in user interfaces

Four hours with a Motorola Droid Phone

Some notes from spending a few hours with my first Droid phone.

  1. The first thing I encountered that drove me crazy was trying to login to my own sites. When I highlighted a text field, it took up the entire viewport in landscape mode, not even showing the label for what I was entering. I had to remember what it was when the label went away, or submit forms to get errors so I could see what the next form label was.
  2. On the Motorola droid, the wake button is on the top, not the home buttons on the front. On the HTC droid, it's not the big white trackball button, but one of the metal buttons on the side marked "end".
  3. No way to just silence text message alerts, had to silence everything ("no sound" not an option for any single noise making feature)
  4. Amazon mp3 store download test — I downloaded whole album, one song had network error, but no way to re-download it as far as I can tell. I bought another album later on while connected to wifi and I think the failed download was redownloaded? I can't tell.
  5. Saved searches are not editable, when you click them, they run automatically as a new search, so misspelled ones stay in your history for ever, no way to pull them up, modify and rerun the search. No way to pull up an old search and add detail when there are too many results, you have to type it all out again.
  6. Onscreen keyboard comes up sometimes in apps, doesn't in others, and I have to resort to the hardware keyboard when that happens
  7. Hardware keyboard keys are too small for my big thumbs, seem smaller than an iPhone's virtual keys.
  8. Icons along the top are cryptic and confusing. Sometimes they turn red with a number, but I have no idea what it corresponds to. tapping them does nothing. I eventually figured out a way to get to a notifications page, but I can't remember.
  9. The hardware/software is different even among things called "Droid". The HTC droid has a lovely theme with a giant clock and weather running based on your location. On the Motorola Droid, I found desktop hacks to try and mimic it, but the apps and themes were clunky and not easily customized. Every basic weather app required I put in my zip code even though the phone has GPS in it.
  10. Way too much technical detail. In the About This Phone section of Settings, you can know the exact kernel version of the phone's OS and build number before you can figure out the phone number of your phone. Was this made for linux system administrators? Also, there are graphs for battery use by application and hardware. Does anyone outside of the Android development team need to know this? When I installed dxTop to try and get weather on my desktop (which didn't work btw), it added two main panels to the home screen, one for pulling up all apps, the other for showing which processes were running on the phone, a sort of virtual command line TOP output. Is that as important as getting to applications, knowing what is using up memory and processing?
  11. The app tab seems like it can infinitely grow, but it is always listed in alphabetic order. You can't put the apps you use most often at the top, I guess you're supposed to put them on your desktop area.
  12. I accidentally added the stupid Corporate Calendar (which is different than the Calendar app that uses Google Cal) to the desktop and I can't for the life of me figure out how to remove it from the desktop.
  13. Is there no mac desktop app for managing media on the device? If I want movies or music on it, do I have to just copy files directly from my file system to a removed SD card and transfer that way? It doesn't seem to mount as a remote disk on my Mac when connected via USB. I have no idea what kinds of video files work on it, and I don't see any where to buy shows/movies in the Market.
  14. The well publicized driving app doesn't have settings for telling it where my home is. That seems like an oversight as every car GPS hardware and software I've used has a big "go home" button this app lacks.
  15. The Youtube app simply lists popular items and has search. I'm signed into Google on the phone, but there's no quick link to my account, my favorites, my videos, etc. I had to search for my own stuff to find it.
  16. The app store title fonts are so large you can't read entire descriptions in portrait mode. On the plus side, if you download a paid app that doesn't work or sucks or wasn't what you were looking for, you can get an instant refund when uninstalling through the Market (but not if you go into Settings and Manage Applications and hit uninstall).
  17. I can't figure out how to remove default apps I will never use, like the Email app (I just use the Gmail app).
  18. I'm generally confused as to what the Back button will do at any one time. The button with lines on it that I think is supposed to be "settings" gives variable results depending on context within apps.

I came at this the same way I came at my iPhone, pulled it out of the box, ran the basic tutorials, and figured it out on my own. I do not consider good hardware and software design to require all users to do Google research on every aspect of a device in order to use it.

If you're a happy android user, feel free to correct me by point number and steps to accomplish what I was trying to do. Also, how in the heck do you take screenshots within it?

