering for dial-up to work. I haven’t tried USB tethering yet, but bluetooth tethering doesn’t work for me (though at this point it looks like more a problem with my computer then with the phone).
- It has crashed a couple of times on me so far 🙁 (which is to say – much less then my previous phones at about the same amount of time, but still).
- It eats battery like crazy – if I’m not really playing with it all day, let say: 1 GPS drive to work, some emails and a few calls during the day, maybe some IMing and when its time to go home the battery can be dead. If I actually do any battery intensive usage such as playing games, listening to podcasts or stuff like that – it will be dead withing 3 to 4 hours. I’ve put the complimentary car charger, I got with the phone, in my car and I keep it connected while driving. This usually (but not always) allows me to get away without the battery dying on me at inconvenient times.
- The system’s software update does not work – I know there are updated firmwares from Motorola, but when I try to run the software update from the system settings it tells me it can’t connect to the server and to try again later.
- There are some annoying bugs in the system, such as: the music player starting itself when the headset disconnect, the market fails to install applications if Google Talk isn’t connected (sometimes, but not always) and a couple of other minor stuff.
- The bluetooth headset disconnects sporadically, and also sometimes looses the A2DP connection. This is less frequent, less serious and much less annoying then it was with the P1i, but its still a menace. Maybe it is the headset after all.
- The “application drawer” is a useless UI. The default way to launch applications in Android (at least those that you don’t have shortcuts for on the over-crowded home screens) is the application drawer – a huge list of any application and plugin that you installed order by alphabetical name. You can’t re-order them and you can’t put them into sub folders or anything. If you’re like me and installed a bunch of stuff on your phone, then you are forced to scroll through several screens full of icons before you find what you need (at least kinetic scrolling is fun). When you get a new Android device, the first thing you should do is install a launcher replacement that allows you to put folders on your home screens, then treat the folders like subfolders in the Symbian menu system.
That’s the bad stuff, now for things that are awesome!
- The UI is pure joy. The touch interface is fast and responsive, and easy to work with. And unlike the Nexus One, the “Android Experience” buttons (the static buttons under the screen) work easily and always react properly.
- WiFi works great! It even notifies you if you are roaming about outside your home WiFi network and come across an open hot spot.
- The hardware keyboard is really nice, and even has a dedicated language button to switch between Hebrew and English. I’m still missing a few keys but its no where near the problems I had with the Nokia E90. Specifically I couldn’t figure out how to type a comma when in Hebrew mode, and a few useful characters where relegated to a special “Symbols” menu that in some applications is not accessible.
- Surprisingly enough – I kind of gotten used to the software keyboard as well. Although I hated the iPhone virtual keyboard, I find the Android one quite useful. I wouldn’t presume to say that the Android keyboard it better then the iPhone’s – most likely I simply gotten used to it.
The next order of business is to find a good pod-catcher. I’ve already checked and my favorite mobile pod-catcher, Escarpod, is not available for Android so the search continue. This probably warrants its own post so expect that in the near future.
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- I’ve actually voiced considerable objection to cellular usage plans in the past, and its not that I retract everything I said but more like I don’t have the capital to spend better then 3500 NIS on a phone at the moment [↩]