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Where Are the Android Killer Apps? (daringfireball.net)
127 points by lotusleaf1987 on Nov 19, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 159 comments



Gruber seems to make the assertion that a platform only has worth based on its exclusive "killer apps". He goes wrong there and never really recovers. Android's strength is not its suite apps, it's its flexibility. It runs on an enormous range of hardware, and doesn't require that you buy into a single vendor's toolchain to use it. The core philosophical difference between the two platforms is "Steve Jobs decides what's best for me" versus "I decide what's best for me".

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.


But you have to admit, there's a cultural divide between Android and iOS. Android is extremely well suited for working, passing data seamlessly between applications, etc. It makes it easy to get things done in the same way you might interact with a desktop computer.

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?


Absolutely, I'll admit that straight away. It's very much a different expectation of how you use it, and I think that's at the core of Gruber's complaint. He is very used to the iPhone paradigm, where you engage with those bite-sized pieces and then you stop and go do something else. His complaint seems to be that Android doesn't really have bite-sized pieces like that which flatly trump their iOS couterparts, but I think it misses the point because Android isn't just an ugly iPhone, it's a completely different approach to mobile computing.

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.


> iOS, however, takes a different tack, focusing on self-contained, bite-sized apps. You hop into something, use it, then leave.

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.


> I see Android and iOS relating very similarly to Windows and OS X.

Actually I think the comparison Gruber makes of 'PC vs Console' is more accurate.


From what I've seen, this ideal workflow is not near as much of a reality on cheap Android phones with not as great hardware. It is a reality on phones like most of the Droid series (I own a Droid 2) and the Nexus One, but most of the people I know with Droids have the cheaper phones like the LG Ally and Motorola Backflip which just don't work as nicely this way. You end up wanting to go back to the app paradigm on phones with smaller screens and slower processors.


I don't understand how Android allows you to pass data between applications while iOS does not. I'm under the impression that I can use copy/paste and custom protocols to pass information between applications on my iPhone. Am I missing something?

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.


When speaking of passing data between applications, I'm specifically thinking of the use cases enabled by Android's intent system. Applications can register their ability to respond to and fulfill certain interactions, and then the OS mediates between them.

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.


Not all applications embed a UIWebView, and many that do also offer opening in Safari as an option. There are also between-app communications like Twitter's "Save Draft to Birdhouse..." or sending addresses to the Maps application. Not as flexible as the workflows you describe in Android, to be sure, but in that data is being passed between its apps, I believe it was overly broad to describe iOS as focusing only on "bite-sized" and "self-contained" apps.


I really think the Android back button makes all this possible (and perhaps better than on iOS devices. If a link in the iOS twitter app opens Maps, the only way to get back to where you were (pre-iOS4) was to hit home and launch the twitter app... which may have saved its state. In Android, such a workflow would just involve pressing the universal back button. I suppose in iOS4, you can now double tap home and find the twitter app in the list of open apps.

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 agree, the back button is one of the best parts of the Android experience. I find myself reaching for it every time I go back to my iPod Touch.


What about opening in Opera? Skyfire?


You say "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."

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 probably know a dozen people in my circle of friends with Android phones at this point. Of those, maybe 3 would give you any more than a blank stare if you asked them what CDMA and GSM are. I'm the only one out of that group that has a rooted device.

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.


I don't mean hardcore, nuts and bolts stuff, just that they're more involved with managing how the operating system behaves. And I'm not saying this, I was inferring from Gruber, who notes how many task managers, etc., are the most popular apps.


That's the worst kind of user, though. The "power user" is almost the bane of my existence as they do not truly understand anything yet think they understand everything.

These are the same morons that dig into the Windows registry for "super speed optimizations" and end up blowing their installation to hell.


Applications on iOS aren't allowed to touch storage outside of their own data store or the photo roll. Some developers used to backdoor around this by passing data via the photo roll, but Apple started denying app approval for this a while back.


Some developers used to backdoor around this by passing data via the photo roll

I've never heard of an app that did that. Can you name some?


