My 30 Day Android Challenge, Two Weeks In

Welcome to my Android 30 day challenge, two weeks in, well more like 17 days in but you know, a day here, a day there, what’s the difference? I’ll cut right to the chase and say that so far, I’m still having a great time using the Android platform without touching another piece of smartphone hardware. I’m still using the iPad, it’s part of my workflow so there really is no taking that away from me without another tablet around to substitute.

I’ll first echo something that I discussed in my day 10 report — substituting default apps for Google Play downloads. So, since the last time I updated you I’ve gone browser crazy and it’s bad, almost like “I need an intervention bad.” I was using the HTC One S against on days 11-14 but the last few days have been back on the Blaze 4G and I’ve tried Opera, Boat, Firefox (Beta), older Firefox, Dolphin HD (again), and Maxthon. Like I said, I’ve gone browser crazy and if given the right amount of free time, I’d have downloaded more. Right now, I’m back on Boat browser but I’d have to say overall, I like Opera the best out of all the aforementioned browsers. Chrome Beta still seems, dare I say unbeatable on Ice Cream Sandwich, but on Gingerbread devices Opera made me incredibly happy. So why am I back on Boat? Honestly, I don’t know. Did I say I’ve gone browser crazy?

On a second note on the same subject, last week I mentioned that I had substituted my use of the default SMS app with Handcent on both the Blaze and One S. I’m still using it on the One S, but on the Blaze 4G I installed Go SMS as of the past two days and I’m really loving it. Yeah, it’s a text messenger so it’s not really going to make or break my experience, but it’s the little things combined that will. So in that regard, I’m still loving the ability to replace default apps and that may be the single best recommendation I can ever give to Android. If you don’t like it, replace it. That’s huge, HUGE.

As I can’t root the HTC One S due to it being a loaner unit from HTC, I was hoping to get involved with rooting the Blaze 4G, unfortunately the developer community around the device seems pretty non-existent. In other words, I’m “bone stock” on the Blaze 4G, whatever “bone stock” can mean on an Android device.

Moving along, earlier today we covered a report out of XDA-Developers that saw some HTC One X and One S owners unhappy with the way HTC has handled the multitasking experience on the One series with Sense 4. In order to preserve battery life under the “Sense” experience, HTC has chosen to alter the multitasking setup by using a horizontally scrolling list of apps running in the background instead of the standard vertical Ice Cream Sandwich look. HTC says this was done to better handle memory management and preserve battery life and in this case, I have to say it’s worthwhile. I have had what I consider, pretty great battery life with the One S and I for one don’t really mind the liberty they’ve taken with the multitasking setup. I understand that apps running in the background is a stronghold of the Android experience, but in this regard the battery life trade-off makes it ok for me to let go of some of those running apps. For me, it’s always battery life over everything. What good are these features if I’m constantly searching for a charger?

Other apps I’ve started to use this week are:

  • SocialScope — invite only right-now
  • Appreciate — app discovery
  • AppAware — app discovery again
  • Flipboard — love this app
  • Disqus — comment management on the blog, no iOS app for this
  • NewsRob — better RSS reader
  • Slice — tracks purchases via emailed receipts — one of my favorite apps to use
  • QuickPic — gallery replacement
  • Go Launcher — loving the development community around this, there are a lot of great launchers out there, but this one seems to have one of the largest communities

As it stands now, a lot of you are asking me if I see myself sticking with Android when all of this is over or if I miss the iPhone? Those are questions I can’t answer yet, I want to fulfill the challenge over the next two weeks, so I’m trying not to think about anything other than this challenge itself. Besides, who knows what else I might uncover on Android that completely solidifies it as the platform for me.

