I’ve noticed an increasing drumbeat of stories touting Android. This is both perplexing and interesting. It almost seems coordinated too.
At any rate, it shows that Android might be up to something that Apple should pay some attention to.
After the break, the cascade of recent press for Android.
Not in chronological order:
Even with a company like Apple, which many would say is the quintessential closed and controlling platform, Borthwick argues there is evidence of how powerful open can be: namely, the response when Apple shut out Google’s map application in favor of its own lower-quality application. The response from users seems to be part of a larger trend in which many are switching from Apple apps and services to Google ones (I wrote about some of my own experiences in that area recently, and why I am considering switching to an Android).
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 that has all my photos on it, and usually I have to copy the pictures from the iPhone to a computer with iTunes and then share them with the WD hub. But I figured maybe I could beam them from the Android because the hub is a DLNA device (DLNA is kind of 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.
Let’s assume, I receive an email with a PDF attachment which I’d like to use in some other apps and maybe post to a social network later.
On iOS, the user is forced to think around Apple’s constraints. There is no easy way to just detach the file from the email and subsequently use it in what ever way I want. Instead, all iOS apps that want to expose some sort of sharing feature, do have to completely take care for it themselves. The result is a fairly inconsistent, unsatisfying user experience.
On iOS, you might use the somewhat odd “Open in…” feature – in case the developer was so kind to implement it – to first move the file over to Dropbox, which gives you a virtual, cloud based file system. If you’re lucky, the other app, from which you want to use the file next, offers Dropbox integration, too, so you can re-download it and start from there. All because Apple denies the necessity of basic cross-app local storage.
On Android, it’s really simple.
I can detach the file to a local folder and further work with it from there. Leveraging every single app that handles PDF files. In case I receive a bunch of mp3 files, I can do the same. And every app, that somehow can handle audio playback, can reuse those mp3 files.
The real question is how long can this lifejacket of bullshit continue to buoy Apple’s business in the U.S. market? At some point won’t the U.S. wake up and realize what the rest of the world already knows?
With Samsung shipping almost 400 million phones last year, and Android winning 70 percent global market share in 2012, it seems inevitable that Google Play will become the most valuable app store in the world sooner rather than later.
This is Google’s great genius. Unlike Apple, which tries to create an optimal user experience by controlling every aspect of that experience, from hardware to software to web services, Google is happy to build for others’ platforms. Every user that interacts with Google, whether on a Blackberry or iPad or Windows desktop, is one step closer to embracing Chrome or Android or Google Talk or any number of other Google products. The more they use, the more advertising revenue they drive to Google.
For those reasons Gingerbread remains the most widely used version of Android, even though Google has put out three subsequent versions, called Honeycomb (aka 3.1), Ice Cream Sandwich (aka 4.0) and Jelly Bean (aka 4.1 and 4.2).
But new numbers from Google show Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean starting to take off. In a survey done over 14 days, Google says 45.6% of Android devices were running Gingerbread, while Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, if taken together, now total 42.6%.
By the end of this current year, 1.4 billion smartphones will be in use: 798 million of them will run Android, 294 million will run Apple’s iOS, and 45 million will run Windows Phone, according to a new study by ABI Research.
But Google’s voice recognition, combined with Google Now, Google Maps, and Google Search is really impressive. I don’t use Siri but my kids have all given it a try and mostly dropped it. I suspect Google Now might be better than Siri.
Scoble said he’s bailing because “Apple lately HAS slipped in my eyes and there are lots of examples how (Google Now, Waze maps, and tons of apps that are here already and coming on the Android platform, like SwiftKey keyboards).”
Scoble still believes that “most apps are smoother and have fewer problems on iOS,” but he’s switching anyway.
Partly Scoble seems excited about Google’s Project Glass wearable computer. He’s getting one soon, and says that “of course that will work better if you use Android.”
These stories tend to focus on the phone experience, however. I don’t see anyone dropping their iPad (or iPad Mini, especially) for an Android tablet.
And where’s the iBooks Author for Android?
Also, since the release of the iOS 6.x jailbreak, I’ve become interested in Cydia (and other repository) tweaks. I’ve discovered that such tweaks can turn an iPad (and iPad Mini) into a better tablet than any Android tablet. Hook up a hard drive? Yes. Get webOS-like Card switching of apps? Yes. Do multi-windowing better than even Samsung and Microsoft? Yes.
When I see a cascade of stories about people dropping their iPads for an Android tablet, then Apple will be in real trouble.
Until then, this cascade of stories is interesting but my own experience with a Samsung Galaxy S III was unconvincing. Google Now is compelling, but what about your privacy? And why do I seem to be the only person who finds Settings in Android to be a confusing mess?