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Why I Turned In My iPhone and Went Android (louisgray.com)
37 points by niyazpk on July 11, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

Something along the lines of, "Choice only matters if your choice is one of the choices," applies. Apple wasn't offering him his choice so he bought an Android. Yet he still acknowledges that the iPhone 4 may be a better phone.

His four main points are: openness, momentum, cloud, and capability. Android is definitely more open than iOS but Android's power depends on non-open software/services (Google). Android definitely has momentum but at their current rate it will still take years to match the iPhone's share of the market. Also, the Android app economy appears to be much weaker due to a cultural issue (rather than critical-mass issue). Cloud is a bit misleading as you can integrate Google's services with an iPhone almost as well as Android and iOS/MobileMe probably matches Android/Google albeit with a increase in cost and perhaps privacy. Capability is balanced by lack of usability.

I still think people are excusing flaws in Android due to frustration with Apple, hoping for "open" to win, etc.

I recently tried to switch to the Nokia N900 (Maemo OS, soon MeeGo OS) but found its capability did not balance its lack of usability.

>His four main points are: openness...

Actually, openness is not one of his points. He mentions it in passing only.

>Android definitely has momentum but at their current rate it will still take years to match the iPhone's share of the market.

From February to May of this year, Android went from 9% to 13% of the market. In that same time, the iPhone went from 25.4% to 24.4%. At that rate, it will take about six months for Android to match the iPhone. Google is seeing almost 5 million activations a month, and growing exponentially.

This is why statistics are always dangerous in the hands of, well, anyone :)

Don't forget that Feb-May is the maximum time from a new iPhone release. This quarter saw an actual release so I wouldn't be surprised to see them snatch back the 1%. More importantly you can't extrapolate from just the one quarters figures :) Android sales could trail off or people could end up sending them back in high numbers after a few months etc.

Also, Android is offered on a wider array of phones; so it is reasonable that as it gains popularity it will enroach into the smartphone market. It will be interesting to see this quarters figures; I suspect Android will grow but so will Apple.

As pointed out, the more important metric is profitability; and currently Apple have that in bucket loads.

(not that Android is doing badly, but it is a bit further behind, say 18 months, than people tend to suggest)

There are also a lot of high-end Android phones that have come out in the last two months, and coming out soon. In the end, this discussion doesn't really matter. Obviously, nobody knows the future.

I also realize that these numbers only represent one quarter, but if you look at the previous quarters, you'll see that Android is experiencing steady growth. I have no doubt that the iPhone 4 will be a boon to Apple's numbers. We only have to wait another three months to find out! :)

The big difference of course is that apple actually makes money and not only on the phone, but their app store.

Marketshare matters little in this context, what matters is how good a business it is for you.

And in that respect android is a shitty business as it,s not even close to opening up the revenue stream of advertising which is the real reason google is even in the phone business.

I checked our server stats this morning & at least over here in Germany, Apple iOS device growth is still outpacing Android growth. My guess is that while the absolute number of Android devices is growing, the number of people actually using those devices for browsing the web is simply not growing as fast. This won't change until Android offers a browsing experience that bests the ease-of-use of iOS devices.

The thing about Android momentum is forgetting it's not all due to phones. There's Archos pushing it on tablets, there's the Barnes & Noble Nook which is Android-based too. Developers need to keep in mind that not every device is going to have a wee screen or every hardware button. This should be obvious, but it's often forgotten.

I think it's great that some people are switching phones due to subjectively perceived advantages. "Openness" is one of those issues that gets brought up all the time and it's really more of a personal preference than a "hard feature" that makes one thing better than the other.

To me, this means that we have now two got options on the market and it's up to people to choose. I hated how one-sided the market was for a few years, where AT&T had an amazing phone that was so much better than everything else. At least now, there's a competitor that's gaining ground. Let's hope this is is good for everybody.

"Openness" is one of those issues that gets brought up all the time and it's really more of a personal preference than a "hard feature" that makes one thing better than the other.

Most "features" are personal preference, that's how features get created/deployed, because someone somewhere decided it would be a good thing to build into the device.

Choosing based on openness is a risk management technique. While it's unlikely that Apple is going to go out of business or stop supporting the iPhone and many people change phone hardware every six months anyway, if something does happen the more open platform is one that has a greater chance of getting continued support for. On closed platforms, you often can't get continued support for love or money after its been EOL'ed.

