Why My Mobile Life Keeps Me Plugged In

I do not understand my Android phone.

Oh, I know how to work with it, but I don’t understand some of the design and usability decisions that have been made while developing it. Hmmm… let me rephrase that… I DO understand why they were made, but I don’t understand why someone with a bit of a brain stood up during this approval meeting an said; ‘What the F- are we doing here?’.

First of all. I like my Android phone. Even if it is still running on 2.2, which actually only recently has been updated while version 4 was already released. It is pretty fast, has a lot of options, and I love the feeling of being more in control of the technical elements of my device compared to iOS.

I actually like both OS’s, and dislike them just as much. There is something lacking. And that is that they both are pieces of software that makes a user interact with the capabilities of the device.

And iOS wins hands-down on usability. It is easy, smooth, simple. But it loses on flexibility. I hate the way the grouping of items work; that organizing is a pain, and that I cannot really fine-tune the possibilities that the hardware allows.

Android makes me feel more in control and loses on transparency. I have sometimes no clue what Android is doing, or why it is slowing down. Android feels like it is not yet finished.

Coming from a Windows Mobile 6 phone, both are great improvements, don’t get me wrong. Windows Mobile – completely justified – was taken to the grave and given a proper burial. Although I love Windows on a PC, on a mobile device it was simply dreadful.

And – as you have noticed – I haven’t mentioned Windows Phone 7 yet.

Now, back to Android. What I noticed is that what I don’t like about it, is actually the cause of a lack  of behavior from Google, what I simultaneously dislike about Apple because they do do that right; keeping control.

With Google, I never had the idea how something would work if I install it. It feels more like a small Russian roulette. While with Apple, I have – maybe a false – idea of security that they will look out for me.  But that control is also my problem with the company; because it makes it such a closed system. It is like living at home when you are a teenager; you want to go out and live on your own, but it is so comfy and secure.

With Android, I have the idea like driving in a car when you just have your driver’s license; if you do it well, it will work amazingly nice. But make a mistake and you’re toast.

My biggest issue with Android; application control. All operating systems I know give you immediate insight of running programs. Apple finally introduced this in iOS4, and all the desktop OS’s have had it since they all had their own graphical GUI. And it is a mystery to me why Google has not put a solid, easy-access, app-control in there. It should not be downloaded through a third-party app, it should be part of the operating system.

The reason why it bothers me is simple; battery life. If I use my WordPress app, for example, to check in on my analytics of my blog, and forget to immediately close it, my battery will be dead in four hours. While if I close it, it will work for a full 18 hours. Even my tethering through my MiFi does not use that much battery power. And since it is such a hassle to close the app, I forget to do it, and before I am even home in the afternoon, I am power-drained.

I know this is a problem for a lot of Android users. And such a simple thing to ask. But it causes for a lot of discomfort.

To be honest, I am on the lookout for Windows Phone 7. I don’t want to have an iPhone, because I think iOS is good for basic mobile features, but you cannot really go in deep. And I honestly think I might skip Android the next time. But I hear good responses on the Windows Phone 7 system.

Sure, I know that the advice is against buying it, simply because of the small user-base. But you know what, that is not what makes it problematic for me. I want something that works, works nicely, and does the basic stuff well…

And if my mobile OS punishes me because I forget to close an app that the OS makes so very hard to close, I don’t need that. Too bad, it is a nice system, even if you look beyond the system control by the carriers that can influence what is installed on your phone and what version you are running.

But, it will get there eventually.


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