I've been an iPhone user for a while, but my new job means I have to be as fluent with Android. So one of my first steps has been to get an unlocked Samsung Nexus S and start using it as my phone, to get a feel for the UI, interface metaphors, environment, etc. Obviously, I'm still biased towards iOS, if merely because I have so many hours on that platform that it's inevitably going to "feel" more intuitive. But I'm coming up to speed pretty fast on Android too.
(The Nexus S has been out a while - I realize that. But I'm trying to learn about the typical Android user's experience rather than the new hotness, for the moment.)
I just thought I'd list a few of my early impressions, since they're so important to any product and they tend to fade away after the first week of use:
- The hardware just doesn't feel as good as an iPhone 3 or 4. It's not significantly lighter, but it feels lighter and cheaper, more "toylike." The temperature characteristics of plastic vs. glass play into this - I think we assume that the cold of metal and glass is a more expensive build than the relative warmth of plastic.
- Setup, assuming you're using Gmail, is super easy. Basically, you log in, and much of your stuff - Gmail, Google Music, Google+, is all ready to go
- The empty home screen when you start is a little odd. I've since populated it, but why not put a few obvious icons on there like email, places, maps, and messaging? I suspect a significant number of users fail to move stuff onto the home screen and forever fumble with the "all applications" view.
- I really like the better notifications system, but I don't like that I can't see/access them without unlocking the phone. Maybe there's a pref to change that but I doubt it.
- As a Google Voice user, one of the first things I did was switch the voice off of Tmobile voicemail (ugh) and over to GV. Annoyingly, this resulted in a voicemail notification I could not clear from the phone, because it was a prompt to set up my Tmobile voicemail. In the end, to clear it I had to switch back, set up voicemail I'll never use, send myself a message, then delete that message. All just to clear a notification. I doubt many users will do that.
- I like widgets, but the lack of visual unity is sometimes jarring if you have more than one on a screen. It seems like everyone designs their widget to be the only one on screen. Or maybe there just isn't sufficient guidance.
- I like the car mode and built in GPS. Definitely two features where I found myself saying "why the hell doesn't the iPhone do this?"
- The camera is not as good as the iPhone. Especially if the flash goes off.
Also, in a weird event, when I paired my Nexus with my car via bluetooth, the AUX input on my stereo menu disappeared. I can't establish causality (partially because I can't get it to show up again) but there was definitely correlation - the AUX input was working that morning, and the only thing I did was pair the phone and the AUX menu disappeared. That may be my car's fault, but it's super irritating nonetheless and will necessitate a trip to the dealer.
I'm going to do my best to use the Nexus as my primary phone for a while. It has a different phone number, so it might be a little challenging -- since folks will still text my iPhone -- but I'll give it a try.