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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Not So Geek Person On A Nexus 5

The first day it was announced, I've ordered a Nexus 5 due its value for money ratio, probably one of the best out there, its Android KitKat support, and on top of everything, due its Google Chrome first approach when it comes to mobile browsing, and as you know I do mobile web development since quite a while so that's something I should test/take care: thanks gosh the random WebKit stock browser era is ending!
Anyway ...

This Is Not About Me

Another person got this phone for another reason: to improve a forgotten Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc S on Android 4.0.4 experience, a phone so stupid it cannot even upgrade its own preinstalled apps thanks to its inability to use the external SD card as storage for preinstalled software such Google Maps, Google Play Store, Google Whatever. This is not about me, then not about somebody that knew what was going to buy, going to appreciate as update, going to use it at its best ... this is a post on behalf of the person that received this Nexus 5 phone, a person that I rather don't even mention because it does not matter: she is just a user, and not a geek one!

First Contact

Now, the very first reaction was something like:
OMG it's huge!
Well, that's actually a valid point. Phones are getting too big, imho. Phones should be phones, this trend where phones are getting closer to mini tablets ... I honestly never got it. I want to be able to put my phone in my pockes, any pockets, as I was very happy doing that when phones like this were the best option ever.

More on the first day, I've insisted to give it a chance, 'cause it's going to work, and it's going to be better, faster, easier, stronger ... and the whole Daft Punk repertory.
And so she did ...

Few More Days

Few concerns came up, such "where are my contacts?" or simpler "where are SMS?" or stuff like "why is my battery lasting 1/3 of the old phone?" and reasonable questions like these.
I mean, I have an answer for all these questions but why a normal user should be so disoriented? Battery a part, how can the old Android SMS icon disappear like that so that nobody would click it and re-learn that hangout is now the new SMS manager? And still ...
"I don't want Google to know all about my SMS".
Specially in these days where NSA story is under everybody nose and were common users keep getting scared and aware about security every day more, and I am lucky I just know all this stuff and somehow still manage to sleep during the night, remembering to never write my plans to conquer the world via web or mobile phone data, I didn't even feel the need to blame her or reply. I mean .... right? A single software knows everything I write and receive? That's scary! How can I even start explaining that is basically what happens since the beginning of the smart phone era and even before that it was basically possible/the same?
How to even start a conversation such: "Hey, that's just an aggregator app. You still send SMS when it's about SMS and Web or MMS when it's about those things, don't panic!"
I don't indeed, and keep observing the situation ... until today ...

The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back

I am just quoting here:
I start thinking I want my old phone back.
I have enough of Google in the middle of everything I do.
I had to quickly save a mobile phone number, this phone asked me so many things I threw it on the table and grabbed pen and paper to write this number down!
Moreover, I don't want to re-login to a gmail account for everything I do with my life!
I don't know what you think about this, but this is actually another valid point I give for granted. I know Google effort to simplify users life is great, but also there are limits where asking, and making something once an easy step more complicated, because of "features" somebody may not even desire, isn't exactly UX progress.
This happened to me too, and many times, where technology that supposes to make my life easier got so selfish that made impossible for me to get a result and, as result, I had to drop such technology.
An alarm that forgets to wake you up is pointless, you know what I mean ...
We already reached that regression where either your phone is on or your alarm will never wake you up, as it has been for all devices "before smart phones" generation ... but right now ...
A phone, which historically has an easy to access contact list, should never be in the middle and ask which email or gmail account to use to store a contact, it should do that eventually after the operation and batched somehow, to be non blocking for the user, but still clever for the next time.

Last On G+

To have access to Apple, Facebook, Linked In, and any other social network, you don't need a Gmail account. To have access to Google Plus you do need a Gmail Account. I mean, that's actually fair from Google perspective, but not so cheap or easy for people that use the same email since ever and are not planning to embrace Gmail any time soon.
That's how you could reach everyone on this planet, letting them use everyday tools and stuff they are used to, still offering great services as Google Plus is.
That was actually the latest, most disappointing complain I've heard, about this "all you can Google" phone that did not match the daily life of somebody outside "that circle".

As Summary

I still believe the Nexus 5 is the best Android phone I've personally ever seen and used, but I have quite a background about Android since version 1.5, and I believe we, in IT, should never forget that some people don't like to change a phone each year, some people don't like to change anything at all, but even more adventures prone people, might want to keep having simple tasks simple, not a charger with them all the time, and no need to buy clothes with bigger pockets, as well as being able to just save a bloody contact in few steps: now that's progress, right?

P.S. I am still quite happy with my Lumia 620, I don't think there's a phone out there that could make me happier right now, but this is another story I am planning to tell you soon.
Stay tuned ;-)

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