UPDATE: I forgot to mention a list of things I think it does better than the iPhone and that I was impressed with:

  1. I like the subtle buzz when pressing the screen. It's a good indicator that a touch was accepted
  2. Refunds for paid apps that didn't work is fantastic. I've probably wasted $50 over the last couple years on iPhone apps I thought would work and be great and were useless.
  3. The iPhone app store is the biggest failure point on the iPhone. I've personally not paid developers to make iPhone apps for my sites fearing the iPhone app produced would not be accepted and I would have spent $5k for nothing. I like that anyone can write Droid apps (but the quality of android apps seen in some casual searches also supports this — I saw more than a few "$search_keyword babes" apps with busty blondes shown)


  1. Heh, very interesting beginner’s mind take on Android.
    Two things: to remove an icon from the home screen, tap and hold the icon. You can then drag it to the trash.
    Second, one of the best parts of Android is the pulldown window shade for notifications. (I think I showed you this over lunch once.) Tap the top bar and pull down to get more info on the little icons.

  2. I’m a hardcore iPhone user and have never touched a droid, but here are my reactions to this post:
    1) I still can’t figure out how to get rid of default apps on my iPhone either
    2) I think Doubletwist will manage the music files on the droid for you
    I’m glad you posted this; it made me feel even more confident that I’m using the right device. Although it sure would be nice to get that instant refund model in Apple’s app store.

  3. Huh, that worked (with the trash appearing when it wasn’t there before). I swear when I tried that before it brought up a menu to add more stuff to the desktop.
    So how do you manage media on it? Should I try something like that Doubletwist app?

  4. I’ve got an HTC Magic. These responses, therefore, apply to that phone (as I haven’t yet gotten my hands on any other android phones as yet).
    6. Onscreen keyboard comes up sometimes in apps, doesn’t in others, and I have to resort to the hardware keyboard when that happens
    Double-tap the field you’re entering text into, or hold down the menu button (“long press”). (Most buttons have two functionalities: short press, and long press.)
    8. Icons along the top are cryptic and confusing. Sometimes they turn red with a number, but I have no idea what it corresponds to. tapping them does nothing. I eventually figured out a way to get to a notifications page, but I can’t remember.
    Drag the notifications bar open with your finger (pull it downward).
    11. The app tab seems like it can infinitely grow, but it is always listed in alphabetic order. You can’t put the apps you use most often at the top, I guess you’re supposed to put them on your desktop area.
    Yeah, I’ve got beef with this, too. I want to use one of my home screens (if your phone is like mine, you’ve got three—swipe the home screen to the left and right) for search and other widgets, one for my most used apps, and one for games and other such apps. That’s fine: I can get apps onto the home screen by long pressing them and then dragging them out there (you long press a blank area of the home screen to bring up widget menus). But I can’t then arrange everything else in the apps pane however I want to, which is bothersome. Also, as soon as I have any number of apps, when I try to scroll through them, I fly right by the middle of the list.
    12. I accidentally added the stupid Corporate Calendar (which is different than the Calendar app that uses Google Cal) to the desktop and I can’t for the life of me figure out how to remove it from the desktop.
    Long press and drag it to what was the app tab, but should now be a little trash can icon. It’ll take it off your home screen, but it won’t uninstall it.
    17. I can’t figure out how to remove default apps I will never use, like the Email app (I just use the Gmail app).
    I think you can do this in “Manage Applications” under “Settings”.
    18. I’m generally confused as to what the Back button will do at any one time. The button with lines on it that I think is supposed to be “settings” gives variable results depending on context within apps.
    Yeah, the back button can be an exit menu button, an exit app button, a browser back button, etc. I, too, find this confusing. The button you’re calling “settings” is the menu button, I think.
    Overall, I like my phone, but it’s definitely a different experience from the iPhone.

  5. for #3, you can just hit one of the volume buttons to mute a call. not very obvious, but at least it’s easy.
    for managing media, just plug it into usb and activate mass-media mode, which should make it work like a usb drive.
    at least, these things work for me on my htc magic.

  6. Yeah, the default apps on an iPhone don’t uninstall either, but at least you can stuff them to the sixth screen you don’t use. On the droid apps listing, they are all there front and center every time I pull them up.

  7. Plug it into your computer, and then a notification will show up in your notification bar; drag the notification bar down, and tap the option to enable mass-media mode.

  8. Ah, I found it by sweeping down the top bar with the USB icon, then enabling it there. Weird place, but nothing seems intuitive on this device.

