Productivity vs. Blackberry?


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  1. yoni45

    yoni45 Member This Topic's Starter

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    So, I'm currently a BlackBerry (9700, for the record) user, seriously considering switching to an android device.

    I'm sure everyone here can account for the various ways an android phone is superior to a BlackBerry, and I'm pretty familiar with them.

    What's been holding me back though, are the minor productivity tweaks a BlackBerry provides that seemingly don't have a match on android devices. Am I wrong on these? Have others made the jump and found no difference?

    Specifically:

    Dedicated hotkeys of sorts -- I'm a pretty heavy business user, so I make ridiculously extensive use of my calendar/scheduler. No matter what I'm doing at the moment, I'm able to jump to my calendar with a single button press and see my entire week's worth of appointments. If I need to add something, I can schedule an appointment in under 5 seconds all the way through.

    To be honest, that's probably the only hotkey I use, but the ability to do this in an instant no matter what's in my way is rather important for me -- are there any equivalents on android phones? Through my research I've noticed a lack of hardware hotkeys -- is there any software solution that could at least compare?

    Notifications -- as people probably know, blackberries have that little LED. Is there any way to get a visual notification on Android phones without having to actually touch the phone? What about customization of the notifications? For example, I'm able to set a different LED color on my blackberry depending on the notification type, as well as set a different vibration pattern (i.e., one long vibe for facebook, 5 short vibes for BBM, 1 medium vibe for SMS, etc.). Are there equivalents to these on Android platforms? [I've since found out some Android phones have a notification LED... absent from the Galaxy S, which I was one of my major contenders... Er.]

    Keyboard -- obviously, most android phones don't have a keyboard and those that do are seemingly sub-par in comparison to a BB (they seem to use side-slider form factors, which means that fingers have to 'reach' to get towards center keys with less grip). I've seen Swype in action and had a chance to play with it in a store though, and I'm pretty impressed. I think this can make up for the keyboard I'd be losing -- any comments on how well swype works for day-to-day use? Is it as intuitive and fast as it's promoted to be?

    Unified Inbox -- I'm not referring to e-mail, but everything. BlackBerry's "Messages" application essentially aggregates *all* messages; SMS, MMS, E-mail, FB, Twitter, BBM (not an issue here, but hey), and other specific applications that are given access to it. This allows me to just deal with one "inbox" instead of looking for the appropriate "message" type application. SIs there an equivalent on Android?

    As an aside, I know Androids can have homescreen widgets, I'm assuming there's something available to keep a to-do list on there (this is actually lacking on BB, and something I'm looking forward to)?

    Finally -- WHICH ONE!?!?!

    I've read up on the major hitters so I have an idea, but if anyone knows what kind of use I'm coming from, I'd love some feedback (keep in mind -- I'm in Toronto on a rogers network; that doesn't mean I have to get it from Rogers, just that it has to be compatible).

    If you've gotten this far, Thanks! ( if you bother responding, even better... =) )
     

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  2. dozment

    dozment Member

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    I just switched to a Captivate from a Blackberry Bold about a month ago. Even though I'm a new droid user, I thought I would take a crack at some of your questions.

    Hotkey - On my Captivate I can press and hold the Home key, and it lets me do an app switch much like a BB. So, I can switch around.

    Notifications - I'm struggling with notifications. Didn't realized how much I depended on the LED on my Blackberry. I've started leaving it on with a short chirp notification for email. I tend eo miss a good many emails and some calls. As an asside, missing some of those emails might have improved my productivity in other areas. ;->

    Keyboard - swype works, but I don't thin kI will ever be as fast as with my Blackberry. I use SSH to manage unix servers, and I'm finding that I break out my laptop and aircard more often than with my Blackberry.

    Unified mailbox - It's there. It's called something like Combined Mailbox.

    I was an enterprise Blackberry user and had to pay the extra $s to have enterprise service on AT&T's network. Activesync seems to work about as well as BB Enterprise, and I don't believe I'm paying extra for the service.

    Having said all that, and I will add that I am still a very big fan of the Blackberry hardware and software platforms, I think I have become a successful convert to Android. The improvements in the browser alone make it worth while for me.
     
  3. takeshi

    takeshi Well-Known Member

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    There's a notification LED on my Droid. I can't speak for other Android devices.

