Saturday, February 26, 2011

Android vs. Blackberry

I just bought an Android phone, a Nexus S, the "pure" Google phone without the additional skins and features that manufacturers like Motorola bundle in with their Android variants. I'll use it for its hotspot feature, for its seamless integration with my Google accounts, including Google Voice, and for Kindle reading and other functions for which the Android is really just a tiny tablet.

But I've kept my BlackBerry Bold and am surprised at how several applications that ought to be better on the Nexus are so much better on the Bold. This is mostly the challenge of physical keyboard vs. touchscreen. But it's also, I think, that the constraints of the BlackBerry force application developers to hone the functionality they provide.

Take Gmail for example. Google makes for BlackBerry a very nice application that allows you full access to your Gmail. It does need an update for BlackBerry OS 6.0 because the search function display doesn't work correctly. But compared to the native Android application, I find the BlackBerry Gmail application easier to navigate, easier to delete and archive items quickly, easier to see the threads of a conversation, and certainly much easier to use to compose messages.

Foursquare is another example. The ability to quickly check-in to places is much simpler, quicker, easier on the BlackBerry than with the Android app. Of course the Android app looks nicer, but it's not faster to use.

Applications that require scrolling and larger screen real estate, like maps or a browser, are obviously so much better on a touchscreen. But if you use a smartphone for basic business applications requiring accuracy and speed, BlackBerry has perception to counteract not functionality.