1.x version of something sucks, film at 11

Jack Shedd rants about Android:

Android is an asshole of an operating system.

Stuck with an Android device for the last five days – the specific model of which I won’t mention because it doesn’t matter – I’ve been subjected to every inconsistency, idiocy and poor quality of thought Android has to offer.

Oh, but it does matter which specific model. It matters a lot.

The thing is, Android is a very young OS, and there’s a world of difference between Android 1.5–which some phones inexplicably still ship with–and Android 2.1.

We recently switched to T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide phones, which feature Android 2.1. I’ve encountered very little asshole behavior.

Compulsory tutorial on how to use the touch keyboard? My phone had a button to skip the tutorial. Three separate yes/no dialogs to set up the phone? I didn’t have any, certainly not a “Press No to cancel”.

Android used to require setup using a Google account, and used to push you through that kind of thing. Android 2.x doesn’t. So I’m thinking that Jack Shedd had an Android 1.x device. In which case, yeah, I bet it did kinda suck–I wouldn’t have bought an Android 1.x phone either.

However, his complaint about programs that hung around with no way to quit comes from a misunderstanding of how Android works (and how mobile phone OSs in general should work). You don’t quit apps in Android, you just get on with whatever you want to do next. When the OS runs out of memory to keep all the apps resident, it shuts down ones you haven’t used recently in order to make space. This is also why you don’t need a task killer.

Done browsing the web/calculating your restaurant tip/looking up your friend’s phone number? Hit the home button and get on with your life. If it’ll make you happier, pretend the Home button is labeled “Quit”.

Software you can’t uninstall? I’ve seen complaints about that with Android 1.x, yeah. Inconsistent search functionality?

Everything Android gets right are things the iPhone got right first and still does better. Every “unique to Android” feature seems, at best, a technological demo.

If Google Voice and Google Goggles seem like technological demos, that’s only because they’re so amazing. Once every phone does image search well enough, people won’t want to search any other way. Once every phone transcribes voicemail adequately, nobody will want to sit and listen to it. Yes, I could have looked up the reviews for an interesting looking CD by typing the artist and title into an iPhone. However, it was much easier to push a couple of buttons and have the phone recognize the cover and do all the work for me, taking me straight to the reviews.

He’s probably right about the Sprint EVO’s battery life. That’s one of the reasons why I didn’t pick the EVO–if you get the phone with the fastest CPU and biggest screen, it’s going to have the least battery life. I decided to settle with a midrange CPU. I don’t have 4G, but my phone has HSPA+ support, which gives network speeds comparable to the EVO around Austin. I don’t see any kind of six minute wait to connect; uploading photos to Flickr this afternoon was basically instant.

Want some negatives? Well… I had the web browser lock up once. The rest of the OS kept running fine, but the browser didn’t want to load any new pages. I restarted the phone, which took about 20 seconds. (I still can’t believe how long our BlackBerry Curve phones used to take to reboot.) Other than that… umm… the camera tends to overexpose a bit?

Yeah, the UI probably isn’t as slick as the iPhone. But as the popular US idiom puts it, “freedom isn’t free”. Android 2.x is perfectly usable, and the iPhone is playing catch-up in functionality, even if its UI design is slicker. iPhone users should enjoy snarking while they can, ’cause they’ll be a tiny minority before too long.