I got it slightly wrong, it seems. Devs were using the photo roll as a way around the lack of USB mass storage support on the iPhone.[1] It's the Address Book that some devs have used to pass data between apps.[2]

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/02/apple-stanza-usb/

[2] http://stackoverflow.com/questions/220630/how-to-share-custo...


Still wondering what apps uses that trick, and which ones have gotten rejected for trying to use it ;)


Well, it's pretty clear that Stanza (from my first link) got in hot water with Apple given they pulled the feature at Apple's behest.

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.


TextExpander uses it for their SDK. Snippets you add in the TextExpander app is available to other apps which integrate with their SDK.


If you read the article, he's not making that assertion about the relative worth of Android. (And opening up with that as the basis of your argument is a disingenuous tactic, if done intentionally.) He's arguing that the third-party software library is weak, especially away from "enhancement/tweak" type software.

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 killer app for both platforms is the web. This is fairly obvious if you remember the original iPhone had few apps and was widely considered a poor phone (or cameraphone).

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.


What constituted a Killer app 3-4 years ago, when the iPhone hit the market, probably isn't one any more. At the time, decent web browsing on a mobile truly was a killer app because none of the alternatives (RIM, Palm, etc) had decent web browsers. So it was essentially exclusive - if you wanted a great web browser on a phone, the iPhone was your choice. Now it's basically a commodity feature, since all of the major mobile platforms have a workable web browser.

"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.


The point you make about the killer app is very true. Halo on the XBox came to mind. I think Google hoped turn-by-turn navigation would be it initially for Android, but I agree that (for the average user) there aren't any killer apps. If you get into domain niches (such as medical), that might be different.


Google Nav is pretty friggin awesome. I had a TomTom for the first year I lived in NYC and the last year I owned a car, and Google Nav was comparable on all fronts, as demoed in rental cars up and down the Eastern Seaboard since then.

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).


The problem with Gruber's argument though is there are no killer apps on the iPhone either. He lists a bunch of iOS apps in his story that I've never heard of. There's no Netscape. There's no Excel, Word. There's no Lotus 1-2-3.

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.


Gruber seems to make the assertion that a platform only has worth based on its exclusive "killer apps".

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.


"Android's strength is not its suite apps, it's its flexibility. It runs on an enormous range of hardware, and doesn't require that you buy into a single vendor's toolchain to use it."

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.


How about things like Launcher Pro, Swype, SwiftKey, and AppBrain?

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


"Gruber seems to make the assertion that a platform only has worth based on its exclusive 'killer apps'. He goes wrong there and never really recovers. Android's strength is not its suite apps, it's its flexibility."

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.


>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.

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.


It's not developer profitability per se but the appearance of developer profitability (among other things) that I think he was trying to get at. He says,

"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."


Thing is, the "Cupertino Grand Unified Vision" usually syncs up better with the needs and desires or the general population.

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.


> the "Cupertino Grand Unified Vision" usually syncs up better with the needs and desires or the general population Well, hackers are hardly "the general population".

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.


excuse-me. last time i checked i couldn't even use the ssh client that is installed by default in my phone.

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 :(


The only thing I mentioned that requires root was the FM Radio. I intentionally didn't mention root-only apps, given that your average user won't be running a rooted phone, but if we want to get into that territory, SetCPU, JuiceDefender, and Titanium Backup are all incredible apps that have no peer in the iOS ecosystem.


Hmm, which things are for rooted phones? Mine's unrooted and I have everything he mentioned except FM listener (I don't know what it is).


It's a part of the Cyanogen 6.1 ROM which enables me to listen to FM radio via the dormant-on-stock FM transceiver in my Nexus One. I specifically denoted that it was available via Cyanogen because it is the exception.


Ah, my Desire has a Radio app, so I don't need to root it for that either... Do you know if there is a compelling reason to root an Android phone? I haven't found anything I can't do yet, and the phone is close to supplanting my computer (especially with Swype/Swiftkey, K9 email and Skype/Meebo).


Complex SSH tunnels.

Better 2g fallback.

Touch screen fix, for nexus.

Hosts file editing.


So he is asking, where are the apps that are available for Android, but not iPhone that meet the following criteria

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?