  9. One of the other things it does *infinitely* better than the iPhone: Google Voice. I literally will never forgive Apple for essentially banning Google Voice from the iPhone, and now we have an example of how it SHOULD be.
    With Google Voice on the Droid, you can choose to use Google Voice with every single dialed call, or you can even tell it to ask you every time you dial a call whether to use the regular phone functionality or Google Voice. Even IF Apple and the dictators at the iTunes App Store allow Google Voice in someday, this level of integration with the phone and dialer is something we will never, ever see on the iPhone — Apple will claim that it’s too confusing, or something like that, and relegate it to a pure app that has no integration at all with the rest of the phone’s functionality.

  10. I found that it’s just another paradigm of computing, and once you’re used to its norms, the phone makes sense just as much as an iPhone. For example, I never knew about the whole swipe-sideways-to-delete functionality on the iPhone until someone showed it to me, but now it’s second nature… and most Droid functionality now feels that way to me too.

  11. 9. (…) Every basic weather app required I put in my zip code even though the phone has GPS in it.
    Interesting — we put Weatherbug on Shannon’s phone, and my one quibble with it was that it seems a bit too aggressive at using the phone’s GPS to get weather for your current location.
    This also seems a bit unfair, given that the basic weather app for the iPhone actually has no functionality to use the GPS to discover your current location. None at all. Zip.

  12. Yeah, I’ve been annoyed with the iPhone app as well, and ended up buying the app called Mercury to give me location-based weather.
    On the Droids, I was a bit surprised the HTC droid had this really smart default desktop clock/weather widget based on location, and I couldn’t get anything like that on the Motorola Droid.
    It feels kind of like how PCs are marketed with Windows as Windows computers. Sure, the basic OS is the same, but the apps that come with a Sony computer are going to be completely different than an HP.
    I thought all phones called Droid would be more similar.

  13. It took me a while to get used to Android as well (and a few months to figure out how to mount mass media mode). I share a lot of the same annoyances (you’ll find some more – notifications will steal focus from your current input, also there’s no “update all” in the App Store so once you install a fair # of apps, you’ll basically never be caught up on updates).
    That being said, over the past month of using Android day in and day out, it did grow on me. You get used to long presses doing random extra functionality, and while there are less apps, there is a bigger variety than the iPhone, including apps doing much more interesting things that aren’t allowed on the iPhone (background apps, access to sms/phone/hardware).
    Also, while I’m also vexed by the stupid alphabetical scrolling launcher screen, once you get your desktops set up w/ icons, it’s not bad. Of course, the annoying thing about that is that as you add apps that are in the middle of your list, it means you have to scroll down for every single app that you want to pull and try to put on the desktop, reminding you how stupid and useless the launcher screen is.
    – Desktop widgets are a nice idea, although in practice, the only ones i’ve found useful are the weather widget and the hardware toggle widget (brightness)
    – Android lets you install .apk software packages that aren’t in the Market. the Market doesn’t require preapproval by Google.
    – The media player on Android is pretty pathetic. I haven’t even ever bothered with putting music/video on my Android phone (I never carried it around w/o having alternatives).
    – It doesn’t have pins or a way to add/edit points, but while traveling, I found the Layers functionality to be pretty killer (w/ My Maps) There are also a bunch of alternative map apps – RMaps and MapDroid were the most interesting – which pull OSM data/tiles and provide offline access.
    – For screenshots, there’s this wacky app called ShootMe which works great, but requires you to shout at it to take a screenshot (well, there’s lots to shout about) – this might not work on your Droid – requires a rooted phone.
    Useful Apps:
    Locale – shows off interesting things you can do w/ full phone access
    ConnectBot – really nice SSH client
    Talk to Me – babelfish!
    Wifinder/WifiBuddy – there are actually a whole bunch of wifi finder apps (even an AR version)
    Layar – AR overlays

  14. That truly is a pain, then. I’m really surprised that you can’t move them to another screen even.
    My wish for the iPhone is that the default apps would behave like the Nike+ app: a preference setting enables/disables them. Apple has already shown us that they are willing to do this. It just needs to be extended to other apps. I would love to never see the stocks or weather app again.

