The Android Verdict

I’ve had my precious Samsung Galaxy S2 for two weeks now, so it’s time to give my verdict on it. First, the bad. First, because it’s brief and I can get it out of the way quickly. I don’t like that I have to sign in to the device using a Google account. Particularly because of what the device then imports and the settings it changes, based on my Google activity. I stopped using Gmail some time ago, and don’t use Picasa anymore. I didn’t really want my Sammy polluted with that crap.

Nor do I want my phone polluted with all the bloatware that comes courtesy of Samsung and Three, and that can’t be removed from the device. That sucks. The native email client sucks too. There are alternative email client apps. They suck too. It just comes down to your personal preference for suckiness. The battery is also a bit weak. Not as weak as earlier Android devices. But I have to be careful with the settings to get through a day. Although I am a very heavy user, it has to be said. But Apple does all this much better, so far. Windows Phone 7 too.

Now on to the good. The phone is a speedy wonder. Dual core processing sees to that. The 4.3″ screen is also a sight to behold. And the app market is now mature enough to not be an issue.  Apple fanboys will point out there’s loads more apps for iPhones. Yeah. When you can find a device that will load 300,00 apps, and a person who needs to use 300,00 apps, come back and tell me about it. Till then, I just don’t care. Android has more apps than I’ll ever need. Most importantly, it has all the apps that I do need.

I’m happy to pay for apps if they are worth the money. And let’s be honest, apps aren’t a lot of money. A shiny British pound or two a go. A few might cost a little more, but a fiver is pretty much the most you’d need to spend. I have bought about a half dozen apps so far. Doggcatcher is a superb podcast app. The subscription page isn’t as comprehensive, slick or user friendly as iTunes. But then it does work nicely off the handset once you’ve picked your favourite podcasts. It’s reliable and feature rich.

For music I plumped for PlayerPro. It lokks slick, has a ton of features and unlike most other player apps which insist on scanning into the library all the audio on my device, including podcasts which I prefer to manage through Doggcatcher, PlayerPro lets me choose a folder to manage my music collection from. It’s also skinnable, which is a nice touch. Meanwhile, Ambling Bookplayer does my audiobooks. And does it nicely.

Vignette is now my default camera app for taking photos and adding effects, although I have a ton of other trial and free photo apps. JustPictures is the app I use for managing my photo collections – both online with Flickr and on the handset itself. Opera does my internet browsing. We7 is my preferred source of free radio style music.

But if there is one feature on this device that’s really blown me away, it’s the audio recognition. Why type out a text message to send to someone? Speak it out instead. Or should that be speak it in. Going to a foreign country? Download the right translator app. Speak into it what you want to say. It’ll not only translate it into a different language, but if you’re really lazy, you can press the speaker icon, and the phone will say it as well. With the right accent!

Need to make a note? Yep, speak into the phone, it’ll turn it into text. Or what if you can hear a song, and you really like it, and want to buy it, but you have no idea what it is, or who sings it? Try Shazam. It’ll listen to the tune, analyse it and then come back with the song’s details, a link to buy the song off of Amazon and a link to the music video on YouTube, and lots more.

The accuracy of the audio recognition is scary. I do remember when this sort of software first came out in the 90’s. If you sat and spoke into the program for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, then it could be taught to ‘learn’ your voice. Within a year, it could convert your voice into text….half the time. The other half would be gibberish. My Droid is getting it right 90% of the time. When I use a phony American accent, it gets it right 95% of the time. When I use a phony American accent, keep the message reasonably simple and don’t make up words, it gets it right 99.9% of the time. Awesome.

Needless to say, I’ve far too many apps loaded to talk about them all. This is already one of my longest ever posts! So I’ll sign off, and leave you with a relevant video. I watch CNet videos on my Sammy, using the Doggcatcher podcast app, and having watched this one I went out and snagged the PlayerPro app.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

7 thoughts on “The Android Verdict

  1. Kim G says:

    So I take it the phone doesn’t do particularly well with cockney rhyming slang either?

    Pinches Gringos!!!


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where our own iPhone supposedly does voice recognition, but we’ve been too lazy to figure out how to use it. But we doubt faking a British accent will help matters.

    P.S. Next time I see you, you’ll have to demonstrate your best “fake American accent.”


    • I will confess, I haven’t tried any cockney rhyming slang yet. I’ll have to give it a go on the Spanish translator and see what I get! Whatever I do get, should I play it to a Mexican, I suspect the response will be something along the lines of ‘pinche gringo!’

      I’m sure there are plenty of apps for your iPhone…have you tried Shazam yet? It doesn’t get a match every single time, but its success rate and delivery of info is a wonder to behold.

      My best ‘fake American accent’ is something I generally do in private to avoid embarrassment. But if I want to order a banana, only a US accent will do the trick. The word banana has become a seedy, downright dirty word in my home, whispered furtively and urgently into the handset in a most sleazy manner.


  2. I have done this comment completely with speech recognition to prove if it works or not. I have not edited it in anyway. it’s much easier to do this then typing on a mobile device. okay there is 1 mistake. you can probably spot it.


  3. Kim G says:

    “Need more” for “te amo” is indeed pretty funny.

    And I did spot the mistake, but many writers don’t even need voice recognition to commit that error; they do it the old-fashioned way.


    Kim G
    Boston, MA
    Where we’re thinking we really should try to figure out the speech to text feature of our iPhone.


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