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.




  1. “By contrast, Android allows you to run apps from any store you choose.”

    That’s not a positive. It’s a negative. Android’s market is heavily fragmented, hideous, confusing, and an utter nightmare. One store where you can find everything is a far, far better, less confusing way to buy apps. Considering that the iPhone has over 300,000 apps, there’s absolutely no way that you could argue that platform doesn’t have the apps you need. It has a bigger market than Android. So that argument doesn’t hold water.

    Android is ugly, unintuitive, laggy, and fragments. Basic features that should be simple to use are often buried under layers. Don’t even get me started on malware and update nightmares. Android is a complete mess. I know, because it was my first smart phone. Hated with such a passion, that I broke my contract to get rid of it.

    Google knows nothing about user experience or UI. Android has become worse than Windows Mobile, and it was awful, despite it’s few positives. Thank Christ that Microsoft ditched it and made a far superior OS.

  2. Android’s market is no more or no less confusing than any marketplace of any mobile OS. Markets by nature are a disaster. I loathe them all. Anyone who is “just browsing” in a market is wasting time. And if you are confused, you deserve Apple. Apple is designed for the lowest common denominator user- the utter idiot who doesn’t have any curiosity. You find good apps from reviews and recommendations. And forums. And then you are linked directly to them, whether they be in the “official” Android Market or not, removing any and all confusion, save for utter morons who shouldn’t have smartphones anyway.

    Your assessment of Android’s ugliness is arbitrary and subjective. I couldn’t disagree more. Laggy? My Nexus S running Gingerbread could not be slicker or faster. It’s the finest phone I’ve ever had, bar none. And I go through phones on a yearly basis. I’ve been on every carrier. I work in IT, so I’m inundated with people who use every type of phone imaginable. I know every OS.

    Malware? What kind of clueless freak gets malware on a smartphone. You are doing everything wrong if you get malware on a smartphone.

    I had Windows Mobile right before Android. It was a joke. To say that Android is worse than Windows Mobile is beyond ignorant and automatically discredits anyone who says so. Everything on Android WORKS out of the box. On Windows Mobile, I had to hack everything just to get it to barely, maybe work, sometimes, if I prayed to Jesus and all of his disciples really, really hard.

    Google seems to understand my needs just fine. I’m a high demand user with complex needs, and Android is my OS of choice.

  3. You failed to mention that android apps are infected with malware, while iOS is clear any sign.

    Also, for those that are using GVoice. Here are something to think about. However, not to say that Apple aren’t doing things like these.
    Google Voice has access to the following information:

    Your personal information
    Services that cost you money
    Your messages
    Network communication
    Your accounts P
    hone calls
    Hardware controls and finally
    System tools.

    • Anyone who installs Google Voice, provided he or she can read, is fully aware of this access.

      Regarding apps carrying malware, simply do some research before installing anything. Google before you install. I’d gladly accept this risk and have more freedom than be locked down by Apple’s control.

  4. Eric, try Windows Phone 7. If you think Android just works, you must not use it much. If you think its fast and see no lag you need to try Windows Phone 7. It will open your eyes to how bad Android really is.

    • I’ve played with Windows Phone. I have no bias against it. I found it to be quick and sleek. But all of my documents are in Google Docs. All of my email is in Gmail. And I use Google Voice for all of my phone calls, so I need an OS that accommodates Google applications as seamlessly as possible. It’s just not realistic that Windows Phone could serve my needs on this level.

  5. @Eric Greenwood:

    Whew, you are spewing some flamebait today…

    As someone who now lives comfortably in both Microsoft and Androids ecosystems, I can say confidently that you made a choice to buy into an ecosystem. I get that, but it’s not impossible for you to leave it. Furthermore, you’ve changed your own needs via the ecosystem that you’ve chosen.

    – (Obviously) Google docs for the most part can be downloaded to it’s Office equivalent or PDF. I still think that cloud copy and paste is a great idea, but I’d much rather have traditional iterations as an option, too.

    – Gmail is everywhere with various levels of integration. I’ve heard this argument before. IMO, what you lose is out on is the ability to “star” mail and the priority inbox. To those people who have had gmail for over 3 years and have been able to properly identify everything that should belong in the Priority Inbox, kudos to you (triple kudos to those folks who did it and didn’t label anything).

    – GV is a mixed bag. Mainly because the experience changes via Carrier (in the US). If you’re on Sprint, this is an easy one. You can port your number and VM forward to GV for free. T-Mobile, $20 charge to port your number and depending on your plan, you may have to pay an ETF. GV satisfies my needs for screening and placing certain business calls on WP7 but there isn’t a dialer out for it. I have to use the website or dial my number first.