    Coming from the BB world, I've found Android to be far more versatile and extensible than the BB in general. In most cases there's an app that will do what you want. The OS and the apps you use may have options to adjust the notification LED but if that's lacking there's probably an app to fill the gap.

    What I do find lacking is that there's no direct equivalent to profiles on the BB. That means that there's no centralized management of all alerts (sound, vibration and LED). That said, there are profiles apps for Android that come very close and even add functionality that the BB's profiles didn't have (WiFi, screen, bluetooth, etc).

    It really doesn't matter where you're coming from. The answer is always the same for this type of question. You really have to compare features and specs and decide for yourself. I'd also strongly recommend checking them out in person since many have a strong preference on physical characteristics such as size, weight, keyboard, "build quality", etc.

    Coming from a BB doesn't really mean anything IMO as not all former BB users prefer the same Android device so there's not really any device that would really stand out give what you've posted (again, IMO). I liked all the BB features that you mentioned. I really like my Droid. That doesn't mean that you'll like the Droid though.

    This is standard behavior on Android.

    Highly subjective as any discussion regarding keyboards will be (even BB users can't agree on one model's keyboard being the absolute best). How well it works for day-to-day use depends on the person using it. There are people that can't stand using it. There are also people that swear by it (I do).

    There may be an app out there but I suspect it will be difficult to find anything that can unify every possible incoming message. As an example, I use GV and I doubt that there's any app that will provide a unified inbox that supports text messages via GV.

    That said, Android's approach to notifications makes it no big deal IMO. Pull down the notification bar, hit the specific notification and you'll be in the appropriate app. There was no BB equivalent to this so that's probably why the unified inbox was such a big deal on BB OS.
     
  4. UncleMike

    UncleMike Well-Known Member

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    Right now you can use Tasker to "hijack" the camera button and make it load the calendar instead. I know my Blackberry Curve had two user-definable buttons - one of each side - but I don't know of any Android device that has anything similar.

    Each app has it's own settings for audio and vibration. Some offer just ringtone selection and turning vibration on or off. Others allow you to speficy a pattern for the vibration. The stock messaging and Gmail apps only allow for on or off. Future versions of Tasker should be able to read notifications from other apps, allowing you to disable the apps audio/vibration and have Tasker do that to your liking.

    I'll stop there, as I really don't know enough about the other questions.
     
  5. yoni45

    yoni45 Member This Topic's Starter

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    Ooh that's perfect. Sort of. I was looking forward to the Galaxy S Captivate, but it doesn't have a dedicated camera button. #$%^&*.

    As far as Tasker's concerned, sounds like exactly what I'm looking for in terms of notifications too -- are those future additions ones that were confirmed by the developer, or just general speculation?

    Either way, it sounds like an Android version of QuickLaunch, which is great. If it could also detect single vs. double click on that side button, it'd be perfect.

    Heh, no worries -- mine's always set on vibrate-only anyway (which is why discriminating vibe patterns are somewhat important to me... ^_^).

    Sounds like what I need -- the only question that remains is do the notifications stay in there after they're checked? Or does it *only* list currently unchecked notifications? If it's the former, that's essentially the exact same thing as the messages app on BB...

    I assume this only pops up *running* apps then? I.e., I imagine my calendar won't always be "running" in the background, so I wouldn't be able to switch to it via that method on the fly, correct?

    --------

    Thanks for all the feedback!
     
  6. imwjl

    imwjl Member

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    Maybe I have a head start in that I got a Droid X a week ago. I've also worked with them a bit prior because I'm a sys admin and help my users.

    I can't use the unified in box that's native because of problems confirmed by Verizon and Motorola. Touchdown works better for Exchange support but it appears you do not get a free lic from Motorola anymore. Touchdown (Nitro Desk) have me a recipe for other functionality but I'm not a fan of beta software and extra config to get what my Blackberry did in a superb manner.

    My prior phone is Storm if that makes a difference. It is much better about quickly copying data between apps and doing messaging with minimal trouble. Pretty much nothing I've had or tried (Palm, iPhone, Win Mobile, Android, Blackberry) is as good at basic messaging, message control and alarms as the Blackberry.

