Android vs. iPhone

MG Siegler – a blogger who runs the site ParisLemon <http://parislemon.com/post/15604811641/why-i-hate-android> writes about the past, and Googles’ failure to sell smartphones unlocked for $99 that would allow consumers to “give it to the carriers”. To me, the whole rant sounds and feels like democrats who are not going to vote, in protest over Obama’s failure to carry his agenda over a grid-locked Republican controlled, highly partisan congress. In fact all his rants sounds like that, including his similar rant about Android’s openness.
Everything needs to be considered from the now. There really is nothing else. I too bemoan the fact that there are no cheap unlocked phones that I can buy a SIM for, and use without contract. I too wish that Google had the intestinal fortitude (and wireless spectrum chest) to do battle with the carriers and win. But it did not happen. Life does move on.
Right now, there are extremely powerful, attractive and functional Android phones available that are, for this user (and obviously many others)  viable alternatives to the iPhone. Not shabby alternatives, but superior ones. I use, every day, many features which I consider essential, that came in the box on my supposedly inferior Android phone. Many of those features are available on the iPhone, but several are not. My wife has had a 3GS since they came out, so I know that of which I speak.
I terms of apps, to mention a couple I speak specifically of Google Navigation – far superior to anything on the iPhone. I travel regularly across the border, and Google Nav has been our GPS many times. There have been hitches, but few and far in between. Calendar – the iPhone has nothing in power and flexibility by comparison. Frankly, I manage my life using the Calendar. Between myself and my wife (who has to scrape by with an add on paid app called goo-sync) – we use 6 calendars, all merged and colour coded into a single sweeping screen of activity, accessible on any computer/tablet/phone we are logged into. There are numerous other apps that I use regularly that I find the Android version either better, more flexible on Android, or simply unavailable on iPhone. I am sure the reverse is true somewhere, but I haven’t come across it.
The music player – the iPhone plays only mp3, wma and mp4. We (my wife and I) have a huge collection of CDs, and I have ripped them all to flac, and then converted them to .ogg files. I chose ogg, because it provides the best sound for a given compression that I could find. I even created a blind tester, where I used a script to play a sample of the same songs on each player in random order, and submitted my vote. Across 100 test runs, 67% favoured ogg, with 13% neutral and only 20% in favour of mp3. BUT: the iPhone won’t play .ogg files, and I cannot install a player that will. So in order to support my wife’s iPhone, I have to create another copy of every music file in .mp3 format.
Then we have iTunes – an ill-behaved monster of a Windows program that sucks CPU and HD activity. It will NOT work correctly with a network drive – making nonsense of the family effort to consolidate our music in one place. The Android on the other hand lets me drag and drop practically any music file format under the sun onto the phone as an external drive via usb. In fact, I can drag and drop any file at all, and if I have an app that reads the file, I will able to use it on the phone as soon as I have disconnected the USB. No iTunes, no windows app at all.
I can run an ssh terminal shell on my Android, that lets me log in remotely to my server when away. I can use VNC to connect to a remote windows machine over an ssh tunnel (I mention this because in spite of most peoples eyes glazing over at this point, when I was running my tech business, it saved my butt when traveling to far off places).
Android phones use a standard USB cable. I have the choice of all-screen, or physical keyboard. I have an array of add-ons such as an external screen and keyboard. I can tether my laptop(s) to my Android when I am out of free WiFi range – a feature that is indispensable at  the moment since my new ISP has cocked up their installation appointment. My wife’s iPhone cannot do this.
Before anyone wonders – I am using an old (3 years) Acer Liquid E. It runs Android 2.2, and it is far more useful to me than iOS whatever. When this phone keels over and dies (and it shows no signs of doing so) I intend to replace it with another droid, and the above is all part of why.
You can hate Android all you want for its failure to be all that it could have been, but I ask you this: did Apple do any better on the same issue. Can you buy a $99 iPhone and “stick it” to the carrier without a contract? It will never happen. At least Google tried.

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