02/17/2013, 10:18 AM
After trying to "move on" since last June, using an Android phone with access to all of the apps I'd been missing out on, a bigger screen, microSD memory expansion, a better camera, and a price I couldn't resist, it was a failed endeavor. I'm back to webOS, guys. I couldn't stop thinking about webOS's superior user experience. The operating system is too good.
Android 2.3, in this case on a MyTouch 4G Slide with T-Mobile, using the HTC interface, is just too clunky. Yes, I'm aware Android's past version 4 now, and it's surely better, but man, the Slide was a high-end phone when it came out... and it just didn't compete. The portrait keyboard didn't help -- I never adjusted to the whole two-hands-required thing. The way you access menus, the notifications, the just plain poor design of important details like the auto-correct, seeming disjointed collections of features that didn't work together, as though the software of different parts of the OS were written by different companies and just glued together, it was all too much.
I got obsessed with webOS back in early 2010, when I was on the Palm Centro and looking to upgrade to a "smarter" smart phone. It looked too good to resist. It was. I picked up the Pre Plus on Verizon in late summer of that year, and just loved it. Intuitive, easy to use, great screen, great camera, slider portrait keyboard, and best of all, the real reason I made the plunge, was the homebrew community.
Over the course of a year and a half I customized the webOS experience on my phone so much there were probably 100 different patches, all thanks to you wonderful homebrewers. I had plenty of apps, too, but I only really used a few of them. Of course I always yearned for more apps that you knew your friends had, gimmicky things mostly, but things you couldn't share in the experience of.
When February 2011's big event came and went, I too was ecstatic about the prospects for HP-Palm. More phones, a tablet, and hints of greater things to come. I read the forums every day -- on multiple sites. I did Web searches for details of webOS's future, and on the new devices. I pored over the details of the products, becoming more and more certain that the Pre 3 was the phone for me, the Holy Grail of webOS phones.
I too was crushed when HP turned its back on webOS, but took some solace in snapping up a $130 TouchPad 32GB, which I also love. When the Pre 3 suddenly ceased to be for America, I was just short of distraught. Gobsmacked, certainly. Then, the rumors -- they were coming anyway, through eBay, through the grey market. First, there were AT&T Pre 3s, then Verizon ones started popping up. I was with Verizon at the time, and ecstatic that I might get my hands on one. Alas, they were crazy rare, and consequently crazy expensive. $600 for a phone -- which of course is reasonable when it's unlocked and ready to go, off contract, a brand new pocket computer with cutting edge technology, but I'd never shelled out full price for a phone -- not when two years of subsidy on a contract would get me it for $100 or less.
I would have to wait.
As time went by, it started seemingly clearer to me that the price of the phones wasn't dropping as quickly as with other, less rare offerings. My Pre Plus was soldiering on admirably, though the spider web cracks were starting to show on the screen, bits were snapping off here and there, and I was growing tired of pushing the limits of the phone in a futile effort to make it something it wasn't. Upgrading it to webOS 2.x, even knowing in advance that it was shaky and experimental, was a let down. I couldn't bring myself to buy a Pre 2 because it seemed like a lot of money for what wasn't more than a software upgrade. Yes, I know there were other improvements, but essentially, from my view, the Pre 2 was a Pre 1.5.
I started looking in earnest for a non-webOS phone in early spring 2012, when it became clear to me that webOS was faltering, that HP wasn't putting much effort into resuscitating webOS. The homebrew community was still kicking, but with waning membership. In spite of my long affair, I was giving in. Android would have to do. I took the opportunity to switch carriers, too, from Verizon, which I'd had since I got my first phone more than a decade earlier, to T-Mobile. The MyTouch was a good deal, good specs, and for a while, it was exciting.
It took adjustment, me always wanting to swipe the bottom of the screen, always wondering where the cards were, why the menus were in different places. I got used to it, but some things never felt comfortable. The multi-tasking, for one, and it was a big one. It wasn't multitasking, it was fakery. Apps that you switched between often had to be reloaded entirely. They would forget what you were doing earlier, even 30 seconds ago, so the song would start over, or the nav app would ask you where you wanted to go, or the news article would be gone and you would be staring at the front page of a digital newspaper. It was tiresome.
Notifications never made sense, and were absolutely inadequate. One chirp and if you weren't around to hear it, nothing more. Not adjustable, or at least not in a way that worked for me. Software updates that never ended, absurdly frequent updates that always required you to agree to a new contract. Every. Time.
Then there was the seeming disconnect, frustrating in concept, that Google itself didn't seem to be properly integrated into the operating system. Searches were a pain, and nowhere close in utility to "Just type." The integration of social networking, too, was lacking, no where near as polished as webOS.
I missed the hockey puck charger, too. Plugging in just seemed like a step back after the wireless charger.
So it happened -- my brother's phone broke about a week ago, and he wanted another one. I had the phone he had, so I told him, buy a Pre 3, and you can have mine. It all took place in a matter of a few days, me lost in the morass of Android, to being back in webOS bliss. The phone showed up early, and the transition was relatively seamless. My T-Mobile SIM card worked -- but only thanks to, once again, the webOS homebrew community, which showed me how to unlock the phone. In a few short days, it's reminded me, too, how to get Preware running, through webOS Quick Install, even how to change out the AT&T splash screen for a T-Mobile one I made.
Sure, I miss some things about Android. I keep feeling for a button below the screen to wake up the phone. The power button on the corner just isn't as easy or user-friendly to use for such a purpose. I miss a pop-up menu add-on I had that allowed me to swipe from the side of the screen to pull up a grid of apps that would disappear once I let go of the screen. I miss the DLNA app with which I controlled my DVD player. I miss YouMail. But boy, am I happy to be back. Thanks for still being here, webOS community.