My first Android experience – Step 1: the purchase

Intro

While working on photo filters at Twitter, it became clear that I know very little about the Android platform. I don’t know how to use it, and I don’t know how users expect it to work.

I can’t be an effective product manager if I don’t deeply understand the platforms I’m building for. You cannot just clone an iPhone app to Android.

So I purchased a Google Nexus 4. On this blog, I’m going to document my entire experience. I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible.

The purchase

I first decided to buy an Android device a couple months ago. But when I started to shop online, I was overwhelmed by the number of devices, operating system versions, and upgrade paths (or lack thereof). Ultimately, I decided to wait.

I think that was a smart move. The Google Nexus 4 is the company’s latest flagship phone, which means it comes with the latest OS and no bullshit carrier software on top. You can be sure it will always run the latest software (I think).

The Google Play store was clear and clean overall. There weren’t too many options for the device, which made the buying experience fast and simple.

The one thing I find odd is I can’t find any reference to what carrier this phone will run on. As a techy I know it’s a GSM phone so that means AT&T and T-Mobile, but there’s no mention of that anywhere.

The bad:

In the checkout process, I’m asked to “Link this device to my Google account.” I don’t know what this means so I click “Learn more”. From what I can tell, all this does is make me not have to enter my email address when I turn on the phone. I still have to enter my password.

That’s all it does. All the work the Google team did to make this possible, and all the work I had to do as a user to figure this out, saves me from typing about 15 characters later.

Screen_shot_2012-11-29_at_10Screen_shot_2012-11-29_at_10

Once I figured that out, it was time to pay. This happens to Google Checkout, which feels more like an external payment system than an integrated part of the system.

Google Checkout complained because I was logged in to my @twitter.com account. Once I logged into my @gmail.com account, it still complained. Time to open a new browser and start over.

Screen_shot_2012-11-29_at_10Screen_shot_2012-11-30_at_6

That was about two weeks ago. Since then I’ve received no update about my order. But that’s ok because when I placed the order it said the phone was backordered 8 weeks.

What’s not cool though is that Google already charged my credit card for the phone. I thought this was illegal but I checked and it’s not. It’s just frowned upon. Apple, Amazon, and others charge you when the order ships. 

I went to the site now to check on status. I was surprised to see they aren’t taking orders anymore. That’s a pretty bad experience for someone looking to buy the phone. Why not just keep taking backorders? They probably have no idea when it will ship.

On the Google Play store, there’s no status on my order, and no estimated ship date. It doesn’t even confirm the 8 week number I saw when ordering.

On Google Checkout, there’s no information about my order at all. If I have questions, I’m told to contact “Google, Inc.” as if they are a completely separate entity.

Screen_shot_2012-12-11_at_1

I’m just hoping to get my phone by the end of January as Google originally promised. I can forgive their buggy store software.

6 comments

  1. The day after it was released on Google Play, I was in a meeting for the half hour duration that it wasn’t sold out. I was sad. I was able to pick one up at the Tmobile store the next day. I have been happy ever since.

  2. Google Checkout has always been buggy, even when I worked there. I had hoped that it had improved in the past few years…Are you using a Google Apps account to buy the phone? I know I had to enable Google Wallet through the admin interface for that. Sounds like you just restarted and it worked though.I can’t believe you’re buying an Android phone! Hehe, this reminds me of when we were making Google Desktop, I had to get a Windows machine and really start using it and understanding at. That might have been what led me off the mac train… Be careful! 🙂

  3. lol. Twitter is crazy using an Apple fanboy (and one of the bigger ones at that) to research and review Google and Android for their product. They should have found someone a little more neutral. Does not bode well for the millions of Twitter users who use Android.

  4. I have a Telstra T-Hub thing that runs Droid Os. It’s full of errors, hard to navigate, can’t work out how to close windows in the browser when I get an out of memory warning, can’t load page, please close some windows. So if I really really want to continue, I shut down the system completely and start again. Thank Gawd I have an iPad and iPhone. 😉

  5. Strathgowan: i’m not on the Android team. I design features for Twitter across all platforms. As part of that job, I need to have a basic understanding of how users interact with various devices.I am not expected to be an Android expert. I work with the Android PMs to make sure what I’m building at a feature level makes sense on that platform

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