Six things to do in order to enjoy your Android phone

by Jeff Hilimire on July 22, 2013

Ah, the joys of Android. If you’ve followed this blog you know that I’m about six months in to Android life having been an iPhone user since 2007 when it first launched. I currently have the Samsung Galaxy S4 on Verizon. I’m still glad I switched (here’s why I switched), but I’ve learned there are things you need to do before you can really enjoy this phone.

Six things to do in order to enjoy your Android phone:

1. Try to never have used an iPhone before, because you’ll be frustrated a great deal by the lags and freezes. There, I just alienated both the iPhone people by writing a post about Android and Android people by calling out the still often buggy ecosystem. But its true.*

2. Restart it before you do anything serious. If you’re soon going to take some very important photos or video (like these), or if you’re going on a run and want to have the best chance of your running app working, you’ll want to restart your device. I’ve learned this one the hard way many times.

3. Befriend a developer. You can do exciting things with your Android phone, like “rooting” it, similar to jailbreaking your iPhone. But unlike the iPhone jailbreaking process which has become incredibly easy over time, rooting your Android phone is fairly complicated. Likely this is due to the many different versions of the OS running around and the wild variations in devices and carrier “enhancements”. Regardless, if you want to get the most of your phone you’ll probably want a developer friend to give you advice along the way.

4. Take advantage of the amazing things your Android phone can do, but temper your expectations. Almost anything you would want your phone to do, it can do. For example, I have several YouTube videos I’ve saved in Pocket to watch and I was going for a run yesterday and thought that it would be great if I could download those videos into .mp3 format and listen to them on the run. And sure enough, a quick search in the Google Play store and I found an app that does just that. You’d never be able to do that on the iPhone. First YouTube video came down great. And then none of the other ones worked. Restarted the app, restarted the phone, nada. I’ve found this to be the case many times with terrific apps or features that promise awesomeness but are buggy or unreliable. Still, its “better” to have the ability to get apps like that but you need to be ready for disappointment.

5. Embrace the Google ecosystem. The built-in Google ecosystem on Android is terrific. I’m a huge Google user, more so now that I’m on Android. I use: Gmail, Google Drive, Google Maps, Google Play Music (I’m using the monthly all-you-can-eat service right now for $8/month – early signup price – and I love it), Google+ for automatic photo upload, Chrome, Hangouts and even Google Keep. And they all work great on Android.

6. Get the Google Edition phone. This is one I’m still trying to figure out how to do because currently with the Samsung Galaxy S4 it has all the built-in Samsung features and my belief is that it creates most of the problems I’ve mentioned with bugs and freezes. Unfortunately the Google Edition Galaxy S4 isn’t yet on Verizon so I’m kinda screwed. When I used the Nexus 4 Google Edition phone before this it ran incredibly well. I think the stock Google phones have much less bloatware and probably are the ultimate way to use an Android phone.

* Last Friday I was coming back from a meeting and needed to call my wife quickly to ask her if she needed something from the store I was about to pass. The phone locked up and I wasn’t able to make a call for over five minutes. That’s really unacceptable (and its not an uncommon experience).

  • Joe Koufman

    Interesting that I have none of the problems you mentioned minus an occasional SLIGHT lag (since I have the S3 and not the S4). What did you do to your phone? Did you install something that is causing you so much pain?

  • Darin Wonn

    Nice writeup. We are working on designing/developing an Android app, so I switched my primary phone to an S4 (from an iPhone 5) to force me to “live and breathe” Android. I think FB calls this “dogfooding”. I LOVE the display on the phone. It’s amazing for watching videos and pics. I also really like the Widgets, so much that I think good widgets are an essential piece of any Android app. Overall, the OS has been a struggle for me. I expected a learning curve, but its been much harder than I expected. My biggest complaints:

    1. Too much Samsung junkware. Who is using that stuff? Took me 3 days to figure out how to remove it and even then I couldnt remove some of it.

    2. Division between homescreens and app folder. I still find myself flipping through that homescreen looking for apps.
    3. Missing a couple of key apps. Mostly MAILBOX. I just cant find a good zero-inbox type of app.
    4. Lack of integration with corporate gmail. Works fine on GMAIL app for iPhone, but not on GMAIL app for Android.

  • Jeff Hilimire

    Thanks Darin, not many people seem to be having the same issues. I’m surprised so good to know (though sorry for you of course!). There also isn’t a good Exchange email app, the ones they have are horrible. Yep, I’d love Mailbox on it!

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