While on vacation, I was reminded (yet again) how superior the Android platform is to the iPhone. How this happened was simple — during my large family gathering, I had to work on several iPhones but no Android phones. As I worked on the iPhones, it hit me just how inflexible the iPhone platform is and in how many ways the Android mobile is superior.
As with any listing of this nature, every point here could be argued, but I wanted to try to keep this particular listing to facts and not just opinion. So, let's dig in and see how that goes.
- Application options. With the Android platform, all you have to do is tap the Menu button to get to the application options, even while the application is running. This is very much in line with how PC applications work. However, on the iPhone, you have to go through Settings to get to the application options. Sometimes this is circumvented when iPhone app designers add an Options button within an application — but this leads to inconsistency, because not all applications have options.
- Updates. For me, this one is the deal breaker for the iPhone. In order to get updates (especially firmware updates) the iPhone must be connected to iTunes. Android, on the other hand, offers two ways to get updates: OTA (Over The Air) or using a third-party tool that allows the upgrade to be installed via a PC. The third-party tool will depend upon the maker of the handset, but most of them work very well. The OTA updates also work almost flawlessly. The only bad experience I've had with OTA updates is with AT&T, because they only allow you to check for updates every 24 hours. This can cause some serious frustration when you KNOW there's an update available, but your handset has yet to see it. But generally speaking, when your provider makes the update available, it will appear and be ready for installation.
- No iTunes. I have always been very vocal about this. I have a great dislike for iTunes, and there are a lot of reasons for this. It's not intuitive, it's a resource hog, and it's forced upon you by Apple, when you want to fully manage your iPhone. With the Android platform, there is not one single application required to manage your device. In fact, a single Android device can be managed by multiple applications and in multiple platforms.
- Multitasking. That's right, the Android platform does true multitasking. Sure, Apple claims the iPhone does, but I challenge you to actually manage multitasking on the iPhone platform. With Android, all you have to do is hold down the Home button to see a list of your running applications. From that list, you can switch between apps at any time. There are even third-party Android applications (such as Power Strip) that can be installed that make the task of multitasking even more powerful.
- Application installation. With the Android platform, you can install apps from the Android Market, from your PC by simply copying the file to the mobile, or even transferring via Bluetooth. In fact, you can install home-grown applications just as easy as "official" applications created by Android developers. For developers, this is a real boon, because you don't have to rely solely on an emulator to make sure your application works properly. Some people argue that this opens up Android for possible malware, but if done carefully, it won't be an issue.
There are many reasons why I personally feel that Android is superior to the iPhone, but the above entries tend to float to the top for me. Yes, there are aspects of mobile life that the iPhone does quite well, but for anyone that prefers a sense of true freedom with their devices, Android is — far and away — the platform of choice.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.