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  • perfectalpha

    Hey man! Good luck. ICS on the sensation is pretty sweet! I hope you do stick with it. Personally I can’t because the second the HTC load screen came up when I was trying to go back home it was over for me. Maybe it doesn’t happen on the One S, but it sure did on the Sensation. To me, its those seconds that make it less enjoyable to me. Trust me, Android is great, but with icloud and the functionality of the iPad… Give me my 4S and Lumia 900 despite your 101 reasons not to buy it. Lol

    • Chris

      I agree, I had a Sensation from last June-January and I couldn’t take the HTC loading screen coming up for 15 seconds almost EVERY time I hit the home screen.  I sold it for a Galaxy Nexus and I’ve never been happier.  I know the new Sense 4 is “better” and “leaner”, but the Sensation completely ruined HTC Sense for me….forever.

      • perfectalpha

        Lol, I bought a Htc Radar, iPhone 4s and a Lumia 900. WP and IPhone are the way to go.

        I’ve owned 6 android phones and it’s just been eh. Always something I didn’t like except for the g2 which was stock android. Go figure. I may like a nexus device better.

  • Fakesubmite

    So you’re loving your android? What a surprise. /s

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Ok, enough of your trolling. Thanks for playing.

  • dpmb

    Thanks for your earlier mention of Flipboard.

    I too am loving that app.

  • OneSTmoguy

    You must get google chrome beta on the one s! Awesome browser. Best part is syncing to chrome browser on a pc. Also rumored to come to the iPad.

    • Side_3

      I like Chrome, too. But the one problem I have with it is no fullscreen option. Can’t stand the notification and URL bars taking up space.

  • Taron19119

    did u try buying apps cause one of the best things about Android  is buying an app and haveing 24 hours to return  to get your money back thats one thing i like over iphone

    • Kevin Clark

      actually you only get 15 minutes now

  • Flavio Martinez

    Hey David, you mention the apps quite a bit but what about the usability of the OS? Are there any features that you miss in iOS? Are there any features that you enjoy in Android that aren’t available in iOS? 

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Hmmmm, that’s a good point…I can do an update in a day or two to talk about that. There are some things yes, I mentioned the kinetic scrolling in my 10 day update, that’s a big thing for me. There is no question I find iOS to be all around “smoother” in terms of how clean it is. Android to me will always be more functional will Apple will always appear to be more user-friendly. That’s not to say Apple isn’t functional and that Android isn’t user-friendly, in my head, that’s how I see them both right now. That can change.

      • Trill43

        I meant to talk to you about that kinetic scrolling you keep mentioning since I think your mistaken and referring to the animation once you reach the end of a page or list. if your referring to what is known as flick list which makes scrolling more realistic compared to how it was done in the pass before the iphone. Let me know if im missing something but glad your enjoying your time with Android

  • Get_at_Me

    chrome browser is sick….i can see it becoming the default android browser very soon

  • Paul

    I want to suggest some apps I can’t live without:

    - timerrific – scheduled changes to settings (sound, wifi, etc)
    - shush – asks “how long” when you silence your phone
    - missed call – repeated notifications
    - calendar notifier – repeated calendar notifications
    - os monitor – cpu load in the notification bar
    - weather bug – temperature in the notification bar
    - alarm clock plus – gradual alarms, math-based snooze
    - sms backup+ – save sms/mms to gmail

  • jaylanPHNX

    Replacing native apps; cool. Replacing the launcher; way cool. Replacing the lock screen; aw, hell yeah! Check out WidgetLocker, you’ll be glad you did.

  • http://twitter.com/Lawless_1 Lawless_1

    I definitely recommend going with the Chrome beta as your default browser. Since installing it I have even disabled the HTC browser.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/mrjlwilliams?feature=mhee mrjlwilliams (Click here)

    I just got me a one s, because I wanted to see what all the hype was about. So far I like it, but I need to get used to sense.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/mrjlwilliams?feature=mhee mrjlwilliams (Click here)

    I just got me a one s, because I wanted to see what all the hype was about. So far I like it, but I need to get used to sense.

  • t-mobileguy

    Try skyfire browser David.

  • t-mobileguy

    Try skyfire browser David.

  • davidwal

    I have a Nexus One and a Iphone 3g as a back up. I can say I like stock Android better than skinned. I had a G1 and a G2. I like using IOS because I would use it for my Ipod touch to surf the web. When I did not want to turn on my laptop. IOS is very user friendly and I wish my Iphone had 3g it would be my main phone. I still can not live without flash on my Nexus because it is a real web experience. 

