Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on Droid Incredible

So I finally joined the smartphone world. I went with the Droid Incredible—I didn't want an iPhone (wanted to stay with Verizon and didn't like the programming restrictions, though they have now been relaxed to some degree), didn't like the size of the Droid X, and didn't want the additional bulk of the physical keyboard on the Droid 2. Overall, I'm pretty happy with having a smartphone, Android, and the Incredible in particular. Other disorganized thoughts:

  • One big annoyance is that the Bluetooth functionality is rather broken on the Incredible and it won't pair in our car; see here. Apparently it's a software problem which you can get around by rooting and installing a different MOD. I'm still hoping an update will fix the problem.

  • (9/29/2010) I had a strange problem with voice quality a couple days after I first got my phone; others said my voice was very distant during calls. After searching all over the web for a solution, I went to a Verizon store and they couldn't find the problem either. Finally, I stared at the mic and noticed a speck of dust seemed to be blocking it. The Verizon guy blew it out with some compressed air, and them problem was solved. I'm really glad I didn't return the phone at that point.

  • Having the phone is great for running outside. I get some music going and then start up SportyPal, which tracks my route on a GPS and shouts times in my ear every so often. Later, I go online to check my pacing to see how I could run slightly less slowly next time. Update (10/7/2010): I forgot to mention that this armband fits the Incredible pretty well, though not perfectly (adjusting volume is a pain).

  • I set up Subsonic on a machine at home with our music and use the Android app to listen on my phone. It's not quite as good as having all my music on the phone (you need to remember to grab what you want ahead of time if you're not going to have a data connection, e.g., on an airplane), but it works quite well. I'm still looking for a good solution for managing podcasts. Update (10/5/2010): I bit the bullet and bought doggcatcher for podcasts. I was impressed that the developer worked around a bug with the 2.2 ROM on the Incredible that thoroughly broke seeking; this bug made using other apps like Google Listen very painful.

  • Astrid Tasks synced to Producteev is working well for managing TODOs, grocery lists, etc.

  • The camera is great to have in a pinch, but it's missing some basic features like image stabilization (many photos without flash end up being blurry) and adjusting zoom while shooting video.

  • Google Navigation generally works great, including the new walking navigation. But, in some cases it would be problematic to rely on it, since it needs a data connection to compute an initial route or (I think) to re-route if you miss a turn. If you're heading out into nature a lot, it's not a replacement for an app that downloads maps and computes routes locally or a standalone GPS.

  • In general, the app version of popular sites like Facebook, Twitter, and NYTimes are obviously better than the mobile web versions, which is kind of disappointing given the hype around the web platform. I'm not sure if this is because the web platform still needs work or because the sites aren't fully optimized for Webkit-based browsers (it's probably some of both). The Gmail and Google Reader mobile sites are pretty competitive with comparable apps, though.

  • Catch (formerly Snaptic) seems decent for jotting down and syncing notes. I tried Evernote first, but the Android app is just broken; you can't even read your notes without a data connection.

  • I wish I could try Swype.

  • Should I join Foursquare?

Anyway, it's the best new toy I've gotten in a while. Hopefully I'll be able to make some time to hack up a couple apps of my own eventually.
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