Why I might ditch my iPhone for an Android

Apple's hardware is great, and its well-tended operating system is beautiful. But behind the garden walls are bars that restrict your choices in all kinds of ways.

By MSN Money Partner Jan 23, 2013 4:14PM

A man examines an Apple Inc. iPhone 5 while holding a smartphone running Google Inc.'s Android operating system (© Daniel J. Groshong/Bloomberg via Getty Images)By: Mathew Ingram, Bloomberg Businessweek  


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After being in love with my iPhone for several years now, my attentions are increasingly being pulled elsewhere -- and I'm not fighting it. I've been an iPhone fan since I first got my hands on one: It instantly made my BlackBerry feel like an ugly brick that was designed by orangutans.


All I wanted to do was hold my iPhone forever, and that's almost exactly what I've done since I first got one -- until I switched to using an Android phone over the holidays.


I didn't decide to try an Android phone because I was dissatisfied with Apple (AAPL) or the iPhone. I still think the iPhone is one of the best-designed, most appealing products I've ever used. I have a MacBook Air and an iPad that I also love using, and I recommend them whenever I get the chance.


But I will confess that I have been looking enviously at Android phones after seeing friends using them and even more after borrowing one last fall for a trip to Amsterdam.


Beyond these walls

Part of what interests me is the larger screen on the Nexus and other phones. I like to read Web pages and documents and to look at photos on my phone, so more screen real estate is appealing. But I'm also interested in the openness of the Android ecosystem, and I wonder if that would be a benefit, compared with the walled garden that Apple runs for iOS.


There's no question that Apple's garden is beautiful, as walled gardens go. It is extremely well maintained: Nasty or disturbing apps are kept out, and everything is checked to make sure it works properly, which is a big benefit. In other words, the bars are hard to see behind all those beautiful flowers.


But in some cases, useful things are kept out as well -- content, applications or ways of integrating with other networks and services that may not meet Apple's standards (or that aren't willing to pay Apple for the privilege of connectivity).


Here's one anecdote that sums up the differences between the two platforms for me: When I took a photo with the Android phone, a Motorola Razr HD, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could beam it to my TV somehow. I have a media hub from Western Digital (WDC) that has all my photos on it. Usually, I have to copy the pictures from the iPhone to a computer with iTunes and then share them with the WD hub. I thought perhaps I could beam them from the Android because the hub is a DLNA device. (DLNA is essentially the open version of Apple's AirPlay standard for wireless networking.)


Within five minutes, I had downloaded an app that beamed my photo to the WD hub, and we were looking at it on the TV. I did the same thing with a YouTube video.


Doesn't play well with others

Another light-bulb moment happened when I went to share a Web page from the Motorola. When you do this on the iPhone, you get to choose between Twitter, Facebook (FB), email and printing, but on the Android the sharing menu is longer than the screen. You can share just about anything with just about anything else, whether it's a Web service or an app.

 

For me, that's a potent difference between the two platforms.


It's probably possible to beam your photos to your television with an iPhone or iPad, but to do that you would need an Apple TV and AirPlay and be hooked into other parts of the Apple ecosystem (such as iTunes, which I have always loathed using). If you have a motley crew of non-Apple technology the way I do -- such as the Western Digital hub and my desktop that runs Ubuntu -- you are a second-class citizen in some ways, because Apple often doesn't play well with others.


I've gradually been replacing many of Apple's services and default applications, such as maps and mail, with Google ones or those made by others. The iPhone hardware still appeals to me, because it is so well-made and great to hold. But for services, Apple has never really been the best, and you can see that in services like iCloud.


I would miss things about the iPhone. I'd miss iMessage; a lot of my friends and family also have iPhones. I'd also miss Photostream, which is a great way to have pictures I take automatically show up on my iPad and MacBook Air. But I have replicated much of this by using auto-upload with both Google (GOOG) and Facebook, as well as an open-source photo hosting service called OpenPhoto that uses Amazon.com's (AMZN) S3 for hosting.


When I try to describe the difference between the two platforms to friends, I put it this way: With iOS, if you want to do something, there may be one or two apps that will let you, and they work pretty well. But if you want a feature they don't have, you are out of luck. With Android, if you want to do something with the phone, there are 15 or 20 apps that will help you, and many are free, but most won't do everything you want and only a couple will actually work the way you want them to.


For me it comes down to this: Apple has great design, but it restricts your choice in all kinds of ways.


I have been seeing those restrictive bars more and more, despite all the beautiful flowers. Android offers a kind of "tyranny of choice." But in the end, I think choice and openness are better, even if they seem less attractive at first glance. That's why I'm thinking of making the switch permanent.


A version of this post first appeared at GigaOM.com.


