Monday, October 11, 2010

768 Android

768 Android

Those of us with iPhone envy but who won't knuckle under and subscribe to AT&T now can obtain something fairly similar, a phone called "Android." The first thing you notice is that the phone "says" its name, lest you forget. But since Android is close to Anne Droid, you'd expect a lady-like self-identification. The phone says "droid" in a voice that is a combination of Wolf Man Jack and Don LaFontaine with laryngitis.

Wolf Man was a great disc jockey and Don was a great announcer. But who wants to hear these guys coming out of your pocket? (There's a one-liner in here something like "is that an announcer in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?" But we won't fully go there.)

What's amazing about this so-called telephone is how much stuff it does in a package that weighs less than air. Internet, e-mail, calendar, and endless other stuff. Big screen. Wonderful array of colors. And it actually makes and receives phone calls decently. But the manufacturer makes certain assumptions about its customers, iffy assumptions.

Digression: most high tech stuff comes with Bible-thick instruction books and assumes that (a) you are a dunce and need every little feature described in Biblical detail, (b) you have nothing to do with your day but study this book, and (c) that you understand a large number of undefined terms that while familiar to the designers, builders and tech writers, are complete mysteries to you.

Droid goes to the other extreme. There is NO book. And on the phone itself, the "help" section is buried beneath an avalanche or "apps" with little icons that are close to meaningless. So while most of these gizmos try to lead you step by step into usability in a language spoken by no civilian, this one assumes you're not only tech-savvy but tech excellent (or tech-cellent?)

How do you change a ringtone? Unknown. Is there a solitaire game (standard equipment on every PC)? Unknown. But you can send a text message by talking at the machine. Amazing. You can do an internet search by talking at the machine. Amazing. You can connect to the internet at speeds that rival or exceed those of the average home computer. Amazing. But you still burn large minutes retrieving a voice mail. Amazing (frown.)

Then, there are the keyboards. Yes, keyboards - plural. The on screen version is a bit awkward for people with large thumbs. The slide-out keyboard is... um... a bit awkward for people with large thumbs. But at least the keys are raised so you can feel them as you screw up a message.

Getting used to this thing will take some time. But it's nice to be part of today's cutting edge technology, which, no doubt, will be quickly dulled by tomorrow's cutting edge technology. What'll they think of next? Plenty, probably.

In the meantime, eat your heart out, iPhone!

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2010

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