So what are the killer apps? How about things like Launcher Pro, Swype, SwiftKey, and AppBrain? Why don't we talk about Chrome To Phone or the FM Radio listener (via Cyanogen)? Those are all things that just don't - and can't - exist on the iPhone, but the glory of them is that I get to choose them. I can pick my own homescreen app and tweak the heck out of it. I can pick an input method that I want (SwiftKey has made my iPhone-using friends turn green with envy on more than occassion). I can install new apps without ever having to tether to my computer with iTunes. I can send a map or recipe from my computer to my phone and take my work with me seamlessly. These are all "killer features", but they aren't "apps" in the Apple sense of the word - they're features, extensions of the platform, which let me use my device as best I see fit.
If everything Apple does is exactly what you want, Android probably doesn't have any "killer features" worth talking about, but as soon as you want to do something that diverges from the Cupertino Grand Unified Vision, Android starts to become a lot more attractive. Given Gruber's leanings, it's little wonder that he's not enamored with Android. Doesn't mean that's the case for everyone - and the market bears that out quite well.
iOS, however, takes a different tack, focusing on self-contained, bite-sized apps. You hop into something, use it, then leave. And when you're in that app, it completely owns the experience. In that world, things like intents, task killers, and filesystem browsers just don't make sense. Which almost by definition precludes things like Chrome-to-Phone or Swype.
In that way, I see Android and iOS relating very similarly to Windows and OS X. "Beautiful" simply isn't part of the Windows application lexicon, and yet, it's used frequently in reviews of OS X software, along with terms like "polished," "lovely," "stunning," and "gorgeous."
What allows OS X to have beautiful apps? What's preventing Windows from having beautiful applications? And are those same factors at work in Android and iOS?
He's effectively asking "Why isn't the Nexus One a better iPhone than my iPhone?" which...just completely misses the point. The iPhone does the iPhone experience extremely well, and I don't think you'll find many people who will seriously argue that the iPhone UX isn't amazingly polished, but the assumption that it's the only way to use a mobile phone is naturally going to lead you into some completely wrong conclusions. If your whole world is the iPhone, the concept of Android intents and what they mean for how you use your phone is going to be completely lost on you.
I think that "beautiful" apps start with the platform. Most people would agree that OS X has better aesthetic sense than Windows, and most would agree that iOS has better aesthetic sense than Android. Each platform establishes a baseline for what apps should look like, and apps tend to conform to that baseline for the sake of uniformity. On Windows, the worst-looking apps are the ones that diverge from the OS baseline (I'm looking at you, iTunes and anything that uses GTK+). Android's baseline is pretty low - it's highly utilitarian and very typical of Google, which is famous for doing all of its UI design based on how things test out, and while there are some apps that diverge and look good (Twitter, Tweetdeck), there are others that are just terribly bad (Fring, for example).
My hope is that Gingerbread raises that baseline, and sets a new visual target for developers to hit with their apps. We'll see.
Right, if you think of the user workflow as a graph, the iOS enforces a kind of star topology on the experience. That's the model it's built on. You start from the homescreen, then jump to an app, then back to the home screen, repeat.
Android is more of a web browser stack model, you jump into an app, that app may launch another app, but you can always hit back and slide one step back, if you hit "back" enough, you end up where you start (or you can shortcut it with the home key). The user workflow graph is more random as people bump around between apps.
It would probably be more appropriate to call Android apps "pages" instead.
Actually I think the comparison Gruber makes of 'PC vs Console' is more accurate.
If there's any cultural divide Gruber alludes to, it's that iPhone users tend not to know a whole lot about how the phone works deep inside, and whether by necessity or curiosity, Android users do.
Say, for instance, you're in the Twitter app and click on a link. Instead of embedding a UIWebView, the application fires off a message saying it needs something to display a webpage. The OS then looks at the list of applications that can handle that intent and selects the best one available. If you only have one application that can fulfill that intent, it launches and renders the linked page. If you have multiple browsers, Android prompts you, with an option to remember your preference for that intent.
Which means that I can click a link in Twitter and open it in Opera. Or Firefox. Or any third party browser. And then when I open a link in another application, my preferred browser still gets to handle it. The Twitter app doesn't get to own that experience in the same way that it can on iOS, since it's actually backgrounding itself and letting the other application fully handle the task.
