Some of my friends are aware that I have been wanting to replace my iPhone for a while now with an Android based phone. Part of this was due to the demise of the battery in the iPhone, for which the fix would require being without the phone for a few days (yeah, right) and a high cost. And while the iPhone was not a bad device, I was always irked by the closed nature of the platform.
So finally, this past week, I was able to make the switch to a new HTC EVO on Sprint. Incidentally, my wife changed to a Blackberry Curve in the process. For her, it is her first smart phone device. It is the first Blackberry we’ve had in the family mix, though I used one from my job back in the early 00’s for a little while. Along with the new equipment, we’ve added a data plan that includes unlimited texts/messaging. It will be interesting to see how that works out.
The first few days were spent just trying to get used to the new UI and learning how basic things worked. Now that I’ve got that down, I’m starting work on installation of apps, especially the major ones that I use on a regular basis. Some of that work actually began months ago when I put together a spreadsheet of the apps I had on the iPhone and started organizing them (generally along the lines of frequency of use). That process served the dual purpose of helping me prep for the transition as well as get things better organized on the iPhone. Thought I would share some info on the apps and what I have found thus far in replacing them with an Android counterpart.
Mail – this is the native mail app on the iPhone.
Mail/GMail – currently using the native mail app for Android for my personal e-mail accounts and accessing my work based Exchange account. Only thing I miss is a summary screen to use to navigate to each of the separate accounts – have to pull down a a menu and click to access. Looking at K9 as a replacement, but not impressed so far. For Gmail there is a separate mail app which seems basic to me, but works fine (granted, I don’t use Gmail much).
Messages – native iPhone app
chompSMS – big improvement over the native Messages app.
Safari – the native iPhone app based on Safari. Generally worked ok given the limitations.
Dolphin Browser HD – not sure on the history, but seems popular. Main benefit is it has tabs. Was able to install an Xmarks add-in, so bookmarks are sync’ed with my Firefox installs at work and home. Also installed the Firefox mobile browser, but haven’t used it much yet. Get the impression it is lagging behind Dolphin. There is a native web browser as well, I’m guessing some flavor of Chrome.
Task Management (GTD)
No decision made yet. I’m currently testing Got To Do and Ultimate To Do List, both of which offer sync with ToodleDo. Seem to be pretty comparable. Do everything that ToDo does, but not quite as polished.
Calendar. The native iPhone calendar app sync’ed with both my Google calendars and my work’s Exchange server.
Calendar. The native Android calendar app sync’ed with Google and Exchange. In general I’d say the interface lags the iPhone app a bit. But functionally the same. May look at alternatives at some point.
Contacts. The native iPhone app.
People. The native Android app. In preparation, a while back I figured out how to export all the contacts from Thunderbird and get them imported into Google. Just sync’ed with that and had most of my contacts up and running. I am discovering a few instances where I had contacts in the iPhone but not Thunderbird/Google. I think the iPhone could be synced with Google contacts as well, but for me to do so now would overwrite data on the phone.
Notes – the native iPhone app
Inkpad – interestingly, the Android didn’t come with anything on it. This app looks like a good solution, similar to the iPhone app.
n/a – did not use anything to keep passwords secure as I was using Notes to keep up with them (yeah, insecure I know).
OI Safe – a dedicated, encrypted password keeper. Does the job, but I’m not impressed with the interface.
Nothing that I was ever able to find. Files Lite could do some sharing with a PC if wifi available. The iPhone is so locked down, a file manager wasn't of any use.
ASTRO File Manager – nice access to files.
Auto info tracker
Car Care by KB Productions. Been using this for a couple years to keep track of gas fill-ups, services, etc. Lots of great, detailed information. KB recently did a major upgrade that I felt set the program back.
aCar – nice app I found similar to Car Care. I was able to successfully import all of my records using csv data files (the import process of the app was very impressive). Initial impression is that it is better than Car Care (though I wish it made it a little easier to see mpg when filling up). Note this was the first Android app that I’ve paid for.
Not sure yet. I’ve been testing an app called EasyMoney and managed to get all of my account history from PocketMoney imported in. Seems to work similar to PocketMoney. Different UI, but probably ok. However, I just discovered there is a PocketMoney Android version available in the market (just listed on website within the past 10 days). Would like to test that, but does not look like a free/lite version is available for testing (I've submitted a inquiry with Catamount Software).
Not sure yet – there are lots of options available. Seesmic is highly recommended and I’ve been testing it – seems ok. Also trying out Tweetcaster for Android and may switch to this as it seems to have a slightly better UI in my opinion.
Nothing – never could find anything I thought worked well (I owe that more to the form factor of the iPhone than a lack of apps)
Currently using the native Android music player. Looks like management of playlists may be lagging, but haven’t dug into to a great extent.
Soccer game scoring
No alternative available in the searching I’ve done thus far. I may have to carry the iPhone to soccer games just to use this app. I have started playing with the Google AppInventor to see if I could create my own replacement.
Fantasy Football management
ESPN FFL 10
Season is over, so who knows. Hopefully next year ESPN will have an Android app available.
Yahoo Sportacular – looks like development of the Android version is behind the iPhone version based on the lack of scores available.
Camera – very nice, but an iPhone 4 may be comparable?
Shazam – I happened to get Shazam on my iPhone before they changed the license to effectively force a paid version on users, so I was grandfathered. I will miss that on the EVO.
None so far. Logos says they are working on an Android version. For now will have to use Biblia.com through the browser
Clock – but now I can have a widget on the homescreen!
Angry Birds (if I get to it – hate to have to pay for it again).
Thus far I’ve installed AccuWeather and TWC along with the native weather app/widget.
Couple other issues of note that I have discovered.
Unlike the iPhone’s home-power button combo to take a screenshot, Android does not include that capability natively. So had to download an app called ShootMe that requires a shake or yell (yes, yell, but I haven’t tried that yet) to get a screenshot.
Widgets let you put stuff right out on the screen (er, desktop?). I see this as a huge advantage Android may have. For instance, I installed a battery meter app that shows charge level right on the icon. Much better and easier to use than anything I have found for the Apple platform (I was looking for something similar for the iPods my daughters got).
The ability to connect the Android to the PC as a flash drive for transferring files is also very nice. Much better than the locked down nature of the iPhone. Thus the need for something like the ASTRO file manager on the EVO. This will probably make things easier in terms of usability. For instance, I could use the Thinking Space app to produce a new mind map. Use ASTRO to move it to my Dropbox. That will sync it so I can work on it at my desktop using Freemind. Save it and it will get sync'ed back in the other direction. All the iPhone mindmap apps have complicated cloud services to have to deal with or e-mail to move files to and from the device.
I have quite a few more apps to figure out whether I want to install on the EVO. First though I need to nail down what I’m going to do about the GTD app and my checkbook register.
Not bad for not even having the EVO for a week yet.