The UX of Droid

Katie lost her flip phone.  We just upgraded it last month and we didn’t purchase the insurance.  d’Oh!  Some kid picked it up and started calling all his friends saying, “Dude!  I just got a new phone, this is my new number!”  Katie was disappointed in the lack of goodness in her fellow citizens.

Ok, so we headed over to the Verizon Wireless store to get a replacement.  I have been medium-happy with my HTC Touch Pro 2, although the UI has many annoying aspects to it.  Plus the Microsoft App Market is pathetically small and expensive.  We talked to the Verizon reps and they said if we upgrade to the data plan, then we could get the discounted rate on a new PDA phone.

Choices: Windows Mobile, Blackberry and the brand new Droid.  I played with the Droid for about 3 minutes and became convinced that it was a superior choice.  (Blackberry can kiss my butt)  The only additional choice was to get the keyboard model or just the phone.  Since I have been using the keyboard, I suggested getting the fancier (uglier) model.

Fast forward 12 hours.  Here is what I can say:

User Interface: The Droid UI is much better than the Windows Mobile counterpart.   Everything is more iPhone-like on the droid.  An old co-worker from Intuit apparently works on the interaction design.  He was great, so I am not surprised that Android interaction is fun.  Simple things like the unlock mechanism make a huge difference.  The droid is fun and cute to unlock.  The Windows Mobile version is annoying.  Microsoft had years head start, how could they have totally blown it?  Ugh, anyway…

App Market. The Windows Mobile app marketplace is pathetic.  It has hundreds of apps and half of them cost about $10.  iPhone has hundreds of thousands of apps, many of them are free and the paid ones are usually about $1.  How the hell did the Droid market get so big so fast?  There seems to be an endless stream of apps from Google.  Who made them?  I can’t believe it.  They are easy to install and are priced right.  Most of the paid ones are still cheap.  I am really blown away by how quickly they got an app market together.  Anyone know what happened?  Did they make a free iPhone -> Droid converter or something?  One bad thing:  The app store was not very organized.  It did not seem possible to search for something and then filter it or do a sub-search.  Find the “right” app was very hard.

Aesthetics.  The keyboard version is ugly.  Very ugly.  That jog-mouse thing looks like an exposed chip or thumbprint scanner.

droid

Katie got a pink rubber sleeve which helps, but is not enough to make it look slick.  My HTC Touch Pro 2 is much better looking.  The Droid Eris has a cool little glowing ball on it for a mouse.  This thing is just clunky.

Keyaboard.  The keyboard could have been much easier.  It’s very hard to click the top row of keys.  The TouchPro 2 has a much better keyboard.  I would have chucked the weird gold thing on the right and just made the keyboard bigger.

Battery life, sound quality. Not so sure yet.  The one call we made sounded good.

Other details.  It’s got bluetooth and WiFi built in.  So far, no issues.  Very nice integration with Google products like Gmail, Calendar, etc, plus Facebook and Twitter.

Summary.  So far, so good.  Let’s see if Katie likes it.  We got the insurance on it this time.  The world of PDAs has definitely take a major step forward.  I think these devices will just get faster and better in the coming years.  I am excited to see the progress.

2 Replies to “The UX of Droid”

  1. About the Android marketplace — aye, the number of apps has exploded recently (I’ve had a Android HTC Dream for a year now). Chalk it all up to Google’s much better “App Approval” process (in lieu of Apple’s “Your App Submission Was Denied For [insert silly reason here]).

    Most of the apps are user created — the Android App SDK is much more accessible than Apple’s, being as you can install it one more than just a Macintosh…

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