  15. (Note…I intentionally didn’t read the other comments before I wrote this so that I could take each point fresh. Hope that’s ok.)
    I’m a happy Droid owner. I bought mine on launch day, and the next day, I got one for my wife. I had a G1 before I had a Droid.
    Here we go:
    3. Yeah. Not being able to manage individual notification sounds and volume sucks. There are apps in the market that fix this.
    5. Right, the saved searching thing is broken and they need to make that better. This is true of Android in general, it is not a Droid issue.
    6. On screen keyboard behavior is up to the developer of the individual app. They have to tell the app what to do when it is opened, etc… Some don’t bother. If a native app is having a problem with the keyboard, then that’s bad.
    8. To bring down the notifications panel, put your finger at the top of the screen and slide it down. The red notification with a number means that there is more than one notification and they don’t all fit in the grey bar at the top. Slide the bar down and you can see what they all are. Likewise, to dismiss the notification area, slide from bottom to top.
    9. The Weather Channel just updated their app to support GPS. Shouldn’t have taken this long. Go figure.
    10. I rooted my G1, and I’ll root the Droid when that becomes reasonably easy. I like to have all the information avaialable. And no, I’m not a Linux sysadmin. Anymore. Shut up.
    11. Yeah. The Apps tab is always alphabetical. You’re supposed to put your frequently used stuff on a desktop screen. This isn’t perfect.
    12. Put your finger on the calendar widget and hold it there. The phone will vibe a little. Drag the widget down to what was the Apps tab, but it’s now a trash can. Drop it. Done. You can add a new widget by pressing and holding on blank space on the desktop and following the dialog from there.
    13. This is a feature, not a bug. You don’t have to use Apple’s crappy software to put music on your device, any file explorer will do. Drop it in the music folder, and the OS will automatically find it for you.
    14. Google Navigation. Pretty much still beta. I bet they’ll at HOME to it soon.
    15. If you log into your user account within the YouTube app, you can browse your own favorites and the vidoes you’ve submitted. Use the settings button to access this stuff. I hope they update this app, because it is ridiculously convoluted.
    17. You can’t remove the default apps you don’t use…unless your device is rooted. I liked being able to kill Amazon MP3 on my G1. It’ll be nice to get that capability back.
    18. Again, Back button behavior is standardized in the OS, but the apps get their behavior cooked in by the dev. Jewellust, for example, pops up a dialog on the first press, and then ingnores it from then on.
    1. Yeah, the haptic feedback is nice. You can turn that on and off, btw, in the settings.

  16. If you tap and hold the desktop (not an individual icon), you get the option to add a shortcut to the home screen. This option is pretty cool, btw–it gets very granular. For example, if you text me all the time and want to make that a one-click action, you can add a shortcut to the homescreen that launches an SMS compose window with my number filled in. (This isn’t possible on the iPhone and it drove me crazy, b/c the one thing I do most on my phone is text Terra.)
    As for media management, I’ve heard Doubletwist is the way to go but I haven’t used it. My (old, crappy) G1 has only 1GB of storage, so I never used it as a serious media player. I only keep my one workout playlist for the gym on it, and I moved that music to it manually.

