2011-09-05 From iPhone to Android

Today, my iPhone 3G lost its reception in the middle of the city, and that wasn't the first time. Since this was a good time as any to experiment with Android, I figured I'd see what Google's ecosystem is doing, and I'm going to relate my experiences from my point of view: staunch GMail user, a heavy smartphone user, and one who is used to the Apple way of doing things. That means: a MacBook, iTunes and an iPhone.

Since I was limited on budget but still wanted the equivalent in specifications of an iPhone 3G, I went for the Samsung Galaxy Gio S5660:


Wikipedia has all the specs of this phone, but the gist is: an Android phone with a reasonable CPU, a nice 320×480 pixel display, a 3 megapixel cam and enough onboard memory as not to cause any trouble.

The Gio actually has a pretty bad history, as Koen Delvaux diligently blogs. Crashes related to WiFi usage, battery draining, et cetera. But since Samsung rolled out the new Android 2.3 version (nicknamed Gingerbread), these bugs are supposedly fixed.

The phone was advertised as having Android version 2.3, but when I asked the sales guy, it turns out it's still at 2.2 and you have to update it yourself.

Coming home, I discovered that updating the Gio is done through Samsung Kies, a program which runs on both OS X and Windows. Except the OS X version only supports four or five of Samsung's phones. Luckily, I have Parallels running on my Mac, so I can run Kies on a virtualized Windows. For the sake of Google, I repeat: if you have a Mac, you need Parallels in order to run Samsung Kies, because the version for OS X does not support the Galaxy Gio. Samsung Kies has a number of documented problems, for which MobileCowboys thoroughly provides workarounds. But perhaps I was lucky, because installing Kies and updating the phone to Android 2.3 worked fine.

Of course, this will mean a bit of a hassle in the future. Putting music on my iPhone is basically connecting the iPhone, starting iTunes on my Mac, then hit sync. Now I'll have to copy music manually to the phone.

After updating, I configured the phone with my GMail account and installed a bunch of apps (Kindle, Facebook, Skype, etc) that I already used on my iPhone. The configuration of GMail is flawless, even though I use a Google Apps account (I have had my own domain for years now, and mail is handled by GMail).

The iPod application of the iPhone is nice, and supports a sleep timer. I often fall asleep while listening to audiobooks. You need a separate app for this, and I was advised to take a look at MortPlayer. I haven't tried it yet.