Phandroid.com: Show Me The Apps!

Name ONE blog you find so attractive that you would visit often even if the subject matter changed.

I must confess: if this were a blog about tooth decay, I would still visit often to see the design. What can I say? I’m a sucker for these stunning color combinations. Luckily for me, Phandroid is a blog about one of my favorite things: the Google Android OS and devices.

If there is a perfect shade of blue, I’ve found it here. Seriously. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but I can literally stare at this site for minutes at a time and not really even read anything.

Logo and Brand

The brand name itself is clever. Fans of Android? Check. And let’s be honest. Don’t we think “Phandroid” is a much cooler alternative to “Fandroid”? Just being slightly less obvious is clever. Or it seems clever. Whatever.

To create a memorable logo, Phandroid started with the now conventional form of the Google Android. Then, they personalized it. Adding a wink and a smile, Phandroid and I are suddenly friends. Not friends only, but sharers of secrets. Insider secrets. Secrets most people won’t know for at least another week. Then you add the arms, and he’s holding – no, hugging – the name. Maybe I can’t describe it fully. But it’s good. And I like it!

Color scheme is great. The perfect two-toned blue with the perfect two-toned tan. There are no words. Just go look and stare.

Advertisements

I’m not usually a big fan of top page banner ads. They usually overwhelm the site’s much smaller logo. Not here. Each time I refresh, the top banner ad is a bright contrasting color that only serves to provide further color contrast. Well done. It doesn’t hurt that the logo is such a deep, rich blue either. A grayscale image (like I often employ) would be swallowed up in comparison. But the blue phandroid fits wonderfully.

At present I count three ads on the home page. Top banner, wide/short sidebar, and skyscraper sidebar. Not at all intrusive or annoying. I wonder, however, how much money those ads yield, or if their primary source of revenue stems from the accessories store.

Navigation

I’ve always been a proponent for secondary and tertiary drop-down navigation. I like knowing that I can find the precise page I’m looking for without having to click one or two more times first. But in Phandroid’s case, I’ll gladly make an exception. The double nav bars work wonderfully when you have a clear and attractive distinction between them.

SEO

Title Tags – Take a look at the home page title tag: “Android Phone”. That’s it? Really? At first thought, I’m thinking these Phandroid fellasare seriously failing to take advantage of the Title Tag real estate for ranking purposes. Then I do a Google search. #1 result for “Android Phone”? Yep… Phandroid.com. Huh. Not only does the singularity of their title tag communicate a greater relevance upon that one phrase, it looks really cool in the SERPs. Imagine doing a search for “Android Phone” and the #1 result looks like this: “Android Phone – Android Blog – Android News” or something like that. You may know more precisely what all is contained in that site. Maybe that’s a selling point for some. But then again, if what you see is “Android Phone”, are you more likely to assume that this site is the definitive place to learn about Android phones? I think they come across as more elite this way.

Content

I could go on and on about how I like every little aspect of the site’s design, but that would drive some of you away before you even know if it’s worth reading. When it comes to content, this site is definitely geared toward the technophile. Obviously. But seriously. They cover every bit of news about every single Android phone on the market or coming to the market. I don’t know about you, but I’m only going to buy ONE phone every couple years (thanks to contracts). I’m somewhat curious about the innovations made in new phones coming out, but a solid 70% of the content on Phandroid is NOT geared toward me. And I think I’m not unusual this time.

I think Phandroid’s approach to content PREVENTS them from being a daily read to the majority of their readers. I’m betting that since they cover EVERY phone, they get a lot of Incredible owners, Evo 4G owners, CLIQ owners, G1 owners, and Droid owners who only skim most of the titles for something that applies to them: whether that be a comparison of phones, updates to their phone, or news on something amazing coming soon. But the minutiae? I know I don’t need to know that much.

Who is their core audience?

That’s THE question. I’m sure the Phandroid writers could answer that question very succinctly. Either they’re marketing a little of their weekly content to EVERYONE with a smartphone and an interest or they’re marketing ALL of their content to a much smaller core of developers. And as it stands, perhaps these two demographics combine to make up their whole target audience. If so, I suppose they’re quite effective.

Kudos for Open Comments

Though it’s not a HUGE deal, I’m so annoyed by another Android blog (to remain unnamed) who requires membership to comment that I want to give kudos to Phandroid for keeping comments open to the public. I’m one of those people (as I mentioned in my last post) who won’t take the time to sign up or login to leave a comment. So I’ll probably never comment on sites like Lifehacker, SEOMoz, or AndroidCentral.

I might have to revisit and rewrite once I graduate from my ridiculous CLIQ to a real Android phone, like the Incredible or Evo 4G (or whatever comes out by year’s end). Once I’m using a phone that doesn’t suck, I’ll probably find Android news more fascinating.