  17. Hmm, are comments moderated/screened? I tried leaving a very long comment twice, but they don’t show up. Will this?
    OK, can I edit this and add my big comment?
    I typed up a long comment earlier while at work, hit Preview, but I guess I forgot to actually post it since I don’t see it. Ugh. Let’s try again…
    OK, so I agree that the documentation that comes with the phone could be better. I’ve had a few things where I had to look them up, or wished for better documentation, but it is out there:
    Quick Start Guide:
    Tips and Tricks:
    User Guide:
    Taking your items in order:
    1. I agree, the on-screen keyboard in landscape mode just takes over the whole screen. I find myself using portrait mode to sign in to things, or opening the physical keyboard. Another tip is that hitting ‘back’ after entering text closes the kb, so you can select one field, enter the data, back, then select another. So you know exactly which field you’re in.
    2. I think you really noticed this because you came from the iPhone, where there is one design only. Android is more like WinMo or Symbian (or Palm OS when it has licensees) – one OS, multiple vendors. So each vendor puts their own spin on the hardware design, which means different button layouts, etc. ‘Droid’ is a Verizon marketing umbrella – right now that encompasses the HTC Droid Eris, which is a version of the HTC Hero, and the Motorola Droid. There will likely be others later. Even one-vendor lines, like Blackberry, have different button layouts on different models.
    3. Open Messaging app, make sure you’re in the main screen (not a conversation thread), hit Menu (button with lines on it), Settings, Select Ringtone, select ‘Silent’. Under Settings select Vibrate if you want that.
    4. Open Amazon MP3 app, Menu, Downloads, Menu, Retry Failed
    5. This one bugs me too. In some cases there is a kind of work around – if you run the saved search you can sometimes edit it then, like saved Google searches.
    6. I haven’t had this problem, the on-screen keyboard always opens when I select a text field. Any specific examples?
    7. I find myself using the on-screen keyboard a lot more than I expected to, I normally hate them. I find the physical keyboard most useful when I can lay the Droid on a table and finger type.
    8. I find the icons fairly intuitive, but I’m sure it is different for different users. To open the notifications swipe down, like you’re trying to stretch out the bar. That will pull down the notifications window, where you can select specific notifications. Then the turn red and/or display a number, that generally means you have X of whatever the notice is for. So the messaging icon might turn red and display how many unread messages you have.
    9. As above, one OS, multiple vendors. HTC customizes their Android phones with their ‘Sense UI’. They have a similar enhancement on their WinMo phones. Motorola has ‘MotoBLUR’ on their CLIQ. Sony has their own enhancements. Some phones are ‘Google Experience’ phones, which have the default Android UI – like the G1 and Droid.
    10. Android is definitely geekier than the iPhone. I like having all of the information accessible, users don’t have to look into it. I do use some of the capabilities, like seeing which apps are draining the battery. Keep in mind that Android multitasks and runs background apps, unlike the iPhone, so app management is more important. You could have something running in the background draining your battery. And a downside (worth it, IMHO) to the Android Market being open, is that you’re more likely to have an app with an issue – memory leak, etc. Since Android has appealed to geeks a lot of apps also have a geeky bent. As the Android userbase diversifies we’ll probably see more apps that aren’t as geeky.
    11. The app tab can group pretty much infinitely, but it really isn’t meant to be used often. I think it is expected that the apps you use the most, you’ll put on one of the home screens. And you can order the apps however you wish there. While Android defaults to three home screens, there are 3rd party apps to get five or seven, perhaps more.
    12. Press and hold on the apps icon, just like when moving it. The app tray at the bottom will turn red and the icon changes to a trash can, drag and drop there.
    13. To mount the system connect it via USB, then pull down the notification panel from the top bar, delect the USB notice, and select Mount when prompted. As for apps, the default seems to be DoubleTwist: I think Google should just acquire them, or license it, and include it with Android phones.
    14. I agree, this is a missing feature. I cut them some slack since it is new, free, and still beta, but they need to add this. I think there should be some number of ‘speed dial’ locations, so you can set things like home, work, etc – places you go over and over. There is a history for the To: field, so you can use that to select past searches, but that isn’t as easy as pre-programmed items. I do hope they add this.
    15. Open YouTube app, Menu, My Account. There you go.
    16. Do you mean that the app names are cut off? Not sure what you mean since the descriptions aren’t on the list screens, but on the individual app screen and you can across those to see everything.
    17. I don’t believe anything built into the OS or burned into the phone’s ROM by the vendor/telco can be removed. For example, I have no use for the Verizon Visual Voicemail app, I use Google Voice. I can remove any updates to it that I’ve installed, but not the base app that came with the phone. This is just like every smartphone I’ve used, so I live with it.
    18. The Back button usually does what I expect, though sometimes it doesn’t – but once I see what it does I generally understand it. I think you’ll get used to it with use. The button with the lines on it is ‘Menu’, not Settings – so the menu it opens is context sensitive.
    As for screenshots, my understanding is that there is no on-phone app for them for Android 2.0 yet – aka the Droid. There are apps for 1.5/1.6, but it looks like you need to enable root access on your phone. You can take screenshots on the Droid using the dev tools:
    For apps, so far I have:
    3banana Notes (network notepad – use from the web or phone, sync and share) (Amazon’s mobile app, not just MP3s)
    ASTRO File Manager (file manager, lets you explore and manage files on the phone)
    Compass (a simple compass, but it also helps calibrate the hardware)
    ConnectBot (SSH, telnet, etc)
    Documents To Go (mobile office suite, I have the full paid version)
    Google Googles (Google’s new visual search app)
    Google Maps
    Google Maps 4 Twidroid (links to maps for geolocated tweets)
    Google Sky Map
    Google Voice
    Movies (from Flixster, movie times, reviews, etc.)
    My Maps Editor by Google
    Ping (ping, as in ICMP)
    Places Directory (Google Places)
    Power Manager Full (power management profiles, I have the paid version)
    Reality Browser (from Layar)
    ShopSavvy (photograph a bar code and get price checks)
    twidroid PRO for twitter
    wardrive (I’m getting addicted to wardriving because of this app)
    For Widgets, I really only use Power Control and Search. Power Control gives you quick toggles for WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, auto-sync, and brightness.
    That’s about it.

