Over the past eight months I have been using Google Nexus S with Android as my main mobile device, having previously owned an original iPhone & iPhone 3GS. I purchased a Google Nexus S out of gadget love/ tech interest on how Android compares to iOS and then was forced to ‘switch’ fulltime after my own botched ‘repair job’ on my iPhone 3GS.
There are a number of things which attract me to Android:
- Open Source: As an open-source developer and user I am ideologically aligned to an open source solution.
- Its Cheaper: In the UK at least there tend to be more competitively priced deals on Android devices.
- Open App Platform: Another idealogocial point – an open ecosystem sits better with me (though is distinct from an open source OS)
- Google Integration: I am a heavy google user and tight integration is appreciated
- Apps have much more flexible plugin points – hooks to the Phone/SMS features for example
But after eight months living with Android I can say:
- Despite the rhetoric, Google are behaving pretty poorly with their open source platform. iOS 4.3 almost seems more open than Android Honeycomb.
- Android continues to be cheaper, although the difference is reasonably small on similar speced hardware. But at the time I switched to iPhone I made the conscious decision to spend more for the luxury item (I moved from paying £10pm to £35pm…) and it turns out i’m still happy to pay extra for the iPhone
- The Android marketplace is quite frankly terrible and demonstrates all of what is wrong with a completely open platform. From a consumer point of view the closed Apple App Store is fabulous. My non-technically inclined friends and family can now install and use apps without worrying about the implications. This is quite liberating – and how computing should be!
- The only thing I use which the iPhone doesn’t do as well is Google Talk and searching Gmail.
- I don’t actually use any apps which use this functionality, despite the attraction
The main reason I will be moving back to iOS though is slightly intangible, the extra 10% of polish and attention to detail which iOS has in abundance and android misses and frustrates me.
I have two examples of the ‘lack of polish’ to try and make it slightly more tangible:
- Yesterday I took a photo with the phone and wanted to send the photo to a friend using MMS. To do this, I usually use the Android ‘share menu’ and select the messaging app. Unfortunately it turned out that yesterday I had installed one too many apps and the messaging app had disappeared off the screen with no apparent way to scroll to it (see screenshot to the right). This is an example of a great feature which Android has over iOS (the share menu) yet made useless for me in practice and is very representive of the kind of things which frustrate me about android.
- In my search for a decent music player for Android I installed multiple apps (Winamp, doubletwist, Android MP3) to test out their capabilities. The nexus s comes with earphone with inline remote which can be used to play/pause/skip music (similar to the iPhone). However when I used the remote to skip a tune I had enough of I ended up starting music on one of the other apps – so i’d have two different pieces of music playing at me at the same time, completely ruining the experience. This problem got so annoying that I gave up and bought an mp3 player. Apples approach to background audio playing in apps was, firstly not allow it until iOS 4, then allow a single app to play background audio at a time, the app playing audio is controlled by the system wide controls and can also be streamed using airplay.
Android is much better than anything that was before the iPhone and a worthy competitor, but it turns out that I prefer the more restricted system with attention to detail over the ‘open enough to cripple itself’ android platform – and I haven’t even been subjected to manufacturer hindered OS Updates.
ps. there is a great blog from an iOS user trying out Android in a similar fashion to me: Dinner with Android