Find out what I like and dislike about the android system after a critical review on the Samsung Galaxy 3. And at the end there's a list of my favorite apps.
- Android wants to be online *constantly*. It does not even include an option to disable 3G data connections or even think about asking you once before using them. I'm not even sure this is legal. How can you be charged for using 3G if you didn't have a choice? At least automatically disables 3G if you've got wifi on in my case. ("Toggle Data" helps to disable it and "Traffic Counter" helps you to know how much traffic you caused.) You can vote for this "feature" here.
- Some important tools are not included. As you are basically running a Linux system, a task manager would really be nice. The supplied system monitoring software is utterly useless.
- The battery management could still be better. It seems to be too easy for badly programmed apps to eat up your battery. Once network traffic app took up a constant 10 % of my CPU. Protect the user from apps like these via review or OS design, but do something, Google.
- Processes can "hide" their CPU usage in other processes, e.g. the system process. Hence it's harder to know where it's coming from originally.
- Google really could do more tests before letting software go on the market. I know they don't want to put people into reviewing software before putting it on like Apple does, and they needn't. But really, some automated scripts could at least test things like the memory drain of an application and refuse battery suckers access or at least leave a note about it. Yes, you can leave it all to the people, but no that doesn't mean that you should.
- I'm not sure if this is due to Android, but my battery status updates only very rarely and sometimes makes huge skips, e.g. from 70 to 50 to 20 % battery. This is often a generic mobile phone manufacturer psychological issue. I once read that they like the battery status to be unrealisticly high to make the user feel better... What I'd like to see is a status of the current battery usage in Watts, as provided e.g. by powertop in Linux.
- The IMAP implementation is pretty flawed writes patrokov in the comments: "The stock app displays the folders at the top of the screen oriented horizontally. That wouldn't be so bad, except that it doesn't seem to understand maildir hierarchy, so you get .Inbox.bills and .Inbox.orders.paid, etc. It's trial and error to see which one I'm looking at. And you can't move e-mail to another folder."
- Here's a good list of the most popular bugs in Android. It seems a bit misrepresentative to me, though.
- Since it's open source based, there are awesome people out there spending their free time to bring you updates to current Android versions, even if the manufacturer no longer supports them.
- The OS is generally quite well-designed and thought out in detail. E.g. the Mp3-player continues where you left off, it doesn't turn loud when you unplug the headset, but pauses.
- The "Market" is very open and you can find tons of applications for tons of purposes already. This means your phone really can replace a Netbook in many ways.
- Based on Linux and Open Source, the network support is superb. I can easily log into the international university wifi network (Eduroam) with my Android phone. I can even use an integrated VPN client on top of that.
- Swype brings mobile phone typing to a whole new level. It's really fast and comfortable, even with only one hand. (Though a larger display still does help.)
- It's being constantly improved. So much, actually, that the vendors and mobile phone providers can hardly keep up.
- Google Navigator -- Google Maps telling you where to drive. Works better than some dedicated GPS devices. Excellent on a bike as well.
- Syncing works really well. Contacts, Calendar and Emails always remain accessible in the same manner on your PC and Phone.
- It's an Open Platform. This is the exact opposite of a locked-up iPhone telling you what you may do. You can freely choose whether to make the call via the mobile phone network, via VoIP client or Skype (using maybe via VPN connected via 3G). If you search for Google Voice in the Market app, you have to scroll down about a page or two to find Google's own app. You may call that bad management, I call that unbiased search algorithms of an open platform.
Some things really are funny. If you buy a smart phone you don't really expect the phone function to be this much in the background. It ends up as just one of the many apps on your screen. And it's not even one of the best, most flawlessly designed apps I would say. It works fine, it's just not especially smooth and polished as I would expect in a phone. I think more effort went e.g. into the Gmail app. And now the mandatory section in any Android article:
- Toggle Data Widget -- Disable 3G if you don't have a mobile flat
- Traffic Counter / Call Meter NG -- Check how much you've been active, doesn't burn your battery while logging traffic, calls and Texts.
- SystemPanel -- The should-really-have-been-included-by-Google universal Task Manager, Killer, Logger, System Monitor, etc. The paid version is definitely worth it's money with a sorted overview of what's used up your CPU and thus battery. Makes your phone last lots longer by avoiding badly programmed battery draining apps.
- Color Detector -- Check what color you're looking at, includes fancy names, great for color blind people. Would need an adjustment to your phone's camera and a good camera in the first place to be more accurate.
- Dolphin Browser HD -- Support iPhone User Agent to take advantage of the tons of special iPhone websites which don't care about Android (even Google's!)
- Opera Mobile -- Save tons of traffic with Opera Turbo, wish it would support pretending to be an iPhone, as many websites are just adjusted for iPhones, but works just as well on Android. I bet eventually it'll be the best droid browser.
GPSLogger-- reliable, yet not resource hungry
- ConnectBot -- SSH client
- Aldiko/Moon Reader -- eBook reader apps
- TuneIn Radio -- Turns your Droid into a comfortable international internet radio receiver.
- GPS Test to find out how well GPS is working; GPSopts -- to get GPS working on the Samsung Galaxy 3 in the first place. (What's up with that, Samsung?)
- Barcode Reader - Often saves you the trouble of typing URLs for apps you find in articles like this.
- Qype -- Tells you what cool locations are near you right now.
- CSIPSimple -- the absolutely best VoIP client IMHO.
- Tricorder -- "a must for any citizen of the United Federation of Planets"
- AppBrain App Market -- Manage your Apps in the browser, then sync to your phone. Saves a lot of time. Better search and faster than the preloaded app.
- SetCPU -- Overclock your CPU (root), but only with root and an the right special firmware.
- ... see below! :)
- Something Missing? Tell me your favorite apps in the comments.