06/20/2012, 08:32 AM
After much discussion at http://forums.webosnation.com/webos-...jump-ship.html I grabbed myself a Galaxy Nexus yesterday. I really couldn't put up with the pre3 cuts out and reboots randomly or risking same whenever I needed to switch onto 3G. However it's not exactly a permanent switch - it only ended up costing me $AU240 by getting in on my plan so figured I'd get it as a trial and sell it if I didn't like it. I tend to do that with most of my phones.
When I first started that thread I did so asking advice on other OSes with similar features to webOS. Having had minimal answers that have helped in that direction (all thanks due to those who responded nonetheless), my own experiences may now help someone else in a similar position to me:
ICS is the most webOS-ey OS out there so far so if you want to switch it at least gives you some familiarity. The Galaxy Nexus itself worked for me (rather than the S2 or S3) because the back button is on the left (unlike the right - why...?) and the right button brings up a vertical version of cards view (task manager) which lets you swipe away apps to close them. Also you swipe down from the top to bring down a curtain-like list of notifications, where you can also access settings.
PHYSICAL VS VIRTUAL KEYBOARD
Losing a physical keyboard has always been a deal-breaker for me so trying out the virtual ones was high on my lis. The Nexus' keyboard seemed easier to type on for me than any of the others I tried, including S2, S3, HTC One X, Sony Xperia S. I can't exactly say why, but my test sentence 'the cat sat on the mat' consistenty gave more accurate results on the Nexus than the others. In daily use, auto-correct / auto-complete does help you on some of the longer words rather than having to type the whole thing. Nonetheless, going back to the Pre 3 is comforting and it's still a lot easier for me to type than on the Nexus.
One little-mentioned drawback of a virtual keyboard (at least the stock ones) is the lack of instant access to a numerical keyboard. I didn't realise how useful the numerical keypad on the Pre 3 (via the option key) is until I had to set up all my email accounts on the Nexus. It's definitely significantly slower having to type the letters, then press the 123 button to switch to numbers, then press the number, then press the 123 button again (which has turned into ABC) to switch to letters, then press the next letter and sometimes switch back. I hardly skip a beat doing this on the Pre 3. All that said, portrait sliders (incredibly to me) seem about as popular as raincoats in summer so with the Pre form factor more than likely never to be made again this hurdle will have to be dealt with under Open webOS anyway.
Why are all the latest phones so big these days? Well surprisingly I've gotten used to it pretty quickly. It's very skinny, almost wafer-like in some ways, and nice and light, but I personally don't mind the more substantial feel of the Pre 3 in my hand. My advice to anyone baulking at this would be to keep playing with these phones in stores and you'll probably find what I did. The Pre 3 is still a better fit in my hand but I could live with the Nexus.
...or lack thereof, is silly. I thought I would hate this; so far I've not been to work or into meetings but nothing is going to beat flicking a single switch.
Until you use Android you probably don't realise quite how much of your life you hand over. Either that or webOS does the same but just doesn't tell you, but I doubt it. So let me give you one example... I was looking for Shrek Kart, couldn't find it, but happened to open Shrek Enjoying Go Locker instead and clicked the download button. The next screen is a Permissions screen, which informed me that this game / app / whatever wants to:
* Storage - modify/delete USB storage contents
* Your location - coarse (network-based) and fine (GPS-based). A note helpfully advises that malicious applications may use this to determine where you are. I asked myself why else would an app need GPS data?
* Phone calls - access phone features of the device inc the number and serial number of this phone, the number I'm connected to and 'the like'.
* Full internet access - create network sockets
* Your personal information - read all the URLS the browser has visited and all bookmarks; all contact data on the phone; modify browser's history or bookmarks
You serious?? I don't know about you but I somewhat object to a simple app wanting to know all that information about me, consequently I haven't installed some of the apps I may otherwise have installed. I guess those descriptions are generic and it's fair enough that the app does some of those things - USB drive, OK that's probably saving and deleting game progress which most webOS games do too and I don't think anyone would object (which is why I said maybe webOS does some of this anyway without saying), but within the description they gave it could well be doing a whole lot more than just that which is where I started getting concerned.
