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The Android Experiment: Wearables and satnav

Episode 10, navigating to the end of the road and beyond
Fri Feb 07 2014, 08:30
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I ALWAYS KNEW that the last few days of this experiment were going to jangle my nerves.

Having established that working exclusively on Android for the whole month of January seemed to involve an awful lot of inventing new and difficult ways to do easy things, my patience was always going to be tested. As if that wasn't enough, I've recently moved house.

So how did Android serve me in a crisis?

Well, pretty well actually. Sony kindly lent me one of its Smartwatch 2 devices and an Xperia Ultra, which I decided to use for moving day, along with my trusty Bluetooth headset - far too cool for a brand. The Xperia Ultra is lovely, but like my Samsung Galaxy Mega it suffers from a bad case of too big for a pocket syndrome.

I thought perhaps the Smartwatch 2 might mean that I could put it to one side and get on with panicking, but it lasted about 10 minutes on my wrist when I asked myself, why exactly was I wearing it? It gave me no information, no news. It added nothing to my life.

I stopped and had a look through the apps. There are hundreds, a far cry from the days of the Sony Liveview, one of which I had. However, out of all of them the only one that really appealed to me was a skin to make it look like I was David Hasselhoff talking to Kitt. Even fitness app Endomondo gained nothing from being on my wrist, as when I go for a long run the last thing I want to know is how far I've still got to go.

The headset lasted around two minutes more, and before the van was half loaded, I'd swapped SIMs back to the Motorola Moto G. Don't get me wrong, the Xperia Ultra is a great phone, but having it in my pocket while moving probably would have resulted in lacerations to my leg through my jeans.

Navigating to the new flat was very easy. After starting with Google Maps, I switched to the alternative service Waze, which is supposed to crowdsource traffic news. However, what it actually did was tell me how few other people in Norfolk use Waze.

Of course, unlike my other articles in this series, this is not stuff you'd want to do with a laptop or desktop anyway. And perhaps that's my point, because as we come to the end of my Android odyssey, I've come to realise that Android is brilliant at what it's brilliant at - providing real-time information on the move.

But there are some things that it just isn't meant to do, such as music library management, complex data manipulation, mass storage and multitasking. That's not to say it isn't capable of them, but rather that, so far, the form factors and needs of the market haven't necessitated anyone to design a way for Android to do them. Given enough time, that may well change, but until it does, Android can't really expect to be regarded as anything other than a secondary operating system and so it may be that it will never fully live up to its promise.

So as I sit here in the new flat in London, typing this out on an aging Windows machine - most of the loaned kit has gone back by now - I can contentedly conclude that while Android is brilliant, Windows is comprehensive. Right then, I needed both of them.

I will be back for one final epilogue to this series to review the last five weeks and probably have another rant about something I encountered during it.

Episode two - We explore all things musical.

Episode three - We nearly give up, but then release a chart topper tune.

Episode four - We answer some of the questions you've put to us.

Episode five - We decide that when it comes to Android, size matters.

Episode six - We realise that life without multitasking is a pain.

Episode seven - We talk about the hardware that made it possible.

Episode eight - We look at more of your questions and challenges.

Episode nine - We discuss rooting and hacking Android.

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