  • Colombiatulua

    Hi. Dave at the end of your 30 days it is possible to make a list of the apps that you use?

  • http://bischob.myopenid.com/ Brian

    Can you address a couple things that I hate about my HTC Evo to see if they have it in the new Sense interface?
    1. When adding a contact, I have to decide if it is a phone contact or Google contact. This is stupid. A contact I enter in my phone is a phone contact, and it should be backed up in the Google cloud. I found out that the contacts that don’t get marked as Google contacts get lost when my phone is reset at the Sprint store. Stupid, stupid.
    1.5 When I go to edit an existing contact, it asks me if I want to edit the Google contact or the phone contact. Different numbers are stored in different places (how this happened, I have no clue) Of course, I have no idea which ‘category’ this contact is stored in so I end up trying both of them and hating HTC a little more.
    2. The SMS alert count is dumb. I can read a text message, respond to it, and go to the home screen. It tells me I have 1 new text message. Ok, let me see if a new one just came in then. Nope the one I just got done reading and responding too hasn’t been cleared from the counter. I have to open it twice to get it to go away. Arghh.
    4. Handsent: I downloaded this a long time ago and really liked it. But it didn’t “replace” the built in text app in Evo. So I would get TWO message alerts for every message. I would read it in Handsent, but the native text message app was still waiting for me to read it there too to clear the counter. When you install Handsent on the HTC One S, does it totally do away with the native text message app like it should?
    5. Back Button. The back button is like a random-action-generator. I have no idea where it will take me next. In the calendar I can click on a date and click the back button to go back to the calendar. No, wait..It took me to a date I was looking at a few days ago. Click again…now its a date I don’t remember ever looking at. Click again… NOW I’m back at the calendar. Same thing for voice mail. So stupid. If I click the back button, I want to go back to the previous screen. It’s like I’ve been dropped into a lower level of actions and now I’m going through them rather than the initial screen I was looking at.
    6 Bloatware. How much does HTC have on it? I have to put put with Nascar apps, Blockbuster, a huge Nova download, etc.

    Thanks for any input!

    • http://twitter.com/JasGordon Jason

      All androids i have ever used save contacts to your gmail account automatically. I’ve never had one save it to my phone. (g1, g2, g nexus)
      The only time it ever asked me where to save it as is if I have 2 google accounts linked to my phone.

      The handcent problem you are having is an easy fix. Go to settings and turn off all notifications for your native messaging app.
      Even if you kill the FB app, it will continue to pop up if your settings allow it to sync. Turn off the auto sync option or stop complaining that it comes up.

      Nascar app is just stupid to be autoloaded.. can’t blame the frustration there.

      • Trill43

        You’ve been using all stock Android phones which the comment your replying to poster doesnt have also Android 4.0 allows you to disable this kind of stuff so no worries

    • TMOTECH

      1.  What I have done since my first Android device, the G1, Is save all of my contacts to Google. There are no contacts saved to my phone or to my SIM card. Now every time I switch my handset I sync to Google and I have all of my contacts and none are duplicated. Simple and done. There is no reason to use unnecessary phone memory for contacts. If you lose your contacts that are on your phone memory when you swap out your phone why would you want to store them there anyway. Set the default location to Google and forget about it. Then you don’t have to worry about which one to edit either. 

      2. SMS count. You have an EVO which is an older handset. So you have less memory and a slower processor. I think you are just being impatient. I could be wrong. But I think if you just wait a minute after you look at your text the 1 on the SMS icon will disappear. 

