As of last night, I’m back to being an Android phone user. I’m going from a Nokia Lumia 920 to an HTC Droid DNA. I’m no stranger to either operating system (OS), or any mobile OS for that matter. Because I develop mobile applications, I need to juggle multiple phones on each OS. I do, however, dedicate one phone to being my personal daily driver. So what made me switch back to Android? Read on to find out…
Sometimes It is About the Apps
I don’t consider myself an app person. I am generally happy with the built in apps that come with each phone. But there are a few apps that I use on a daily basis that are not available as part of the operating system. I know Windows Phone 8 is new, and some patience is required waiting for apps to be released, but the question is: will they ever be released? As Ryan said in his article about Google shunning Windows 8, “You have to put your resources where the users are.” But that also begs the question of how you gain the users without something to draw them in. I am a huge sports fan, and one of the apps I use the most is WatchESPN. It’s an app that lets you watch several of the ESPN stations live. I could, of course, use my DVR and record the shows, but then I’d need to set aside time to watch them. This app is currently not available on Windows Phone. Another app that I use multiple times a week is a 5k training program. I recently started running, and this app gives me a nice, structured program to work my way up to running a 5k. There is a comparable app for Windows Phone, but it lacks many of the features available in the iOS or Android platform. Pandora Radio and Instagram are two other popular apps not available on Windows Phone. Keep in mind you may find that Windows Phone offers all of the applications you need, but for me it does not — for the time being. The lack of these apps is one of the reasons why I jumped back to Android.
Updates and Stability
Earlier in the week, my Lumia 920 received a firmware update. One of the major changes was the ability to keep the Wi-Fi connection alive when the screen was shut off. There were also enhancements to the camera, and other minor fixes. I’m always excited to receive an OS update on any platform, and this was no exception. I started experiencing random reboots after the update, which was not a welcomed “feature.” My biggest complaint though is in the light sensor and screen brightness. As the phone sits idle, the brightness of the screen will fluctuate as if it doesn’t know what brightness level to settle on. A quick fix was to disable auto brightness, but that’s not really what I wanted to do. Not everyone was reporting these issues, but enough were to warrant it being a bug not just confined to a few. Add this problem to my app situation, and I’m almost at the tipping point.
Google Apps, ActiveSync, and Gmail
Google recently announced that it was shutting down consumer access to Google Sync, which uses Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) to sync your mail, contacts, and calendars with your mobile device. This does not just affect Windows Phone users, but anyone who chooses to use Exchange ActiveSync to configure their Google account. Google does support open standards for these services, including IMAP, CardDAV, and CalDAV; unfortunately, Windows Phone does not, with the exception of IMAP. Some have suggested switching to Outlook.com. I’ve been a Gmail user since 2004 and it’s not that easy. Not only do I have hundreds of contacts and thousands of emails, but I have dozens of online accounts using my Gmail address as either a login or username. Android simply offers the best integration with Google. Even Apple and your favorite iOS devices natively support CardDAV and CalDAV for your contacts and calendars respectively. In addition, Google has recently updated its Gmail application for iOS and it is packed full of features.
I can get around the app “situation,” and I’m sure my Lumia 920 stability issues will be fixed in a future update. But I’m not willing to give up seamless syncing of my Google contacts, calendar, and email. I hope that Windows addresses this problem before Google shuts down the EAS service on January 30, 2013. If you currently have an account, you will not be affected. Google Apps for Business customers will not be affected, either. In the meantime, I will enjoy my new Android phone while keeping tabs on Windows Phone.
What reasons do you have for switching from one platform to the next?
My name is Nick Alonge, and I’ve been a software developer for the last 20 years, creating everything from websites, traditional desktop applications, and most recently mobile applications. I started my own business five years ago after working in a corporate environment for 12 years.