Android - what is this stuff?

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Android - what is this stuff?

Post  Ap0c on Wed Mar 23, 2011 10:46 pm

The Atrix is my first experience with the Android phone operating system, although I've been watching it as it has matured through the media. I was mostly excited about 1) Flash support, 2) freedom to install whatever I want, and 3) hacker friendliness. Things turned out a little differently.

First, Flash support works in the default Android browser, although you need to download the Flash app first in the market. Unfortunately, the websites are getting too clever for their own good and, reading the user string that the browser advertises, they refuse to show you any Flash content, instead giving you the mobile page. This makes Flash kind of pointless, not to mention the web, since everything is simplified and dumb. The best thing to do is to install Dolphin, a third party browser that supports Flash, but lets you set your user agent string to fool websites into thinking you are a plain vanilla Firefox browser and then they'll reveal their sweet Flash goodies for you. This is my main browser for now when I'm on Wi-Fi.

In general, Flash is really only good for flash video that is unavailable any other way. Flash games are pretty much useless, because, although the phone can load them, it can't really interact with them, as they are generally designed to use a keyboard and even when a mouse is expected, you really need a mouse cursor to see what you're doing. Maybe Steve Jobs was right to ban it. No, no, he's wrong, users should have the choice, I'm convinced, even if its stupid. I'm glad its there - its really nice.

2. The freedom to install whatever I want is actually defeated by AT&T's decision to set up their Android phones to refuse to install any app not from the Android Market. Now, many things you want ARE in the Android market, but not everything. Most significantly, AMAZON'S App store is not able to be used 'out of the box' with the phone. I figured out how, but that's a different post. So this is disappointing, because for non-technical users it means that Android is essentially the same curated market that Apple is, removing one of Android's advantages.

3. This is true, although I haven't hacked the phone, rooted it, or even done much of anything yet. That's what this website is supposed to help with.

So, overall, I'm getting the hang of the UI, but there's a lot more to learn. I've occasionally run into weirdnesses, but on the whole it feels solid and very smooth on the Atrix.


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