Since the definition of 'Killer App' is an app that makes people buy it because it's not available on other devices, it doesn't make any sense to eliminate the ones that rely on Android-only features. That's what enables a Killer App.


Ah, but switch the question around and you have grubers point: Why wouldnt you have an Android version too...

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.


It's "Windows Only" logic: exclusivity through ubiquity. Why bother catering for the niche marget when you can score big with iOS?


In terms of deep integration, anyone know if an Android app can access the phone's text messages? I don't think an iPhone can, right?


SwiftKey (on Android) scans previous text and email messages, if I'm not mistaken.

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...


Yes, there are many SMS clients, such as Handcent.


A "Killer App" is by common definition one that is not available on other platforms and drives adoption of a particular platform so it can be used. If an app is available on both iPhone and Android, it's not going to drive purchase decisions one way or the other in the way a Killer App would.


The entire article reads a bit like the scene in The Life of Brian where the Jewish rebels enumerate all the things the Romans have done for them, and then say "but aside from that, what have the Romans ever done for us?"

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.


> 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.


> there seems to be a legitimate point in here about the difference between consoles and ordinary computers

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.


It's specialized computation -- not that difficult to understand. The iPhone certainly isn't my development environment, either.


> It's specialized computation

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.


You said main environment. I am a developer. The development environment is my main environment. I don't play video games, I rarely go on Facebook -- my computer is for reading and writing code and things having to do with code.


> You said main environment. I am a developer.

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.


Being able to point my phone at a sign written in a foreign language and having it translated into English instantly is not only a killer app for me, it blows my mind that we've gone from no cellphones 20 years ago to this.

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.


Being able to point my phone at a sign written in a foreign language and having it translated into English instantly is not only a killer app for me, it blows my mind that we've gone from no cellphones 20 years ago to this.

For those of us that don't use Android - which app is this?


I would assume he is talking about Google Goggles, which IIRC is also available as an iPhone app these days.

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, too have been amazed at the crappy quality of available games for Android. It's why I quit my wonderful job at Linden Lab, makers of Second Life, and started working full time on Android games. You can see my work in progress on my RPG here in a couple of videos here http://tango11.com/?cat=6.

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.


I'm envious of iPhone games, but primarily due to the aesthetics of the games rather than gameplay. Developers (and designers) are still chasing iOS money. I think Android will get there. I'm hoping Unity3D will result in more cross-platform game development.


To express my support, I will buy well-made Android games even if I don't need them that much.


Here's a list to start off with:

Any home screen widget, because you can.

ConnectBot

PDAnet (no shady jailbreak needed)

Barcode Scanner

My Tracks

Swype

Google Navigation

Google Voice (better than the new iPhone version)

Layar

Scripting Layer 4 Android

Google Speech To Text (Voice Search)

Slide Screen

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


Yeah, Scripting Layer 4 Android is what I came over here to say. Why does he distinguish google-developed apps from 3rd party apps? In terms of the "killer-app" criterion, it makes no difference.


It's pretty crazy that Android has a less restricted development model, yet only first party applications seem to have anything approaching design parity with the bulk of third party iOS applications.


ConnectBot has saved my bacon on more than one occasion!


Swype for me, it changed my input method so completely and utterly that it makes my input experience on the Ipad painful and primitive by comparison.


I'm not sure what's so "shady" about jailbreaking: the processes is very streamlined, and while you can find malicious software, the Cydia Store is about as curated -- if not more -- than the App Store.


Shady == replacing a system framework with your own hex edited version, poor source code, and installing .git dirs on end user devices. You should really examine what those jail breaking apps you use do. It's ugly.


OK, well, I actually wrote part of a few of them, and they do none of that.

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.


Forget PDAnet, 2.2 has a mobile hotspot built in. Also, Connectbot has SSH tunneling and Fennec (not in an app store, but you cab install it anyway) has a proxy plugin, no worries about Firesheep - try that on iOS. Reading this on my Galaxy Tab, BTW.


He said 3rd party apps.


