iPhones, Robots, and Cookies

I traded my iPhone for a batch of cookies. That’s right: one white iPhone 3GS was traded for a batch of cookies. This has been a long time coming.

My Growing Disappointment

I’ve had an iPhone since Apple first unleashed them on unsuspecting consumers. I was happy with the first generation iPhone. I was even happier with my iPhone 3GS. It was fast, I could download applications, and everything integrated smoothly with the software on my MacBook. Over the last six months, my disappointment has grown. There was no good way to sync my contacts between the iPhone and Google without some irritating third party add-ons for the Apple Address Book on my Mac. The same problems applied to my calendars – I could either have up to date calendars on Google or on my laptop. It was possible to sync everything using webcal (WebDAV for calendars), but it was not an optimal solution. Heck, I couldn’t even open a calendar invitation sent to my phone even though Apple wrote the original specification. In order to sync third party applications with the apps on my computer, I had to manually sync each application. That’s not that bad when you only have one application, but once it starts growing you start to forget which apps you have and haven’t synced up – maintaining your external brain shouldn’t be a huge trial. Smart phones are supposed to make our lives easier. Instead I found myself doing more work to keep things up to date than I really liked. It wasn’t a ton of work, but it was still extra work.

Enter John

What does John have to do with this? Well, John Keyes (twitter) and I were talking on Friday. He pulled out his phone and I started asking him questions. John had an HTC Incredible. I’d never used an Android phone before and I wanted to take a look. After just a few minutes I was really impressed with John’s phone. To be honest, I called around to a number of Verizon stores just to make sure I could get my stinky little hands on an HTC Incredible.

Fancy Robots

First impressions of Android on the Incredible – this is really nice. Some of the earlier Android phones were rough around the edges and I didn’t expect things to be as polished an iPhone. I was right: things weren’t quite as polished as the iPhone but they were really close. The icons were consistent, things were fairly smooth scrolling between the main application screens. Things got a little bit slow scrolling through the list of all programs, but it was nowhere near as bad as I’ve witnessed on other Droid phones. Multitasking was a really nice change from the iPhone. I was able to stream music through last.fm, check my email, and chat on gtalk at the same time. Sure, I don’t normally use my phone like a computer, but because of the multitasking it was easy to accomplish some pretty cool things – I streamed music through last.fm while using my phone to get directions.

Getting Set Up

In order to get all of my calendar appointments on my phone, I exported them from iCal and then imported them into Google calendar. In a few minutes, everything was down on my phone. Completely and totally. I split everything into separate calendars. I even sent myself a meeting invitation from my work email to my phone and I was able to accept the appointment and it showed up on my calendar. For three years I haven’t been able to accept a simple appointment on my phone. It was such a welcome relief to be able to see and accept an appointment on my phone and then have it show up in my calendar. Contacts syncing was a bit hairier because Google doesn’t support contact synchronization from an exteral source (my address book) if there are multiple contacts with the same primary email address. This process has been manual but well worth it. I’ve culled about 300 contacts from my contact list. You know how Google will create a contact for anybody you’ve ever emailed or who has ever emailed you? Yeah, I have about 1,000 contacts like that. It makes you laugh and think you’re popular until you try to dial a phone number have to scroll through 14 pages of ‘\/1agra peni5 c0cks’ before you get to someone named Aaron. Thankfully it’s pretty easy to delete a giant pile of dong from Gmail’s contact manager (one of the few things it gets right), so my contact list was free of unwanted penises in no time.

The Rest of the Internet

One of the coolest things that I’ve found so far is that the phone has synced up my contacts from Facebook as well as the contacts I have in Google. I’ve been able to link them up so that I don’t have three or four entries for a single person in my phone. I can just tap their name and have all of their contact information immediately available. Browsing has been great. Since Verizon’s 3G network is allegedly the best in the universe, I decided to put Verizon’s tubes to the test. I streamed last.fm in my car between Cinci and Columbus. I would routinely lose any form of signal on AT&T’s network. Instead of losing signal, I was able to listen to some of my favorite music while finding new music. Uncanny. The experience of browsing the internet has been remarkably similar. I suspect that both run similar builds of WebKit optimized for a mobile device. Either way, it works and it works well.

It Works and It Works Well

At the end of the day, that’s what I have to say about this HTC Incredible: It works and it works well. Is it as polished as the iPhone? I’m not sure. As I get used to the phone, I think that it might be as polished as the iPhone, just different. Things work in a way that makes sense to me. Settings are accessed through each application and not a global settings menu. Applications are consistent. I am, on the whole, quite pleased.