Last night, the screen on my old Treo started to look small to me. I have spent so much time trying to adjust to the virtual keyboards, the email software, and limited copy-and-paste, that I was ignoring the Droid X’s most compelling feature: its huge screen. But… I didn’t get this phone to watch YouTube videos: it needs to work for work.
The Android UI
The common actions available in a modern phone UI are fairly standard: tap, press and hold, menu button, back button, flick to scroll, double tap, and pinch to zoom. The trick is guessing when to do what. One of the major selling points of the iPhone is the consistency of its interface. Owners generally can guess what to do in almost any situation. Android developers, on the other hand, have taken full advantage of their freedom to do their own thing, with the consequence that it can be quite difficult to find the settings you want.
As an example, consider the home screen. You can place an icon on the home screen by opening the application list and holding the program icon until it becomes draggable. You also can long press the home screen and choose Shortcuts. I assumed these were interchangeable, but that is not always so. The application Touchdown for Exchange has shortcuts for email, calendar, contacts, and so forth, and that’s very convenient. But since there’s no obvious way to navigate from, say, Email to Calendar without visiting the application’s home screen, this seemed not to save that much time compared with using the program icon.
Copy and Paste Matters!
Take, for instance, setting up a wi-fi connection. Unlike the password you might assign to your home wi-fi router, our office has a key 63 characters long. No problem, I assumed I could paste it. Thus began an adventure. The standard Corporate Sync email program on the Droid X does not let you copy from the body of a message you have received. Usually you could work around this limitation by starting to reply to or forward the message, but it’s still blocked. (This is not a problem in the phone’s Gmail application, but I did not want to send the key to an outside account.) I had IT send me the key in a .txt file, but this also did not help. I could view it in QuickOffice or in an HTML viewer, but could not select or copy it. On my PC, I saved it in a .doc file and sent that to myself. I could open it in QuickOffice and select the text, but could not copy it.
At that point I gave up and started typing the key. About half way through, a meeting notification popped up. After dismissing it, my entry was gone. I was very frustrated by this point, but a persistent person generally can find a way. Finally, I determined that I could use the application CopiPe (from the market) to import a specially formatted .txt file attachment (category name on the first line and key on the second line) and then would allow me to copy it to the clipboard.
I am exploring alternatives to Corporate Sync and will post about those soon.
Keep or Return?
Too soon to tell. Those YouTube videos do look really good.