First impressions and the Android Market

Posted: January 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Android | No Comments »

This entry covers my first impressions of the OS itself, as I see the device as secondary. Maybe I will write some about the Galaxy Player hardware later.

After booting, the first thing to do is of course getting a Twitter client from the Android market. First point goes to Android: I do not need to tether the device, I can use it right away. That is something Apple will need to get right eventually. First step to the market is signing in with your Google account. After typing in my credentials, I was already wondering when the Wifi connection would be established. As it turns out, only after trying to access Google without network connectivity for about 5 minutes:

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After trying this for a while, you will receive an error message with a bunch of things that could have went wrong and a button for setting up Wifi networks. Right. Because it is impossible to find out that there is no network connectivity without any Wifi connection. The Wifi setup process is a real gem, too. After selecting a network, a pop-over dialog will ask for your password. In background, the list of networks is still refreshed every couple of seconds, resulting in abysmal performance of the password entry field. It actually took me about 5 minutes to enter my password.

The market itself is a bit brief on descriptions and screenshots, but the App Store does not particularly shine in this regard, either. This means the primary place for looking for good apps is the web. On iOS, all links to the iTunes store are send to the respective iTunes, iBooks or App Store app. On Android, no such thing exists. There are no URLs for the store. Mind-boggling. Installation pages for Google’s own apps offer two means: a QR code and searching the market for some keywords. It’s absurd.

What’s great about market? Installing an app does not kick you back to the home screen. We really need that on iOS, too.

Also, the notification area. You can actually drag the top status bar down to open a list of current notifications on Android, which is very nice. The market puts the installations of apps there, with a progress bar and a means to directly launch the app after installation. That’s very good and much better than application installation on iOS.

The official Twitter for Android client is not that great, especially considering how well done the iOS and Mac versions are. Other popular clients include twicca, which is actually in beta, and TweetDeck. And what should I say? They are not very good either. They basically represent the state of iPhone Twitter clients in 1.x days, back when apps could only be obtained via jailbreaking your device. This was more than two years ago. I might actually do a comparison of those clients with the ones available on iOS someday, but this should suffice for now.

The biggest selling point for the market is its openness and on that front it delivers, big time. For example, you can get emulators for many popular consoles and computers. Apple really needs to get their heads out of their asses in this regard. It is understandable that Apple wants to provide a curated experience for its customers. But why on earth doesn’t iOS offer the option to install unsigned binaries as some kind of expert setting?

Final note: the lack of screenshots has one simple reason: there seems to be no simple and straightforward way to actually make them on a stock Android device.

Obtaining the package

Posted: January 13th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Android | No Comments »

The fun already starts with actually getting my hands on the Galaxy Player. It is said to be available in France since November 2010, but my limited knowledge of french prevents me from actually finding out if this is true. It was also announced for January 7th in the UK, with Amazon seemingly being the only place where it could be preordered. Worldwide release this is not. For some unknown reason, Amazon won’t ship the Galaxy Player to Germany. As a result, I needed to use Borderlinx to actually get the device to me, but that is minor hassle, albeit one which cost me about 30 EUR extra.

Of course, the device was not released on the 7th and the availability date was pushed back to the 11th. Already thinking that the white Galaxy Player might take the same route as the white iPhone 4, I didn’t expect the device to actually be available until February, but I was wrong. Amazon sent it on the 10th and Borderlinx could pass it along on the 12th. Somehow Borderlinx offered me standard and express shipping for the same price, so I settled with the later of course.

The result arrived today:

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Posted: January 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Android | No Comments »

After more than three years, it appears that we are actually seeing the first iPod Touch rival running Android. I am talking specifically about the Samsung Galaxy Player, the “MP3 player” version of the Galaxy S phone. First, let me admit that I am a long-time Apple fanboy and a happy iPhone user since day one. Why buy an Android MP3 player then? Simply to see how green the grass is on the other side. As you can see reflected in this site’s title and on the “About” page, I think it won’t be very green at all. However, I’d still like to see for myself what Google’s mobile platform has to offer, as it currently seems to be the only worthwhile contender for Apple in the mobile space. And as we all know, mobile devices are the future of computing in this decade.