Paul Stamatiou has penned an essay titled “Android is better” that’s now widely being circulated across the internets. Who is Paul? According to his bio, he created three start-ups before finally becoming an “Experience Designer” for Twitter. I have zero doubt in my mind that this guy is extremely intelligent based on his prose, but I fundamentally think his statement is wrong.
First, why does Paul think Android is better? He lists the reasons that many people new to the platform bring up: Tight integration with Google services. He’s also a huge fan of “intents”, otherwise known as the way Android will let an application call upon functionality in another application to get something done.
All of that is well and good, but guess which devices Paul used to come to his conclusion? The Nexus 4 and the Samsung Galaxy S4 Google Play Edition. Two phones that ship with stock Android. Two Android phones that have sold in such limited volumes that they barely even exist in the grand scheme of Android.
Most people who use Android use Samsung’s flavor of Android, or HTC’s flavor, or even worse, they buy a device that doesn’t cost $650. Again, Paul is a bright guy, and he lives in California, so of course he can afford the Google Play Edition GS4, but most Android users are using devices that cost a third of that price.
So is iOS better? Not really, it’s just different, and I’m basing this on my 28 months (September 2010 to January 2013) of owning an iPhone 4. My girlfriend owns an iPhone 5 and an iPad mini, and she lets me use them from time to time. Google’s services work just as well on iOS as they do on Android, and in most cases the iOS versions of Google’s apps often look better than their Android equivalents.
Why do some people use Android while others use iOS? For superficial reasons or reasons that most of us heavily embedded in the tech press tend to ignore. There’s the “fashion” angle. Everyone owns an iPhone, so I want to be different! There’s the size angle. I love watching videos, and the iPhone is too small! The most obvious reason is cost. The iPhone is $699, but the Galaxy Ace can do 90% of what the iPhone does for $200!
Will I ever switch back to iOS? You bet your ass. Back when I used to own an iPhone, I had pages and pages of folders filled with games and applications that I simply don’t have on Android. There are equivalents, sure, but you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone out there who doesn’t think iOS applications are more polished.
What will get me to switch back? It’s simple, really. All I want is a bigger iPhone. The Reuters rumor about Apple testing a 4.7 inch and 5.7 inch iPhone have me super excited for 2014. The phone I carry now has a 6.3 inch screen, and you might think that’s ridiculous, but that’s just one of the things Android allows because it’s different than iOS.
PS: If you’re one of those “Just flash a custom ROM, bro!” people, please wake up and smell the coffee. You are the one tenth of the one percent. Most people, myself included, will never get into Android hacking.