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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Motorola Droid: The Honeymoon is Over.

It has been a couple of months since Motorola Droid. I have come to know the little device pretty well and any time one comes to know something intimately, that things faults begin to become more glaringly obvious. Before I continue I want you to know that I still love this little device and I would buy it again given the chance. The display is still one of the best on the market, the number of free apps is impressive, the integration with Google’s service is awesome, and the device itself is still solid and looking good even after a couple of rather high falls off of an elliptical trainer (note to self, get bluetooth headphones). Here are some things that I don’t like about the device.

The Physical stuff

The Back Cover falls off of my phone.

A lot. I find it in my pocket loose fairly regularly. I am not a phone holster sort of dude, so this might not be an issue for most people but it drives me batty. Fortunately my battery hasn’t fallen out too many times.

The Camera flash is tinged blue.

This makes the pictures you take in poor light pretty much suck. I initially heralded the flash as one of the nice points of the phone, and it still is if you are using it as a flashlight. Just don’t use it to take pictures unless you have to, or unless of course you want to blind your subject for a couple of minutes. It feels like staring into the sun if the sun were made of blue LEDs.

One handed use is difficult due the location of the hot keys.

Before you get all grossed out about this, remember that I have two children and one of my arms is almost constantly in use scooping one of them up, or moving something out of their way, or trying to extract something from their hands and/or mouths so I do a fair amount of legitimate 1 hand browsing. If one is left handed (or sinister as I like to call it),this might not be much of a problem, but as I am a righty and i have freakishly large meat mittens my palm is always hitting one of the menu buttons (usually the back button) thus kicking me out of whatever I was just doing.

Also I question having the back button and the menu button right next to each other. They are pretty much the exact opposite of each other and I seem to hit the one I don’t want to hit about 32% of the time. Remember,. 98.7% of all statistics are fabricated!

The Android Platform.

The Droid runs the 2.0 version of the Android platform. What confuses me most about this version of the platform is that there was at least one major release before it which lacks one feature that I personally believe is very critical.

The very noticeably absent spell check

In the outline I had worked up in writing this I had this listed three time, I will avoid beating you over the head with that particular literary device and just tell you that I think not including a spell checker is positively stone age. Other phones do it so I don’t think that it is a huge technical hurdle. I follow the bug/feature request on the Android developer site and it is sometime comical to see what people write (often misspelled horribly) about this missing feature. I have not seen any offical response to this complaint from Google other than the fact that this “enhancment” is listed at Medium severity.

Medium, huh? It may not stop you from shipping it, but I bet it will stop people from buying it.

A nice middle ground might be to at least include the predictive text feature that pops up when you use soft keyboard. At least that might be helpful for some commonly misspelled words.

App Shopping is hard to do.

Another thing I am not terribly fond of it the fact that you need to use the phone to browse for apps. Firefox has ruined me. I can no longer browse linearly. When I am shopping for things I scroll down a list of items and open a tab for each one and then I read them one by one eliminating items I am not interested in until I am left with the best candidates. I am not able to do with the Market app. To further complicate things there is no way to sort things making searching for something difficult and makes browsing almost worthless unless you have lots of time to kill.

The Stock browser is boring.

I won’t dwell on it much, but it’s true. I use the Dolphin Browser, which has its own quirks, but is mostly awesome with pinch zooming, gestures and nicer tabbing (not the iPhone style of the stock browser).

There are a couple of other minor annoyances that I have, like not being able to figure out how to not get two status bar notification for ever text I get because I like to use Handcent SMS instead of the stock messaging program and the fact that when I am playing music I have to unlock the phone to see what is playing if it goes to sleep. It would be nice if there was some functionality to have the music player or some other selected app update the lock screen with that info. There are apps to Scrobble to last.fm whatever you are playing in the music player, I can’t imagine it would be that hard to update the lock screen.

Having noted all this in a public forum I fully expect Google to have all of these items fixed by this time on Monday.

Have a nice weekend.

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posted by Matthew at 4:01 pm  

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