    Keyboard: I can type the fastest and with with greatest accuracy using the Blackberry Storm and Torch SureType style and I love the press long for caps on a Blackberry. I did however get use to my Apple and Android typing. I don't use "Swype" keyboard as much as I thought I would. One more note on keyboard - voice to text. The voice to text is very good and I use it more than expected.

    There's a lot that's neat about this phone (Droid X) and you'll have all sorts of fun things not associated with a Blackberry. Radio, browser with Flash (not as big a deal as you might thing), lots of apps to choose from.

    Large display was a draw (I have the X), but it doesn't carry, pocket or feel as nice as many Blackberry models and I'm starting to think I really might want Android in a tablet more than Android phone.

    It's also important to point out battery life. They Incredible, X, 2 are terrible compared to my Blackberry experience and not that much better when you turn off the fancy stuff.

    With that said, I confess that I may return it thanks to the email problems and it just not being as good for my work. What I see in my associates who love their Android phones is much more interest in games, fun and tweaking. Right now it's frustration with a messaging software junk show and deciding between tool and toy.

    Good luck.
     
  7. arifwn

    arifwn Member

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    Um, I myself find the default calendar widget to be enough for my need. HTC Sense even has big calendar widget (take a whole screen!) that can cram your busy schedule right on your home screen and let you open it in a single tap. I believe there are many similar widgets in market that can suit your needs.

    If you happen to root your android, cyanogenmod rom has ability to customize led notification depending on the event (sms, email, im, missed call etc). You can adjust blinking rate, color (if your device support it) interval, etc. Sadly, I don't know if this level of customization can be done in stock unrooted android :(


    No, that the shortcut of recently used apps. Android platform discourage apps to explicitly let user terminate apps. Unless you are using 3rd party task manager, it is difficult to determine if an app simply minimized or actually terminated by system (even if it is simply minimized, the apps usually get suspended so it do not waste cpu cycles). but you shouldn't worry about losing your data since android apps usually retain their state.
     
  8. UncleMike

    UncleMike Well-Known Member

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    The intent to work with notifications from other apps is confirmed, and it's currently being worked on for the next release. But this hasn't reached beta yet, and may hit some unforeseen obstacles. So, no guarantees at this point.
     
  9. brykins

    brykins Well-Known Member

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    I moved to Android (HTC Magic -> HTC Hero -> HTC Desire) about a year ago, having been a Blackberry user for five years before that, ending up with a Curve 8900. I think overall, productivity is down with the Android over the Blackberry in terms of built-in apps and functionality, but Android is far, far ahead in terms of what you can add to it.

    Yes there is the "hold the home button" trick and that brings up your six most recently used apps. Surprising how many apps you go through though, and it's very rare that I hold the home key and find the app I wanted there in the six most recent. Of course, you can simply add a shortcut to the calendar on your homescreen and then it's just one tap away. I use Calendar Plus and have a widget on my homescreen that takes me direct to a week-to-a-page view of my calendar and that in itself is far, far, better than any of the calendar view in the Blackberry PIM.

    Some Android handsets come with a LED, some don't. Those that do, I've not seen any that have different colour options but I may be wrong. Certainly my Desire has one colour led and it flashes the same way whether it's a text, voicemail, email or whatever. I also have my phone on vibrate for 90% of the time and it is a little annoying not to be able to set one vibrate for unimportant notifications, two more more so and three for the most important.

    Personal choice. I came to Android knowing that I hated on-screen keyboards but wanting the added screen space and app availability. I have found myself trying to avoid anything that involves lots of typing as I find the on-screen keyboard truly awful and very much miss my Blackberry keyboard. But it's all about compromises - there are Android devices with keyboards, they just don't appeal to me yet.

    If there is, I've not found it. I don't use the in-built apps for email, preferring K-9 Mail for all my mail accounts and that has a unified inbox. It doesn't bring in text messages, etc, though. Basically, I have learned to get on with separate inbox areas for each app/service.

    Surprisingly, although Google have had many, many years of experience and can look back at Nokia, Apple, Blackberry, etc, to see how a PIM ought to be done, they have managed to leave out a lot of basic things like a good to-do list and also a note app. Both of these can be added using third party apps, but what with all the syncing to Google servers for contacts and email, I wonder why notes and to-do have been left out.

