My next-to-last-word on Droid [#droiddoescincy]

I’ve spent just over a week with the Motorola Droid now. The biggest effect it’s had on me is that I’m going to be “that guy” and be in line tomorrow when the Florence Mall Road store opens at 8am. The reality is that I hope the store has it’s “A” game on, because I can’t afford to kill the whole morning there. There’s this whole “I have a job” thing.  Worse case?  I leave the store without a Droid and order one online. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but I’m prepared. I keep telling myself that this is a consumer electronics device, and that a mere 5 years ago I questioned the need to have a camera on a phone.To go totally anthropomorphic here, I kind of feel guilty about dissing my trusty Blackberry Curve. I know it’ll thank me for my attitude by being the reliable workhorse it’s always been.

I’m not quite right in the head.  You do know that, right?

Anyway, the reviews are coming fast and furious now. I’m looking forward Andy Ihnatko’s review in the Chicago Sun-Times. I heard him talking about spending a week using the phone exclusively instead of his iPhone on Macbreak Weekly. David Pogue has written an excellent review, as he’s prone to do, that manages to coin a new phone category name:  the “App Phone.”  It’s the best way I can think of to declare that, finally, the iPhone has competition.

For me, I can’t see why anyone who hasn’t already given up on the iPhone for one reason or another would make the switch. The Droid is going to be a huge step up for me, but I can’t help feeling that, in small things, an iPhone user who’s happy with his or her phone, would feel like they’ve taken a half-step back.  Sometimes the touch screen doesn’t do the things you expect it to do.  Sometimes the accelerometer doesn’t pick up that I’ve gone from landscape to portrait orientation.  In the week I’ve had it, I’ve had to do two battery pulls to reset it (but in both cases the precipitating behavior was prefaced with “Gee, I wonder what will happen if I do this?”).  

The keyboard is functional, but nothing more. I get better with it the more I use it, but I wonder just how fast I’ll ever get with it. I like having it, though, and my default motion for writing more than a couple words is to slide it out.  That said, I like the on-screen keyboard in landscape mode better than my iPod Touch.  Maybe it’s the size of my thumbs and the way the Droid fits in my hands, but I can go faster on it than I can on the Touch. I don’t expect that’s the case for everyone. Call it personal geometry.  I also like the predictive spelling system on the Droid better than on the Apple OS.  I actually wish developers would go ahead and use it even when using the hardware keyboard.

I can confirm that multitouch does work on the Motorola Droid.  I downloaded a picture editor called PicSay from the Marketplace and it has implemented pinch-to-zoom beautifully.  It’s useful to remember that this phone isn’t officially released until tomorrow, and Android 2.0 was released the night before the phone was announced. I’ve seen the phone improve in the week I’ve had it.  I loaded up Qik the first day. It didn’t work.  I loaded it earlier this week and it worked flawlessly.  

My point?  I expect to see the phone pretty entirely multitouch sooner rather than later.  I think we didn’t see it Day One because it’s the biggest break between Android 2.0 and previous versions.  Motorola, Verizon and Google all did a decent job keeping this under wraps — not airtight, obviously, but decent.  They needed to have a backwards-compatible OS for tomorrow’s release.  Now we can move forward.

Oh, and I noticed that the “Verizon” section of the Marketplace has started to be populated.  The only two Verizon apps there are the Visual Voicemail app (that’s been there since I got the phone) and an app to access your Verizon account.  Everything else is stuff that was already in the Marketplace.  It makes me wonder what will pop up in there tomorrow.

The reason this will be my next-to-last post on the Droid is because there’s one more thing I’m wondering about.  By getting this phone, you’re welcoming Google as your new corporate overlord.  I’m OK with that, but your mileage may vary.  One option (that can be disabled) is that the phone is automatically backed up the the cloud. I reset the phone last week when I thought I had to give it back, including reformatting the miniSD card.  When I found out I was getting to keep it a bit longer, I set it up using my Google account again.  Bam!  All the apps I’d downloaded were back.  Settings that were saved out to the card didn’t seem to make the roundtrip, but the apps were back.  That backup-and-restore cycle was using the same hardware.  What’s going to happen when I have my own hardware and tie it to the same account?  I’m betting it’s going to be a restore.  I’ll report when I know.  That will likely be my last Droid post because continuing to talk about it would be kind of douchey. (I’m comforted that “douchey” isn’t in my spell-check.)

I’ve had fun having the phone this week.  Thanks to Laura and everyone at Verizon for giving me the opportunity.

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