This also applies to getting directions, calling people, sending text messages, etc. The necessary data (an address, phone number, or message) is transparently shunted from the first app to the next. That dance greatly weakens the boundaries between applications, but enables some really great workflows.
Similarly, say I'm looking at my photos and I want to share one with someone. I simply hit the "Share" button, and up pops everything that can handle working with an image. In my case: Bluetooth, Messaging (SMS), Picasa, Twitter, Facebook, Email, and Gmail. Even better, were I to get fed up with the official Twitter client and go install Seesmic, it'd also pop up in that list, automatically, and without any changes to the Photo Gallery itself.
Say I install an FTP client. It'll also appear in that list. Google Goggles, too. Any image I can share, I can also send to Goggles for analysis.
As far as I know, there's nothing like this on iOS, but I'd be happy to learn that I'm mistaken.
That's not to say Android is better for opening map links from twitter... just that it's a different way of doing things. I would say that most criticisms people have when jumping from android to iOS (or vice versa) stem from trying to use one OS in exactly the same way you used the other OS.
I don't think that is true. Most Android users have no idea how their phone works inside. They are not techies, they are just smartphone users. Most people have no idea what a computer does inside. Don't think that all Android users are techies because many on HN are.
I think technically inclined people are more drawn to Android, but I don't think that anything close to the majority of Android's user base is technically inclined by a long shot.
These are the same morons that dig into the Windows registry for "super speed optimizations" and end up blowing their installation to hell.
I've never heard of an app that did that. Can you name some?
As for the address book thing, I can't name any specifics as I don't follow iOS overly closely; I just know it's a hack I've seen mentioned enough times that it seems to be fairly common knowledge that it can be done, just with the caveat that it's also against the rules.
Flexibility is useful only insofar as it translates into capabilities of high value to end users. It's not a feature, especially if you're an end user and not a programmer/hacker. In most product domains, users have clearly shown that as the category matures, they are more than willing to sacrifice flexibility, the ability to modify and even the ability to repair at home in favor of a more integrated, reliable and cheaper product. (See: cars, home electronics, home appliances, clothing, food.)
Consumers evaluate product purchases based on what the device can do for them out of the box, not after hours of tweaking and configuration. Frankly, I don't think _either_ platform truly has "killer apps" - I don't think people are going out and buying iPhones so they can play Star Wars Arcade: Falcon Gunner or something. A "killer app" is an exclusive app that drives customers to buy that platform just so they can run it. Arguably at present no such app exists on either mobile platform.
The iPod was the third leg of the original announcement but it's hard to see that as a killer app when an iPod was available stand alone.
I'be never heard exclusive be a necessary feature of a killer app before this. It's more like a console fanboy bragging point and for technically comparable platforms it often seems driven by kickbacks from the platform owner. Even then it's usually just time limited exclusivity.
"Exclusive" is maybe too strong a word, since it implies that no other platform will ever have that Killer Feature / App, e.g. Halo. But if only one platform has it when you need to buy, it's for all intents and purposes an exclusive.
Notable downsides include battery life and built-in mounting options. Notable upsides include no upfront purchase, free updates, constant updates, better information density (pixels per meatspace volume, roughly), ease of ad-hoc "mounting" (e.g. next to the speedometer, behind the steering wheel), and automatic "straight-to-pocket-on-exit" theft protection.
It's free, it works well, and it integrates nicely with other Android apps (notably Google Maps).
Today I've only really seen four killer apps on a phone... email, SMS, mobile web browsers, and GPS. Facebook would be a marginal fifth. Everything else is stuff that frankly most people would barely notice if it was missing.
This is a straw man. Android's lack of much in the way of exclusive native software is novel among the few mainstream software platforms over the last few decades.
Maybe this state of affairs is interesting, and maybe it isn't — we're dealing with a small sample of comparisons, the web is an extraordinary leveler, and to the extent Android has a shared lineage with Linux and its developer community, exclusivity is an alien concept anyway.
But pointing out this historical anomaly isn't tantamount to claiming Android has no worth, as Gruber takes pains to mention. There's no need to assume a defensive crouch.
