I think I can declare a comprehensive victory in my house. I asked The Boss whether she preferred her new Samsung Galaxy S4 or her iPhone. She didn’t hesitate to point at the Samsung. From someone who was initially completely flummoxed by the way Android works, she now loves widgets and the freedom to customise the interface to her tastes. Now, the iPhone lies forgotten, like a shrunken, easily damaged imitation of a real smartphone, its bland rows of icons with numbers in the corner useless against the rich information provided by the capabilities of Android widgets.
Now, I have to say, Android still has – at least in my mind – too many complexities. While I’d be more than happy to sit at my desk and customise each and every setting in Windows, I can’t say that I really want the ability to jump under the hood of a phone and tinker with it. After all, you can’t just fix it all with a format and reinstallation of an operating system. However, if you choose to ignore that feature and as long as you don’t install apps that have lazy coding that hog resources unnecessarily, it runs smooth as a baby’s bottom. On the other hand, as mobile technology gets more capable and powerful, perhaps this is just the beginning of a future trend away from too simple to a happy compromise to allow power users the ability to tinker. Android is to mobile devices what Windows XP was to desktop computers, powerful, customisable and modular.
The only gripes I have with the Galaxy S4 have nothing really to do with its physical presence nor software base, but rather that Samsung have decided to prevent users from choosing what their default internet browser should be and the main navigation bar can’t be altered at all. The strange thing is that it comes packaged with Chrome, but if you press the Internet icon, you get Samsung’s proprietary software which I feel falls far short of Chrome’s intuitive interface. I mean, yes you can get a different skin and gain the ability to alter this aspect of the interface, but this is something that makes no sense considering the whole point of Android is open functionality and customisation!
Ultimately, I’m starting to see the real benefits of having Android. While the idea of widgets is top notch, the spectrum of their quality and appearances can be really jarring for me. However, if there is some way to make them all take on the appearance of the theme you’re using, I’d probably get a ‘droid next.