Android Still Can’t Touch the iPhone

Android

My iPhone 3GS is amazing. It is fully integrated into my life. With its various apps I’m constantly on top of Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and RSS feeds. It would definitely be a challenge to switch. However, I’m also a gadget geek who always wants to switch to the latest and greatest. In my opinion that’s Android right now.

While bored and curious, I walked over to my local Palo Alto T-Mobile store to try out the myTouch 3G (a.k.a. HTC Magic and Google Ion). I have also been recently motivated by the compelling concept of porting my number to Google Voice, and letting that service control the phone aspect of the cell phone. While the phone appears sleek and definitely includes a vast improvement in hardware quality over the first major Android phone, the G1, I still don’t think it compares to the iPhone (specifically the 3GS).

Scrolling

The one problem I encounter on all touch screen smartphones is that scrolling just doesn’t feel right. Apple nailed this on the first try with the iPhone. With three years to catch up, other phones do not offer a natural scrolling experience. It’s either sluggish or it takes more pressing effort than it should to initiate the scroll. The myTouch definitely has this problem and for me that is a deal-breaker.

Multi-touch

Three words. Pinch to zoom.

The iPhone has it. The myTouch doesn’t. Being forced to use (+) and (-) magnifying glass icons to zoom in and out on a website is an enormous step back from Safari on the iPhone. Perhaps someday with a software update multi-touch will appear, but for now that is a deal-breaker.

Context

There are too many menus. Yes, two is one too many. Pressing a hard “Menu” button brings up an app specific menu from the bottom of the screen. Dragging the top of the screen down reveals an entirely different phone-specific menu. I suppose over time I could adjust to additional hard buttons and a poorly discoverable pull-down. As a first-time user, however, I constantly felt confused and lost.

The truth is Android is still not ready for the masses. Bloggers and tech reviewers may rejoice each time a new Android-supported phone is announced or released, but to me it still feels unintuitive and geeky. Yes, there exists a geek who thinks Android is too geeky. Maybe the HTC Hero will be ready with additional horsepower, multi-touch, and an easier to learn interface.

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