Android phone update

That’s right, I’ve now got one of those. Read on for some impressions beyond my last mention.

So it has been a few months now with the Samsung Galaxy Appeal (SGH-I827). This is not at all a “power smartphone”, but it is a smartphone.

It’s fine for making calls, although a bit of a brick compared to the tiny Samsung plain-vanilla flip phone I used to carry. The whole swiping thing is still a challenge for me. Sure it’s cool, but every time a call comes in or the alarm clock goes off my blood pressure spikes as a result of the stress brought upon by my desperate efforts to pick up a call or kill an alarm.

Sorry, but I’m still the same clumsy Luddite I’ve always been.

You’ve probably guessed then that inputting text is still a chore for me, even with the fold out keyboard. The transition from the soft to hard keyboard is anything but smooth and I often find myself not bothering because “it’s just not worth it”.

My own objective assessment as an information technology professional with over two decades experience in user interfaces is that the touch panel technology still needs years of work. But then that’s how I felt about the point-and-click interface on those first Macs with their single-button mice.

Still, as a fairly small and portable device for consuming media this thing is actually not too bad. The Google Maps app is absolutely the best thing that’s ever happened to me. No more getting lost on the way home from the dentist or looking for the nearest Bojangles.

Web browsing can be frustrating. Not so much because pages load slowly, I was there at the beginning of the World Wide Web when the i386 was king and the ARM processor in this thing is a speed demon by comparison. The real issue for me gets back to my clumsiness with the touch interface and my tendency to “miss the target” when trying to click a link. I’ve locked up the phone too often as a result of mistakenly clicking on an advertisement with fuel injected graphics.

Both the CPU and RAM on my device are way under what most would probably consider acceptable minimums: an 800 MHz ARM Cortex A5 from Qualcomm, 512 Mb RAM (394 Mb available for apps) and 4 Gb ROM (about 2 Gb for apps). So anything I can do to operate more efficiently helps.

Probably the most important step I took after the initial flurry of downloads of apps was to go back and delete as many as possible (none of the apps preloaded by AT & T, and there are a lot of them, can be removed without rooting the phone).

What remain are a small number that I actually use regularly. Like Noin Nion’s gReader for accessing a group of news feeds I’ve set up on Google Reader.

I’ve also swapped Firefox for Android out in favor of the free Dolphin for both its speed (which is impressive) and (at least for me) more intuitive interface (it has real bookmarks!). Of course I’ve also installed Stellarium Mobile for Android. You never know when you might need to find a particular star when out in the field!

There are a bunch of sysadmin toys that are also nice to have:

Ping & DNS by Ulf Dittmer
UnboundID’s LDAP Client
ConnectBot Console
FX File Explorer
NetAudit from SecuriteInfo

For the personal media stuff I’ve also got Skype (barely used), Netflix (mostly for finding content for “family movie night”), TuneIn Radio (for Internet radio), HomeDia (a UPnP and DLNA client for accessing media server content).