Phone upgrades – Android, Apple or Windows Phone?

I looked at my watch. 9.15pm and no sign of The Boy. His mobile phone was upstairs, on his desk and he was down the road at his friend’s house.

No problem. I fired up FaceTime and gave him a call on his iPod,

“Time to head back up home,” I said.

“What? Oh, right,” he replied. I watched him on the screen as he walked down the stairs, shouted goodbye to his mates and started up the street.

Technology is astonishing, isn’t it? Here I am, with a slab of plastic, glass and other assorted bits, holding a video call with my son’s slightly smaller slab of plastic, glass and other assorted bits halfway down the street. He could have been halfway around the world and we’d have had much the same experience. My magic slab talked to a box in the corner of the dining room, which sent a message via various wires & cables to a phone exchange then on to a box in the corner of their dining room and finally, to his magic slab.

It still staggers me that this actually works. It’s like Star Trek. But, more of that in another post.

Roll back earlier in the day. I’ve been looking at new phones as my 2-year phone contract is nearly up for renewal. I think I’ve pretty much decided which one I’m going to get, and this prompted a discussion amongst colleagues about our first mobile phones.

Mine was back in… 1996? A Nokia 1610, if memory serves.

Nokia 1610
Nokia 1610 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a beast compared to today’s shiny magic slabs. It made phone calls, and I’m not entirely sure it did text messaging. Mobiles were starting to gain in popularity, and it was a *huge* event to get your first phone. Even if you had to carry it round in a bag rather than in your pocket.

I graduated from that to a Motorola StarTAC, beloved of Fox Mulder from the X-Files. The epitome of cool.

Oh yes it was. Shush. 🙂

Various phones came and went, usually of the Nokia variety. I’ve still got some of the handsets, though they’ve been relegated to the kids’ bedrooms as toys. I had a brief (ok, 2-year) dalliance with a Blackberry Pearl (which I’ve just about recovered from) before going Android with the wonderfully chinny (and stupidly-named) HTC Hero.

English: HTC Hero
English: HTC Hero (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I loved that phone, with its nobbly little trackball and jutty chin. I moved on from that to my current phone, the HTC Desire S.

Seriously, HTC. What is it with you and daft phone names?

It’s served me well, but it’s time for an upgrade. I had a prod at a Nokia 820 and 920 for old time’s sake, but whilst Windows Phone is all pretty and tiley, it didn’t seem… enough to tempt me away from Android. The Nexus 4 similarly caught my eye, but lack of expandable storage was a big no-no. IPhones are lovely and shiny but still daft prices on a contract even for the iPhone 4. 

So, come July I think I’m going for the Samsung S3. That said, there are still a couple of weeks until I can upgrade, so anything can happen… 

swiftkey

A while back I installed the Swiftkey keyboard on my phone. It’s briliant, with a pretty intuitive autocorrect. As you’re tapping words in, suggestions ping up above the keyboard allowing you to select words more quickly.

You get some nice stats too. Apparently I’m 32% more efficient at typing due to Swiftkey and saved 144,002 keystrokes in the time I’ve been using it. It’s pretty customisable too, with different themes and functionality. A couple of weeks ago I realised that you could swipe words – rather than tapping away at individual letters, you just swipe around the letters in the word and Swiftkey works out what word you’re looking for and away you go. They call it Swiftkey Flow and I’m a complete convert.

The fun thing is the auto-suggest though. Before you’ve even started typing, Swiftkey presents you with three words – based on stuff you’ve typed previously, or from what its ‘prediction engine’.

I fired it up and started tapping the middle suggested word:

I am a beautiful person who is the best #Bond movie and the bottom of the brass tube had two little spikes the best of luck with the latest version of the most important thing is that the information contained in this email address and password for the first time I’d been and gone to the House of Lords and famous high quality cover at competitive prices.

Brilliant. Sounds just like some of the spam comments I get on here!

Seriously though, Swiftkey is ace, and the autocomplete is really useful when you’re using it properly – it’s pretty good at suggesting stuff based on what you’ve typed before.

When I’m faced with the keyboard on the iPad (when I can wrest it from Kate or the kids) it feels really weird having to type properly! If you’ve got an Android phone, give it a go.