      3. I cannot personally speak to handsent because I have never used it but I bet there is a setting somewhere to turn off multiple notifications or to set one or the other to default. I used to use POPUP SMS but I got sick of it 2 handsets ago and quit using it. Sorry I cant help here. 
      4. This is my biggest gripe with people that do not use Android properly. They go into an app, like the web browser,  and use it and instead of hitting back until they get to the home screen they hit the home button. then they go into another app and do the same. Repeat, Repeat. Then an hour later they go into their web browser again and they find they are still on the same page they were on when they hit the home button. Then when they hit back to go to the previous app they wonder why they end up back on the previous webpage. It is because when you hit the home button the app you were just in is still running in the background. Welcome to multitasking. So if you go into your calendar and get 2 layers deep and hit the home button the next time you go into the calendar you are still 2 layers deep. Always hit the back button while in an app to get back to the home screen if you are done using it. When you leave things running in the background you kill your battery and consume even more of your available RAM. Now in GB 2.3.4 with sense 3 there is a built in task killer that takes care of some of this for people who insist on hitting the home button. You can use the task killer to kill apps you have left in limbo by hitting the home button. After market app/task killers work too but if used improperly you can inadvertently kill things that need to be running. And that brings me to the next subject. 

      5./6  Killing apps/bloat ware. You cannot kill most bloatware. it has a trigger to automatically start so it will open faster and collect data in the back ground stuff like that. This is why people ROOT their phones. My wife’s old G2 had stock android on it and it would have 2 or 3 apps running in the background at start up whereas my old MT4G had a whole bunch of bloatware on it and it would have 10 or 15 apps running at start up.  If you don’t want all of the HTC/Sprint crap running you will have to root your phone. 

      I am sure there are others that can add more to what I said b/c I am not an expert and it is quite possible someone will say that I am wrong. 

      • Trill43

        its been a while man and you should start using Yahoo again cause I miss our little network chats

        • TMOTECH

          You must have me confused with someone else. This is the only place I use this handle. 

    • Lori Fredericks

       1. Always save them to Google. Your Google contacts are clearly synced to your phone, but your phone contacts are not synced to Google. When you swap phones (or reset, or whatever) as soon as you login to your Google account, you’ll get all of your contacts – because they’re attached to your Google account.

      2. Can’t speak to the SMS count issue. I’d recommend using a 3rd party, cause it sounds like an HTC SMS app issue.

      (you skipped 3.)

      4. Go to your native SMS app and disable notifications. This will make it so you aren’t getting duplcates.

      5. Agree, but.. yeah.

      6. Most apps you are likely killing are only running in the RAM and not actually using a ton of battery, you’re actually killing your battery MORE by regularly killing the apps and having them restart on a regular basis (look up info on why Task killers dont work – this is why.) However, FB reminders is a different issue – open your FB app and tell it not to send notifications, or lower the frequency in which it refreshes if you don’t need it as often.

      7. Bloatware is going to depend on the device and carrier. They are the ones who pick which to install.

    • Trill43

      1. You have an HTC experience phone commonly referred to as HTC Sense so its Android but with a manufactures UI over it and embedded into the core. Typically you can only save to Google but on non stock Android phones which the comments above mine seem to forget your not using gives you the option of saving to other locations also Sprint has the HTC Evo so no way to save to sim card unless you have the unlocked variant but I believe there is a way to set it as a default.

      2. This is simple and will be answered in response to 6

      4. You need to turn this off in the settings of the default app so just uncheck the box that says notification also this is a number one thing that drives me crazy with users and thats how they don’t bother to read the app description which clearly tells you this and what the app does are what some known issues are.

      5. In Android pre Android 4.0 the back button didn’t really have a consistent function and that function was left up to the developer for the most part. It could take you back to the previous view within the app or what you were doing before assuming that you jumped right into the calender app from another app which is perferred or it could exist out of an app.Welcome to multitasking my friend, so what happens is you probably never shut your phone off so your doing a very small amount of apps which cache as soon as you start them up so you wont waste time or more importantly waking the CPU.

      Lets say you opened up the calendar on Monday morning then maybe opened up two other apps that whole day but later go back to the calender, its cached in the memory so it saves the last known state of the app before you exited it, which is why when you press home that app is pushed to the background and only if you set it up to do something will it do anything and each time you start an app you get the homescreen and if your navigating within the app thats an activity so think of it as a window stack which piles up each time you go from one screen to another therefore when you open the app then view the details of something else then press home and go back to it you’ll be right where you left off and would need to press back to get to the previous screen.