  18. Re: #3:
    Actually, you can set the volume individually for just about every type of ringer or notification.
    Under the settings for the phone, there are general settings for ringers. Any time you are just at the desktop, I believe, the volume control changes ringer volume. If you go to, for instance, the messaging/txt app, and hit the menu button, then settings, you can set text notifications. These settings are specific to messaging notifications. While pre-viewing ringers, the volume control allows you to change notification volume, independent of ringtone volume. Alarms work pretty much the same way.
    Adding mp3 ringtones, notifications, and alarms requires appropriately named folders on the SD card (though they can be subfolders, even to different parent folders, as long as they are named “Ringtones”, “Notifications”, and “Alarms”.) Whatever system-supported audio files you put in those folders will appear in the appropriate lists.
    I’m not saying it isn’t unnecessarily convoluted and difficult, but it is possible without adding anything to the phone. I have different notifications for incoming text, incoming email, and general notifications, though I believe they are all at the same volume, though it is a different volume from my ringtones or my alarms.
    It’s not the most intuitive interface, but once you get used to the quirks, it can be very use-able and has a lot of user control.

  19. I think my comment is getting blocked – I’ve left very long comments a couple of times, but they’re not appearing. But a short one did – this probably will. Maybe it is because I included a few URLs? Matt, can you check your filter for my long comment?

  20. I am very interested in Google Voice (using my same number) and have the invite just waiting for me. I have read some really great things about its integration with the Droid and Android based phones, BUT I have read about some issues such as:
    1. Delayed (or not received) txt messages
    2. How do MMS messages work with GV
    3. Having to waiting through excessive rings for voicemail to answer
    4. How does mobile to mobile calling work with your carrier? Do I have to pay to make mobile to mobile calls when calling through GV?
    I would be very interested to get more details on how you have GV set up and what issues you might still have with it.

  21. The widget is part of HTC’s Sense UI that they built to sit on top of the OS for many of their Android phones.
    Try Beautiful Widgets for a nice facsimile of the flipclock/weather widget. It will use your location for weather (tho you can also add a location manually for it to use as a fallback if it can’t determine yr location (e.g. if you have gps & cel tower location turned off.))
    Beautiful Widgets comes with several widgets; the one you’re describing is the Beautiful Home widget.

  22. I think everyone else has covered most of the bases in their comments, but I will make this general statement.
    There are people who like to tinker around with technology, play with settings, figure out how things work, etc.
    Then there are people who don’t want to be bothered with any of that. That want to turn it on and basically have it work intuitively…usually at the cost of tweaking, customization, flexibility, etc.
    Based on the current state of Android and the Droid, I think some of the second group might get frustrated. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my Droid and can’t stop playing with it…BUT it isn’t quite as intuitive or simplistic as the iPhone currently is. I like that about it.
    For right now, I still think the iPhone is the simpler to use, more intuitive user-interface. Like I said though, you lose some freedom and flexibility with that though. If you don’t mind some initial trial and error and learning as you go than the Droid (and potentially future Android devices) are for you – especially if your routines revolve around Google services.

  23. 14. Long press anywhere on the desktop, choose Shortcuts, then Directions. This will let you create a shortcut to your (or any) address. You can create one for home, one for work, a temorary one for the hotel yr staying at on vacation, etc. Tapping the shortcut will bring up turn-by-turn nav to that location from your current location.

  24. when i plug it in, there is usually a notification in the status bar asking me if i want to turn it on.

  25. FYI – on the Droid you don’t need to tap the bar and drag down… you simply swipe your finger down the top of the screen.

  26. Have you tried making folders to hold your favorite apps on the desktop? That’s one of the most irksome things for me on my iPod touch.

