I love Google. My relationship with the company is very different to my relationship with Apple (grudging respect) or Microsoft (mild, perpetual frustration). I use the company’s products all over the place. But I’m not yet unequivocally recommending Android phones to anyone but the early adopters for a few reasons.
Am interested in others’ thoughts, especially those who have been in both camps (I’ve trialled, but not owned, and Android device):
1) Experience uniformity. There isn’t any, because device manufacturers can customise it massively. So fine for early adopters, but for mass market – every Android device will feel slightly different and you’ll have to learn it again.
2) Software upgrades are fragmented. Because of the device fragmentation (some screens are 3.2 inches some 4.3, some 2.7, different resolutions, processor speeds etc), Google can’t roll out upgrades for everyone at the same time. This means where with an iPhone you potentially always have the latest features, with an Android phone you have to wait for your phone manufacturer to catch up and update the software for you. And worse, potentially your operator too.
3) Application sprawl. It’s bad on iOS but Apple’s Appstore’s quality control and consumer feedback mechanism protects you from dodgy apps and malware in a way Android does not always manage. Also, there are now multiple appstores for Android. Is that much choice good for a consumer? Theoretically yes, in practice it’s a little confusing.
4) Security. For the same reason it’s hard to patch the OS, it’s hard to provide uniform security. Exploits will occur on individual handsets customisations (HTC Sense, Motorola Motorblur etc) and legacy Android versions (a large number of handsets in the field are running Android 1.5, 2.0, 2.1 and the latest version is 2.3).
5) Skype doesn’t work with front facing video on Android, and one of the major uses my iPhone gets is letting Emily speak to her Grandparents from it and the iPhone plays a key part of that.
6) Peripherals are more easily available for iPhone at the moment – manufacturers only have to design for one/two form factors so there are tonnes about, from cases to docks and beyond. Not so with the Android jobbies…
7) Product creep. At least with Apple I’m guaranteed a year before I start to feel Phone Envy. Google’s iterative development cycle is seeing point releases and new features coming out several times a year, and hardware seems to be changing at least twice a year too. I can’t afford to keep up with that and I like being at the edge of things…!
There are tonnes of reasons to choose Android, don’t get me wrong – Google integration, great hardware from a number of manufacturers, loads of great apps, more affordable than iOS, and better on a number of individual features – but I can’t help but feel that on the whole ithas the potential to be a little more confusing than the average user might like – and so I’m sticking with iOS for now.