Number of apps:
Yes there are plenty. There are some webOS doesn't have. But there are also often numerous apps that do very similar things. I guess ultimately this is a good thing so hopefully you find one that does exactly what you want, but it also makes it a bit laborious to (say) just go and grab a battery widget and find there are 15 of them to choose from and then have to work out the difference, how much of your life they each want to know, read reviews etc, before having the basic functionality you want.
This may come as a rude shock to those accustomed to the polite ways of webOS, though on reflection coming from Google this is hardly a surprise. Angry Birds, fantastic, here we go. Suddenly I find it had banner ads inviting me to join dating sites?!?? OK there's the little X button, I'll close that, oh all that does is give me the option to buy the game. Hmm, I'm a bit less than impressed. Personally I'd rather have a few levels than the full version with ads sliding in at random (and slowing down gameplay at the same time). Especially when I often let the kids have a blast on some of these suddenly-not-so innocent games. Again some may feel differently about this but these were certainly my feelings.
It's clear than 12 months is a long time in the smartphone world.
The camera beats the pants off the Pre 3, even though the Pre's camera is adequate in itself. Nexus' can zoom (digitally admittedly) even in video recording, and when taken pinch to zoom allows a higher level of zoom than the Pre 3. And the quality is a clear improvement. Again the Pre 3 isn't inadequate in itself, but the Nexus' is a lot better.
It's nice having native Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, speedtest and so on.
Widgets (and to a lesser degree live wallpapers) are two things I hope make it into Open webOS. Widgets make the home screen (or the wallpaper with no cards open) enormously useful rather than just pretty. I unlock the phone and without having to do anything I can see my current data usage, battery status, twitter posts or whatever I choose to stick on there. Not too sure exactly how this would work with cards view - perhaps cards view could be hidden by default and shown with a swipe up, and then swiping a second time (in cards view) would open the app launcher. Or maybe swiping down would work for one of these.
Synergy still works far better for me than whatever ICS uses, I still haven't quite worked it out. I know I can set up an email account; but if that supports calendar I don't get the option to add the Calendar service. Notably, Yahoo calendar isn't an option out of the box, hardly surprising that Google only give you the option of a Google or Exchange account (I bet they were reluctant even to include that!). No doubt there's an app to allow that but webOS works out of the box.
I like the fact the Nexus can easily be modified to work on a touchstone. I've not done this yet but certainly will if I decide to keep the phone.
Google Maps app load is real quick on the Nexus GPS lock is a heap quicker on the Nexus than the Pre 3 on either Google or Bing. The GPS radio seems more powerful as the Nexus locks on indoors more easily than the Pre 3. Panning and moving around also beats the pants off the Pre 3. Again, not overly surprising given the Nexus is a Google phone but I expect most phones will perform more snappily than hardware from 12 months earlier. In summary on this, the Nexus can pretty safely be used as a GPS and it'll give you the info you need quickly, whereas I've never had the confidence with the maps apps on the Pre 3 to use them in traffic.
General performance - the Nexus doesn't tend to have the lag that the Pre 3 does. However, and I think this is important, the slickness of webOS means you don't *generally* have to go through as many steps to accomplish a single task so you may not end up losing any time overall. This bodes really well for a snappier version of webOS once it's opened, plus if / when it's loaded onto a current generation set of hardware. The Nexus crashed once when trying to set a live wallpaper and had to have a battery pull, but that's it. Though I don't think the Pre's done that very often either.
It remains to be seen whether I stick with this or not. ICS has taken a different path to webOS, and with different outcomes. The Nexus is at least a stable device, and one that performs the tasks it's designed to predictably.
However it's clear to me that the gesture-based navigation of webOS makes it a very efficient way to do things. That ICS in 2012 still can't match in this regard what webOS was in 2009 shows both how far ahead of its time webOS was, and that if / when it makes a comeback it's not as far behind the game as one would think on paper. Time alone will tell which device I stick with in the short term, but one thing's clear; if webOS makes it onto modern hardware in the next 12-18 months it'll still have something to offer.