    Can't answer that for you. You need to play with them and see what fits for you. I have the Desire and can see no advantage with the newer versions they have (HD and Z) other than the keyboard on the Z, though then you end up with the slower processor.

    All I would say on device choice is that *if* you can afford the initial outlay then buy the phone sim-free and unbranded from a carrier. Branded handsets take a long time to receive OS updates which means we are waiting for features for months after others have them, but more worryingly is that if there were a security threat and an update issued to address it, there's every chance that by the time it's gone from Google to the manufacturer and then on to the network, it may be three months or more. That's scary.

    Overall - if it weren't for the availability of apps, then I'd have stayed with Blackberry for another year/18months. Blackberry does a lot less, but what it does, it does VERY well (and let's not mention that I got three days REAL use from my Blackberry compared to less than a day on the Desire in the same circumstances).
     
  10. sykikchimp

    sykikchimp New Member

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    On Swype specifically:

    My recent noobish experience with swype indicates that it doesnt work well with words that are not in the dictionary and that you have never typed before.. however. once you type it in once, swype will pick it up effortlessly on future needs.

    It does have a few quirks. like.. some apps the auto spacing doesnt seem to work, and sometime swype lags a bit on word recognition... so.. when you type in the word and hit space.. if you ht space too fast it puts a space in the middle of the word. kind of annoying, but not the norm.

    However, there are so many different input options.. different keyboards, swype, voice to text, copy/paste from clipboard.. that I never really feel like im having an issue inputing stuff.
     
  11. yoni45

    yoni45 Member This Topic's Starter

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    Awesome -- this is great info.

    A point I could use some clarification on: regarding the notifications screen, do the notifications go away ones they've been opened?

    That is, I'd imagine they no longer have any active icons once you open them, but if you open the notifications screen, can you still see the older notifications in the list ("opened")?

    Regarding ROMs -- I'm technically relatively competent, so I'm pretty confident in my ability to mess with the ROMs when it comes to it. HTC's Sense layer actually looks pretty sexy -- if I was to root a non-HTC phone, is installing HTC's ROM a viable option? Is it worth it over vanilla android [granted, this may be subjective -- feel free to provide subjective opinion... =D]?

    And what I thought I had a pretty good grasp on, seems to have spun out of control as soon as I started digging deeper -- phone variety. Holy F#*@.

    If anyone has any specific suggestions at the phones I at least *should* be looking at, that'd be great. Keep in mind -- Rogers network, and I don't care about a physical keyboard [well, I guess I do, but not the ones available for Android so may as well lose the physical keyboard altogether].

    I thought the Nexus One was outdated, but it's apparently still quite a favorite?

    The Samsung Galaxy S line (in my case, the Captivate) seems to be a current Android darling, but lacks an LED indicator and hardware camera key and apparently is plagued by GPS issues (among others) and questionable support? The amount of complaining I've heard has been rather significant -- is it *that* bad? Does installing a non-stock ROM fix this? Also lacks camera flash (er).

    The Droid X is supposedly inferior to the Galaxy S in terms of speed and fluidity, and is bulkier, but has flash and a dedicated hardware key. Also inferior screen.

    But then HTC seems to have a bunch of other phones (Desire? Desire HD [which I think won't work too well with Rogers]? Anything else that needs to catch my attention in terms of my search?
     
  12. GeorgeinLA

    GeorgeinLA Well-Known Member

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    I moved from Blackberry to the Droid 2 about two months ago, and for me, the productivity is way higher. The main part of that is that my company doesn't have a Blackberry server (I was unaware of this when I got the phone).

    But even so, I find it hard to believe that you wouldn't be able to find an Android phone with a good keyboard. I really like the one on my D2, but the ones on the Epic 4G and (from the looks of it) on the G2 both look excellent.

    The D2 does have an LED light, but I don't think you can get it to flash different colors. The notifications bar is really useful, however, so it's just one click to figure out what's going on.

    The G2 has three programmable keys -- I wonder if you could get the functionality that you need out of those?
     
