It’s been a week and a day since I switched to an Android phone, and I’ve learned something.
Whether you think it’s a feature or a bug, the reality is – if you’re going to live with an Android phone, you will end up modding it. Maybe this is less true if you’re running some “pure” Googlish version of Android, I don’t know. I do know that the Samsung phone I’m using required significant changes in order for me to be able to live with it at all.
I noted the first round of those changes below. Here’s what I’ve done since then, and why:
- The messaging app native to the phone is ugly beyond words. Went to the Play Store, looked over a few replacements for sending texts, settled for the time being on Textra. Since it uses the “material design” language Google introduced with 5.0, it doesn’t exactly fit with the rest of the phone. Also, sending the text (tapping a little arrow) isn’t great. But at least I can stand to look at it.
- I kept making mistakes with the stock Samsung keyboard, so I swapped it out as well. As with everything in Android, there are a lot of choices. I went conservative and picked the Google keyboard, under the theory that it’s in very widespread use already and so will get bug fixes and be supported for the foreseeable future. My accuracy has not improved as much as I’d like, and the experience is inferior to typing on my Windows phone.
- Not a change, exactly, but something I needed and am not satisfied with yet. I record everything I spend, down to the penny. On my Windows phone, I had an app that did just that, and was smart in the way I needed it to be – it would remember words I used frequently and auto-fill. So, for instance, if I used my debit card, typing d brought up “debit.” I’m on my third Android app and have yet to find the same combination of dirt-simple and smart. I’m using something called”MoneyWise” right now and it’s ok, but it doesn’t remember things as easily. Worse, I have to do a bit of scrolling and finagling each time to record the information I want – I can’t build up muscle memory.
Also, I’m now on two pages of apps – the front page is loosely work-related, the second personal. It’s too much, especially when I look at the crap in the “all apps” section I’ll never use.
And…every time I go to my work’s mobile web site (as opposed to the app), the page gets hijacked by a message insisting I’ve been infected by something because I’ve been surfing porn on my phone. The malware only gives you one choice – click ok to “start a scan for viruses.” Right. This is apparently an increasingly popular tactic by the people who deploy malware, and the companies whose job it is to stop such things from happening have a hard time keeping up. As the most popular mobile operating system, Android gets more of this sort of thing.
One thing I like very much about the phone: the battery. My WinPhone would die after 8 or so hours of light use. The Samsung has nearly twice the battery, and even though the screen is also bigger I’m still getting much, much longer life. Right now I’m at nearly 12 hours, with just under half a battery left.