Android switch observations, just a few days in

I decided to switch to Android for a bit and started using a Moto X a few days ago as my primary phone. My friend and colleague, Joen, inspired this, so it’s only fair to show his notes in comparison each update.

Here are my observations in particular order:

  • To quote Joen “Man, there are a lot of passwords to type in on a new phone.”
  • The first day, I glanced down at my phone and an animated bug wandered down onto the side. Curious, I tapped it and was brought into a delightful animation that used the phone’s (very accurate) accelerometer to allow me to look around the room and interact with a story. I believe it was a Spotlight animation, but I’m not sure. It was quite fun. Bonus points for delight factor.
  • A few things crashed (probably due to Lollipop) and there was some serious screen jank on a few of the apps.
  • I miss my hardware mute switch.
  • There are many apps with almost the exact same name. This is super sketchy.
  • The phone feels gigantic. I can no longer comfortably use it one-handed. At least not yet.
  • There is an app called Photos and one called Gallery. After some Googling, I learned why. tl;dr Both have almost the same functions. Photos is better at G+. Gallery is the one that’s integrated with the camera. FFFFFFFFFFFF
  • I can’t find a comfortable way to interact with my phone one-handed.
  • Switching from Messages was a pain. Basically, I had to turn off iMessage on all of my devices or my friends using Messages would not be able to reach me on my phone.
  • I just found out about something called Motorola Connect which is basically Messages, but in a janky Chrome extension, so that’s a bonus.
  • Unlocking my phone gets weird. If it’s in the time-only lock mode (where I haven’t clicked the side button), I have to swipe down to unlock. If it’s in notification display mode (probably the normal lock screen) that I get to by hitting the side button, I have to swipe up to unlock. You can probably see how this gets weird.
  • The bottom back button (the one on everything) is awesome most of the time and surprising at others. I’m never quite sure what the lil’ buttony button is gonna do.
  • Certain apps were hard to figure out. It took me several minutes to figure out how to post on Twitter. It’s because when I go to Twitter, out of habit, I immediately start scrolling down. Never up. Wah wah.
  • Chromecasting has never been so exciting.
  • I miss my fingerprint scanner unlock. It felt so effortless.
  • The Play Store is loaded with clones of the app you’re looking for. This is a pain because I have to go figure out which developer made the one I’m actually looking for.
  • There are a kagillion app updates all the time. Thankfully, most of them autoupdate.
  • There are notifications I can’t get rid of. Things like Verizon’s garbage notifications, Up’s sync status notification, connected as a USB device notifications, Android wear notifications. Not very zen.
  • There are AMAZING interactions within just notifications. I love that I can reply to messages, do Mailbox App actions, etc. This is by far one of the coolest things I’ve noticed on Android.

Switching to Android for a bit

This post is the yang to @joen’s yin. He’s a heavy Android user switching to the iPhone and taking notes so I’ll do the opposite. (You should follow his blog)

The last Android device I used as my main phone was the original Drooooooooid. And it was awesome. It had a physical keyboard, robot sounds, and one kickass boot screen. However, after switching to the iPhone, I’ve had zero desire to go back. After the Droid, almost everything on the iPhone felt very polished and high quality in comparison and has remained that way. I do love the Apple ecosystem and just how nicely devices play together.

Android has come quite a ways since I used it. I plan to fully dive in for at least a few months to see just how much it has improved as a cohesive part of the Google ecosystem (which I still like).

I haven’t totally been kept in the dark in terms of using Android devices. I purchased a Nexus 7 (the V1 where the screen would melt off) and used it heavily as a tablet as long as it remained functional (not long). I also use a Nexus 4 in my day job to test apps and sites on and Android device. That said, these brief experiences aren’t a great way to really get a feel of the ins/out of a device and it’s design patterns.

To pretty much directly quote @joen (with some key changes):

Starting today I’m an Android user. No, I wouldn’t call this a switch — call it a “soak test”. I fully expect to switch back to iOS — I’m actually eyeing an iPhone 6. That is, unless the experience of investing myself fully in the Moto X is so compelling that I have no desire to go back, which is entirely possible. I won’t know unless I give it a proper test. Since I’m in the fortunate position to be able to make this switch, there’s no good reason not to. I’ll be using my black and mahogany Moto X 2014 testing device. I don’t expect to be impressed by the camera. I expect to enjoy a bit of jank-free fluidness of the OS, even if I expect to turn off extraneous animation. I’m curious how I’ll enjoy the homescreen and its lack of customizability compared to iOS, and I can’t wait to see if the sliding keyboards in the Play Store are as good as  better than they are on iOS. I should have some experiences to share on this blog in a month or so. Let me know any apps you want me to try!

