I got an HTC “Hero” on 3 Mobile a week ago (early Christmas pressie from my beloved) and I am very pleased. There have been a few teething glitches and a few things I might do differently, but – well – wow!
The biggest problem has been the need to adopt fully the Google contacts and calendar back end. And, these are not straight forward.
Contacts is buggy (and much commented upon). It doesn’t sync with the built-in Google contacts groups “Friends”, “Family” or “Coworkers”. But, it syncs fine with groups you create, such as “My family” and “My friends”. But, *only* if you sync “My contacts” (not “All contacts”) and UNTICK all your groups; go figure. Tick your groups and it syncs nothing. But, an upside of all this is that I have edited and tidied up my contacts, backed them up and now have a contact system that I actually use, which has people’s phone numbers and emails in one list.
Calendar had two problems: 1) my work uses Oracle Calendar (not really Android’s problem?) and 2) Google calendar tries to be too clever. I had to export my Oracle Calendar as a vCal file, import that to the Mac’s iCal, re-export that as a new vCal file and import that one into Google Calendar. For some reason direct export/import from Oracle to Google in iCal or vCal formats only picked up 50 of about 250 events. I tried this about 10 times before it worked. The route through iCal was a last desperate attempt. So I am going to have to decide how to handle 2 calendars until work moves fully to the Google platform (starting in January).
Then, I am in the US at the moment. Of course I had my current time zone set to Eastern Standard Time. All my events synced with the HTC 5 hours early; my working day starts at 4 a.m.? I have had to set my HTC to GMT and adjust the time on the device 5 hours back for my calendar to show the correct time for my events. And, even after importing, if I reset my time zone on the HTC the calendar entries jump five hours ahead. So, I guess my HTC will have to live permanently in GMT and should I travel to another timezone just reset the clock.
But, that was the bad stuff. I think I have it sorted. Now, the good stuff is really good.
For one, as I am in the US at the moment, turning off mobile network data access is easy, and the Wifi seems clean as a whistle. (Boy, I hope I have done this right or it will have been an expensive holiday!)
The Gmail client and the Imap/POP3 client work perfectly. The browser is fine.
The phone comes with conduits for Twitter, Facebook and Flickr which integrate with contacts and the browser and the camera. Take a picture and share it where you want. Add another conduit if you want. The camera does not have the image stablisation that the SonyEricssons have. You do need to hold the thing still and maybe ask your subjects to pose, but the image quality is much better. There is no flash, either, but the images in low light are pretty good.
For a Twitter client @morageyrie suggested Twidroid, which cost about £3.50 off the Android market. It handles the latest Twitter lists and gives you new and old re-tweet options. Better than the HTC “Peep”. This is the only item I paid for and I really only did it to see how the Android Market worked for non-free items.
For music the phone came with Spotify, which I had resisted being fond of LastFM, but I am beginning to get into the ad-free subscription service and am finding loads of new music. The real telling will come in two years, when I have to decide whether to renew the subscription. (By which time Spotify’s founders will have made their exit as gazillionaires, I suppose.)
And, Spotify isn’t all. I had thought I would have to give up on iTunes, which I was willing to do. But, Salling Media Sync for the Mac (http://www.salling.com/MediaSync/Mac/) imports and syncs iTunes play lists and MixZing (http://mixzing.com/android.html) is proving to be a brilliant player. I have barely begun to use it. But, I have iTunes and Spotify on the gadget.
I take Cory Doctorow’s warnings (http://bit.ly/7wVjvh) about”… concomitant increase in Big Content’s attacks on the privacy and due process rights of internet users,” and understand that “…every streaming song creates a raft of privacy disclosures – your location, your taste, even the people who may be near you and when you’re near them.” And, I realise that the MixZing player does the same without the streaming. So, I don’t know how to escape the machine, short of taking up the spoons, moving to some mobile network shadow in Brittany or West Cork, sticking my finger in my ear and basically folking off the grid. I am not even sure I would want to do that. I like being part of the Interwebz and there are big struggles to be engaged in here. (I’ll go on again about mesh networks and distributed databases, one day 😉
What else? NewsRob (http://newsrob.blogspot.com/) is an Android client for Google Reader, which I am coming to terms with. I may even cancel my subscription to BlogBridge (sorry, if you had an Android client…?).
So, now that it is more or less working and does what I want, I hope it fades into the background as just my phone, doing all that it does, quietly and well. Oh, yes. It makes phone calls, too.