Some things I like better in Android (from an iPhone user)

As an iPhone user, I just recently (like last week) got an Android to use for testing web apps. I wasn’t going for the “latest and greatest” so bought an inexpensive, contract-free LG Optimus Bright new off of an auction site. I wasn’t really expecting much, but I was pleasantly surprised (http://douglerner.com/lg-optimus-bright-l-07c-first-impressions).

I’ve been using it a bit this past week, and there are definitely some nice things about Android OS 2.3.3 in comparison to my everyday iPhone 4 running iOS 5 which I noticed pretty quickly, which I would like to mention:

1. Maps app allows rotate. On the iPhone you can use the pinch gesture to expand and shrink. On the Android, in addition to that, you can rotate the maps, which is cool.

2. More things can be made into icons on the home screen (shortcut EverNote notes, settings, etc.). On the iPhone you can have apps and bookmarks to web pages, but the selection of what you can add to the home screen is much more limited than on the Android device.

3. Apps and widgets. Many apps even come with widget versions installed. There really is no comparison on the iPhone, and I was pleasantly surprised to find widgets on my Android. The pre-installed Google widget with voice input on the home screen is very cool.

4. Hardware keys provide a more consistent UI and save screen space. On the LG Optimus Bright the “hardware keys” are below the screen and are really not keys you press at all. They seem to be capacitive touch elements, like the screen, but are in fixed positions and don’t take up screen space. What I really like about them is in addition to a home button (which the iPhone also has) the key on the left works like a context-sensitive menu for settings and other features inside all apps; there is a separate key that you can always use to “go back” or cancel the current dialog; and a 4th key for search. In addition to saving screen space (e.g. you don’t need the bottom row of UI icons in the mobile browser like in Safari Mobile) it makes the user experience consistent across all apps, which makes things easier overall, and is something iPhone supposedly aims for.

5. Replaceable battery. This is obvious and not really anything more needs to be said about that.

I’m sure there are lots of things in iOS 5 which are better than Android OS 2.3.3 (for example, on my iPhone I can take a screenshot, but there doesn’t seem to be a way of doing that on my Android – at least not a pre-installed way).
My aim is not to cut one device down in favor of the other. But I just wanted to say I’m pretty impressed with Android too. The Optimus is also lighter and thinner than my iPhone 4 and has a larger screen (though lower resolution).

Anyway, just thought I’d make these few observations from a mainly iPhone and Mac user who really is also pleased with Android.

doug


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