Sunday, December 19, 2010

Android and the Samsung Captivate

Things I like about this phone and its OS

  1. The screen is absolutely gorgeous. On those rare occasions where power isn’t a concern this screen is so beautiful that I sometimes crank up the brightness just to look at it in all its glory.
  2. The phone is incredibly slim with a stylish design. Even with a rubber protector/glove it easily fits into my pants pocket without looking like I’m smuggling bricks.
  3. The Android marketplace has really taken off. There are a lot of apps. My favorites so far are Google Maps/Nav, Google Listen, Pandora, Last.fm, SlingPlayer and TouchDown.
  4. Contacts. Firstly, linked contacts are awesome. No more having 5 entries for the same person from my yahoo address book, Google address book, Facebook, Twitter and SIM contacts. The native Twitter and Facebook clients pull data from the sites and automatically associates it with the corresponding contact. Google smartly included the ability to manually link contacts. It even tries to speed manual contact linking by displaying a list of close matches when you’re manually linking contacts.
  5. The browser is excellent. I really like how the browser automatically lays out most web pages so that text is displayed in a single column that doesn’t spill over and require horizontal scrolling. It doesn’t work on every website but works on most.
  6. Access to the shell. This comes in handy when debugging network connectivity issues since it’s a full featured linux shell. It’s also a quick way to reboot the phone without having to power down. I like having access to the underlying OS without having to jailbreak the phone (ala iPhone).

Things I don’t like about this phone and its OS

  1. It’s got perhaps the buggiest GPS I’ve ever seen. The current location jumps about like a firecracker in a soda can. It’ll blithely move my car from a bridge across Lake Washington to a few dozen feet out on the water – who knew I was driving a submersible?
  2. Poor integration with the Windows Live suite of services. There’s a Bing client and I think there are ways to integrate with messenger but that’s about it. This may not be a problem for most people but if you’ve got a lot of stuff (pictures mainly) in the Windows Live infrastructure then it can be a pain.
  3. No native sync. So when I buy music on my laptop I have to manually move it onto the phone and vice versa. The phone is so handy that most of my music purchases are on the phone. I’ll have to check out DropBox, or a similar service, to address this.
  4. Android’s music client is blissfully unaware of classical music. I don’t listen to a lot of classical music but while cruising Amazon’s MP3 store there was a special on “99 essential pieces of classical music” that I couldn’t resist. Unfortunately it shows up in the music client as 99 separate albums!
  5. The native exchange integration, at least as of Android 2.1, is minimal. No global address search. No sender photos. No notes. Fortunately TouchDown shores this up with a stellar exchange client.

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