A more realistic/pragmatic example is becoming dependent on a specific app and being able to install and use it (perhaps in an enterprise environment). If Apple decides to shutdown the app and not distribute it via iTunes, you're screwed (or you have to root the device, the ability or willingness to do so is also a risk management technique). With android, the device comes with the ability to install anything from anywhere, an app that no longer appears in the market is minor hiccup rather than insurmountable problem.

>>Android definitely has momentum but at their current rate it will still take years to match the iPhone's share of the market.

If/when the iPhone is available on Verizon,T-Mobile and Sprint (besides AT&T), Android's momentum is going to drastically slow down.

The revenue issue and Google/carrier policies that cause fragmentation (e.g. only 27.3% of Android owners could run the official Twitter app when it launched) mean that the iPhone will attract more serious developers (and therefore more good-quality apps for consumers)

While this may be, history does not show that that's the case. Apple has always provided a more consistent environment to develop against than Microsoft did/could (because Apple controls the hardware), and there's always been both more developers and more software for Windows. One could play the quality card here, but all that matters is the quality of the apps that are used and that there is a demand for, not the average quality of all apps ever. No one cares if a Homer Simpson soundboard app is of low quality.

That the official twitter app couldn't run on 27.3% of Android owners most likely reflects more on the developers of the app than on the platform (or on the schedule the developers are working against). "Serious developers" for a platform ensure that their product sufficiently meets their target market (the "27.3% of android owners" number assumes that 100% of android owners even wanted to run the official twitter app, the way you've worded it). This is pretty straight forward to do with Android: acquire and test against all the popular devices out there. You can even run and compile against older versions of the SDK without issue. Sure, this is more work, but that's your target demographic and it's something that people have been doing for at least as long as Windows has been popular. It's not like twitter doesn't have the cash to do this.

>If/when the iPhone is available on Verizon,T-Mobile and Sprint (besides AT&T), Android's momentum is going to drastically slow down.

Good luck with that.

The one thing that still keeps me from Android is that the iPhone, in my experience (and I have used both extensively), is a better phone. As in for actual calls and texts :)

I predominately use my phone for that (calls, texts, email, internet) and apps are only a minor benefit (I use them infrequently).

At some time in the next 2 or 3 years I will change to an Android handset - the OS is improving no end and once the phone functionality is better it will be a no brainer.

EDIT: just to reiterate (for the downvoter...) I think the iPhone is a better phone functionality. I know others prefer Android - it's a personal thing.

I'd say just for the network alone the Android is a better phone. Texting capabilities seem about the same with my old iPhone and my Droid. I haven't tried iOS4.

Ah, yeh; one advantage to living in the UK is that the iPhone is on alternative networks.

If I were in the states I expect I would be on Android already!

The beauty of android is that anyone can write an app to change the dialer or SMS service as they see fit.

The downside of android is that everyone has written said app, and it probably sucks.

I agree though I can't really cite any exact examples besides the dialer software on my HTC Android phone is very clunky. Little things like putting the mute/speaker button stupidly close to the End Call button causes me a lot of grief. There's no easy way to conference in another call and juggling multiple calls with someone on hold is very clunky too. I usually just end up hanging up on people by accident.

iPhone (and any AT&T phone) cannot make or receive calls at my office in San Francisco while (non-AT&T) Android phones work great.

For me, the primary test for "better phone functionality" is how many places I can be and succesfully make/ receive calls and by that metric the iPhone has a lot of catching up to do.

The big problem Android has is leaving people behind. It turns out v1.6 is required just to use Kobo's eBook reading software. What of all those v1.5 devices still out there? SOL! Some people can say, eh, this is the early adopter problem, except these are phones being sold to everyday people, not techies.


21% are still on 1.5. The older OS's are diminishing quite a lot in the last 6 months, though.

There are still 1.5 devices out there? Like what?

I don't keep track of Android, so I can only cite the two I've come across in my own experience. First, the Archos 7 Home Tablet. Second -- and this is a major hurt -- the Motorola i1 phone, which is on Sprint and prepay Boost Mobile. That's a phone being pushed hard to everyday people and can disappoint them if they want Kobo, for example.

The HTC Hero, for one. First post-1.5 release was about a week ago (to 2.1), there won't be any others and most phones probably don't have it yet.

I know a few people who did that primarily on principle. They all regret it today, android just isn't anywhere close in the long run( their words not mine)

I have both iPhone and android before you go all fanboy on me.

Count me in the opposite camp, then. I don't regret my Nexus One at all - it's far superior to iPhone for my use case.

In what perspective is it superior? I have a nexus one too I really fail to see what is better about it.

Disclaimer: This is for my experience only:

- Tethering. I fly frequently, so sitting in the airport with a free wifi connection is nice.

