When angry birds has access to my entire contact list, it's time to reconsider how great my iPhone is. Why does this extremely popular game have unprecedented access to my personal information? Well, I don't know. I never explicitly said it was ok, but in the current technology reality we live in, I didn't explicitly say it wasn't ok either. Not that I could have. It's not even that our terms and conditions rule us, I do read the fine print, it's that they can change at any minute.
I want to feel that I am in control of my technology and not the other way around. Digital literacy is important to me in that regard. On an Android phone, when installing an app, it actually tells you that the app will be accessing x, y and z aspects of your phone. Uncomfortable with the fact that Pandora has access to your phone ID, or why Shazam is transmitting your location to third parties or Bejeweled 2 is forwarding your phone number on? Perhaps people wouldn't install the apps in the first place if they knew what they were signing off on in doing so.
I travel around the world and I'm constantly shocked by the poor mobile service that Americans get compared to the rest of the world. The gouging prices are relatively higher than in certain parts of the world and particularly given the fact that I can hardly place a call. The beautiful user interface and the rich set of tools in the app store are offset by the fact that the phone part of my iPhone is almost entirely useless.
Dropped calls, privacy and security concerns, and more are causing me to want to make a switch. The problem is doing so affordably given that I work for a non-profit, and in a way that makes sense since I travel around the world and need a phone that works with a local number and sim card. Android is already the largest mobile operating system in the world and the app store is growing at an incredible rate. Given that it's open-source and the code that its written on is visible, I don't have to worry as much about what the apps I'm installing are doing without my knowledge. Clearly this is the option for the future as Blackberry, Windows and Symbian phone developers are scarce.
My current AT&T deal still offers me unlimited internet, which is a key feature, but I need a network that I can place calls on and ideally that can let me connect at 4G speeds.
When I start leaning towards 4G, Sprint becomes an obvious option. Even better, Credo mobile, that uses its networks and is explicit about its own political agenda. This is important to me since all the telcos have been pouring money into political campaigns, at least Credo is up front about which ones. What's amazing is that they'll buy out my old contract, meaning that I don't have to pay the hundreds of dollars to back out of my AT&T contract. The problem is that they are on the CDMA not GSM Standard, so the phones I get won't work overseas. Worse yet, the only phones they offer, and yes you are locked into their phones are really old. This also means no access to the 4G network.
Sprint directly lets me get their 4G access, but recently it's been suggested that faster speeds mean more data and the mobile carriers are beginning to defy network neutrality by rate limiting phones that surf too much. Given that mobile video traffic was 49.8 percent of total mobile data traffic at the end of 2010, and will account for 52.8 percent of traffic by the end of 2011 according to Cisco, I wouldn't be suprised as these ceilings kept getting hit. Especially if the system is device agnostic and I could do proper tethering to my other devices, as I can do in other countries. But I'm still stuck with the problem as on Credo that the phone won't work elsewhere.
Verizon isn't an option for me since it doesn't even take a sim card, forcing me into the high prices of international roaming.
T-Mobile shapes up to be the best option, which is ironic since it's actually a part of AT&T now. That being said, I'm not sure how the relationship is going to affect service quality. But since it's GSM, I can use any phone, and they have 4G, I might be doing the switch to them. Unfortunately, there's no relationship to the other T-Mobiles around the world, or I could surf on their affiliate HotSpots, clearly a big win. They even have the current stylish users pick, the Nexus S phone. But the Galaxy S2 is the real beauty of an Android phone right now and a lot of fingers are crossed that it will be released in the US soon, particularly for me if I can still use it abroad.
The full switch remains to be seen, but if you have any thoughts or suggestions, I'm interested to hear them and let my decision be swayed!
Note: Though I am not representing my organization digital democracy in this article, we do receive complimentary google apps for nonprofits.