There’s no doubt about it. Android, especially Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), version 4.0, already offers more than what is coming in Apple’s forthcoming iOS 6. But, Android has its own flaws.
True, as Tom Henderson, principal researcher for ExtremeLabs and a colleague, told me, there’s a “Schwarzschild radius surrounding Apple. It’s not just a reality distortion field; it’s a whole new dimension. Inside, time slows and light never escapes– as time compresses to an amorphous mass.
“Coddled, stroked, and massaged,” Henderson continued, “Apple users start to sincerely believe the distortions regarding the economic life, the convenience, and the subtle beauties of their myriad products. Unknowingly, they sacrifice their time, their money, their privacy, and soon, their very souls. Comparing Apple with Android, the parallels to Syria and North Korea come to mind, despot-led personality cults.”
I wouldn’t go that far. While I prefer Android, I can enjoy using iOS devices as well. Besides, Android fans can be blind to its faults just as much as the most besotted Apple fan.
For example, it’s true that ICS has all the features that iOS 6 will eventually have, but you can only find ICS on 7.1 percent of all currently running Android devices. Talk to any serious Android user, and you’ll soon hear complaints about how they can’t update their systems.
You name an Android vendor-HTC, Motorola, Samsung, etc. -and I can find you a customer who can’t update their smartphone or tablet to the latest and greatest version of the operating system. The techie Android fanboy response to this problem is just “ROOT IT.” It’s not that easy.
First, the vast majority of Android users are as about as able to root their smartphone as I am to run a marathon. Second, alternative Android device firmwares don’t always work with every device. Even the best of them, Cyanogen ICS, can have trouble with some devices.
Besides, while Cyanogen supports many smartphones and tablets, it doesn’t support all of them.
For example, there’s still no stable CyanogenMod 7 (Android 3.x) firmware for Barnes Noble’s Nook Tablet. Sometimes even when there is support, such as there is for the popular Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, there are driver troubles that keep the camera from working for many users.
Another issue is consistency. When you buy an iPhone or an iPad you know exactly what the interface is going to work and look like. With Android devices, you never know quite what you’re going to get. We talk about ICS as if it’s one thing-and it is from a developer’s viewpoint-but ICS on different phones such as the HTC One X doesn’t look or feel much like say the Samsung Galaxy S III.
A related issue is that the iOS interface is simply cleaner and more user-friendly than any Android interface I’d yet to see. One of Apple’s slogans is “It just works.” Well, actually sometimes it doesn’t work. ITunes, for example, has been annoying me for years now. But, when it comes to device interfaces, iOS does just work. Android implementations, far too often, doesn’t.
So, yes, Android does more today than Apple’s iOS promises to do tomorrow, but that’s only part of the story. The full story includes that iOS is very polished and very closed, while Android is somewhat messy and very open. To me, it’s that last bit-that Apple is purely proprietary while Android is largely open source-based-that insures that I’m going to continue to use Android devices.
Now, if only Google can get everyone on the same page with updates and the interface, I’ll be perfectly happy!