Gruber's point is that the average user doesn't care about this. They don't care that the OS that runs on their phone can be used on a robot or a microwave. They just care that there is some awesome app that will motivate them to buy a certain phone, and he's saying Android doesn't have that awesome app.
But, like you, if I wanted to use a phone as the brains for an autonomous drone, I would use an Android phone. But this is an edge-case.
None of those apps actually do anything. None of those are apps that help me cook, or tell me where the bike shop is, or let me send a photo of my dog to my parents, or give me something fun to do for 15 minutes on the bus.
I think that's Gruber's point. Android is full of apps that either...
A) are for people who think fucking around with their computer/phone is a worthwhile activity
B) are essentially ports from iPhone
or C) suck
It is baffling how you managed to read the article and still evade his point even though he addresses your rejoinder directly. Gruber says,
"At this point, I’m guessing, Android fans are ready to exclaim that the fact that Android supports things like home screen replacements (or other system-level tools, such as touchscreen keyboard replacements) — and that iOS does not — is precisely why they prefer Android, and/or consider iOS to be an unacceptable toy, or what have you. But, again, that’s not the argument I’m making. I’m talking about third-party developer exclusives — and the only ones Android has are ones that Apple doesn’t want."
Your opening salvo is baffling, because Gruber says, "I’m not saying Android is in trouble. The opposite, in fact: I think it’s going to continue growing — in terms of handset sales — despite this. And maybe as Android handset sales grow, this situation will change, and developers will start creating exclusive killer apps for the platform, drawn by the size of the market."
His main point is that Android is currently weak as a software platform. People don't choose Android because of its superior applications but because of its perceived flexibility/hackability. Developers don't see the Android app market as particularly profitable. The opposite holds true for iOS. He describes this as being a new phenomenon, the "app console market" which is a market that Android currently doesn't feature in.
We can extrapolate that if the situation with Android doesn't change, then Android could become the new Symbian, dominating a quasi-category of feature-smart-phones but with iOS and WP7 taking the more profitable segment of the market.
I think you've hit the crux of the flaw with Gruber's argument: developer profitability does not have much bearing on UX as those in the proprietary app developer community might like it to.
"Developers complain, not without merit, that the iTunes App Store is rigged toward low-priced apps. But the Android Market seems rigged toward no-price apps."
He posits that there is a significant qualitative difference between the most popular, exclusive, third-party applications in the iOS market and those in the Android market with the former providing a superior experience. Are you saying that this isn't true? If we admit it is true, then how do you account for it?
"Turn the table and we could be here all day running down the list of high-quality, interesting apps which are exclusive to iOS."
Some people don't want to have to configure anything to start using it or to start being productive with it. Apple's desire to focus on these types of people is obvious when not only analyze the type of features they add, but how they're implemented.
I think a meaningful comparison would be to the situation of home computers (C64, CPC, later Amiga and Atari) and consoles (NES, later SNES). If you wanted to play games, consoles offered a much better experience. In contrast, home computers could be programmed using BASIC and Assembler (and, somewhat later, C), which made them much more appealing for people who wanted to explore the possibilities for themselves.
If the general population is able to feel in control of their equipment without opening a shell on it and exploring what's in there, or being able to scratch little itches they have, that's totally fine with me.
pretty much all the good things you mention are for rooted phones. The stock one is just as dumb as an iphone.
Android could be the PC-revolution all over the mobile industry. but it choose to start with baby steps :(
Better 2g fallback.
Touch screen fix, for nexus.
Hosts file editing.
1. Not made by Google or built-in
2. Popular and well made (no long tail)
3. Don't take advantage of things Android can do but iPhone can't (home screens, notifications, deep integration, background services, etc.)
Suppose you had such an app, or were developing one. While Android has passed iOS in new phones sold, it's still catching up on existing userbase. Why wouldn't you have an iPhone version too, since by definition your app already would run fine there?
It's the iOS exclusivity that is interesting. iOS has exclusive apps that should be able to run on Android. The reverse isn't as much the case.
The result is usually convenient, but it can be disconcerting - I had a friend borrow my phone to text someone and as he was composing his message, he continued to select the most suggested word until he'd completed an entire email I'd sent a week earlier verbatim...