  13. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

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    I found a major shortcoming of Blackberry phones is when one changes carrier or uses a foreign carrier. At the beginning on this year I went to China to work, I met up with an American guy who had an unlocked Blackberry Storm which was originally on AT&T. When he put a China Mobile SIM into his Storm, it could make and receive phone calls, but wouldn't do anything else, no messaging, no email, no internet. Turned out he would have to pay a rather stiff monthly premium for China Mobile to provide the specific Blackberry service. He didn't bother, and just got a cheap Nokia.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_c82yq-Ixaw
     
  14. takeshi

    takeshi Well-Known Member

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    Tasker's quite a bit more versatile than that. Though I can't answer the signle versus double click question. I currently use Tasker to:

    - Toggle Google Voice forwarding calls to my work landline. It's useful to have it forwarding calls when I'm in the office as any carrier has spotty coverage in the tower I work in. However, my work landline's voicemail will intercept calls before GV voicemail. Using Tasker and a GV plugin I can keep the office voicemail from nabbing calls when I'm not there.
    - Silence all alerts except for phone calls and the alarm when in the desk dock. I only use the dock for overnight charging.
    - Prevent the screen from locking or dimming while connected to power.
    - Pop up a menu of my media apps when something is plugged into the headphone jack.

    ...and that's still just grazing the surface of what Tasker can do. There are examples on the Tasker site, forum sites and Tasker also has a Google group. It does have a bit of a learning curve to it. If you've done any sort of scripting/coding etc it's very easy to pick up.


    Pulling down the notification bar doesn't clear the notifications. You have to either hit the button to clear them all or click on a notification (which takes you to the app) to clear it by itself.

    Check the settings of your apps. For example, Touchdown allows me to specify the LED color. There are possibly apps that specifically deal with just the LED notifications but I've never looked into them.

    It's one of a few Google Experience phones available (no OEM UI, just plain Android) and it receives updates the fastest since it's directly from Google. Again, picking a device is highly subjective. If these things are absolute must-haves for you then the Nexus One is a strong contender. Otherwise, it's an older model that may not be the best choice for most.

    I would strongly suggest prioritizing your needs (Is the LED a must have? How critical is GPS? Etc) so you can better assess how the devices out there would suit you. A lot of people don't seem to do this and go out looking at every possible device out there which would definitely be overwhelming. This isn't the best analogy but there's no point in looking at convertibles if what you really need is a pickup truck.

    Also consider checking out your carrier's return policy and purchasing through them if you're having problems after carefully considering the options. 3rd party resellers may also allow for returns but there can be a lot more fine print to consider using that route unless you're buying an unlocked device without a subsidy.

    A BB really needs a proper BB data plan regardless of whether it's used domestically or internationally.
     
  15. yoni45

    yoni45 Member This Topic's Starter

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    What I mean is once you do click the notification -- does it clear it from the list completely, or does it still sit there as "opened"?

    If I open the notification bar, will it show me my most recent set of notifications regardless of whether I've already opened them?

    Reasonable -- the way I see it though, no particular feature is *absolutely* necessary. It becomes more of a tug-of-war.

    Although working GPS is pretty necessary, heh (any commentary on how bad this is on the Galaxies? is it something a root can fix?).

    Apart from that, hardware LED, hardware shortcut key, faster processor, sizeable (but not way oversized, about 4" is okay) screen, customizability, and fluidity (speed) are all factors that I'd be looking for, but not necessarily ones that would individually make or break my choice.
     
  16. grainysand

    grainysand Well-Known Member

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    Correct. Once opened, the notifications go away. It's not an issue for me, though, so I haven't sought out a solution for it. I imagine there is, to borrow the buzzphrase, an app for that.

    Absolutely. There are Nexus One owners running Sense ROMs, and I imagine Moto Droid owners doing the same.

    Same specs as the EVO and the Desire. It's still fairly current, if not up there with the Moto Droid X and Samsung Galaxy S. Even then, most features are on par--the N1 just has a lesser GPU and doesn't run gfx-intensive games as well. Not that there are that many games intensive enough to really lag the N1 yet, so.

    Pretty sure the Droid X is about on a level with the Galaxy S in terms of speed and graphical performance. Bigger screen is a plus for some, and inferior screen is again up for debate: Samsung's super AMOLED is fantastically vibrant, but it's not as nice for reading.
     
  17. brykins

    brykins Well-Known Member

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    Only app I have seen the option on is K-9 Mail and I have set different colour LED notifications for each account but only ever get the green LED blinking. (HTC Desire)
     

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