Funny, my impression is that all the useful apps tend to be on Android. For example, I use Google Talk a lot, as it saves costs for sending SMS. I keep begging my iPhone 4 friend to use it, but he never even comments. I am not sure if it is not available on iPhone (multitasking problem?), or if he just doesn't care enough. Alternatively Twitter DMs are free, too.

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.


Well, the games are pretty big. I don't play any PC or Console games but I've somehow amassed about 30 games on my iPhone, very few on my Nexus One though.

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 a tuner called gStrings that looks very good, but I haven't had a chance to try it in action yet.


I'm a happy user.


His point is about the third-party app ecosystem; you're talking about first-party Google products, which he acknowledges and excluded.

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.


I don't care who the vendor of the app is, to be honest. What is the difference if the app comes from Google or somebody else? The point is, what are the useful apps.


Looks like Google Talk is available as a web app: http://googlemobile.blogspot.com/2008/07/google-talk-for-iph...

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...


I don't see how it would work as a web app. It has to have background notifications to be able to replace SMS.

Of course for direct chatting a web app would be OK.


I used to use Google Talk a lot. On the desktop it's handy. On my Android phone (HTC Desire) it seemed to work well.

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.


Meebo. It is the only IM app on the iPhone that I've found that is worth anything.

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.


> Google Talk is already limited to those who use gmail.

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...


I use OneTeam for GTalk - stays signed in for 12 hours and I've not noticed a missed notification (although they were sometimes delayed a bit)


There is a killer app for me: Tasker (http://tasker.dinglisch.net/).

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.


Have you used Locale? I've used it for awhile and haven't seen Tasker before.


I haven't, thanks for pointing it out. A superficial look suggests that Locale is simpler and more polished, while Tasker has a wider range of options.


Yeah, that seems like a fair assessment. One big win Locale has (unique at least as far as I can tell) is that it has a plugin API, so you'll find it can integrate with a few other apps.

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.


Tasker has been built such that it allows similar plugins and also claims compatibility with Locale plugins.

I've tried Tasker and PhoneWeaver but not Locale as of yet. I couldn't live without this functionality anymore.


I'll have to check to see if there are any interesting plugins that might work with Locale.

This type of app has been one of my favorite things about Android. I can't imagine doing without it either.


It's not that hard to unsterstand. iPhone had a lead on the Android and a lot of people invested heavily in iPhone. Now that Android has caught up in terms of marketshare it will take awhile for these people to catch up on their Android investment. As Android outpaces iPhone in the market, the app situation may end up reversed.


Also, remember he ignores apps which are available on both systems.

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.


"Also, remember he ignores apps which are available on both systems."

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.


The integration offered by some of the apps on android trumps those that exist on the iphone in my mind. Facebook, Twitter, and a 3rd party linkedin software i use integrate with my address book seamlessly, personally i find it a neat feature that my address book is populated with my friends social profile pictures, current status etc..


Did you see this part at the end, and if so, does that affect your judgement?

> 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.


Microsoft has a lot of weight in the game market. Not surprising that they convinced some people to get onboard. I doubt very much that, as Gruber seems to be implying, there is something intrinsically flawed about the Android platform that is a barrier to game development.

EDIT: Unity will likely make a big difference to the Android appsphere: http://unity3d.com/unity/coming-soon/android


They "convinced" developers to get on board in large part because they let devs use the same tools they've been using to create the original games on Windows with. If I had an existing PC game it's a no brainer to target WP7. Android is a much tougher sell.


They also paid for a lot of these ports. Many iPhone devs have mentioned Microsoft approaching them with money and help to get them to port to phone7.


Windows paid for all these companies to create the games. They funded the development - that's the only reason why.


So, why doesn't Google fund those same players? There must be a value judgement there because I gotta assume Google thought of that as an option.


Why incentive do they have to do this? Android has surpassed the iPhone in numbers--it's just a matter of time before developers switch to building Android first, then iOS.


Has it passed in terms of sales per unit time, or total sales to date? I think it's the former, whereas the latter matters more to someone selling apps.


Symbian has more units than iPhone but the iPhone has more apps.

Number does not equal app sales.