I get where Gruber's coming from, and there seems to be a legitimate point in here about the difference between consoles and ordinary computers. But I'm not really seeing anything listed under the iPhone-exclusive category that is worthwhile. It's clear that it's going to be a profit center for Apple, and it's clear that some people enjoy it, but Gruber's assertion that it's intrinsically better doesn't have a lot of weight to it.
I didn't read it as his specifying one that's intrinsically better than the other, but as which platform will succeed in the long run because it has more compelling software, i.e., Rage HD will sell more iOS devices than task managers will sell Android.
I still can't for the life of me understand why any self respecting geek would cheer on the 'console' model as the future of mobile computing. Sure, as a developer you have to make practical decisions about which platform to develop for. But as the platform you chose to use yourself? It's like saying that you've decided to use xBox as your main environment instead of Windows/OSX/Linux.
No it's not. The whole purpose of having an app store is to make it more general purpose. Why should anything be 'off limits' just because the device is small? Why is this not obvious to you?
> The iPhone certainly isn't my development environment, either.
.. and it never will be. But you added the word 'development', not me. I prefer to decide how I can use my computation devices and when they do not allow this then they should be regarded as toys.
So did you actually think that I was making a point about you specifically? That brings egotism to new levels.
The point I was making was an analogy (hence the use of the word 'like'). It was that just as a console platform is a toy-like version of a desktop one, so is the iOS platform a toy-like version of a proper mobile platform.
You seem to be arguing that mobile computing isn't important enough to warrant the same sort of open ecosystem that exists in the desktop world, that because you can't personally envisage ever developing on any mobile system that a toy like platform is the best way. This strikes me as extremely short sited for 2 reasons. Firstly it shows zero consideration of how others might want to utilise their mobile devices now. And secondly it shows no thought as to how mobile devices may evolve in the future. There are many possible technological breakthroughs that could have you using your mobile device as a primary development environment in the future.
I can also point it at the sky and know which star I'm looking at, or at the cover a book, not the barcode, and have it tell me the lowest price nationally. It can tell me exactly where on Earth I am, for free.
I have SL4A on my phone also, so not only can I call anyone anywhere on earth at any time, I can solve ridiculously complex problems in a few moments that would've taken people years to do by hand less than a century ago.
It takes pictures of people, has a compass, an entire encyclopedia and set of maps without being connected to any cell or wifi network, and can tell me exchange rates, how far it is to the nearest Chinese restaurant and theater, and play complex, interactive, three dimensional games.
I don't know what other people consider a killer app, but I just can't get over the fact that I'm living in the future right now. This is so crazy. I can't believe all this crap fits in my pocket. It feels like between this and a multitool, I can accomplish pretty much anything.
The device itself is the killer app for me. I'm glad we as a species have made these ridiculous advances possible. 20 years ago, phones didn't have screens on them. If you had caller ID, you were pretty much on the cutting edge.
For those of us that don't use Android - which app is this?
Despite the availability of that particular app on iOS, the immediate availability of any Google mobile app on Android (without having to wait for the long delays that plagued Google Voice, etc) and the integration of them all is the killer Android app for me. Having things like Android Car Mode and Voice Search out of the box and having them all work together is really nice, and while you can get similar functionality out of iOS by piecing many apps together, it isn't quite the same seamless experience.
YMMV depending upon how much you consume Google services. Android certainly suffers on the games front and is a second class citizen for other types of utility apps from non-Google vendors.
I'm not really sure why there aren't better games out there yet. Certainly one problem I've had with Android that I suspect would be better with iOS is the limited amount of memory that I have to work with on Android. Android doesn't give you all the available memory to work with, so it's an adventure to make a 2d game (bitmaps with a transparency layer get big fast). This might explain part of the delay on better games.
I think better games are coming, but I can't really explain why they're not already here.
Any home screen widget, because you can.
PDAnet (no shady jailbreak needed)
Google Voice (better than the new iPhone version)
Scripting Layer 4 Android
Google Speech To Text (Voice Search)
Chrome To Phone
Dropbox (whoah, not limited by a weird file sandbox!?)