More from Bloomberg Businessweek

143Comments
Jan 31, 2013 12:37PM
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the author makes some good points about why they personally are thinking about changing.  ok, i get it.  what i dont get is why MSN keeps putting links to this article that is a week old on every page on the site, especially next to any links that say that apple's stock is down.  whether you agree with the author or not, this sounds like a hachet job.
Jan 24, 2013 11:43PM
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Apple is not relying on customer loyalty as much as customer entanglement with the "Apple Eco-system".  Most people that use Apple products are not so industrious or brave to try things that require technical knowledge, such as DNLA compliant devices.  They just know that with Apple, it just works.  People talk about Android and Samsung as the ones Apple should keeping their eye on, but Microsoft with windows 8/metro phones is the new sexy that already has a defacto eco system (XBox, Surface and all windows 7/8 PC's) which doesn't require a lot of thinking.
Jan 24, 2013 7:05PM
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Just remember if you don't like Google - for whatever reason - you'll find your Android irritating.
Jan 24, 2013 7:00PM
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Another senseless debate , ford vs Chevy , Toyota vs Honda , who gives a rat a$$, get a life 
Jan 24, 2013 6:15PM
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I don't want neither one of them pieces of crap.  I got a phone.  That is all I need and don't need it much.
Jan 24, 2013 5:49PM
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had at least one of each and i still love my BB for ease of use.........BUT......I now have an android.....BB fell by the wayside because they just expected you to by another BB....JUST like APPLE...I HATE using Itunes and the phone doesn't do anything "innovative" Ill just stick with my new android phone thank you
Jan 24, 2013 4:32PM
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Have had every iphone even the iphone 5 for a day sold it 2 days later for 550 and bought the galaxy note and love the phone.  apple products like the laptops and tablets will always be successful but i feel their phone market is going to suffer in the next couple of years while android and samsung take off like a rocket ship (if they have not already)

Jan 24, 2013 4:09PM
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Never ever will I jump on the Apple bandwagon LOL.  Went right from my Blackberry to My Samsung Galaxy SIII and love it! Apple is only as big as you make them!

Jan 24, 2013 3:48PM
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steve jobs was not the great.. he is over rated
Jan 24, 2013 3:46PM
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i said it a long time ago. No company can be trendy and  hot for ever. Apple sells hot, trendy and they try to hit home runs every time.

 

BYE BYE Apple, your best days are behind you!

Jan 24, 2013 3:43PM
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Apple sold alot of phones last quarter.wallstreet just wanted them to se more.It's a good company ,

goo0d stock.Buy it where it's at today and a year or 2 it'll be back ober $700 to $800 A share.And it pays A

 nice dividend.Buy when it's low.

Jan 24, 2013 2:34PM
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I have never been much of an Apple fan, save their stock. Never owned a Mac or any Apple product, save their stock. In the beginning the cost put me on the PC path, even though an Apple was the first computer I used to do a spreadsheet at work, and now it's just a why switch to Apple after all these years. I am a huge Steve Jobbs fan though. I fear now that he has passed that Apple will become just another player in the world of digitalization. As I write this my Apple shares have lost 7% from their high. Fortunately, I've had them for 10 years so it's all capital gains but the lack of a dividend while sitting on billions and billions of cash makes me in the mood to sell them soon which I should have done before the capital gain tax increased to 20%.  As the writer stated, access and choice and interconnectivity will decide what people use.
Jan 24, 2013 2:33PM
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I was an Iphone user for a couple of years then I decided to try on the Android Maxx HD and so now I can openly say that Iphones are history. Technology changes therefore untill another great technology comes out the Android is the way to go for me.
Jan 24, 2013 2:28PM
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Been saying this for some time now: "Apple is too *&&^% restrictive!
Jan 24, 2013 2:22PM
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I had the iphone 4 and now have a Samsung.  It is my opinion that the android markets are growing while the Apple products are not adjusting or making their products more appealing to people.  The thing that I HATE most about the apple is the lack of expandable memory.  

I like to be able to buy one product and increase the holding capacity to MY needs and not have to buy something new, or purchase my spot in the cloud.  I still use iTunes and an iPod and continue to use them, but other than music I will not buy an Apple product any time soon.
Jan 24, 2013 2:15PM
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Maybe I missed something, but the original article implies it is difficult or impossible to watch ipad photos, videos, etc. on your tv without Apple TV & Airplay.  Not true.  The ipad 2 or 3 mirrors everything to the tv with just an HDMI connection.  I do it all the time and I'm no technology expert.
Jan 24, 2013 2:13PM
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and hardware is very similar. I have used memory, hard drives and cd/dvd drives out of an apple and put them into my PC.
Jan 24, 2013 2:11PM
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Oh now you realize its not just about being hip, having the trend. Now you want functionality. It only took you years to realize. You still recommend your Imac and Ipad cause thats all you know. You have been led to believe that they are cutting edge. You also over paid for what you got.

Jan 24, 2013 2:08PM
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i will wait until technology is implanted into our heads [ N.E.M.O.N.I.C. ]. where we do not rely on
hardware design esthetics/cosmetics.  In_tell-e_gent????
  ;-}}

Jan 24, 2013 1:58PM
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I switched to the iPhone in November after 2 years of nothing but problems with my Android.  It constantly locked up, would restart whenever it felt like it, and had force close after force close.  I had my first one for 3 weeks before it stopped sending text messages.  The second one worked off and on then after a year and a half it started having issues to the point I couldn't even use it.  It stopped recieving calls and texts, among other things.  I agree the Android system offers more apps and way more customization, but when I can't even use my phone that does me no good.  After almost 3 months with my iPhone I don't regret the switch at all.  What it really comes down to is personal preference, what your needs are, and how much bad luck you have with phones (which is my case). 
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