- Navigation. Nav is just that much nicer than directions.

- GVoice integration. I'm a big fan free texts and transcribed voicemails.

- Cost. My total bill, including insurance, is $75/month, with 5 numbers of unlimited calls. I probably make 600-800 minutes worth of calls/month. I only call 4 people with any regularity, so T-Mobile's plan really works well for me.

- Webserver. I found a built-in webserver, so I can pull photos/etc. off my phone even if I don't have my USB. There are other ways to do this, but it suits me particularly well.

- Locale. Changes my call, wifi, ringer, and 10 other things based on my location, time of day, and other pieces of context.

- Swype. Best smartphone keyboard I've seen (admittedly beta, so not freely available)

Again, these are all things I enjoy, not objective arguments for the superiority of Android. But, I can't get them on iPhone, and the list of things that would be relevant to me on iPhone is somewhat smaller.

> Webserver. I found a built-in webserver, so I can pull photos/etc. off my phone even if I don't have my USB. There are other ways to do this, but it suits me particularly well.

I had no idea this kind of functionality existed. As an iPhone owner, I'm envious.

I'm curious about your experience with Swype. I've read a little about it and I'm wondering: do you think Swype obsoletes the traditional advantage hardware keyboards have over software ones?

I love Swype. It's unclear to me that I'm actually faster at this point, but I downloaded a speed test app -- I clocked myself at 47 wpm in one run, 100% accuracy. Cherry-picking the best number, to be sure, but still.

More importantly, it felt like the switch from button-mashing to T9. Swype is the way typing on a touchscreen should work: gestures that know what you want. So many of the brilliant idioms popularized by the iPhone (pinch zoom, left/right swipe to get between screens) are, in my opinion, why touch screens work at all for a phone. Buttons are unsatisfying due to the lack of tactile feedback; gestures feel natural and expressive. Given all that, making gestures the way you enter text makes me that much happier using the phone for typing at all.

To answer your question: Swype is in no way a replacement for a traditional keyboard. It's a language entry tool, and it's as useless as the stock iPhone/Android keyboard for things like keyboard shortcuts and arbitrary strings. As far as I can tell, I'll never move to a touchscreen keyboard for regular work because it's such an efficient interaction tool (if you live in tools like emacs/vim/command line like me). Swype actually limits the overall universe of your input[1], but it makes the common mode of language very easy.

Short answer: no, Swype doesn't try or succeed in replacing hardware keyboards.

Now that you've got me thinking about it, though, a full-sized Swype keyboard set up with better modified key support and a dictionary that included keyboard shortcuts in the app you were working in would be pretty great. Take vim: all those 2-4 letter combinations you type all the time would be available to you, and you could apply heuristics based on your document to help fill in more free-form keys like find-replace strings. You could even find ways to structure the shortcuts around easy directions, essentially re-inventing keyboard shortcuts as well-placed single swipes of a finger. Somebody with more time than I have now could work that into a neat proof of concept.

[1]I mean, you can still use it like the stock keyboard, but that's not the kind of interaction I'm talking about.

Also thought I would mention SlideIT, which is a replacement keyboard similar to Swype and is available already for Windows Mobile Symbian and Android as a free trial and a paid app. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRkRaoIw8Io

Tethering is on the iPhone.

Tethering on Android doesn't require an additional plan.

So? What does that have to do with the actual phone.

Until phone and carrier can be separated, the twain are one as far as I am concerned.

It is separated. I use 3 as my telco, never used AT&T

The biggest thing that makes a difference for me is the simple existence of file browsers. With a browser like ES File Explorer, I can e.g. copy music, movies etc. from my NAS across wifi without having to plug my device in. I can zip folders up and unzip them, and applications don't act as silos for their specific data, and nor does data need to be shoe-horned into flat, generic categories - music, photos, movies.

The file browser makes all the difference in perception. It feels like the difference between a classic iPod and a PC. One is a toy, the other a tool.

The combination of notifications and multitasking: for example, when I get an email, I can pull down the bar and see its title. If I need to deal with it, I can tap on it and reply, then press the back button and I'm sent back to where I came from, rather than having to go to a home screen, etc.

And I really like the widgets. The Google calendar widget shows my upcoming appointments, and it's on the center home screen. The AutoRotate OnOff widget hugely improves usability if you're e.g. in bed: you can disable auto-rotation in web pages. Actually, I think auto-rotation should be disabled by default, as it's almost never useful - always more of a gimmick than a feature. But you have to jailbreak the iPhone to disable auto-rotation.

