Engadget’s Nexus S Review

Google kindly sent me a Nexus S, including service from T-Mobile, to use for a few weeks for review purposes. I’ve been using it as my main phone since it arrived on Friday. I put off reading Joshua Topolsky’s review of it at Engadget until today so that I could form my own thoughts about it. I plan to write about it in detail eventually, but in short, I agree with Topolsky’s review almost completely. It’s a good device, the best Android phone I’ve seen, and a very solid year-over-year improvement over the Nexus One, both in terms of hardware and software.

But some things are maddening. Yes, Topolsky’s review is largely positive, and I’m going to pull out one tidbit here that’s negative. But it’s a perfect example of the sort of “death by a thousand paper cuts” aspect of Android’s user experience. Topolsky writes:

Well, let’s be clear — Google still has major issues with text selection and editing on Android devices. The first striking problem is that there is not a consistent method of selecting text on the device. None. At all. In the browser, you long press on text to bring up your anchors, then drag and tap the center of your selection — boom, copied text. In text editing fields, however, in order to select a word you must long press on the word, wait for a contextual menu to pop up, and then select “select word” — a completely counterintuitive process. In the message app you can long press to select only the entire message, and in Google Reader? You can’t select any text at all. Even worse, Gmail has a different method for selecting text from an email you’re reading, and it’s far more obnoxious than any of the others. There, selecting text goes from being mildly annoying to downright silly. Want to grab some text out of an email? Here’s your process: hit the menu key, hit “more,” hit “select text,” and then finally drag your anchors out. Funnily enough, a little cursor appears when you start selecting — a holdover from Linux? To have this many options and discrepancies over something as simple as copy and paste should be embarrassing to Google. What it mostly is, however, is a pain to the end user.

And I think about the iPhone, which didn’t get text selection and copy-and-paste until version 3.0, two years after it debuted. It’s hard to get these things right.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010