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Android Is ‘Failing Well’

Boing Boing Editor Cory Doctorow has written an excellent piece for the Guardian about how well a system works is merely half the picture- the other half being how badly it fails. In this context he pits Apple’s iOS versus Google’s Android. Android comes out the winner, albeit only backhandedly, but the winner nonetheless:

So why use Android? Because it requires less trust in Google than using iOS requires that you trust Apple. iOS has one official store, and it’s illegal in most places to buy and install apps except through this store. If you and Apple differ about which apps you need, you have to break the law to get your iPhone or iPad to run the app that Apple rejected.

Jailbroken iOS devices have sometimes been targeted by Apple security updates that render them inoperable, and jailbreakers have a reputation for not keeping their devices up-to-date.

By contrast, Android allows you to run apps from any store you choose. Google still rejects plenty of apps submitted to its store, but if you don’t like Google’s choices, you can decide to make some of your own.

That’s failing well.

He elaborates on why he uses Android on a daily basis:

I prefer Android because it’s relative openness means more people can and do inspect its workings to ensure it is doing what Google claims it is doing. I prefer Android because when Google decides to leave out a feature that users might want – such as tethering – the people making alternative OSes for the platform stick that feature in, and shame Google into adding it in subsequent versions.

Doctorow is not wrong. Apple’s heavy-handed control is what pushed me into giving my first generation iPhone away. I became bored with the device simply because there was a limit to what I could do with it. And a constant cycle of jailbreaking, waiting on jailbreak versions to meet iOS versions just became too cumbersome. Android is not perfect by any means, but it works well enough to curb my disgust. And it’s certainly more customizable than any Apple device. It may not be as easy to use or intuitive to the technologically challenged, but Google doesn’t smugly deign always to know best.