  27. I feel like we often confuse “familiar” with “intuitive”. Very few UI’s are actually intuitive.

  28. I think this is a failing of the Verizon marketing department. They named an Android OS phone “Droid” and then released another Android device as “Droid Eris”. Nevermind that they come from two different manufacturers and run different variations of Android OS.
    The HTC Sense UI is the nice interface you like, its actually much deeper than a skin and has numerous widgets and OS Tweaks. I got it with my Sprint Hero from HTC, so i guess maybe manufacturer is a more important indicator than carrier when shopping for software features.
    (P.S. Sense UI gives you 7 (SEVEN!) home screens to fill with widgets folders, shortcuts and apps. I think that’s one reason I’m less miffed about the alphabetical-only app list. But, hey, you got that ginormous screen and a keyboard.)

  29. I guess what I’m getting at is if we take the example of the Amazon re-download thing — that was buried in a menu option, then another menu option within the first choice.
    That seems like a failure of hardware/software design that there can exist submenus of hidden menu items. I would have NEVER found that.

  30. I think the iPhone is very intuitive. I’ve read very little in the way of documentation and been constantly surprised how things work as I would imagine they might.

  31. For number 13, I prefer Salling Media Sync to DoubleTwist.
    Also, if rooting becomes possible for the Motorola Droid, I’d definitely consider it, if I were you. The difference between the stock OS on my T-Mobile G1 and the Cyanogen hacked ROM is night and day.
    You haven’t asked for this, but let me say that “Locale” is the killer app for Android, especially when used with plugins. It turns many things on and off depending on your location or power situation. So, my ringer is automatically set to vibrate when I am in the office, WiFi is automatically turned on when I am home and in the office, the screen is brightened when I am plugged into power, certain apps sync when there is power and WiFi, etc., etc. You can even make it autosend Tweets depending upon your location.

  32. How do you add a shortcut to SMS one person? And is that a standard Android thing or just on the Droid?

  33. Extra click, yes. Though I spose if you’d rather swipe through 7 different “desktops” to pick out an icon, that’s you’re prerogative. I was thinking this would be a way to address the alphabetical-only programs list without consuming all your precious desktop space. You know, for those apps you love so much you want to take them behind the middle school and get them pregnant.

  34. I think this specific response to number 3 hasn’t been mentioned yet, but I’m not sure – on the G1 (which obviously might be different on other Android phones, but I can’t imagine why), if you go to Settings, Sound and display, Ringer volume, there’s a tick box which says ‘Use incoming call volume for notifications’. Untick it and you get two separate volume sliders, one for incoming calls, one for notifications (and then different apps can have notifications switched off individually).
    Other than that, I was just really shocked at the difficulties you’ve had – most of the things you found opaque were features I discovered and was charmed by while playing with it for 5 minutes at the T-Mobile store (and I’m like 103 years old, and hated touch screens and smart phones previously, etc.). I think I had to look one thing up in the little booklet it comes with, but the problem turned out to be because of a bum SD card. Really shows how different users can have widely varying ‘intuitions’…