Whatever system software that allows you to mount an Android device as USB storage
First, "replacing system framework with your own hex edited version" -- no. They do patch the kernel, but they exploit it at startup and do dynamic patching using dynamic methods that work on any version. There is no hex editing. For adding to frameworks, they use a similar method to LD_PRELOAD on Linux. No in-binary patching ever happens.
Poor source code? If you mean "not much is released", that's wrong, for example comex posts his kernel patching code at http://github.com/comex shortly after every release.
.git directories? No idea where that comes from.
So, here's what a jailbreak /does/ do: it evades the codesigning mechanisms on the device, and installs a file that does the same on boot. It then injects some code into the kernel, which does dynamic patching to remove the code signature verification checks. After that, it untars a basic *nix setup, with GNU coretools and the Cydia application, and moves the built-in applications to the larger partition (to make space for additional system components). Want to install a "tweak"? It installs MobileSubstrate, a tool that loads itself into processes via DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES (similar to LD_PRELOAD on Linux), and then injects whatever other packages you have installed using that. This allows dynamic patching of whatever we want, and you don't hex-edit or modify a single binary.
So I'm not sure where you got that impression, but it's pretty much patently wrong.
What am I missing out on by staying on Android (except eye candy)? Fireball says he could go on forever, but doesn't mention anything besides games.
Apart from that though, what I miss from the iPhone when I'm using my Android phone are OmniFocus, GoodReader/iBooks (I haven't found an Android PDF reader that comes close), GuitarToolkit, TabTookit, OmniTuner, MobileRSS (again, haven't found a close competitor on Android) and Hipstamatic.
There's nothing wrong with targeting multiple major platforms, but a market-leading platform without at least some desirable, exclusive software titles to its name is an historical anomaly.
There are similar tools like Kik (which I actually like better than Google Talk), that are available for all platforms: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2008/07/google-talk-for-iph...
Of course for direct chatting a web app would be OK.
Since getting an iPhone 4 however I've pretty much stopped using it entirely. I simply cannot find a good app for it. The ones I have found seem to sign out after 4 hours (making them useless) or just don't seem to work reliably (eg I'd get home and find a message on my desktop that hadn't made it to my phone). So I had to give it up.
Your intended use case was the same as mine: lime SMS. But the fact that it works (or seems to at least) on Android doesn't make it a killer app for Android. It simply is a nail in the coffin for Google Talk.
Messaging is something that needs to be ubiquitous. IM had this problem (eg some people were on MSN, others on AIM). It's why SMS is such a success. Google Talk is already limited to those who use gmail. Further limiting it to those with Android handsets makes it much less useful.
Part of the reason why it works so well is that it does not maintain an active connection on the phone. Most IM apps fail as soon as the phone loses its connection for even a moment.
Meebo keeps you as logged in on their servers, and then sends push notifications to your phone when you receive messages. The result is that you don't go "offline" when you experience any phone connection hiccups.
Try it if you haven't. I use Google Talk and Yahoo IM on my iPhone all the time.
You realise that Google Talk uses Jabber, and is, thus, the only IM I know whose protocol is open? You can use it with basically any client developed in the past 10 years. Trillian should work well...
Being able to set up different configurations of my phone based on where I am, what time it is, what apps I'm running is very useful.
Using Locale has made a huge difference to me. My set up is that I have two major modes, plugged in and unplugged. When I'm in plugged in mode, it turns on bluetooth and wifi, connects to my bluetooth speakerphone, and sends notifications to Android Notifier which I have running on most of my PCs. This allows me to have my ringer off and get an IM-style Growl notification when someone calls or texts, which is awesome for work. The unplugged mode is basically a typical cellphone configuration.
I've tried Tasker and PhoneWeaver but not Locale as of yet. I couldn't live without this functionality anymore.
This type of app has been one of my favorite things about Android. I can't imagine doing without it either.
Since iOS was big before Android was, it stands to reason that many apps would have been developed for iOS and then not ported to Android. Whereas now Android is a huge market that most will want to develop for, but they're not going to stop developing for iOS - so I would expect a vast majority of apps to be on both platforms.
Since there was never a time when Android had a large market but iOS didn', it not surprising that the only Android-exclusive Apps are ones that can't be done on iOS.
That seems reasonable, since the idea of a "killer app" could be defined as one whose existence leads you to pick the platform it's on over any other.
