At my prior job I had a blackberry, and over the years I became very adept at using it.  My new organization only gives blackberries to those who travel a lot so I had to, for the first time in half a decade, buy myself a new phone.   We had a contract with T-Mobile, but my very simple phone was years off contract, so I could go with anyone depending on the phone I picked.  Both T-Mobile and Verizon are good around here, so in the end it came down to the Nexus One and the Droid.

In the end I picked the Nexus One for a couple of reasons.

  1. Better hardware specifications and the most recent version of Android
  2. Doesn’t force me to have Motorola Blur on my phone (which, for me, is really bloatware; I don’t twitter or have time to spend on facebook, and integrating it into my  phone is just going to make that worse all while eating the battery life…)
  3. Laziness;  T-mobile had been fine so far, and they make switching phones as easy a switching your sim card, whereas changing carriers sounded like work for a phone that wasn’t as good.
  4. There are freeware apps to do almost all of what Blur does, for far less overhead.

I LOVE it.  Screen is gorgeous, easy integration with google voice and my gmail, a number of fun games to keep me busy while standing in line, a number of great apps from the android store that let me do all sorts of things on it, such as quickly read all my rss feeds, make a GPS unnecessary via maps, scan and comparison shop barcodes, browse the web, check news and weather, find a local restaurant and see it’s reviews, etc.

There remain a couple of issues that I hope to find solutions for in the near future:

  1. Exchange email: On the blackberry I knew immediately if my boss pinged me for something.  The native mail client doesn’t really provide the same kind of notification/home screen visibility.  I’ve been testing a 3rd party tool (Touchdown) which would cost a bit ($9.99) but integrates well with exchange, but then I have two separate inboxes.  What I WANT to use is K-9 mail, which provides for a single integrated inbox, but which can’t seem to talk to my work exchange server.  Still working on this one.
  2. Task management: I currently have a bunch of things running to deal with that, with varying success.  Remember the Milk has an app that isn’t bad.  There is another task manager called Astrid that will sync with Remember the Milk that is amazing, but not necessarily as timely as I might like.  And GTDAgenda, which I reviewed previously, has their first version of an android app out.  It needs some improvements (which I’ve sent to the developer) before it will work for me, but if he makes some of those changes I may well make GTDAgenda my one and only task manager.  An Android app resolves several of the concerns I had before by providing easy remote access.  (Full disclosure:  Use of the android app requires a paid account, which starts at $39.45/year.)
  3. The perfect home screen:  I’ve tested two apps meant to help with this organization; Executive Assistant and SlideScreenExecutive Assistant will be pretty close when they add task management (which I’m told they are working on), but there is still an issue with the dual mail boxes right now.  Slidescreen turned out to not be customizable enough and too social-networking heavy for me.  In a perfect world, here is what I want to see when I turn the phone on:
    • A small calendar widget so that I can see what appointments I have – I sync google calendar and my exchange calendar, so either is fine.  Agenda Widget is perfect for this and has lots of sizes.
    • A somewhat larger email widget that shows me the most recent messages for BOTH accounts.  Not there yet.
    • Time, date and local weather widget.  Beautiful Widgets does this while providing me with a bunch of nice widgets for doing things like setting the phone to silent.
    • A small task management widget.  Astrid has one, and I’ve asked the guys at GTDAgenda about adding one.
    • Optimally a little extra space for a couple of small widgets – one for silent mode and a shortcut to call my husband.

However these aren’t showstoppers; each of the three things I want to resolve works now, just not quite as optimally as I might like.

Over the next few weeks I will be posting about how I am changing my organizational system based on the integration of my day job, academic work and teaching.  The phone will be at the core of that because I’m at too many different computers to localize my work to one place.  Hopefully you will find this  useful.

If you are an android user and have any app or use suggestions, leave a comment or email me!