I have just purchased my first Android phone, and thought this was a good time to review my feelings on Android.
I have been waiting to upgrade from my aging Nokia E65 for over a year now. Nokia has been a good platform, and it’s E series phones are great. Perhaps the greatest thing about the E65 at the time was the integrated WiFi hardware and the included VoIP SIP Stack.
Initially I got the phone as an upgrade on a Capped Plan with a notable carrier and was using the phone with the standard circuit functionality. At the end of 2008, with the end of my contract in sight I started experimenting with VoIP, getting a HSPA Plan with Exetel. I have now been using VoIP with PennyTel for well over 12 months, and it works fairly well. Whilst I can’t say its has been a consumer-grade experience, I have managed fairly well.
With the E65 I can have a VoIP call starting off on WiFi, then when I move out of WiFi range, it seamlessly hands over to the 3G Packet Data connection without dropping any voice, and the same is true when moving back into range of my WiFi access point.
I guess my only gripe is that the E65 has aged and is now dated. It’s browser is limited, the screen-size is small, and it has a first-generation 3G radio which is no longer really good for delivering what I expect. Newer Nokia models might have met some of my needs but the smart-phone has moved on, revolutionised by Apple’s entrance to the market with the iPhone.
When looking for my next phone, the iPhone was squarely in view. It simply had what I considered was the next-generation of technology for the always online, always connected person. However, I soon became fairly jaded: iPhones were aggressively kept under the lock and key of both Apple and AT&T. Applications access to the 3G network was non-existent, VoIP impossible at the request of AT&T, along with the lack of external memory expansion and a fixed battery.
When Android was announced, I eagerly downloaded the SDK and tried out the emulator, instantly falling in love with it. Watching the release and development of both iPhones, and then the various Android devices, I decided on Android.
I am an advocate for Open Source Software, and particularly Linux, so to me Android is the first* truly open phone platform.
* – I should mention here that both Trolltech’s Qtopia Greenphone and OpenMoko’s Neo1973 were both pioneer’s in developing the “Open Phone”. Whilst they were not commercially successful, I feel they were the roots of the open phone movement and deserve not to be forgotten.
Back to Android..
Google has not been acting as an agent of the Carrier’s in the way Apple has been with AT&T. Whilst they have not included a VoIP stack as part of the core of Android, they have not precluded applications that do deliver VoIP functionality. With Android, I am free to use VoIP and the Internet in the way I was accustomed to with my E65, only better!
The Android Market is also an improvement over the Apple AppStore. Google don’t decide which applications can be published, they let the market decide.
In summary, whilst Android is not as mature as iPhone, and has had teething problems (which also the first iPhone’s had), it has a strong future and is a generally open platform that is attractive both to developers and end users. Next post is on Nexus One and how it is paving the way for Android’s future.