a loveless love story: or, a droid review
I have a Droid now. Using the Droid fails to be a seamless experience
in ways that I find hard to articulate, but it has some nits that are
bad enough they bubble up into my consciousness to enrage me:
–The alarm volume can be changed from the settings menu, but if you
silence the phone, this menu suddenly becomes grayed out. This is just
poor encapsulation. Of course I can still change the alarm’s volume by
going to the settings menu for the alarm app, but I shouldn’t have to.
Graying out the alarm setting in the main volume control menu is also
inconsistent with the way notification volumes work. I can disable
that option, but still alter its volume.
–Having four physical buttons is too much. If I’m paying attention to
a touch screen, picking the correct tiny little physical button is
jarring. Some of it is the change in tactile sense–it is akin to
discovering a splinter in an otherwise polished piece of wood. The
fixed location of the buttons is also seriously annoying if I’ve
rotated the phone screen. Say I’m browsing, and I’ve turned the phone
90 degrees to get more lines of text onto the screen. Now the back
button, from my perspective, is in an entirely new place. If the back
button was a piece of the GUI and left up to each application to
decide, then it could rotate along with the rest of the GUI in a way
that makes sense on an app-by-app basis.
–To bash on phone orientation more, the switching around is jerky–it
pauses and suddenly does it all at once. I would prefer if it rotated
into place. I don’t care if it would actually take significantly
longer. The way it works right now, I’m always afraid that the phone’s
GUI isn’t actually going to rotate since it seems to be unresponsive
–Sometimes form fields get so covered up that I can’t tell what text
field I’m supposed to be filling out. This hasn’t been a problem with
any webpages yet, but filling out my information so I could buy apps
was a chore. I couldn’t tell whether it wanted my credit card number
or the first line of my address because all I could see was an empty
text box and the virtual keyboard.
–It is not intuitive how to configure that annoying notification
light. It is not a good sign when I get on to Google and people are
suggesting black electrical tape.
Droid, I’m annoyed at you. You shipped with an unintuitive interface
and no manual. If you’re not going to ship with a full manual and try
to get away with a skimpy “quick-start” guide instead, you’d damn well
better have an instinctive interface, but you don’t.
But then…I felt a little shock of electricity in my fingers as I
stroked your glass face. “DROID,” you said, trembling in my hands as I
pushed your buttons. My rage softened.
This was an arranged marriage, Droid. I chose you the way an Asian
mother chooses the colleges her children will apply to. Engadget had a
list of top ten Android phones, and you were number one. I refused to
do research. I was reluctant to burden my brain with the tedium and
indecision of choosing among many qualified options that all seemed
roughly equal, and I was paranoid that by making my own choice I might
be missing out on some crucial factor I failed to take into account.
Far safer to rely on a matchmaker. And that’s how we came to be
I admit when I saw your pre-installed bloatware, I had the reaction of
a girl sitting down to a blind date with bad breath and an annoying
laugh. Your UI still leaves a lot of things to be desired, and your
blinky little green light that lets me know when I’ve gotten a new
text or call was hideously inadequate and really annoying. Still,
while a little uncomfortable, your UI isn’t that bad, and you do
everything I require a smartphone to do, though the 3G is a little
spotty. Plus, there is that monster app store giving me access to
clever programmers with a much better sense of design than your
masters. I think, with a little sigh, of the iPhone and its polished
beauty still, but I’m happy enough to put you next to my pillow and
wake up to you saying “DROID” every morning. I don’t think I will be
truly happy (happiness is but a fleeting illusion, I tell myself), but
I think you make me content. And that is good enough to see me through
the next two years.