It's simply not ready for blogging, and an abortive post last night illustrates why: not only was it filled with embarrassing misspellings, but the Blogaway ate half of the post, so that what was left was incoherent. It's plenty easy enough for me to do incoherent all by myself; I don't need any help from the phone, thanks very much.
This experience no doubt was exacerbated by the fact that I was posting near the end of a 14+ hour drive from Austin to Atlanta, and was pretty tired out. But this is actually worse for Android - rather than being an excuse for its crappy performance, this is the test case for use. If someone can use the system tired, it's ready for Prime Time. If they can't, then the crummy system will perform precisely how it did last night, and the user's confidence in the system as a robust blogging platform will plummet.
Here are the shortcomings that kill Android as a mobile blogging platform:
1. The soft keyboard
It blows chunks. This isn't really surprising, because all soft keyboards blow chunks. The keys are of necessity too small (we're talking about a 4 or 5 inch screen, of course they're too small), and all the tactile feedback mechanisms are wrong, because they don't address the killer problem soft keyboards have:
You hit the key next to the one that you want to, all the time.The iPhone actually has a mechanism to deal with this. While it's not exactly a real-time spell checker, it's close enough that we can pretend it is. While this autocomplete can have sometimes hilarious or unfortunate unintended results, mostly it works pretty well. To solve the "I hit the key next to the one I wanted because the keys are too damn small" problem, it's very close to an ideal solution.
Android doesn't have anything here. Nothing that compares to the iPhone, nothing like a spell checker that highlights misspelled words. Nothing. The user is left to manually spell check his text, and manually edit it to fix it. Which leads us to the next killer problem:
2. Text Editing
It blows chunks. And quite frankly, there's no excuse for this, because the iPhone has decent enough text editing. Everything has decent enough text editing, and has ever since vi replaced Teco as the editor of choice for power geeks everywhere.
It seems that Google hired the Teco engineering team to write the text editing routines. Note to Google: this isn't a compliment.
And you have to edit all the damn time, because the soft keyboard blows chunks and Android leaves that as a problem for the user to fix. Go ahead - try to make the cursor hop around to random spots in your text (exactly as you would when spell checking a blog post). Which leads us to the final killer problem that makes Android a trifecta of fail:
3. Random commands that unexpectedly do things are bad, mkay?
Blogaway somehow managed to eat half of my post, while I was trying to edit the text to fix the misspellings. I'm not quite sure how it did this, but this is my point - if the menu options aren't clear about what they're going to do, then the user is going to be surprised. It's hard to see how any of the surprises will be pleasant ones.
One of the jokes people used to make about the Teco editor was that you could enter any command into it at all, and it would do something. You could escape to command mode, type your name, and it would do something. Power geeks used to compete for extra crazy 1337 cred by predicting what that would be in advance.
Note to Google and Blogaway: that isn't a compliment.
And so the trifecta: a horrible keyboard guaranteeing many "off by one" misspellings, lousy text editing capabilities, and an arcane and "exciting" menu system that can do all sorts of unexpected transforms on your post.
The Android architecture may be better (I have no real opinion here), the Open Source aspect is attractive, but overall nobody's running the shop on how tired users will actually use the system. And so Android takes the blame. It's not ready. The phone is OK, the email is acceptable* but the apps mostly stink and are only usable as toys. Google needs to put some serious effort into the user experience. They can start by firing the Teco team.
* But I see emails saying "I apologize for any misspellings, as this is sent from my Android phone" which translates to "My crappy phone can't spellcheck to save its life and has a keyboard that blows chunks, but IT makes me use it. Please don't think that I'm an idiot."