A few months ago I decided to venture into the world of Android. I wanted to see what some of my geek brethren were so excited about. My choice was a Nexus 7. I have now finished my little experiment and have moved back to the iPad. Here are my overall impressions of the Android experience.
What I Liked
Notice I use the word liked and not the word loved. There is a lot that I liked, but nothing that I really loved about the Android platform. First, the customization factor is a big win for those who like change and feeling like a true geek. Modification of devices always seem to be a hallmark of geeks and Android comes through on this. Second, I really liked the widgets. Having the ability to instantly add something to a Remember the Milk account or create a quick text document in Google Docs account without having to open the app is a really handy feature. Finally, I loved the seven inch tablet size. I see why Apple followed suit with the iPad mini.
What I Did Not Like
Where should I start? Well, first the touch screen is really not up to par when you compare it with an iPad. The first couple of days I had adjust to the fact that it’s not as responsive as the iPad, it’s not a huge difference, however it is just enough to notice if you are a heavy iPad user. Secondly, the menu system is complete mess. At the bottom of the screen are buttons for home, back, menu and search. That would seem to be okay, however the problem is that the back button can utilized differently by every app, making it virtually impossible to figure out what would happen when it is pushed.
Third, while the app selection is slowly gaining traction in terms of quantity, it still seems far behind in terms of quality. The main problem is that while some apps claim to be built for your tablet, they really seemed like phone apps stretched to fill your screen. Now I know that iOS does this, but you decide if the iPhone app will be stretched, thereby making it clear which apps are not really designed for the iPad. I assume the reason for this oddity in Android is the device fragmentation which would lead a designer to make their app responsive like a web page. This works for the web, however it doesn’t translate well with applications.
Finally, the settings were a nightmare. While granularity in settings can be a great thing when you want to tweak something, it can be bit of pain when you take the item right out of the box. I felt like I was back on Facebook trying to figure out the security settings. I can’t imagine an average consumer understanding or enjoying this experience.
If you are completely invested in Google products then I can see why Android might be an attractive option. However, with the increase in quality of Google apps for iOS I think that argument is waning. I really can’t recommend this platform to anyone, unless you are someone who knows what they are doing behind the scenes. However for the average end user my advice is to stay away.