Living downtown

I find that I often get asked (mostly jokingly) by my friends to join them in the suburbs. After living in both, I much prefer living downtown. Here’s why:

  • I’m a five to ten minute walk from a huge variety of restaurants, entertainment, grocery stores, parks, and a bunch of other stuff. This is pretty important to me. I really only ever have to drive when I visit friends in Lakewood or Littleton.
  • I work remotely at Automattic. This means I can choose to work at home, at a coworking space, or really anywhere I like with wifi access. Living downtown gives me a variety of places to work with new scenery every day. It’s also a central meeting place for a few of my other coworkers so I get to see their awesome faces every once in awhile.
  • I’m very close to many of my friends. I’m also in a central point between many of my friends who live in the suburbs.
  • Living downtown encourages spontaneity for me. When someone messages me to see if I want to wander over to Rooster Cat or any of the zillions of bars/restaurants around, it’s no big deal for me to drop whatever I’m doing and wander down. I don’t have to move a car and park. Transit is usually only a brisk walk. There’s wifi at nearly every place so if I am still working, I can bag up my laptop and wander over anyway. Also, when we’re out at night, we can go from hangout spot to hangout spot quickly and often.
  • There are some awesome transit options available.The light rail goes to many of the suburbs. The free mall ride goes from one end of the city to the other. Uber is everywhere. Lyft is everywhere. Car2go is amazing and everywhere.
  • People downtown are extra awesome every day. There are some pretty unique people wandering around with some wonderfully eccentric attire. I don’t bat an eye anymore when I see a herd of skateboarders cruising down a hill or when a unicyclist is doing laps around the disco robot.
  • Delicious food is everywhere. When I’m meeting someone to grab a bite, we rarely plan ahead. We just pick a direction and walk until we get to something that smells amazing. This is another of my favorite things about being downtown.
  • Meetups abound. There are tech and webby meetups every day in Denver. Most within walking distance. Just this last Thursday I wandered down to a coffee shop for a Javascript meetup a friend told me about five minutes before it was happening. I also like holding monthly WordPress Happiness Hours at an awesome coworking space, Creative Density, once a month.
  • There are some pretty awesome events downtown. There are weekend markets, music festivals, and even crazy cool light shows. Two awesome ones running right now are Tuesday/Thursday food trucks in the park and the full street arcade, Oh Heck Yeah. I’m also pretty close to the Convention Center. I walked to Comic Con. 8)
  • There are people downtown! Lots of them! I have no desire to wall myself up behind a fence and be forced to drive somewhere to see friendly faces.

To be fair, there are some downsides.

  • It’s far less expensive for far more space in the suburbs.
  • The suburbs tend to be much quieter. Police, fire truck, and ambulance sirens are pretty common downtown. People also can be noisy when drunk downtown.
  • For the most part, there aren’t backyards. This means no personal grill (although many apartment complexes now provide a community grill).
  • Theft and vandalism is a real concern. I have yet to have anything stolen or broken into downtown. When I lived in Greeley, I had a car broken into and a locked up bike stolen. However, the skeletal remains of bikes perma-chained to fences is a pretty blatant reminder that you have to be wary of theft.
  • Many people are wandering around drunk at night. It’s not as bad it sounds. Most of the time I just see a group of wobbly loud people walk by. Sometimes I am in that group.
  • Parking is shit downtown. It’s a pain in the ass to park any car anywhere downtown. The two-hour spots are often full. The lots run $8-16 for a few hours. Oh, and Denver’s got a top-notch parking ticket staff. Make sure you feed that meter or move your car before the two hours is up.

I’m not saying city living is better than suburb living by any means. It just appeals to me.

Is there anything else I’m missing? Where do you prefer to live?

Two weeks in Seattle

tl;dr Seattle is a pretty cool city.

A few of us designers at Automattic (and a Happiness Engineer) went to An Event Apart Seattle. I ended up staying two weeks total and had an amazing time. Here are some photo highlights.

P.S. We’re hiring.