As I wrote a few weeks ago, frustration with AT&T coverage in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood led me to put my iPhone 3GS aside and switch to a Verizon Wireless Droid. I found that I liked the reliability of Verizon’s service, and loved certain things about Android–but that the overall experience was way less polished and predictable than the iPhone.
Here’s an update: Over the last week or so, I’ve been using the iPhone most of the time. It still has severe issues in SOMA (or at least a bunch of places in SOMA where I hang out–it claims perfect signal strength, but the most reliable thing it does is to drop my calls). Otherwise, though, I’ve spent far less time futzing than I do when I’m in Androidland. I’m coming to the uneasy realization that I may want to use both phones, depending on what sort of limitations I can deal with at any given time.
A few other notes:
- When I charged the Droid back up yesterday, it finally offered to install Android 2.1. The process was quick and painless. But the single thing I want most from an Android update is a more reliable phone, and if Android 2.1 is more robust than 2.0, you couldn’t prove it from my experience so far. Within hours of installing the update, I encountered two instances of the Droid freezing up for extended periods for no apparent reason. And when I shot a brief video of Volkswagen’s autonomous Passat, I had to chop off the first fifteen seconds–which included extreme pixilation and a period during which no motion was captured.
- When I bought an iPad, I quickly decided to spring for a MiFi pocketable wireless router so I could get online anywhere and everywhere. Bonus benefit: I can connect my iPhone to the MiFi’s Verizon EVDO, effectively giving me a Verizon iPhone. Works great for data in areas where AT&T is spotty, but doesn’t help with phone calls.
- Will iPhone OS 4 eliminate some of Android’s edge in certain areas when Apple ships it this Summer? Yup–especially if the managed multitasking is as good as it looks. But there are a number of things I like about Android which OS 4 doesn’t appear to match, including the on-phone support for Google Voice and the neat integration of Facebook contacts.
- Speaking of multitasking, Daring Fireball’s John Gruber recently published a long and thoughtful piece comparing the approaches on the iPhone and Android (and concluding that they’re more similar than different). He says in it that Android doesn’t really require task-killing utilities. But (as I told him in an e-mail) I found that my Droid on Android 2.0 really needed Advanced Task Killer. Whenever it became bogged down and unresponsive–which was frequently–blowing away all running tasks fixed things instantly.
For all of Apple’s secrecy, it made its plans for iPhone OS 4–at least those aspects of it that don’t involve new hardware–clear at last week’s press event. I’d love to see Google be just as open about Android’s future–maybe at its I|O developer conference, which I’ll be attending next month. And here’s what I’d love to hear: “The primary focus for the next version of Android is improving the user interface and ensuring that it’s as rock-solid as possible–and doing everything in our power to enable developers to build outstanding apps.” I’d love to have a hard time choosing between the iPhone and the Droid because they were both so cool, and so free of serious gotchas…