      6. Android handles memory management all by itselfs, its designed that way but on everything before 2.2 it was needed so stop using it. All your doing is messing with the original design of the OS and with that being said you mass killing everything which a large group of that is not apps but HTC or core OS services which is why the message counter doesnt work properly. Wasted Ram is unused and does you no good and apps will load up in the memory anyway because thats how its designed also your killing things that need to be running that the system itself uses so your beating yourself up here.

      7. This is another reason why we all love stock Android because it doesn’t have bloatware like that also my account apps and things that are of use aren’t bloatware. Starting in Android 4.0 you can disable these kind of apps so that they won’t start nor be visible so out of sight out of mind. I wanted to state that bloatware is baked into the system so its not hurting memory of any kind and only those who root or flash ROMs should be worrying about this at all and even then it doesn’t matter cause you can remove it.

    • Trill43

      1. You have an HTC experience phone commonly referred to as HTC Sense so its Android but with a manufactures UI over it and embedded into the core. Typically you can only save to Google but on non stock Android phones which the comments above mine seem to forget your not using gives you the option of saving to other locations also Sprint has the HTC Evo so no way to save to sim card unless you have the unlocked variant but I believe there is a way to set it as a default.

      2. This is simple and will be answered in response to 6

      4. You need to turn this off in the settings of the default app so just uncheck the box that says notification also this is a number one thing that drives me crazy with users and thats how they don’t bother to read the app description which clearly tells you this and what the app does are what some known issues are.

      5. In Android pre Android 4.0 the back button didn’t really have a consistent function and that function was left up to the developer for the most part. It could take you back to the previous view within the app or what you were doing before assuming that you jumped right into the calender app from another app which is perferred or it could exist out of an app.Welcome to multitasking my friend, so what happens is you probably never shut your phone off so your doing a very small amount of apps which cache as soon as you start them up so you wont waste time or more importantly waking the CPU.

      Lets say you opened up the calendar on Monday morning then maybe opened up two other apps that whole day but later go back to the calender, its cached in the memory so it saves the last known state of the app before you exited it, which is why when you press home that app is pushed to the background and only if you set it up to do something will it do anything and each time you start an app you get the homescreen and if your navigating within the app thats an activity so think of it as a window stack which piles up each time you go from one screen to another therefore when you open the app then view the details of something else then press home and go back to it you’ll be right where you left off and would need to press back to get to the previous screen.

      6. Android handles memory management all by itselfs, its designed that way but on everything before 2.2 it was needed so stop using it. All your doing is messing with the original design of the OS and with that being said you mass killing everything which a large group of that is not apps but HTC or core OS services which is why the message counter doesnt work properly. Wasted Ram is unused and does you no good and apps will load up in the memory anyway because thats how its designed also your killing things that need to be running that the system itself uses so your beating yourself up here.

      7. This is another reason why we all love stock Android because it doesn’t have bloatware like that also my account apps and things that are of use aren’t bloatware. Starting in Android 4.0 you can disable these kind of apps so that they won’t start nor be visible so out of sight out of mind. I wanted to state that bloatware is baked into the system so its not hurting memory of any kind and only those who root or flash ROMs should be worrying about this at all and even then it doesn’t matter cause you can remove it.

  • JBLmobileG1

    Hey David… you should try the Ninesky Browser. It’s pretty awesome… fast and even offers free security scanning of websites. Check it out and let me know what you think. By the way I notice every now and then when I try to post using my Amaze with ICS the keyboard doesn’t pop up.. but it only happens on this Site. It’s working now so maybe it’s fixed… weird.

  • AHMED ELKADY

    try ics browser+.

    Its stock with the addition of being able to change the user agent. Very fast and fluid on all my devices, 6 different ics devices.

  • MarcusDW

    2 things.

    Which manufacturer skin do you prefer and when will we get to see you in a T-Mobile commercial??