  35. Dude, have you had any dropped calls? How’s the audio? How’s the speaker phone? Oh yea, it *is* a phone, right?

  36. Hey, I’m the guy who called you “astonishingly non-savvy” over at Smarterware. Just thought I’d pipe in on a couple of the issues you mentioned. (I know it’s been a while but I know how to do some of the stuff you are having problems with) (ALSO, some of this may be answered above, I did not review all of the comments before writing this):
    1. You can go into the Gmail app, go to Settings, and turn off notifications (or make it just vibrate). You can also do other things there, like tell it which labels to sync. This is also, I think, the case with every other app that has notifications. For instance, I turned off all GV notifications because it only checks every 5 minutes anyway (I get the Gmail notifications quicker).
    2. I believe that when you are holding the device in portrait mode, the soft keyboard will pop up automatically upon selecting a text entry box (since it knows the hard keyboard is not open). When in landscape, you sometimes have to double tap because it seems to assume you might want to use the hard keyboard.
    3. In the Amazon MP3 store, you can redownload any purchased app. Just long press or check the menu.
    4. The apps are sometimes confusing, but if you swipe down on the screen you get the notifications page that explains them. This *AHEM* beats the iPhone’s notification screen. Oh, wait… there isn’t one.
    5. Check out “Beautiful Widgets” which has a weather widget (among other useful ones) that is just like the Sense UI from the HTC phones. It asks for a default location that it uses if geolocation does not work. This is a sweet app that is perhaps the best eye candy available for the home screen (animated forecasts, anyone?).
    6. As for too much technical detail, I can see how you might think that but for most it is refreshing to be able to see more of the nuts and bolts. If you don’t want to see it, you don’t have to (the phone number shows up way higher than all the nitty gritty technical details on my screens). Some people want to know why their batteries might be dying, and that battery data will show them. AFAIK, you cannot get that detail on the iPhone. And, again, if you don’t care, you don’t have to look at it. I don’t understand why ADDITIONAL information could ever be a detriment to a product. I think so many of us have grown accustomed to the Apple “you know what we want you to know” mentality. I’d rather choose what I want to know about MY phone.
    7. Mounting the device is a bit confusing but works similar to the Blackberry, which is to say you decide when to mount it (it doesn’t auto mount when you connect USB). You have to go to the notification area and tap on the USB notification. It will then ask you if you want to mount the SD card. You then have to manually unmount it when you are done (or you could, I suppose, just yank the cord if you are sure it isn’t doing anything at the moment). I like this better than the way the iPhone handles things, because I am a bit of a control freak.
    8. This is only going to get even better. I performed the update to 2.01 and have already noticed increase speed, stability and battery life. I have also (strangely) noted even better wireless reception (more bars in more places). The camera issues are gone (and the presence of a flash makes the camera extremely versatile) as well.
    I know you might not see this but I hope you do because I think some of these answers may help. I have found the Droid to be a remarkable device, far more flexible than the iPhone (if not quite so easy to use). For someone like me, it is indeed an “iPhone killer” because after using the Droid I do not think I could go back to an iPhone. I’d feel too “locked down” and restricted. That said, if you like games (I do but don’t have much time to play them), the App Store has far more great games than the Android Market.
    The other thing that is just horrible on the Droid is media playback (of your own media — not streamed like or Slacker, which are both excellent). I totally agree with you there. But this is a phone first and foremost. I have my iPod for music (and games — see above) so for me it is not a big loss.

  37. It is an android thing:
    Like Gina said above, long hold on some empty home-screen real estate > Shortcuts > Direct Message > choose your recipient.

  38. I simply brought up using GoogleVoice, and made it a shortcut. Then I entered three cities (because I travel between two of them eery week, and the third city is my current destination for this assignment – i.e., will change in abut six months). When I tap the icon I now get a summary for eah of the three cities, and apping on one of the cities gives me the detaled current weather there; from here, I can get hourly, 36-hr, or 10-day forcasts for my locations with one tap each. I can exit wherever I am using the back button.
    Weatherbug works pretty much the same way. This was a very easy starting point for me to begin learning this phone.
    I have no experiene with the iPhone but considerable experiene with a Blackberry 8330 Curve so the Droid has been a bit of a steep learning curve for me. However, the only thing left that I now have a problem with is to download a ringtone from my computer to the phone; I’ve loaded Media Link to the computer but I still have to make the folders on the phone, etc. Everything else I need to do has worked well.
    One word of warning – you can’t forward Hotmail accounts directly to Gmail, because MicroSoft won’t allow it. But there are several workarounds for this, so we finally got it done. On the other hand, Exchange Server mail forwarding works perfectly and is a bit eaasier to set up than on the Blackberry.
    I don’t understand the problem above with Maps. It worked perfectly for me, once I hit the My Location button on the pop-up menu to orient it.
    Not sure why the battery usage screen is an issue, but I like that I can control what features are running to conserve battery life, especially because when travelling I’m usually not near an outlet. Couldn’t do that with the Blackberry.
    My hands are badly messed up so learning soft keys after the Curve’s little button-keys was a bit of a problem but the “smart dictionary” really helps with that, plus although the keyboard is small it works OK for me, especially because it has a cursor control. One of the reasons I am tryin the Droid is because the Blackberry StormII doesn’t have a “real” keyboard, nor does the iPhone. The iPhone is not a choice for me because AT&T doesn’t cover my home area very well at all.
    – hope that helps.

  39. 3 positive points and all the rest negative? everybody says how wonderful the phone is. so what now?

  40. If you tap and then hold your finger in the middle of the screen, not on an icon, a list comes up to add “more stuff” to the desktop. You just weren’t putting your finger on the icon you wanted to delete…

Comments are closed.