Microsoft had to do this since they are that far behind in the game. They probably blew billions to do this and not to mention, this is not a sustainable strategy. Google, on the other hand, should probably improve their NDK, which a number of changes are coming, to attract developers that way.


@Tichy has asked in the below comments,

> where are the killer games for OS X?


Yes, I think it's entirely understandable that developer adoption lags marketshare without reading giant implications about the platforms into it. Apple undeniably is brilliant at marketing their products and got developers wildly enthusiastic about them - normal laws of "physics" just don't apply to Apple in this space. For Android reality applies and this looks pretty much like a normal developer adoption curve for a platform to me.


The lead is important, but the real stat is "how many users buy apps?". Symbian has more users than both, but how many of those phones have 3rd party apps on them.


"If quantity of app titles were all that mattered, we’d all be using Windows, not Mac OS X, right?"

Err... Wait, are we all using Mac OS X?


His logic is sound, but you're misreading him: he's saying that (quantity of app titles all that matters) => (we're all using windows). We're not all using windows, so by contradiction quantity of apps is not all that matters. He's not saying that everybody is using OS X, just that not everybody is using windows.


Exactly. This is a logical error that I keep seeing being made from people, and having a logics background I can't help to notice.

A implies B does not imply that not B implies not A.


Actually, (A implies B) does imply (!B implies !A). It's the contrapositive.

For example, from Wikipedia, "All birds are animals" does imply "All non-animals are non-birds". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contraposition


Apparently he meant "(A implies B) does not imply (B implies A)". Affirming the consequent and all that.


>A implies B does not imply that not B implies not A.

Wait, what?

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.


Actually I made a mistake there. Going on mere memory and without checking, I put the double negation, which comes from an axiom.

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!).


Actually, it does mean that.

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).


The audience he's been speaking to since August 2002 are.


If you confine your worldview to right-thinking people, yes.

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.


Also, where are the killer games for OS X?


They used to have them, most of them were made by Adobe.


Killer apps exist.


"We are all" is not the same as "everybody is…" — it just means that everybody in some group that the speaker counts himself a part of shares the following attribute.

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.


In Gruber's world we are.


No, I think this is not correct. Most of the Gruber audience are, but he is of course well aware that OS X does not reach the two digits in market share.

EDIT: spelling.


I'd rather ask a different question.

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.


Did you read the post? He doesn't phrase it at all as an iOS is better than Android argument. He's saying it's interesting that as large as Android is, why there isn't any good 3rd party apps exclusively for it. There are no "I must get an Android phone so I can run this" apps.


"I must get an Android phone so I can run this" apps, such as Swype (since the discussion only includes iOS and Android), are excluded from the argument by Gruber.


Of course, that's an edge case. That's not a critical mass app. You aren't going to go to the mall and hear a someone talking about swype for android.


I actually have heard random people I do not know discussing Swype in public. It is actually a fairly big deal for hardcore texters (read: people ages 12-22 who use cellphones).


My suspicion is that the "killer app" is an artifact of the super-balkanized era of computing, the era when every vendor's machines ran a different bespoke operating system. That was true in the mainframe era, and it was true in spades in the early PC era, when the IBM PC and the Mac and the Apple II and the Amiga and the C64 and several dozen vendor-specific flavors of Unix all coexisted, all with different OSes and radically different hardware.

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!):

http://www.frankston.com/public/?name=ImplementingVisiCalc

Nowadays you can implement Visicalc in Javascript and run it on any platform with a customer base larger than five, while routinely creating temporary variables that are ten times the size of Visicalc's entire codebase.

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.


The problem I have with this article is the premise that if an app either started or is just also on iOS, somehow that invalidates its presence on Android. The iPhone had a huge lead in time and customer base. Any mobile app developer who calls themselves a mobile app developer is at least going to think about an iPhone app. Of course nearly every Android app is going to have an iOS equivalent. Saying an app needs to be exclusive is a weird statement that is designed to slag Android. Same thing for not counting Google apps/apps that do things iOS can't do. The real question I have is "What thing do you want to do on your phone that Android can't?"

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.