    I mean you are the number 2 face of T-Mobile with this blog site and I think TMO should recognize and reward what you’ve done for them in this community.

    Oh and also, have you tried an ICS Launcher?  APEX or NOVA?

    • http://tmonews.com David

      Thank you Marcus! On the One S I actually tried both Apex and Nova, in all honesty I liked them both, I may have preferred Apex a little bit more, but I honestly couldn’t tell you why. It just “felt” better if that makes any sense?

      • MarcusDW

        Sense vs. TouchWiz??

        • http://tmonews.com David

          I like Sense more, but I can see where people would like TouchWiz…on that note I like launchers more than anything else. Go Launcher is really great for me to personalize, customize and enjoy.

        • MarcusDW

          Awesome.  You just can’t beat Android’s customization options cough-iPhone-cough!

    • SJ

      I agree, but I imagine that with all the leaked info, it may be a love have relationship from T-Mobile.

      • MarcusDW

        Haha right!  In the end though, there’s no loss even from the leaks.

  • tommy

    Great Android Tablets are now available under 300, close to 250. I recently saw a 32 GB Xoom for about 270. But I got an Acer Iconia 500 for about 280 , and it has great speakers. The Asus for same price (transform tf101) is the same with crappier speakers. both stereo, much better than an ipad I believe.  These are 16 GB dual core take SD cards, hdmi, 1GBram, etc etc both have ics and screens are great. (tiger direct) so next project is to abandon your piad and get one of these. The Acer is a bit heavier but really sounds great in stereo, with widescreen, 

  • Bryan Baggett

    David — For battery life help, try Juice Defender app.  Stops unneeded services/radios/syncing when the phone is idle.  Fully customizable….does wonders.  They have a free version and paid version.

    • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

      No Juice Defender.  The cons outweigh the pros IMO.  I do have tasker setup to turn off data overnight, but during the day I like to get my notifications (email mainly) right away.

      • Bryan Baggett

        You apparently didn’t customize your profile of what you want to come through vs what you don’t.  All in all, Juice Defender helps with the phone being idle and shutting off un-needed syncs etc assuming you customize it correctly.  It takes work to get it customized, but after that it truly helps the battery life.

        • http://jordanhotmann.com/ Jordan Hotmann

          I tweaked pretty much every setting available (I bought ultimate) but I didn’t see much battery improvement, at least not enough to warrant delayed notifications.  I tried several days using different time intervals and everything.

          I get two days with moderate use without it so it’s not like I’m hurting for battery anyways.

          I did like the location aware thing for switching to wifi and handling other things, but this I can also do with tasker.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=653644262 John Lawrence

    Here is a forum that should be able to help you get that Blaze 4g some root love.  :)

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f=1556

  • FakeEmail

    QuickPic seems very similar to the Photo Grid widget on my Sensation — probably with Photo Album in your widgets — needs a full Home Page to fit, but is cool and similar to QuickPic, I believe

    Go SMS Pro and SwiftKey are both really good, I agree — Cool write-up David

  • http://twitter.com/rick2123 Rick2123

    David – Have you tried group text messaging yet? I’m the only one out of my friends that uses android…they are all on the iphone. When a group text gets sent out they all come in as individual texts on my end…on their end they are grouped nicely in one thread.  Have you noticed this yet? 

    • Petar06

      Rick2123: Yes same thing happends to me while group texting with iPhone users

  • Hurycne

    After all is said and done you will go back to iPhone….a short time later you will miss the experience and convert.

    • Bajamin

      I agree with this. Most people that try both (and give it a fair shake) go back to the iPhone then start to miss the many extra features and convert back to android. I see this all the time. 

      • G18industries

        I can’t go back to the iPhone after switching, I just like the freedom I feel on android, over at your bros and he has an .avi movie you want to watch? No problem plug it in and down load it. No iTunes needed, no special file type needed. Just makes me feel happy to be in control.

  • AppleL0ver

    Screw Android.  I would rather have a 3G phone with a tiny little screen.

  • M42

    After owning two iPhones I switched to Android and haven’t looked back.  Won’t be back either.