The navigation, tethering etc. are all just gravy. I've had tethering for a long time on my ancient K800i, both over USB and bluetooth, and it's always handy for airports and hotels abroad.

That's another thing: cost. I use a UK O2 pay as you go sim, and spend about 11 GBP per month - 8 of that, IIRC, is for internet usage. But when I'm abroad, I use my Irish Vodafone sim and relegate the O2 to my K800i. The Vodafone sim works in the US and all across Europe, and costs me 0.99 EUR/day for 50MB/day. That's enough to cover my casual daily Google Maps and browsing usage when I'm travelling, so I'm never without internet access wherever I am, whether it's Albania or California.

Notifications - I can see that I have 2 emails, a text and an SMS waiting for me. Can't do that on an iPhone.

Yes you can

Really? Last time I checked on iPhone the notifications popped up once and then vanished. Is there now a notification area that tells you all the different notifications waiting for you?

All of those things can and will be signified by numbers in the upper right hand corner of the icon (e.g. a (2) in the upper right corner of Mail). The SMS will also spawn a notification, but if you don't read it it will become a number in the upper right.

But those things are only visible if you're on the home screen, to my knowledge.

I typically use a Nexus one, but I recently had to use an iPhone 3G to do some car navigation. I have had a general preconceived notion that the iPhone has a superior UI to Android--probably due more to reading about it than to actually using the device--and I was shocked at how much clunkier the iPhone 3G felt as compared to the Nexus. Scrolling and zooming were slower, the GPS indicator of position felt significantly laggier than on the Nexus, and the screen was a lot less crisp and bright. And that's not even getting into the fact that the "car navigation" feature on Android is far superior than what the iPhone was capable of displaying. Everything felt so laggy that I rebooted the iPhone to give it a chance to reset itself to a good state (to no avail.)

Now obviously the Nexus one is about a year and a half newer than the iPhone 3G (July 11, 2008 vs January 5, 2010 according to Wikipedia), and it may be that the 3Gs is much more comparable, but the 3G was only discontinued in the past few months so there are a lot of them in the wild still. There is a perception that the iPhone is plain superior, period, but a lot of the iPhones actually in peoples's hands are really not.

I got rid of my Nexus One (I'm on AT&T and so didn't have 3G, which blew), and as soon as 2.2 came out I started regretting it. My next phone is going to be Android. I'd say that Android is already ahead of iOS and when 3.0 comes out it won't even be close anymore.

His fundamental argument is logically flawed on a very basic level. It's simply insane to think that an ecosystem that has been operating in a certain manner for its entire existence will suddenly change directions and begin operating in a massively different manner. It's not going to happen. Betting on a platform that may in the future become awesome instead of voting on a phone that you admittedly think might be the best phone on the market is as crazy as betting on a horse that looks like it has the potential to win instead of the horse that is winning. It just doesn't make any sense.

There are many legitimate reasons to switch from iPhone to Android. He hasn't convinced me this is one of them.

> It's simply insane to think that an ecosystem that has been operating in a certain manner for its entire existence will suddenly change directions and begin operating in a massively different manner.

Are you talking about the future of the Android market?Continued growth is hardly operating in a "massively different manner." Expecting something as fluid as a marketplace not to change is far more unreasonable than expecting change.

> Betting on a platform that may in the future become awesome instead of voting on a phone that you admittedly think might be the best phone on the market is as crazy as betting on a horse that looks like it has the potential to win instead of the horse that is winning.

The author thinks that the iPhone might be the best "overall", but that Android is a better fit for him personally. Your horse analogy doesn't make a whole lot of sense, either.

Consider the next two years (typical smartphone lifespan) a horse race. Right now, Apple's horse is ahead, but Google's horse, while taking longer to accelerate, is now moving faster than Apple's horse. Which horse do you bet on?

tl;dr the same story as all the other iphone -> android stories.

Maybe this is unfair, but it reminds me of the people who boycott buying gas from local BP stations to protest the oil spill.

I think you really need to explain that. There is simultaneously nothing wrong with boycotting BP (even though it should lead to lower gas prices for those who don't boycott, those who do boycott may sleep better at night) - and similarly nothing wrong with believing that Android has more momentum than Apple presently, so that it's worth betting on.

And even with nothing wrong with either actions, I don't see the connection. The man isn't boycotting Apple because he thinks Apple is hurting the planet.

Apparently BP sold the rights to their name to local gas stations, thus boycotting them really does nothing to hurt BP.

They also have a contract to buy their gasoline, which is part of the reason they are currently bailing out those local gas stations.


It makes future sales of their name bring in less money.

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