Saturday, September 25, 2010

thinking through android.

Man, ever since I got my Nexus One, I've been really into the Android Operating System. I've read more of the tech blogs on a more regular basis, and I've become a pretty dedicated user, if far from a power user. I've tried to apply this thinking to more of my life, and it led me to thinking about an HTPC, which I still haven't settled on.

But the more I use Android, and the more I dig into what's possible, the more convinced I am that the things that I really and truly want from my phone just aren't possible yet. (This is also true for the HTPC - maybe I just want too much? Maybe my goals are unrealistic?) Below, some of those thoughts, with my suggestions, where they've been thought through enough to contain suggestions.

1. Full Integration of Tasker - I bought Tasker because I believed the hype. However, the hype didn't really live up to reality for me, but through no real fault of Tasker. Turns out, much like Google Voice, Tasker isn't really for someone like me...yet.

In my mind, I'd like Android 3.0 (Gingerbread) to integrate Tasker into the basic genetic makeup of the OS. However, it needs more. I don't just want to be able to turn basic functions on and off at certain cues. I want full integration - I want to be able to program a 'smart' Tasker to read my GCal and recognize that when I have work at 8 AM the next day, I want my alarm clock to go off at 5 AM. When that event is not in my calendar, I want the alarm to go off at 8.

I want to be able to utilize my GPS to access my default message in GTalk - when I'm within a certain Wi-Fi signal, I want it to read "Home" and when I'm at another, I want it to read "Work." When I'm away from either of those, I want it to read "Out."

To me, it seems like this is, perhaps, asking more of Tasker than what it was built for.

But, it's not too much to ask Tasker for multiple inputs, right? I want my phone's notifications to be silenced when the time is after 10:30 PM and the phone is plugged in. Because if I'm out, I still want those buzzes. But when I'm sleeping, I don't need them. Unfortunately, this isn't possible any way that I've explored thus far.

(I would love for all of this to be proven wrong.)

2. A better market.

This is something that Android users have been clamoring for ever since the devices hit the market. It's something that's improved since I got my phone, but it could still be better. The very nature of the openness of the Android project means there's a lot of spam, but that doesn't bother me so much.

What bothers me is that AppBrain has been able to be so successful by doing something that should have come naturally to the guys from Google. Put the store on the web! It's a no-brainer and AppBrain does it well and has been rewarded for doing so.

The FastWebInstall plus AppBrain is a great improvement over the native Market, and maybe this is part of the Android plan - to let third party apps supersede their baked in goods, but that's not a great plan.

3. A better music player.

This, again, is something that people have been complaining about since the beginning, but that doesn't make it invalid. There needs to be something done about the fact that iTunes dominates the desktop/laptop sphere and the Android phones (at least in my experience) won't play nice with updating from there.

Workarounds are fine, as I noted above, but none of them have gotten it right yet.

Updating to the cloud (mSpot) has been nice, but spotty at best.

Emulating iTunes (doubleTwist) has worked for other people, but not for me.

Pandora is a fine option, but it's not the same as being able to listen to my music when I want to. If smartphones are truly intended to be multimedia devices, there has to be leeway both ways.

Those are the complaints I have and they're not that big, to be honest, which is a large part of the reason I love my phone. I also love the T-Mobile network because, since I've got this phone, I haven't dropped a single call, as opposed to my time with the iPhone on the AT&T network. Also, with the Mobile Hotspot feature of Adroid 2.2, T-Mobile has been incredibly upfront and supportive about their plans - unlimited means unlimited (except when it doesn't) and while I may have to worry about going through that limit, I won't have to worry about being charged on tiered plans or some unforeseen service fee.

These are the ways in which I think the Android platform could be improved by its next iteration, but, again, I haven't really got the expertise to know if some of these are already available - without rooting my phone. I'd loved to be proved wrong.

1 comment:

Brando said...

I bet tasker can do all those things, you need to go to the forums. You can make it do just about anything. If I had time, I'd do it for you, but I don't need it to do those things.