The ONE thing I Would Change

Probably the most universally interesting aspects to the Android OS are the apps. There are no doubt a dozen if not a hundred apps out there I’ve never used because I’ve never heard of them. Phandroid has an App section of the site, but it’s not part of the blog. It’s more of a database of apps and user ratings. And you know what? I NEVER use that part of the site. Because if I’ve never heard of the app, I wouldn’t know what to look for. Want to REALLY impress me and bring me back to the site several times per day? Showcase new apps with detailed reviews ON THE BLOG. I will be here all the time. I promise.

My suggestion: create a separate tag cloud or categories for app verticals, so they can be divided into categories, and start blogging about the apps. That’s what I want to read. Yes, there are people who specifically want to search for social networking apps, or arcade game apps, or life-saving time-saving Lifehacker approved apps. But that’s not me. I want to stumble across new and interesting apps I’d never have heard of any other way except I was visiting the Phandroid site and I saw this amazing app in detail right there on the blog.

If you want to seriously increase pageviews, give it a shot. Review 2-3 apps per day: morning, afternoon, and evening. I know I’ll be there to read them.

Daily Crush:

4.25 of 5

My First Impression of the Motorola CLIQ

It’s officially Day 2 of owning my Motorola CLIQ, but since I just got my data package activated this afternoon, I consider this Day 1. I have some realistic observations of the CLIQ, both pro and con. But I promise to be fair. No buyer’s ecstasy or Apple hatred clouding my judgment. I’m not a hyped up fanboy like some (not mentioning any names, but it starts with an “r” and end with a “jensen“).

Here are my initial thoughts:

The Look

Love it. Absolutely love the look of this phone. I got the white case as opposed to the titanium/grey (though the backing is still grey).

The Feel

Solid construction. Not at all flimsy. Feels nice and sturdy. Physical keys are a little awkward in that there’s no spacing between them. They are beveled to make each key distinguishable, but the T-Mobile Sidekick is still by far the best mobile keyboard ever made.

To turn the “screen saver” mode on or off, you have to click this button that runs along the side of the device (or the top if in landscape typing mode). My finger keeps trying to press a button a centimeter above the actual button, so I keep forcing myself to look and press the ACTUAL button. Not entirely sure what this means, but it stood out.

The Music

Adding music was a breeze, once I figured out that I need to pull down the status bar to tell the phone to switch from charge mode to download music mode. I ONLY use a Macbook for personal use, but dragging and dropping music files from within my laptop to the phone’s storage was easy as pie (and quick too).

Motoblur

This is the real question in my mind. I’m still a n00b at this point, so we’ll see how I adapt to the setup. Here’s the breakdown: The first thing I see on my home screen is the latest status update from my friends. Mine is set up to combine Twitter and Facebook, so I get everything there. BUT, seeing as how I’m friends with 200+ people on Facebook and I’m following 200+ on Twitter, the chances of me glancing down and seeing an update I really care about are less than stellar.

However, I can tap that latest status update and up pops a page with the same update and a button to favorite or reply. I can click the title bar above that page and the view changes to a vertical list of tweets and facebook updates in chronological order. I’m basically getting a Twhirl kind of singular column view.

Problem: nowhere in this setup do I see the option to view replies. I mean, half of my glancing at Twitter is to see if I’ve missed a reply. How did they miss this important function? I’m looking and looking, but for the life of me I can’t find a page that shows replies only.

What we have here…. is failure….to communicate.

This means I need a Twitter app. And I know nothing of Androidy Twitter apps, so I’ll probably end up downloading a dozen of them and testing them all to see which I like best.

I’ll still use the Motoblur for reviewing the conversation as it goes on, but it could really only be my one-stop-shop for social media conversations if it A) added a reply page or B) I reduce my friend number to less than 50 per site. And even then, I would probably STILL miss replies when I’m away from my phone for long periods of time (yes, I DO put it down for hours at a time).

The Initial Verdict:

  • T-Mobile gets a C- for making me wait 24 hrs to have a functioning data package.
  • Motorola’s online features get an A- for a superior phone and social media experience with only one real lack – the reply column.
  • Motorola CLIQ the phone gets an A- for everything being stellar except speakerphone quality. With the volume very loud, the speaker starts to sound like it’s over capacity.
  • Video recording image quality is excellent for a phone, but sound quality left me disappointed.
  • The keyboard gets a B+ (for comparison, Blackberrys get a D, G1 gets a D, and Sidekick ID/2/3 gets an A).
  • Downloading apps (B+) is easy peesy but doesn’t seem to tell me more than how many stars an app has received.
  • The 2GB micro SD card is sorely lacking in space, so I’ll be buying a 16GB card this weekend.

That wraps it up for this mini-review.

What did I miss? Ask and I’ll tell.