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.
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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.
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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)
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!
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!
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.
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.
hardware design esthetics/cosmetics. In_tell-e_gent????
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