My 30 Day Android Challenge…30 Days Completed

To call the last 30 days a wild ride would be putting it mildly. Uprooting your entire mobile experience for something completely different is both thrilling and frightening at the same time. I set out to challenge myself to use a system that I was familiar with, but had never really given myself to. The 30 day Android challenge wasn’t just for me, it was also for you as well, to see how the world looks when you try and cross what seems like an impossible boundary these days.

Now, what’s my conclusion? Let’s just get right to the nitty gritty and ask, am I going stick with Android? Yes, I’m still using it, I’ve got the phone set up exactly the way I want to and I’ve got a metric ton of app exploration left to accomplish. Still, my iPhone looks at me lovingly and yes, I miss iOS a little. There are a ton of high points for both operating systems and there are things I miss about iOS after 30 days:

  • Ecosystem: I’m very tied into Apple’s ecosystem with a MacBook Air, iPad and iPhone. It’s a tough break and I use iCloud for my calendars and appointments more than I use Google Calendar lately and while they sync together so I’ve had all my appointments on my Android device, it’s still a better all-around ecosystem.
  • Email: Some of you may have spoken with me this week or seen my tweets as I sought out a better email client for Android. I have to say and I may take some flack for it, but iOS has a better email experience hands down. Whether or not I am using Apple’s default mail program or Sparrow, it’s just better. Gmail on Gingerbread sucks, no zoom, pictures are always too large and it just irritates me. Still, I find it better looking, though less user-friendly than Samsung’s own TouchWiz email app. Sense email is the best, of all the email apps I’ve used during this 30 day challenge, unfortunately I have to send the One S back to HTC. If I could somehow transplant Sense email over to Samsung devices, I would still feel iOS has a better email experience, but the separation would be minimized.
  • Camera: The One S is fantastic. However, I feel that the 4S is better. While I know this is a completely opinion-based conclusion, I do feel the 4S has the best camera on the market right now. Emphasis on right now though. It’s surely possible that the balance could tip in Nokia’s favor, Samsung’s favor or anyone else’s by years end. Right now, the title belongs to Apple in my humble opinion.

Okay, so with those three things in mind, let me emphasize part of the Android experience I have not only grown to really enjoy, but also found invaluable in part of my daily mobile life:

  • SwiftKey: No surprises here considering how much praise I’ve given this app over the past 30 days. I know there is a camp that loves Swype and for very good reason, but Swiftkey has not only saved me over 10,000 keystrokes (they told me the), it makes texting, emailing, tweeting and just about everything else that involves writing on the Android platform more enjoyable.
  • Google Voice: OMG. This is so amazingly useful I can’t even explain it. I have two phone numbers that I use for two separate purposes. My main number, my actual phone number is provided to friends and family and that’s generally the only people I give that number. Everyone else gets the Google Voice number and I’m talking everyone, from the Doctor, to the plumber to the neighbors. Right now I have Google Voice set to ask me before every call which number I want to use, though I can set it to be the default option. Either way, this rocks.
  • App Integration: Quite possibly one of the single most tossed around reasons for using Android is the interoperability of apps. This is a great, great thing and one of the major reasons that has me considering staying with Android full time. The ability to send pieces of info to Pocket, Dropbox, Evernote or any of the other dozen or so apps I have installed that are part of my work and personal workflows is invaluable and even in 30 days, I can tell how valuable interoperability is.
  • Widgets: Okay, for many this is a big, big deal and I can understand why. I’m not a widget person, I’m a simple home-screen kind of person, so I don’t like the clutter of widgets on all my screens. Still, the option is what’s important, not whether or not you use them. There are basic options that are worth having quick access to: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, etc.

Here’s a list of the most important apps I’ve been using that I’ve found invaluable over the past 30 days:

  • Baconreader: For reading Reddit
  • Barcode Scanner: For obvious reasons
  • Disqus: For managing comments on the go, otherwise known as policing the trolls
  • Download All Files: Improved download manager for files
  • Dropbox: It’s Dropbox, need I say more
  • Evernote: File management
  • Firefox Beta: Tried a number of browsers, used this for the last few times on Gingerbread
  • Flipboard: I’ve expressed my love for this unique news app quite a bit
  • Flixster: Movie times
  • IGN: I’ve got a little gamer in me
  • Minimalistic Text: Text widgets on the home-screen
  • Pocket: I couldn’t work without this app
  • Rdio: Sorry Spotify fans, my allegiance is with Rdio
  • Slice: Because I love watching how much I spend on Starbucks and apps each month
  • Solid Explorer Beta: A terrific file folder explorer for Android
  • Starbucks: If you know me, you know I drink Starbucks Hot Chocolate every single day
  • SwiftKey 3 Beta: For reasons I’ve already stated
  • Twitter: I may be in the minority, but I like the layout of the official Twitter app
  • Google Voice: Again, for reasons stated above
  • WordPress: Correcting those grammatical mistakes I catch on the go
  • Words with Friends: My wife loves it, therefore I must love it

The bottom line is that I really enjoyed my 30 days with Android and while the challenge is over, my SIM remains in my Android device. It hasn’t made me love my iPhone any less, but it has made me appreciated both platforms a little more, especially with regards things like app interoperability, something that makes Android an amazing platform.

So what’s next? Well, quite a few of you have asked me to immediately follow this up with a Windows Phone challenge and I’m willing to do that. I do have a Lumia 710 sitting at the ready and according to a preliminary question I asked on Facebook, there are plenty of you who want to see me try. Rather than putting another poll up here and ignoring those who have already voted on Facebook, I ask you (and I ask so little of you) to take a moment and head over to and take the poll. 

If you’re wondering if I will completely stop using the iPhone, the answer is no. I’m a phone geek and I’ll continue to utilize whatever phone is right for the moment. Right now, the iPhone would be my go-to device for traveling since it has the best camera. Android is my OS of choice right now, but that brings me to another discussion which I tried to make sure wouldn’t influence my Android challenge and it didn’t. I love the One S, it’s a great device in every way, except I still think it’s to large for my own personal tastes. I’m not someone who likes phones above 4″, which puts me at a major disadvantage in the Android community. There are few phones that are power players in todays wireless game that are 4″. In my eyes, the Blaze 4G is the perfect size for a device, just perfect. It may not be a perfect phone, but hardware wise, specifically a footprint standpoint, it’s as perfect as I’m likely to get.

I’ll be sad to see the One S go, it really is T-Mobile’s best device, at least until the Galaxy S III drops. It’s truly an awesome device and I’d highly recommend it. I want to send a special thank you to Jeff at HTC who helped make the One S available to me for this challenge, HTC’s PR team is first class.

I hope you all enjoy the challenge and I ask you once again to head over to the TmoNews’ Facebook page and take the poll regarding a move right into a Windows Phone challenge.

Take the poll ~~~~~~>

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