Returning to Android and the Galaxy Nexus…

Android Jelly Bean

I’m a bit of a nomad when it comes to technology. I ricochet between platforms, seemingly seduced by the exclusive functionality of each one, and champion their cause until the novelty wears off and I go searching for pastures new…

I’ve done it again.

I was an early adopter when it comes to the new generation of smartphones. I had one of the earliest iPhones, and it was a long time before I knew a single person who had joined me on Apple’s pure-white and chrome bandwagon.

I recall demonstrating the functionality of this exciting new toy to my sister right before her upgrade was due. It was a totally revolutionary device – I loved it – but the magic was seemingly lost on her and she insisted that it was ‘too big’. Fast forward 9 months and the iPhone is a mainstream sensation with skyrocketing popularity while she’s burdened with a pink Blackberry Pearl that she absolutely hated. It was incredibly satisfying to revel in my technology foresight.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest fan of football club, rooting for the underdog comes naturally and explains my decision to jump ship to Google’s fledgling Android platform in the height of the iPhone’s popularity. My initial choice of Android handset was an HTC Desire HD, but I quickly became frustrated with HTC’s bloated Sense software and replaced it with Google’s own Nexus S. I loved it and began to champion Android as much as I had championed iOS previously. Then Apple announced the iPhone 4S with Siri and, once again, I found myself charmed by Apple’s magical product unveilings and ability to make established technology and functionality seem revolutionary and magical.

My main issue with the iPhone nowadays is the lack of change that has occurred since it was first released in 2007. Sure, the features have improved and the operating system has matured immeasurably since the early days, but in order for a platform to keep my attention it needs to dramatically morph and grow. Sure, don’t fix what isn’t broken, but I need more than just a glorified app launcher to keep me excited, especially with a device that I am required to use every day. In contrast, Android contiues to grow at an alarming rate, and the UI improvements of the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade combined with the UX improvements of the recently released Jelly Bean update has, at least in my opinion, launched Android to the forefront of mobile Operating Systems.

So here I am with a Galaxy Nexus that I’ve had for just over a month and it is far and away the best phone I have ever owned. Jelly Bean addresses so many of the issues that I had with Android while using Gingerbread on my Nexus S. Jarring transitions when swiping between homescreens have been ironed out, simple improvements like expandable notifications and the automatic re-positioning of apps have been introduced and Matias Duarte’s influence is prevalent throughout, bringing an iOS Level of polish to Android’s user experience. As a result, Android can finally be considered on par with iOS, maybe even surpassing Apple’s operating system in a number of key areas.

Ultimately, my experience has simply cemented the fact that every platform has its merits and weaknesses, and pledging allegiance to the product of any global corporation only serves to limiting your own experience of technology. We should all be nomadic and encourage competition by investing our money in the products we enjoy, especially those that encourage innovation. Let’s not allow any company to become complacent as a result of their fan’s loyalty or the install base of their products.


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