If you, like myself, resisted all the peer pressure out there for joining the iPhone crowd, and instead held on to that funky Windows Mobile device, this may be of interest to you.
Microsoft had an opportunity with Windows Mobile 6.5 to set the first step of the many needed for maintaining the gap between its mobile OS on one hand, and Apple’s and Google’s on the other. Note the emphasis on maintaining, let alone reducing. Alas, they missed this opportunity so badly that one has to ask – did they even genuinely try? It appears to me that the train has finally left the station, i.e. that there is no realistic chance that within my lifetime I will see Windows Mobile catching up.
What this means is that it is time for both users and developers of Windows Mobile apps (like myself) to look for an alternative platform. I treated myself to an unlocked Nexus One on the day it became available. I am going to look at it from the perspective of a former Windows Mobile user and developer. I want to see how the device stacks up in terms of Windows Desktop integration (sync, data exchange, client-server applications, etc), migrating .Net CF code to Android, media and internet consumption, and just the general fun factor. I will share my findings in this article, as I learn more about the device and the Android platform.
After a few days of using the Nexus One with my old T-Mobile SIM card and family plan, I can summarize my first impressions.
Overall, the thing is awesome. I did not expect such a hugely improved experience. The phone is fast (although the multi-tasking causes noticeable jitters when scrolling, or for the animated wallpapers, which are very cool btw). I love the apps that are available at Android Market. I will discuss my favorites later, and publish a Top-10 list soon. There are a few things I did not like:
- Being forced to using my Google account more than I would have liked to. You cannot use Android Market without signing up for a Google Mail account, for instance . Previously, I had used my Google account only for Analytics and Docs, and I used a non-Google email address for that. Now I had to sign up for a Google Mail account, and being that late in the game, all that good account names for my not so uncommon name were already taken. All of them. I still have not found a way to sync my Exchange calendar, other than through Google Calendar, and so far I have not set this up yet.
- Phone-card dialing works, but I have to edit all my contacts (which synced over nicely from Exchange, btw). Previously, on Windows Mobile I used “w” for waits in numbers, not I have to use “;”.
- The touch screen is a little less responsive than the iPhone’s, in direct comparison.
These minor dislikes aside, I am blown away by the technology and the possibilities of having all these senors in one device. Compass, GPS, magnetic field sensor, acceleration senor, orientation sensor … plus, the display is magnificently bright and sharp.
Actually, I take back the minor, at least for the lack of Exchange Calendar synchronization. After researching the options a bit, I am truly disappointed. And I am not alone with my pain (or see this thread) . Google Calendar can only sync with Outlook, which means that you have to have a client running on a desktop computer. It cannot sync directly with an Exchange server, meaning that the calendar does not get updated when you travel.
There is a single product on Android Market for direct Android synchronization with Exchange that has better than abysmal reviews – Exchange by Touchdown, by a company called NitroDesk, Inc. However, although their reviews are generally positive, there is still the occasional person reporting frequent crashes, and issues with an overloaded UI. Also, it appears that this product does not integrate with the Android email app and calendar, but has its own Gui for these functions. Less than ideal … and considering that the good thing costs $20, I am a little unsure what to do about this. It seems that this feature is so essential that Google must be working on a solution, wouldn’t you think? I will just hold my breath and wait for a free tool …
It looks like I want out of breath sooner than expected … read my follow-up post.