    Now to your earlier comments:

    “Android’s market is no more or no less confusing than any marketplace of any mobile OS. Markets by nature are a disaster. I loathe them all. Anyone who is “just browsing” in a market is wasting time. And if you are confused, you deserve Apple. Apple is designed for the lowest common denominator user- the utter idiot who doesn’t have any curiosity.”

    That’s so ridiculously unfair, it’s laughable. In as much as I hate Apple for their lack of customization (among other things), they make brilliantly use the genius button in the App Store. Anyone who is “just browsing” gets a tool that is used in other parts of the OS that suggests apps for them. Lowest common denominator or not, that’s just plain useful. Moreover, what’s the difference between browsing an app market for apps and browsing the internet for apps (to be side loaded later)?

    And for the record, can we officially put it out there that people get different experiences out of Android devices if the word “Nexus” is in it’s title? This is getting a little silly now. High End or not, The Optimus 2x lags as so did the Atrix.

    While I’m clearing the air, I LOVE Swiftkey. I loathe Spare Parts.

    (Bonus ball time: I’m in IT too, the majority of phones that I see? iPhones and BBs. Sometimes on the same person. Limited exposure/30 min exposure != expert; More fun, “only idiots get malware” is the funniest statement that comes from IT people, IMO. I used to say it but then again, I run strict Kaspersky and have a ridiculous Acronis schedule for someone not running a server at home. The true nature of well written malware is not something that you can just avoid by not clicking on banners and visiting porn sites. I’m sure your smart enough to avoid it all though.)


    You and Simmons should team write an article. It’ll be fun to dissect.

  6. @fight

    if the ecosystem i have “bought into” works as designed, why on earth would i choose to leave it? i have zero complaints. so, your whole explanation about how to extricate myself is pointless.

    yes, people get different experiences out of android. if you want the best experience, buy a high end phone, i.e. a Nexus. it’s the phone that most closely resembles what google intends. if you don’t like the price-point or the hardware, don’t use android.

    i’m not saying that it’s impossible to get malware on android. but common sense goes a long way. and if you’re smart about what apps you choose to install, you reduce the likelihood significantly.

  7. I miss WinMo pre 7. I hope a WP device I want is released before I am ready to buy again. I want to give WP a chance.
    I didn’t read much of the previous comments.
    I am currently using android on a Dell Streak 5″. It seems like a step backwards from where WinMo 6.x was. But I am OK with it.
    Ios just simply works, and I like the look of the I phone 4. It is not for me, but I can see the appeal.
    Thank God we are not all the same. Peace

  8. @Eric Greenwood:

    Hmm, saying that you tried a WP then saying that Android fits your means when you clearly haven’t tried to use the phone as your daily driver is questionable, at best. Since you have “specific needs,” I would think that you would look at other OS environments a little more critically. Furthermore, if you do swap phones yearly, it looks like you have no interest in swapping to another ecosystem, not because it suits you better but because you immersed yourself in it.

    Kinda funny that you chose the term bought in. There’s an iPhone user reference in there somewhere, I’m just too lazy to flesh it out right now.

    The Optimus 2x and Atrix aren’t low or mid-range devices, come on now.

    Without controls on the OS in terms of content, it will continue to be easier to get malware on the OS because of sideloading, simple. Maybe you are savvy enough not to tap on pictures of “drunk and hot girls waiting in your area,” maybe one of your friends are. Better example, downloading a black market app. You may want to pay for Homerun Battle 3D or Super K.O. Boxing 2 but your friend may not. Those games have additional downloads that you must agree to before playing. Who the hell knows whats going on behind that progress bar?!

    Most effective smartphone malware programs go after contact books (after all, its a public API). Common sense does go a long way, agreed, but you aren’t in control of every event on the OS (at least not on the UI level).

  9. @the fight

    why would i try WP as my daily driver when i am perfectly happy with what i have? my current OS fits my “specific needs” perfectly well. you can’t with a straight face tell me that WP offers google sevices better than google does? i can’t roll my eyes any harder at such nonsense.

    no, those devices are not low end, but they are infested with carrier bullshit. if you want a clean Android experience, it’s Nexus or nothing. i think you know this perfectly well.

    of course, i am savvy enough to avoid malware. i have never had any ever on a smartphone. doesn’t that sort if sum it up? doesn’t that make it perfectly possible to avoid if you are careful? what would make my point any clearer for you?

    i never said i was in control of every event on the OS level, but i think the openness is worth the risk.

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