He's not better than that. You have to remember, he caters to an Apple audience. Because of this, when he is critical of Apple, his tone is soft and non-threatening so as to not offend his audience. When he is critical of his competitors, he often takes a hard, holier-than-thou tone in his posts to enforce his audience's affinity for Apple. In other words, his blog is highly polarizing by design.

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).


I think Gruber's underlying point is that exclusive apps are one of the things that helps a platform maintain success, because they are a barrier to exit.

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.


The real question I have is "What thing do you want to do on your phone that Android can't?"

Anything involving low latency audio.

http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=3434


.Interesting shift from unappealing or irrelevant to iOS users to the only ones Android has are ones that Apple doesn't want.

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?


As I read it, what Gruber's exploring is the idea that it's the app store ("app console") that matters now, not the OS.

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.


This is all getting fixed probably really soon. Android developers have been getting constant emails about upcoming Market changes.


The updates to the market were outlined in the emails that were sent out. They included sorely needed elements such as version update notes and more promotional information such as app promo text and graphics. Really though, these seem like changes that should have been implemented a long time ago. I'm waiting for the update where they follow through on the promises of the 2010 google IO.


You can't even view the iTunes store without iTunes.


You can view apps online.


but who really benefits outside of the carriers who get a free OS for their phones?

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.


The real question for me is, why are the Google apps closed source? The easiest way for Google to increase the quality of Android apps is to make development easy by providing great examples of how to do it right. Why can't we look at the code behind the gmail app or the maps app --- they'd all be great tutorials.


Gruber's whole premise is flawed. Android doesn't need killer apps.

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.


1. Buy an Android phone on verizon and use for 1 year. 2. Cancel contract and get an Android phone on T-mobile. 3. Sync contacts/emails and never skip a beat.

You get a standardized platform that transcends mobile carriers.


Ok, now that's funny...

"The first app in the list that’s exclusive to Android is #6, Lookout — an anti-virus app."


Sure, that's one thing it does. But it also lets you track your phone from the web (even if it's off -- it'll email you when it wakes up), and it'll let you force the phone play a loud sound so you can locate it (and potentially the person who took it).

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).


Gruber lives from the blood of iPhone users


Android is the killer app.


With the Intent system, this is quite literally true. Android is much more in line with the unix "small, sharp tools" philosophy, while iOS apps seem like they would fall victim to Zawinski's Law. AFAIK, in iOS you interact with yourself or the OS, while on Android, you can interact with anyone who registers an intent.


The thing is that this has always been Apple's design decision - the OS marks very clear distinctions between applications (as described here in another Gruber piece about the OSX - and MacOS - window manager http://daringfireball.net/2003/05/the_problems_with_clickthr...)

The difference being the Mac allowed you to follow the same unix style philosophy through pervasive scripting, which you can't do on iOS.

EDIT: typos


Isn't the difference here that Google sees Android, long term, as a web console rather that a (native) app console? The browser is the killer app.


I would like to suggest to the author that he should give "SpecTrek" (not affiliated, just a user) a try. I cannot comment on iOS apps (don't own a device, don't care much), but this game should've been the one that leads the android top 10 game list. And I guess it's unique to android as well.

Killer app? Nope. Interesting and a good example for something "different"? Yep.


I mentioned SL4A somewhere else, but I think it deserves its own comment.

http://code.google.com/p/android-scripting/

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...]


I can't help but feel that iOS would have crushed Android in the United States precisely because of its superior software catalog and attention to design, if only it had been available outside of AT&T's walls.


Perhaps. But a large part of the iPhone's "attention to design" is lack of carrier-mandated crapware, which is why it's not available on Verizon. Similarly, the average quality of Android phones would go up substantially if the carriers would stop crippling them, but that's the price Google had to pay to get the carriers to support them at all.


Is there an exclusive app to OSX that doesn't exist on Windows? If you make it for Android or OSX, it will eventually be done on Windows/iOS because of the larger user base (more profits).


I have no disagreement with Gruber here -- he is generally on the mark.

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.


anyone who praises the google apps like this article does must be nuts.

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)


Shouldn't this read, what are the Android "Force Kill"(er) apps?




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