If an app is available on both Android and iPhone, then it's not decisive. You can still choose either platform.
> A final thought, regarding Android’s relative weakness as a software platform. iOS’s exclusivity for a bunch of big-name mobile games — Need for Speed Undercover, Star Wars: Battle for Hoth, Monopoly, Tetris, The Sims, Assassin’s Creed — has been broken. Not by Android, where none of these games exist, but by Windows Phone 7, a one-month-old platform.
EDIT: Unity will likely make a big difference to the Android appsphere: http://unity3d.com/unity/coming-soon/android
Number does not equal app sales.
> where are the killer games for OS X?
Err... Wait, are we all using Mac OS X?
A implies B does not imply that not B implies not A.
For example, from Wikipedia, "All birds are animals" does imply "All non-animals are non-birds".
Every time I eat a hard candy, I get a toothache. I don't have a toothache, therefore I didn't eat a hard candy.
So yes, what I meant is "If I eat hard candy, I get toothache" does not imply "I have a toothache, so I ate hard candies". Which is the form I was commenting on. I should have provided an example (and double checked!).
If you write out the truth table, A -> B is equivalent to
~A \/ B, which means ~B -> ~A. This is called the contrapositive and is a valid inference. The two classical invalid inferences from A -> B are ~A -> ~B (the inverse) and B -> A (the converse).
There are savages outside of city walls, who breed via biological means and use (shudder) Windows. We try not to think about or discuss them in polite society.
But even that is a stronger claim than Gruber made. He simply said that not everybody in the group he was talking about preferred Windows — a majority could even prefer Windows and his point (that the Mac's software selection appeals to some people even though it's unquestionably smaller) would stand.
Who the hell cares? Seriously. Why is all this attention being paid to Android by various Apple-centric/Apple-leaning outlets?
I'm not trying to be combative. If iOS is the superior platform then why keep drawing attention to something that, in your opinion, is inferior?
Technically speaking Android and iOS are fairly even in features. Android has some things that iOS doesn't and iOS has some things that Android doesn't. It's pretty much a wash. What it boils down to is what people want to use.
I use android because I honestly prefer the interface and interactions over iOS, it ties better into my Google-centric workflow and I'm a geek. Apple isn't losing a sale to me because I don't like what they have to offer.
All the arguments over which is better are entirely over subjective aspects. iPhone/iOS looks prettier. Android has better notification handling. These are all fairly end-user perspectives.
Just from the evidence, it seems clear that porting software is still hard, but nowhere near as hard as it used to be. There's been some convergence in hardware and operating systems. The rate of turnover in these things has slowed way down. But perhaps the biggest reason is that our hardware and the abstractions built on top of it are now so powerful that large classes of apps -- the ones that don't push the limits of the hardware -- have become trivial to port. The term "killer app" was invented around the time of Visicalc; Visicalc was written in highly tuned assembly language so that it would fit in 20K of RAM (no, that is not a typo!):
So the modern strategy is to test your software on one platform, and then if it takes off port it to the others. So why don't more people start on Android and port to iOS, rather than vice versa? Maybe it's the vaunted fragmentation problem, but I'd guess that it's mostly because iOS is where the money is. There's an app distribution model and a store. That makes it easier to iterate there. Release the app on iOS and see if it floats or sinks. Then spend your Android-porting energy -- figuring out an ad-based model, testing on many different devices, marketing to all those Android users who don't know what "Android" means -- on the winners.
There are other potential sources of killer-app lock-in. Hardware is one. People who want hardware keyboards can't choose iOS. But that market doesn't seem to have enough size for its killer apps to make news -- particularly because only a subset of Android phones have keyboards, and those keyboards are all different.
There's one very obvious Android killer app: Verizon. Not exclusive for much longer, though, if the rumor mill is accurate.
Also, citing a crap TechCrunch article as fact because it was written by the guy behind a site named AndroidApps? You are better than that, Gruber.
This isn't a bad thing, every product needs their evangelists, but we must not confuse evangelism with journalism (not saying you did that, but I mean in general).
