5 Things Missing from the Droid

Lots of buzz about the Droid over the weekend as more users got their hands on a device. My first take is posted over on SlashGear and it’s mostly positive. If, however, you’re thinking of getting one, here’s a list of five things that you should know about before you buy.

1. Applications. Despite the 10,000 apps in the the marketplace there’s too much stuff still missing, especially in terms of entertainment. That means a real lack of good games, no eBook readers like Kindle or Noook, no Slingplayer etc. Even worse, Android 2.0 still has a limit of 256mb for application storage. Sorry, that’s not even close for what most users need. Also not seeing a lot of best of breed applications. I still can’t find a decent Twitter client that comes close to what’s available for other platforms. Apple’s lead in the app marketplace is now 10x but beyond numbers, it’s the depth, breadth and quality of the apps that make the app store stand out.

2. Security. No real password protection. Hardware or SD encryption. No remote management or wipe. Maybe Ok for consumers but hardly good enough to protect anything important.

3. Exchange. It’s nice to see Exchange support native (HTC has offered it for their Android devices for some time) to Android but it’s not a great implementation. Too many issues, especially in terms of calendar.
4. Keyboard. Sorry, the keyboard just doesn’t work for me. The keys are too flat and too close together. This is the first time that the virtual keyboard is better than the physical one and that one’s not great (there’s a few better keyboards for sale in marketplace)

5. PC Sync ) I know the idea is to move everything to the cloud but the reality is, there’s a lot of folks who still want to do local sync to Outlook and get their contacts and calendars on their devices that way. Worse, there’s no media sync. I understand some folks prefer to just drag and drop their stuff on their device but I can’t imagine why (unless you’ve got a tiny music collection or are just moving limited content such as podcasts). I certainly don’t want to try and replicate my playlists in iTunes or Zune one song at a time, digging through directories on my desktop.

Even with these issues, I do believe Android is going to be force to reckoned with in this space and the Droid, if for no other reason than because it’s on Verizon’s excellent network is going to be a very popular device. I do think it’s going to appeal to more of a geek audience than a mainstream audience at this point.

12 responses to “5 Things Missing from the Droid

  1. The “superior” Verizon network (like all) is very location specific. I just drove 600+ miles in sw MN and rarely saw EVDO, mostly 1RT at real slow dialup rates.
    I think Android will be an interesting thing to watch. It could be hugely successful or just as easily fragment into nothing but geeks in a largish town/city.

  2. iTunes is the reason I hate my ipod. I always said that drag and drop should be at least an option on all players – it’s the same thing as organizing itunes library… You still have to correct labels and fill in certain fields in itunes unless you bought it from their store (gee, i wonder why). So while I agree with you that there should be a sync solution, I still think drag and drop should ALWAYS be an option – even for iDevices. There are programs that sync droids with itunes and windows media player tho – have you researched those?

    I bet the app android market will improve drastically over the next 6 months – especially since this device is finally on a good network. Keep in mind the iphone couldn’t even send a picture text or record a video when it first came out… At least this phone was released with the basics set for the most part. I agree with you on the keyboard – it sucks. It’s better than typing on a treo or blackberry tho – at least it’s landscaped.

  3. I agree with @Dan that the android app market will improve drastically in the months to come. while the Droid isn’t perfect it is at least a strong contender in the market, this will only boost app production in the long run. For the first time since the release of the iPhone I hear of people dropping at&t for the Droid on a superior network. However as mentioned in the article the 256mb limit is an issue.

    Thanks for the great writeup

  4. I agree with @Dan that the android app market will only approve in the months to come. Even though the phone isn’t perfect it is a strong contender on a superior network. the 256mb app limit is an issue for sure though.

    Thanks for the great writeup!

  5. To put it simpley I would say “Droid is a phone made by engeeniers”. Now this is so true of everything Google. In Future they might learn from their experiences but today that stands true.

  6. I really don’t understand that anyone would list “no sync” for music as a shortcoming. Itunes is the worst peace of crap ever when it comes to filling your player with music.
    And there is actually a better way than drag&drop. You just add “copy to folder” registry entry to context menu (easily found with google), browse your music library and copy everything you want elegantly. I hate syncing because only a maniac has all of his/hers song correctly tagged. It’s the reason i sold my ipod.

  7. Dan A
    Drag and drop is an option in Itunes, under the Ipod, you got to the “Summary” tab and check the “Manage music and videos manually” box. Then in under all the other tabs UNCHECK all the boxes that start with “Sync (Music, videos, podcasts, etc depends on tab)”

  8. Although there are 5 things missing, I still love it. If they give us everything we want now there will be no reason to purchase Droid 2. However, your analysis was very accurate. Thanks so much.

  9. Michael, in response to #5 – we’re actively working on it – see our Missing Sync for Android product (www.markspace.com).

    So far, our beta is going well and we’re transitioning to supporting 2.0 devices like the Droid – pretty much all APIs for contact database access changed.

    Media sync is fully supported against iTunes for Mac users and WMP and iTunes for Windows users, and works for all devices now.

    Your points are all spot-on about Android. It is a fascinating platform with a ton of potential, but is highly subject to fragmentation because of how device manufacturers and carriers platform-build for their own needs. We’re seeing the “fruits” of that now with the contact API differences, and the fact that 2.0 and 1.x devices are shipping simultaneously from the same vendors (Droid and Eris, for instance).

  10. I agree with Dan the apps are good for having the phone out for 2 weeks, remember the original apple apps? Where you had to go onto a website to try them out? And half were just jokes that really never worked. The droid actually came straight out with games,widgets,entertainment, and features. Dont get me wrong the app store for the iphone is great, but give the droid a few months and we’ll be neck and neck. Maybe not in numbers but more quality apps. The Droid just allows for so much more than the iphone so its predisposed to become great!
    Hopefully you guys agree,
    Tom

  11. Almost everything is available in C libs. The JAVA only framework is a naugthy thing in order to make those libs work and usable by apps. Hope chromeOS won’t do the same mistake. I see android as google “making its teeth” as open hardware OS provider.
    I expect to be able to code/deploy apps in native C/(thin linux syscalls wrapper with thin elf-lite shared object dynamic loader) for chromeOS. Those shared objets would be tree-dependently defined. Ex:memory page management code, optimized string/mem manipulation code, dynamic optimized string/mem manipulation code, each in its so. “Bigger shared objets”, like “telephony stack” would pull down many shared object. Basically it comes down to break the libc in a dependency tree of shared objects.

    Yes, I’m a minimalist… and dreamer.

  12. The Motorola DROID continues to present new possibilities every day. I’ve had it for about 10 months and We have had a Blackberry attached to my system since September 1998. Getting connected is often a critical element of my existence so I am constantly reachable by loved ones and co-workers. I’m a bit addicted towards Market place for DROID Applications. If the device had unlimited memory I would test the capacity. I think this OS could be the way from the future and intend to grow with all of you to understand it by means of and via. Thanks for the post.

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