Featured: Forget dropping a pin in Google Maps, what about these little Annoyances?

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There was this article at CNN.com a few weeks ago, and in reading it you can see that the author is really upset that Google Maps on her Android phone doesn't allow you to set a location pin while Maps on iPhone does. She wrote 300 or so words bemoaning starring and My Maps on Android, ending with the typical "dead easy" comment that most iPhone owners (or former owners) like to use in one form or another when discussing a particular Android issue that they have. 

My first reaction was that starring works for me, then I tried to move on. I tried, but I couldn't.

I started to think about my three biggest issues with Android, issues that I've had from day one with my original Droid. Issues that, like dropping a pin on a map just aren't all that big, but they really annoy me.

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Issue #1 – Google Voice dialing
With the deep integration between Google Voice and Android why can't I set a dialing option within the settings for each contact? You have some options that you can set for using Google Voice for outbound dialing:
  • Use Google Voice to make all calls
  • Do not use Google Voice to make any calls
  • Only use Google Voice for international call
  • Ask every time I make a call

Seems like they have every base covered right? Well, not to me. How about adding these options to the list:

  • Use contact rules, dial with Google Voice for unknown numbers
  • Use contact rules, do not dial with Google Voice for unknown numbers.
  • Use contact rules, ask for unknown contacts
I use Google Voice the way that Grand Central intended it to be used when they created the service. For those of you that don't know, Grand Central was the company that Google bought and morphed into the fabulous Google Voice. Anyway, GC always intended for you to have a GC number AND your mobile number. Those close to you have your actual cell number while everyone else got your GC number. For the last four years or so, that's how I've done things. 

I'd much rather spend the hour or so that it would take to go through all of my contacts and set a dialing preference once rather than my current setting; ask for each call. I'm well used to this now after nearly two years as an Android user, but Google Voice and my Thunderbolt would both be much more useful to me if I didn't have to make this selection for each call that I place.

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Issue #2 – No subscribed calendars in Android Calendar
I subscribe to several sports calendars for all of my favorite pro and college teams using the calendar feeds that Google provides. I really like these feeds for a few reasons. My Reds have had a few start times changed this year to accommodate national games. Google Calendar almost always reflects this start time change for you. It's mattered to me because one game that I had tickets for earlier in the year had it's start time moved up by three hours. I was in my seat on time thanks to Google Calendar. 

I also like the fact that you get an accurate box score for each event, and finally extra inning or overtime games are scored properly. You also can check the channels that the game will be broadcast on as they are listed if known. That's all very useful.

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As great as these subscribed calendars can be, you can't add them to Android calendar. You can't see the scheduled event, you can't get start time changes, see where the game will be broadcast and you don't get the mostly accurate box score either.

When I got my OG Droid adding these subscribed calendars was a feature that was "coming soon". Now, over a year and a half later; nothing. Not even a mention other than 'sorry, can't do that".

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Issue #3 – No proper Picasa app
Some of you might be really huge fans of the Android Gallery app, I am not. 

I take a lot of pictures with my Thunderbolt. In just over two months with the phone I've taken nearly 3,000 pictures with it's mostly acceptable 8MP camera. I had over 15,000 images taken with my OG Droid in just a little over a year of use. I take pictures of everything that I see that I think I may be interested in remembering down the road, and as a freelance photographer and Picasa storage subscriber I can say with some educated authority that the Gallery app sucks.

This whole faux 3D, rotating and spinning, angle morphing mess is totally unacceptable. Anyone that uses any type of software for a living will tell you that their ideal app is full of useful features, lacks distracting eye candy and focuses on getting it's job done. Gallery is none of that.

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I'd like a simple image browser that allows me to quickly view images, delete the junk and email in a clean interface. I'd also like separation between my phone images and Picasa galleries, not one gigantic list of folders.

I use JustPictures as a replacement for Gallery. It's a clean application that focuses on core image browser features and not on stupid rotating and morphing background effects. It splits my gallery views into local and Picasa lists, it offers useful features for viewing and sharing images easily and it's fast. Very fast.

JustPictures is also free of that annoying as hell Thunderbolt bug where some images taken with the camera aren't displayed in either the totally lacking Sense Gallery app or in the Android Gallery app that you can download from Android Market. JustPictures shows everything.

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The only thing that JustPictures doesn't do for me is upload multiple images to Picasa Web Albums. I have to keep QuickPic around for that. I'm not sure why JustPictures doesn't allow multi image uploads because the Picasa Uploader is a part of Android. They just don't.

Conclusion
As great as Android is, it could always be much better. I've touched on my three daily gripes with my Thunderbolt, but there is even more. A longer list would have included things like:

  • No full screen contact images on incoming calls
  • No multiple account support in Google Voice app
  • No browser sync to have desktop bookmarks on my device
  • God awful Music app
  • No dedicated video browser. Videos lumped with images. (I use Mobo Player to get around this oversight).

Every Android user can name at least a few things that they wish were different about, or available on their phone. It's natural. While I have some issues with Android, many things can be rectified by buying an app or downloading a free one.

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On the huge Android plus side, none of these things are "dead easy" on an iPhone. The iPhone music app is much better and it has full screen contact images for incoming calls, but all of my Android issues have to be added on to the endless list of iPhone head scratchers.

If you've got an Android gripe I'd love to hear about it in the comments.

 

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Senior Writer

I'm a 40 something early adopter of all things technology. I was first in line to buy both my original Verizon Droid and my Apple iPad 1. I don't hate your phone or tablet choice, but I've probably got an opinion about it.Aside from my family, the only things that I love more than a new gadget are fly fishing and going to the ballpark. Ocassionaly I find a way to blog about both.Though I'm only one more Foxconn story away from being fired, I've been writing for Android Headlines since March 2011.

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