Orthodox Android - part 2

Having got my shiny new Android phone, I had to learn how to find my way around a new operating system but found this very easy due to the intuitive design of Android, which is fairly typical of Google's products.  It is more easily customisable both in terms of its layout/appearance and of its functionality, which means the phone works the way I want it to work, according to what is easiest for me.  Unlike the iPhone, there are no permanent apps that cannot be removed from the screen.  If I don't want something there, I get rid of it.

As for how Android compares to Apple's restrictions:

  • Media files remain in the format in which you download them, so can play on any software or device that recognises those file types.
  • There are very few compatibility problems.  I have found that I have had no difficulty with my Galaxy Nexus or software that I use on it preventing me from using it in conjunction with anything on my laptop or elsewhere.
  • Media files can be sent to other devices by e-mail or by Android S Beam on devices that have it (this is a function of Android that allows data to be passed from one device to another simply by touching them together, so there is no more nonsense like having to send an e-mail to get electronic information to the person who is standing right next to you.)
  • Flash is readily available.
  • I can download any app that I want to my phone.  If an app satisfies a need that Android does not, Google seems to have no problem allowing that app to be downloaded.
  • Those who wish can develop and install their own operating systems without repercussions, and can easily revert to Android if something goes wrong.
All in all, the image created is one of a manufacturer confident in its product, without having to manipulate the competition away, deny people the impossibility to improve on it, or eliminate apps that highlight its shortcomings.

Among the other benefits is the variety of screen sizes available on Android devices.  Early electronic computers were vast to the point of extreme inconvenience - an entire room to house a computing device is impractical.  Over the past sixty years or so, one of the main goals of the computer industry has been to shift the balance of the size:performance ratio as much as possible.  Great progress was made on this front, so much so that, in the early 2000s, in the mobile phone industry, a small device capable of a great deal came to be seen as a triumph in itself, with little regard given to the actual practical use of the thing.  The obsession with "big function, little package" meant that screens became so tiny that websites were compromised and reading became difficult.  Buttons became so small that nobody other than people with fingers the size of children's could accurately use them.  With the iPhone, Apple seemed to make some attempt in terms of button size but the screen remains minuscule.

In Android devices is exemplified the turning point in this trend.  There is a variety of screen sizes to cater for people who use their phones in different ways.  Now I can read sheet music from my phone at the kliros at church without having to squint, and can read e-mails and websites without straining my eyes or having to constantly scroll back and forth across the page because the screen is too small to accommodate a full line of text of a legible size. (I am blessed with 20/20 vision, so I can only imagine how  people with impaired vision struggled with those devices.)

For me, though, I think that the crowning glory of Android is that it is Google's operating system.  I have used Gmail (Google's e-mail platform) since 2005 for the greater bulk of my online correspondence.  I regularly use Google Search, Google Maps, Google Books, Google Calendar, and Google Translate. My online social networking is through Google+ since I ditched Facebook some months back.  I use Youtube just about every day, and this very blog is managed and hosted by Blogger - both are Google products.  My Android phone makes use of my Google account, linking smoothly with all of the above in a way that my old iPhone never could, and making using my phone to organise my life and many of my church affairs a simple pleasure.

There are three downsides to Android that I have discovered::

  1. There is no single, direct equivalent to Apple's iTunes, which means that backing up files and such like can be a bit more time-consuming.  There are third-party services that can help with this, though.
  2. There isn't yet as wide a range of apps as there is for the iPhone, although I have seen a marked improvement in this over the past few months and I see no reason why this should not continue.
  3. Perhaps the main advantage that iOS has over Android is that it comes packaged in hardware from the same manufacturer.  Apple makes both the iPhone and the software that it runs, and the hardware quality is good.  Android devices are made by other parties, which means that Google does not have direct control over supervision of the workmanship, and my experience with Samsung products in general has not been the best.  Others tell me they have had no problems with Samsung, HTC, or Motorola, so it may just be a curse on me.
Anyway, that's my comparison done.  Shortly will follow a list of Orthodox-friendly apps that I have discovered, and which others may wish to download to their Android phones or tablets.

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