When I first got my landline in San Francisco, it was with PacBell. They got bought by SBC, who were bought by AT&T. When I first got a cellphone in 2006, my service was with Cingular. They got taken over by AT&T. I stuck with AT&T for a while, with plenty of gripes, before escaping to T-Mobile. I’ve been very happy with T-Mobile.
So, naturally, AT&T now intends to buy T-Mobile.
I like it when I think that an app should exist and then find that it does. That’s what happened when I realized that a) I couldn’t use my phone’s GPS capabilities with its native (Google Maps) map application without a data connection and b) that it should be possible to download maps that work with GPS but no data connection.
The answer: MapDroyd. It does precisely that, letting you download vector maps to your phone and see where you are on them. I’ve used it a little bit over the last three days, and it’s been pretty good. There have been a few odd bits on the maps—a major street in central Manchester appeared to be missing, for example—but overall it’s been great, and the utility of having maps of more or less everywhere that can point to where you are on them should not be underestimated.
Ars Technica reports on a new FCC survey [PDF] which found that about 30 million Americans have experienced unpleasant surprise at unexpected jumps in their cellphone bills. I’ll take this opportunity to complain about AT&T, who recently decided to simply tack a data plan (at $30/month) onto my bill when I switched my SIM card into my new Nexus One—and this wasn’t a request, they just did it and informed me by text message. I was able to get them to credit my account with the amount, which works since I’ve left them for T-Mobile, but that was extremely irritating.
In addition, the amount they charge for text messages is simply ludicrous, all the more so given that I had to pay not merely to send but also to receive them. Finally, I hate the fact that they concentrate on “minutes” so much while refusing to make talk minutes fungible—other services should be expressed in minute cost, e.g. one text message should deduct one minute of voice from your account. I realize they have every incentive not to do this, but it’s still extremely irritating. So far T-Mobile seem better; it looks like my T-Mobile bill will be around the same as, or maybe slightly more than, my AT&T bill, but now I have an unlimited data plan as part of that charge.
When the iPhone came out a few months back, I had no desire to get one. It was massively hyped, but I’m not really an Apple fanboy, and there were too many downsides. The first downside, of course, was the $600 price tag. Apart from that, I couldn’t stand the fact that it’s so locked down, both in terms of the SIM card and the contract with AT&T, and in terms of the software applications. I already don’t like AT&T (who were Cingular back then), and want to get out of my contract so that I can get one that’s better tuned to my fairly sparse use of cellphone minutes—so having to sign up for a more expensive plan for an additional two years doesn’t sound good at all.
My cellphone is a Motorola Razr, and I’ve mostly been happy with it. I’m not exactly a cellphone power user, its form factor is good, it’s quad-band, and in general is mostly fine. But there are some things about it that are very irritating.
My first cellphone was with an Irish provider—despite the fact that I lived in San Francisco at the time I bought it, and had no plans to move back. It was (is) still worth it to have that phone, because I use it on a pay-as-you-go basis. This has worked extremely well for several years.