I’ve had a Nexus One for a couple of weeks now, and think that with Android 2.1, it’s a good advance. Right at the moment, I’m having issues with the battery — can’t hold a charge for more than about 5 minutes, even after multiple varieties of soft & hard resets. But setting that aside, I think it’s a good device with a good operating system.
A few thoughts on the comparisons — I think I’m not adding much here that hasn’t already been written:
- The fit & finish of the hardware I like on the Nexus One a little better than on my iPhone — but you should take that with a grain of salt, since my iPhone is more than a year old.
- Nexus One is much faster than my 3G iPhone, which is getting slower and slower with higher latency all the time.
- The web is a much more legitimate first class citizen on Android than on the iPhone — should be no surprise. It’s just more integrated in dozens of ways. Not as totally web native as Palm, but still really good.
- Notifications on Android, and background processes that can fetch data and fire notifications, are much, much better than anything on iPhone. (Except for the inability to have app badges — seems like they should add those soon.)
- And I really like that there are indicator lights — the trackball and the charging light — on the Nexus One to tell you things without needing to unlock the phone.
- The virtual keyboard on Android has some good advances, but ultimately doesn’t enable the quick accuracy of the iPhone — I think the iPhone is messing with hit targets as you type, depending on the likelihood for each letter — and it helps tremendously.
- I’m no longer really worried about the lack of applications on Android — it seems very clear that everyone will start writing apps for both iPhone and Android as first tier platforms — but I am a little concerned about the quality of the app experience on Android — the apps just don’t feel like they’re put together nearly as well. It seems like they can access more of the operating system than iPhone apps can, so they should ultimately be more compelling, but the user experience just is very inconsistent at best, and really awful at worst. This is clearly due to the SDK for each OS — Apple’s SDK just seems to allow developers to put together applications that feel better overall. This is just one area where the battle feels a lot like we’re repeating history with an Apple platform versus a more open platform.
- Google Voice on the Nexus one is a fantastic experience. It’s very clear that traditional telephony is walking dead.
At the end of the day, though, my iPhone experience is just more intimate than my Android experience — it feels more like it has my life on it, while the Android just feels like a very good phone and mobile web device. It’s just easier to get more of what I care about — my pictures, my music, my movies, games I like, and all my books (via the Kindle app) on my iPhone. So it feels more like an integrated part of my life than the Android. As frustrated as I am with my current iPhone 3G because of battery life & sluggishness & general physical-falling-apart, I still feel better when I have it than an Android.
So I’m encouraged by the advances of Android & the Nexus One — and fully expect that the huge array of players in the ecosystem will push things forward more quickly now — ultimately, we as consumers really need a platform for our mobile lives that’s an alternative to Cupertino — not because of what Apple is per se, but because multiple choices means that everyone has to get better.