5 Things Missing from 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.

Posted in Droid. 11 Comments »

11 Responses to “5 Things Missing from Droid”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Fair criticism.
    But, there is a decent ereader for Android.
    It’s called Aldiko (http://www.aldiko.com/).
    I like it. A good reader so far. I was able to read a book from the Pragmatic Bookshelf. And it has this nice night/day toggle so if I’m reading in bed with the lights off, it’s easier to read.

    Have fun! And welcome to Android!

  2. uberVU - social comments Says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by davewiner: Michael Gartenberg: 5 Things Missing from Droid. (Welcome to the Droidie blog Michael!) http://r2.ly/myzp

  3. Josh Turmel Says:


    Just a few suggestions and possibilities that may help:

    1) The built-in storage is pretty lousy when compared with other phones, notably the iPhone, but one thing to consider is that developers have the option of storing assets onto the SD card. It’s not the ideal situation, but a crafty developer can work around it if they know what they’re doing.

    2) When you say password protection, do you mean to lock the phone? If so you can setup a gesture to unlock the phone, which can be as simple as just covering 4 dots on the 9 dot grid or as complex as covering all 9 dots. The remote wipe isn’t going to ever be as elegant as the iPhone since it’s not a closed system, but there are some apps out there to handle this functionality for you, as well as GPS location of the device.

    3) I’m using HTC’s implementation of Exchange calendar/contacts, and email and haven’t had any issues yet, but maybe Google’s implementation is more buggy, what problems are you running into?

    4) Fair criticism of the Droid keyboard, while testing it I didn’t find it to be that great either. If you stick to just virtual keyboards, I’d recommend HTC’s, it is quite a bit better than the stock one. I will get a link posted to it soon, I haven’t had a chance to see if it will work with Android 2.0.

    5) Google definitely needs to build in a way to sync to the Windows suite of products over USB. HTC built this on their end so maybe it’s something we’ll end up seeing in the core Android OS eventually.

    • Erik Neu Says:

      TouchPal keyboard is a very nice replacement keyboard. Much better and more versatile than the built-in, or the Hero keyboard, which I also tried:

    • Erik Neu Says:

      Does anyone know why Android does not let apps be installed to the SD card? (I mean the app itself, as specified by the user–not some assests, as specified by the developer). I know you can do this with a rooted phone, but i have also read–without explanation–people say Google will never build this in. Why?

      • Josh Turmel Says:

        Pirating apps is much easier when you allow them to be installed on removable media… hopefully they will just start putting together hardware that has a few gigabytes of built-in memory rather than relying solely on the SD card for the bulk of it.

      • Justa Notherguy Says:

        Not sure about the root of any ‘never’ speculation, but – we’re told – the lack of micro-SD installation is purely a matter of security concerns…no further disambiguation, tho its a reasonable to assume they mean IP security, for devs.

        Just for grins, my take is that Google simply never gave serious consideration to the possibility, nor to its ramifications.

        That said, AOSP are aware that the current situation limits Android’s acceptance. As I type this, they working on a secure SD install routine (possibly to be included with a ‘v2.1’ bug-fix pkg.), mainly as encouragement for game-makers.

  4. mikecane Says:

    >>>That means a real lack of good games, no eBook readers like Kindle or Noook

    Whoa whoa whoa.

    As the first Commenter said, grab Aldiko. And you’re techie enough to make full use of it too. Permit me some links here:

    Android OS Aldiko ePub Display Challenge

    eBook Use On The Archos 5 Internet Tablet

    There is also iSilo for other types of files:

    Archos 5 Internet Tablet Notes For Sunday October 25, 2009

  5. lani Kaye Says:

    I am a newbie to the droid, a stay-at-home-mom with no Microsoft Exchange capabilities. How do I sync the droid with Outlook. Outlook is my LIFE – juggling 4 kids and all their plans.

    Help! My Droid arrives on Wednesday but without syncing I am going to be lost. And I honestly can’t change to Google calendar, I have small kids who don’t have access to the Internet who need to have access to my calender

    • Michael Gartenberg Says:

      Simple answer. You can’t. Android was not designed to sync with anything on the desktop including Outlook. The closest you can come is to use Google sync to get your stuff from the desktop to Googles stuff and then sync from there. Otherwise, this isn’t the right device for your need 🙂

  6. Rachel Says:

    I just wanted to say that this has been the most helpful blog and comments I’ve found dealing with the Droid so far. Thank you.

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