Earlier this summer, Google announced the newest version of the Android operating system, dubbed Jelly Bean. The moment this new Android became official I started seeing posts pop up on tech blogs attempting to answer the queston: When will my phone get Jelly Bean?
Before that you could find hundreds of posts attempting to answer a similar question: when will my phone get Ice Cream Sandwich? (the previous version of Android) I know that tech blogs write these posts and obsess over the question of when which phone will update because it generates a lot of hits. However, I wonder how many people really care if their phone gets updates to the latest Android? And if they do, why?
There are some obvious reasons to want a newer version of the software, such as the ability to run newer apps. Developers will only make things backwards-compatible to a certain extent. So it’s good to be on the right side of the line.
The reason I hear most often is that the newest version has features the user wants. But if your phone had all the features you wanted when you bought it, why this rush to get more features? Are they really so necessary? Or is it just the newness you like?
Do the majority of users even care, or only the ones who are likely to care about having the newest thing (people who read tech blogs)?
In my preparation for the BlogHer conference (which was awesome!), I wanted to put together several ways to share my contact information with the people I would meet. I have traditional paper business cards, of course. But since I’m a digital geek girl, I also poked into my contact card on my phone and looked into ways I could share it. I assumed that there would be an easy, straightforward way to do this. Sadly for us all, I was wrong.
Sharing contact information via a smartphone is one of those things that many people assume is a basic, standard task. Going all the way back to the days of Palm Pilot supremacy and the rise of BlackBerry, the ability to “beam” your info to another person was a nice and expected perk of having a mobile, business-focused device. I remember that the process didn’t always work on the first try, but it was there and was easy.
Fast forward to now. Last week I went into my Android phone’s contacts, found my contact card, hit the Menu button and tapped “Send My Contact Info.” The menu that came up informed me that I could send via MMS, Mail, or Bluetooth. You might think: oh, that sounds reasonable. Let me explain why it’s not.
MMS is multimedia text messaging; thus, I’d send my contact info as a vCard attachment to an SMS. Not all phones/services support MMS. I use Google Voice for texting. It does not support MMS. So I can’t use that.
The Mail option is what I wanted… except Mail does not indicate the Gmail app, it indicates the Mail app for non-Gmail accounts. I don’t have any accounts set up there because I use Gmail on my Android phone. In order to send via my Gmail account, I would have to set up that account in the Mail app then set it to not notify me when messages come in because Gmail is already doing so. Convoluted? Yes.
Bluetooth is what people meant by “beaming” in the past, but connecting to another phone via Bluetooth isn’t always straightforward. Try doing it in a conference hallway when you’re on the way to the next panel and the person you want to send to doesn’t know how the Bluetooth works on their phone. Not ideal.
So really, my phone offered little in the way of easy or viable options. Why?
The heart of the problem lies with Android. Apparently, there is no native option for sending contact or vCard data in the OS at all. How is my phone able to do so? It’s all down to the HTC Sense user interface skin. Android skins do more than just change the way icons look and offer fancy widgets, they also provide deep interface functions which are sometimes fixes for things Android doesn’t provide.
Who should I shake my fist at more, Android for not having a native contact sharing function or HTC for not realizing people might want to share contacts via their Gmail accounts? I’m inclined to be a little angrier at HTC.
That’s because I also happen to have a Samsung phone. I don’t use it as a phone, only as a MID/PDA. It connects to Wi-Fi just fine, so I could send my contact info from that device. I checked, and lo Samsung’s TouchWiz UI does realize that users might want to send via Gmail and offers that option. My problem is solved.
That doesn’t solve the overall issue though, does it? It also doesn’t help if I’m not near a free Wi-Fi signal. And my HTC phone is my main device; I want to be able to share from there. That’s when I started to look for alternatives.
I’ll share what I found so far in another post. Right now I’d like to know: how do you share digital contact information from your phone? Is it easier on iOS or webOS? Have you found the perfect app for the purpose? Let me know in the comments.
- This is what I gleaned via research and appears to be true at least up until Android 2.2. Some forum threads suggest that this function is available in Gingerbread (2.3), but I have not had a chance to check this myself. [↩]
Many moons ago I reviewed a little product called the Archos 5 Internet Tablet, one of the first Android devices I’d ever played with for any length of time. It was a bit like an Android phone except without the phone part, and it was great for watching video and reading books, webpages, etc. Essentially it was a PDA, but that’s an old-fashioned term that went out with the 90s! These days such things are called tablets. Or iPod touch.
Anyway, I quite liked the Archos 5, though it was early days with Android tablets and it was hard to make out what real use it would be. I think we got a bit caught up in how it wasn’t a phone instead of thinking of it as an updated and awesome PDA-like thing. That’s how I came to think of it, and that’s why I liked it.
But, alas, the tablet had to go back and I sought solace in other Android devices. I’m a fan of the Motorola Droid and I’m really starting to dig the HTC Evo 4G. But in all honesty, the phone I really want is an Archos 5 Internet Tablet you can make calls from. So imagine my excitement when we heard about the Dell Streak at CES this year. And now it’s finally got a release date (end of July) and a price ($499).
I did not get to touch the Streak myself, alas, but I know its roughly the same size as the Archos 5 as it has a 5-inch screen and looks pretty thin. 5 inches seems huge for a phone, I know, but honestly what I want is a small tablet that happens to make calls. The Evo 4G is a pretty massive phone, and that mans I can view web pages, read my RSS feeds, and watch video on a reasonably-sized screen. The Streak will hopefully give me all that and more.
You can’t see, but I’m bouncing up and down right now just thinking about it.
The price is a bit steep, yes. $499 is about what the least expensive iPad costs. But that iPad doesn’t have 3G. Plus, that’s only for the unlocked version of the device. Through the carrier (AT&T) it will be less, we just don’t know how much less yet. Still, I’ll be buying the unlocked one, anyway, since I have no intention of switching to AT&T.
Hopefully we’ll get the Streak in for review well before the launch date. Then guess who’s going to lobby to do the review?
K. T. Bradford
If code is poetry, then CSS is The Iliad. In the original Greek.
I write about and review mobile technology, which means I get to spend the day steeped in laptops, smartphones, tablets, eReaders, and other things that go beep. Lest you question my status as a ChicGeek, I'll proudly claim an unabashed love for netbooks, Linux, science fiction, and curly hair products. You can find my new reviews and articles on Digital Trends and Techlicious.com.