Monday, December 28, 2009

Android or iPhone?

Most readers know I'm a fan of the iPhone, but few likely realize I am no longer recommending iPhones for new users. Android OS has finally reached a point where it is a viable alternative to the iPhone, and Android platform has much more promise than does the iPhone. Perhaps the strongest point is Apple's control over the iPhone apps through the App Store. A few of the Apps I'd like to see for my iPhone have not been approved (i.e. Google Voice) by Apple leaving me without some of the key tools I want on my phone. Google's Android Marketplace doesn't suffer from those restrictions and the seemingly unpredictable whims of Apple's approval process making it easy to publish a variety of apps. Of course Android doesn't limit apps to only those found in their marketplace allowing for a homebrew ecosystem to eventually thrive. I can't go without mentioning that Android also permits background apps while Apple does not. This limitation on the iPhone was simply to ensure better performance and battery life, but it does prove troubling in some tasks. Generally I would keep as few apps open as I could, but very much want the option to drop my Twitter client into the background as I check the weather. Geocaching 12 of 12: Device PrepAndroid's lack of a single hardware platform is as much of a strength as a weakness though. The obvious benefit is the variety of devices (i.e. with or without keyboards, different sizes, and more varied costs) from which to choose (for the record I prefer no hardware keyboards as it allows for a smaller device, without the moving parts, and the onscreen keyboards perform auto-correction making them easier for me to use while walking). That variety in hardware also means there are more issues to contend with for developers and users as the difference between specific units become less predictable. Apple's iPhone 3GS hardware is about halfway through it's product life and we except it will be replaced come June or July. Frankly the iPhone needs to be upgraded as the current Android offerings provide better quality screens and cameras. Likely the biggest strike against the iPhone is that in the U.S. the iPhone is only offered through AT&T. Their service quality and customer service is not attractive or even customer friendly. Meanwhile Android is available from most major carriers and in unlocked versions. So what do I recommend? Basically I take a good look at Android. If you think you can live with its hardware and a little more difficult operation, get it. The iPhone is still an easier platform and better developed making it the better choice for the average users. I suspect that will change within the next nine months as Apple releases their updates and Google works hard to improve Android and the hardware developers release more options in handsets. We're in a very tough period to choose, but my vote today is for the Android (my leading handset right now is the HTC Eris) and when my AT&T contract is up in October I'll probably be jumping off the iPhone ship.

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