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Galaxy Nexus – First Week

I was going to write a post entitled "When to Scrap Your Codebase", but then I went to Canada and didn't have any time to write because my family wanted me to interact with them, and then when I got back I was tired. So, instead, I'm going to post some musings after from my first week with the Galaxy Nexus.

Ice Cream Sandwich

ICS, as expected, has good and bad parts. I do miss the removal of the "settings" and "search" buttons. Several times, I've found myself reaching for the search button, only to either a) hit the "recent apps" button instead, or b) pull myself up short, and then have to think about where things are on the screen. I find myself looking for the search button more than normal because the screen's so darn big, and it's hard for me to click into the textbox at the top of the screen with my thumb while I'm holding the device with one hand. The settings button I miss because it keeps moving around in app. In Facebook, for example, it's in the upper left. In Gmail, it's in the lower right. In Twitter, it's in the software button row in the lower right. I hate having to mentally remap things to different places depending on which app I'm in.

Most apps have a new look-and-feel for ICS. It's more blocky than Android apps have been previously (Foursquare and Gmail are really good examples of this), but I think it's really a trade up. It gives ICS a unique feel. It's like it's actually a new operating system! Which, you know, it is.

The best part of ICS, by far, which hasn't gotten enough credit, is the keyboard. At first, I really didn't like it, because they moved the predicted word into the center of the keyboard, instead of keeping it on the left as they had for so many previous versions of Android. However, the predictive text has gotten much better. (I wouldn't be surprised if the "different words depending on what you've typed already" thing they mentioned for jelly bean is already here.) I've come to like having the predicted word in the center, because it gives so much more real estate to the predicted word, making it much easier to click on. Also, the text to speech is a HUGE step up from previous versions, computing each word of phrase at a time, instead of the whole damn block of recording as it did previously, which is encouraging as you can see the words you've just spoken appear on the screen. I'm correcting it much less, and using it much more, especially to send uncomplicated text messages. This version of the keyboard is really good.

Hardware

I have the Verizon version of the Galaxy Nexus (and I'm lucky that I got one right before the injunction). I have to say, I really wish the screen were about a quarter to a half inch smaller on the diagonal. Currently, it's awkward for me to reach all the way to the far corner with my thumb when I'm using it one-handed, and I have pretty big hands. While this has gotten somewhat better, it's still something that I notice on a regular basis, when I have to cup the phone and stretch to tap that settings button in the upper left corner on Facebook.

4G LTE is much faster. I will give it that. It also drains battery SO DAMN QUICKLY. I looked up the battery stats, and one of the reviews said 3.5 hours with LTE on, and double that without, which I believe. Luckily, you can turn the network down to CMDA only, which I've done when I want battery life, so it's not terrible. I've taken to using LTE on weekdays, when I can charge it at work, and CMDA on the weekends, when I can't, and need the battery life to last the whole day. If anyone knows of an app that will switch this for me, tweet me. LTE also makes it super easy to use a ton of data without realizing it - I've used almost a half of my 2GB already, and I'm only a little over a quarter of the way through the billing period. I might have to go up to 5GB per month. We'll see. =\ (Luckily, the phone lets you limit the amount of data you use, so I won't have a huge unexpected phone bill, but I'll be cut off early. I'm hoping that I can limp through the summer, and then I won't use as much data while at school. We'll see.)

This is getting longer than I anticipated, so I'll wrap it up. Overall, I think the Verizon Galaxy Nexus is a good phone. However, with a new Googlephone and a new iPhone due out in the next 3 months, don't buy one, unless your current phone is well and truly dead, like mine was. Just wait for something new and better. (Oh, did I mention that I got this for free with contract from Amazon? Yeah, I wouldn't've bought it otherwise.)

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Drew writes code for fun and (sometimes) profit. He's currently studying Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He has previously worked at Facebook, Amazon, and a startup called Intersect.