That huge thing in my pants.

Nexus 5 it is.


TL; DR

Android feels 3+ years behind iOS; the open implementation (not to be confused with open source) is nice in a couple of places.

And, as @m3guin says “Nexus 5 could be the biggest thing one could have in his pants”. Oh yeah, am generalising the “one”.

Prelude

People know me as a iDevice fanatic. Been with Macs for 10+ years, iPhone since iPhone 3G. I made a switch to Nexus 5, the flagship device of them all, running the latest Kit Kat, 4.4.x. It is the equivalent of getting an iPhone 5S. Am comparing my experience here with iPhone 4s + iOS 7, not the Apple’s flagship iPhone 5S.

I played the ‘geek’ at the Apple Camp, for the most part. The peer group ‘followed’ me all the time, so I naturally had to troubleshoot, carry wires around to get stuff fixed. In this new camp, am the follower, in fact the not-so-much-of-a-follower, because I decided to be the common moron who takes no direction from anyone and feels like he hath conquered them all, except when he gets into trouble.

I haven’t gotten into any trouble yet, so I haven’t called anybody. But it seems that ‘root your phone’ is the advice I receive from **EVERYONE** who uses/recommends Android already. This, I understand, is the equivalent of jailbreaking your iPhone and doing things with it. I figure that only geeks do jailbreak, am not playing the geek here, anyway.

Its been 3+ weeks with Nexus 5 as a phone + Android as OS. Full time. No cheating by having an iPhone/iPod touch as stand-by. Here is a summary (?) of what I feel.

(For someone who writes email in 3 sentences or less, this is one epic feat. Bear with me.)

The Good

The hardware

Nexus 5 is brilliant; the build quality, the camera, the _________ (I can’t write screen size here, it is more a ‘Bad’). I felt at home with the built-in battery, the phone doesn’t creak and it feels solid.

Ok Google

Works like a charm every time. Siri fails miserably in understanding Indian voice/accent. Advantage Ok Google. But too bad, I am not much into speaking with phones. Yet.

The Neutral

Apps

I found almost all apps I use on a day-to-day basis on Android. The twitter app(s) sometimes show *three* back arrows in a single screen. Such convoluted piece of mess. I bet no one ever cares about UX (almost all apps) and UI (in many cases) in Android. Much of the apps look like a port of the iOS (elder) brethren.
Special mention: Tweetbot, I miss you. I miss you so badly that I haven’t tweeted much in the last 3-4 weeks.

Hangouts

The iMessages/Facetime equivalent. I do see many folks in Hangouts, but trust me, WhatsApp serves one very well. True multi-platform messaging tool.

The Bad

Tamil aka தமிழ்

Is this what, 2009? Monospace fonts? Really? Ugly. Ugly. Ugly. பாவத்தின் சம்பளம் ஆண்டிராய்ட். (Thanks: @writerpara)

Annoying LED

Is this what 2003? Blinking LED? Really? Annoying. Annoying. Annoying. It is wrong to keep it on by default, and wronger to hide the option to switch it off.

Keyboard & the default autocorrect

Is this what 2005? The days of G1? You folks can’t even get an autocorrect right? For example, if I type Thabks, iOS corrects it to Thanks. Windows phone shows Thanks as an option. See what Android gives you. With a larger screen in my hand now, I tend to make a whole lot of spelling mistakes, and Android happily autocorrects. It is more annoying when it chooses suggestions like ‘William’ for will.

Keyboard irritates me more by NOT going back to ‘abc’ after am done hyphenating or apostrophe-ing. I hit a space after I type numbers/special characters? Nope. One can file this all under ‘expected behaviour’, but the expected behaviour is stupid.

The space bar isn’t centred, so I tend to hit a lot of comma instead of space. I should start using my right thumb for space. Hmm.

You end up looking a lot while typing, where the controls are, what you are typing, how to undo (is that even available on Android?)…. the works. Huge productivity disaster. Epic fail, considering this default keyboard is the main input mechanism.

I will anyway try other keyboards in the coming weeks.

‘Small’ size fonts

If I choose ‘small’ font size, iOS packs the content neatly in the screen, including grid lines. In Android if I choose a small font size, there is so much space between content and grid lines, I can play football (the size of the grid seems to be the same across devices). Is this what, 2012? Duh.

Actions

If there is something actionable, Android wants me to 1. choose the application and 2. should I do it just ‘Just Once’ or ‘Always’. I tried ‘Always’ in a couple of places, I now do not know how to switch it off. There are a plethora of options, all of them buried.

For example, if I hit a number that looks like a phone number, iOS brings up the dialog “Dude, shall I place the call?”. Android starts with ‘Shall I use Skype, Shall I use Phone, Shall I use this, Shall I use that’, and further ‘Should I consider that you want to do this once, or should I be performing the action everytime in future”.

Absence of UX. Is this what 2005? Disaster.

‘Silent’ Key

Where the hell is the silent key? Do you mean to say I should bring the volume down all the way (hardware) or use one of the on-screen widgets (software) to silence my phone? Thank you. I thought we swam the ‘profiles’ and ‘options’ river across in 2007 and reached the ‘silent or not’. Dumb.

Earphones

Courtesy @priyaramasamy, I got a nice $150 Beats by Dr Dre earphones, with mic, volume up/down, play/pause blah blah blah. Except the mic, nothing works. Really? Thats what Pure Android Google’s latest phone buys me? This feature has been around since the days of iPhone 3GS, circa 2008.

Bluetooth

It is a joke. I have a JVC Bluetooth head unit in my car; this thing drops connection so many times, am pushed to carrying my cables again. Especially fails when I tend to have two devices connected at a time, a proven feature of JVC unit with two iPhones and Windows phones. No additional software necessary. Since 2011.

Scroll to top

Dude. No one ever thought of a way to scroll-to-the-top since 2009? Okay.

Convoluted mess of menu + options

They are everywhere. Header, footer, middle, hidden, nowhere…..

The screen size

I am so used to one-hand-phoning. This thing demands two hands. Even to call someone, or tweet, or use camera or keep it back in my pant pocket, this thing is so huge. I need two hands. Rubbish.


Trust me, options are bad.

Please don’t feed me with shite of ‘you can customise it by rooting your phone and downloading this blah blah blah’. If a phone+platform can’t provide simple features out-of-its-box, damn the customisations, I say.

This isn’t the last day; I am not going back to iOS at least for the next 18 months. I intend to use this phone as my only phone during this time.

I will start finding solutions for every problem I have reported and will solve them all using purchased software as first step. Then I will root the phone and start installing all kinds of things.

True cost of this phone would be whatever I paid + whatever software I purchase + time I will spend on rooting and such + time I take to write this blog. Way more than the full price of iPhone 5s, I say.