You ask, "What thing do you want to do on your phone that Android can't?" This is a perfectly fair question. I think the response from the Apple camp would be that it is the wrong question. The question they're more interested in is how things are done, not what features are available. This is why they focus so much on design, polish, and experience, and less on providing the widest possible functionality. Along the same lines, notice that Gruber criticizes several Android apps for being knock-offs of iPhone apps, or for having relatively poor quality compared to their iPhone counterparts. I think this shows that his focus is on the how rather than the what, and that his discussion of exclusive apps has less to do with functionality, and more to do with how sticky the platform is. Neither side is necessarily right or wrong, but it's important to recognize that they are asking fundamentally different questions.
Anything involving low latency audio.
It seems he thinks those are the same thing. Why would an alternative home screen or keyboard stop being a killer app or appealing to iOS users because Apple doesn't want or allow it?
Every week seems to bring another article about how Android is kicking ass in market penetration, but who really benefits outside of the carriers who get a free OS for their phones? The Android market is so fragmented that these market stats are meaningless.
Love 'em or hate 'em, Apple has been incredibly successful with iOS. They have lots of apps, lots of paying customers, generating lots of money for developers and Apple. That's something worth emulating on Android. The more money going to Android developers, the better for the platform.
The Android Market is far behind and that needs to be fixed. You can't even get to it without an Android phone. And where are the "Get it in the Android Market" buttons? Google's branding guidelines state that you can't use the Android logo to promote your app. How does that even make sense?
Google's dropped the ball on Android Market, big time.
You seem confused about carriers, phone-makers and how things works in real life. Carriers may get stock-phones rebranded and customized from phone-makers, but in no way is it "their" phones or their problem getting a OS for it.
Phone makers make phones. Carriers provide carrier waves and cellphone services. These two roles are 100% independent, despite carriers sometimes present customers with custom-made phones bought by them from phone-makers.
iOS has to have "killer apps" because that's how Apple locks folks into their system. If you can get the iOS experience somewhere else, there's no reason to pay the Apple premium. Thankfully for Apple their UX is amazingly polished, and attracts a lot of third-party developers who also care highly about polish.
Android, on the other hand, is a portal to Google's cloud offerings. First thing you do is create or utilize your Google account. Then you check your Gmail and your Google Voice. Maybe get some navigations from Google Maps, or a recommendation from Google Places.
And of course, since you have a smartphone, you might as well buy some apps. A lot of common apps that exist for iOS also exist for Android (Kindle Reader and Angry Birds come to mind), and Google gets their cut of the sale.
You get a standardized platform that transcends mobile carriers.
"The first app in the list that’s exclusive to Android is #6, Lookout — an anti-virus app."
It's an interesting app, and I really like the idea of being able to locate my phone if I lose it by forcing it to wake up and email me. Dismissing it as just an anti-virus app is willfully ignoring how useful this app is (and that it could only be built on Android).
The difference being the Mac allowed you to follow the same unix style philosophy through pervasive scripting, which you can't do on iOS.
Killer app? Nope. Interesting and a good example for something "different"? Yep.
Python/Lua/Ruby/Perl/etc interpreters and scripts in your pocket. Imagine the potential.
[Obviously not a Killer App for the general public, but maybe for the HN crowd...]
However I think it is a short-sighted perspective. The products that are in the market today often had many months to years of incubation end evolution time on them. A mere four months ago, iOS was still overwhelmingly where it was at, and on sites of the people making the apps -- like HN -- it had the dominant mindspace.
That has profoundly changed. On my Android I've noticed the pace of iterations of the top tier apps is reaching an incredible pace, as obviously what was an afterthought is starting to get equal billing to their iOS product.
Gruber is unquestionably right today. In three months, or six months, I think the equation will have dramatically changed.
Though it will never be about "killer apps" (where exclusivity is the definition). That antiquated notion has no place in modern computing. Note that Google makes all of their "killer apps" available on iOS as well, which is exactly how it should be. In an ideal every top tier app exists on multiple platforms.
They are the least consistent ones in terms of UI. just like office in microsoft windows.
compare gmail, maps, navigator, translate...
and they hardly work out of the main use case. e.g. the car home will not do anything if the phone is not in an expensive car-dock (your calls will not go automaticaly to the speaker for example). navigator will only show routes via major streets (thankfully now there's now ONE route option --to rule out highways)