Yep, There’s an App for That

A couple of days early, my lovely wife informed me that my Christmas gift this year would be a new cell phone, and she frog-marched me over to the Sprint store to make a selection.

It looks something like this.

I’ve been a Blackberry guy for a while now, but the new Android phones looked pretty slick. Resistance was futile, and I was assimilated. I departed the store with a Samsung Epic. I like it.

Advantage #1: This device is infinitely customizable. Seven “palmtop” screens allow me to group everything logically and keep the stuff I use most front-and-center. I can work in portrait or landscape orientation, just by turning the phone that direction. I can connect 3G, 4G, and WiFi, and it doubles as a 5-port wireless hotspot (for an extra service charge–don’t need that capability yet, but if I ever have to teleconference from the middle of a pasture in northern Iowa, I’m good to go.)

Advantage #2: The quantity, quality, and ease of installation of Android apps, especially useful free apps, is several quantum levels superior to what I’ve endured on the Blackberry.

Advantage #3: Sliding keyboard and touchscreen. The best of both worlds. Bigger keys, too. I no longer have to hit a function key to type numbers and punctuation, which was a major annoyance on the Blackberry. The touchscreen has taken some getting-used-to, but I’m slowly training my fat fingers to flick screens around like Itzhak Perlman on the violin.

Advantage #4: Graphics, graphics, graphics. Picture quality and text readability are superb. My eyes are grateful.

Advantage #5: Seamless integration with Google. I use Google for a lot of different applications, and they’re all pretty reliable. Paranoid conspiracy theories aside, it’s helpful to be able to move easily between e-mail, shared documents, social networking, etc, and be able to quickly locate content among them all with one search function. Yeah, I know, “all your files are belong to us,” but it works, and I like what works. If Big Brother is coming to get me, it doesn’t matter how far off the net I drop anyhow, so why not leverage the technology as much as I can, while it’s still free?

Advantage #6: Android and Winamp are a marriage made in heaven for managing audio files. I was able to wirelessly move my entire iTunes library onto my Epic,  (yep, there’s an Winamp app for that). That means one less gadget to haul around when I travel.

As enthusiastic as all this sounds, I’m not a shill for Android, Google, or Samsung, and there are a couple of downsides. Synchronizing with anything Yahoo requires some minor gymnastics and separate apps. It’s not hard to tell Google and Yahoo don’t much like each other. I’ve also got some obscure toggle set the wrong way, which causes the voice search and command system to fail. Not essential, but annoying. Android and Adobe Flash player don’t play together, either, which makes Hulu videos inaccessible, though the Hulu folks are working on the problem.

Now if I can just find an app that will blog for me so I can get back to the writing I ought to be doing…

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6 thoughts on “Yep, There’s an App for That

  1. Nice! It looks a little like mine, except this is an HTC Tytn and runs on Windows: http://bit.ly/eTyXBe – It’s been great for writing while out and about, especially blog posts and book reviews that I can bang out in a few minutes while waiting around somewhere. However, I don’t have a wireless internet plan – haven’t needed one yet.

  2. My husband has an older Blackberry–work-issued. He hates it. Weird eccentricities that drive him nuts. Like he found out the only way to use voice activated dialing and have it actually work is to speak the person’s name with a southern accent (which he does not normally have). I’m not kidding.

    I’m finally going to be getting a new phone in a couple weeks. I lost mine off a roller coaster in September (yeah, that bit) but I’m not eligible for a new phone till Jan 1. Sigh. I had to go back to the old-old one I had before. It’s ancient. I hate it. So looking forward to something that doesn’t make me feel like a techno-dinosaur :P.

    1. One issue with the Android phones is power management. The apps usually default to running in the background when you leave them, and if you’re going back and forth among a variety of different apps, the load on the phone begins to add up. Having an extra battery or an extended-use battery helps. There are also plenty of apps to help monitor the system and shut down idle or memory-eating processes.

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