If you do not like a personal story about infidelity, please read it again. After falling in love with my iPhone for a few years now, my attention is often drawn the other places and I’m not against it. I’ve been a fan of the iPhone since the first time I got my hands on one: It instantly makes my BlackBerry (RIMM) feel like an ugly brick designed by orangutans. What I want to do is go on forever, and it’s almost exactly what I’ve done since I first had one-until, that is, I switched to using Android phones for the holidays.
I did not decide to try out an Android phone because I was not satisfied with the Apple (AAPL) or iPhone. I still think the iPhone is one of the products, with the best designs of the most interesting I have ever used. I have a MacBook Air and the iPad which I also like to use, and I recommend them whenever I get the chance. But I will admit that I have seen on Android phone envy for a while after seeing my friends as my colleague Kevin Tofel GigaOM use them-and then borrow one last fall on a trip to Amsterdam for our structure: a European conference.
Part of what attracted me was the larger screen on the Nexus and other phones. I love reading Web pages and documents, and view photos on my phone; so much screen real estate is attractive. But I’m also interested in open Android ecosystem, and wondered if it would be a benefit, compared with the walled garden that Apple goes to iOS.
There is no question that the Apple beautiful parks, such as walled gardens going. It is very well maintained: Nasty or annoying apps that keep coming out and checked to make sure everything works well, which is definitely a great benefit. In other words, the bar is hard to see behind all the beautiful flowers. But in some cases, useful things that keep coming out too-content, applications, or to integrate with other networks and services that may not meet Apple’s standards (or are not willing to pay Apple for the privilege).
Here’s one anecdote that sums up the difference between the two platforms for me: When I take a photo with Android phones (Motorola (GOOG) Razr HD), it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could beam up to my TV somehow. I have a media hub of Western Digital (WDC), which has all my photos on it, normally I have to copy the pictures from your iPhone to your computer with iTunes and then share them with WD hub. I thought maybe I could beam them from Android because the hub is a device DLNA (DLNA is a kind of open standard version of Apple AirPlay for wireless networks). Within five minutes, I had downloaded an app that my pictures beamed to the WD hub, and we saw on TV. I did the same thing with YouTube videos.
Another light bulb moment happened when I went to share Web pages from Motorola. When you do this on the iPhone, you can choose between Twitter, Facebook (FB), e-mail, and printing, but on Android, share your menu is longer than the screen. You can share just about anything with just about anything, whether it be a Web service or an application. For me, it’s sort of a metaphor for the two platforms.
It may be possible to beam your images to your television with your iPhone or iPad, but to do that you’ll need an Apple TV and AirPlay, and will be connected to another part of the Apple ecosystem (such as iTunes, which I confess I always hated using). If you have a motley crew of non-Apple technologies-like the way my Western Digital hub and my desktop running Ubuntu you are second class citizens in some ways because Apple often does not play well with others.
For a while, I also saw something that I’ve seen others, like Liz Gannes at All Things Digital says: I have gradually been replacing many Apple services and applications with a standard such as Google Maps and Mail, or made by someone else. IPhone own-hardware-still appeals because it is so well made and great to hold. But for the service, Apple has never really been the best, and you can see that in things like iCloud.
I miss things about the iPhone. As Ralf Rottmann, who has written a great post about making the same key, iMessage because I missed a lot of friends and family has an iPhone. I also lost Photostream, which is a great way to have a picture I took automatically appear on my iPad and MacBook Air. But I have replicated this lot using the auto-upload to Google and Facebook, as well as open-source photo hosting service called Openphoto using (AMZN) Amazon S3 for hosting.
When I try to describe the differences between the two platforms to my friends, my way: With iOS, if you want to do something, there may be one or two applications that will let you, and they work quite well-but if you want those features are not have, you’re in luck. With Android, if you want to do something with the phone, there were 15 or 20 apps that will help you, and many are free, most will not do everything you want and only a few will actually work the way you want them.
For me it boils down to this: Apple has a great design, but it limits your options in all sorts of ways. I’ve seen those bars tighter and more, despite all the beautiful flowers. But Android offers a kind of “tyranny of choice.” In the end, I think the choice and transparency the better, even if they seem less attractive at first glance. That’s why I was thinking of making the switch permanent. I’m sorry, Steve.