Friday, October 30, 2009

Android Apps

For Android to really live up to all the hype it is enjoying, and be a serious mainstream competitor to the iPhone, I think the out-of-box experience has got to be made into a slam-dunk for the average user.

In my opinion, one great way to do this would be to ensure the basics are well-covered, right out of the box. I divide these into 3 categories.

Tier 1
Great Tier 1 apps will make the new Android user productive from Day 1, and will provide a daily reminder of how useful their hand-held computer really is.
  • Speed dial
  • Great texting (Chomp)
  • Great virtual keyboard (TouchPal)
  • Email
  • MP3 player
  • Browser--the current one, the only one available, just doesn't seem that good. Not that fast, not that functional.
Tier 2
Great Tier 2 apps will delight the user by letting them discover new, less obvious but valuable uses for their mobille device.
  • Alarm clock--see my other posts on how curiously hard it is to find such an important, simple app.
  • Timer--ideally, should be part of the alarm clock.
  • Calculator
  • GPS--based on recent announcements, it does sound like Google is working hard to cover this one.
  • Note-taker

Tier 3
Tier 3 apps will leverage the power of the device and platform to provide excellent functionality for more specialized apps:
  • Podcatcher--DoggCatcher is pretty good, but still could be improved.
  • E-Reader--lots of opportunity for improvement here. I want the functionality of a Kindle, but on my phone. The key is not to have to rely on a slow, mobile connection to read stuff in streaming mode--I want substantial chunks of reading material to be pre-downloaded, for very fast access.
Conclusion
Between Android, the device makers and the carriers, if they could make certain that the lowest common denominator for the Android brand were this high, Android would be in a much better position to compete with the iPhone. It seems to me like it wouldn't take all that much. Most of the apps necessary to get half-way there are available free or cheap. If some money were thrown into polishing them, and they were pre-installed, that would about do it.

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