Why Apple/iOS Trumps Android For Me
In 2009 it was between the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3GS as I was upgrading my Palm Treo 680. I knew either way I was picking a new platform, and I went with Apple's (iPhone OS 3.0 with support for GPS turn-by-turn apps helped make that decision for me). At the time, Android simply was not a viable option for me. Today I look back at my investment in iOS and I realize that I have no regrets mainly because of the great software available for iOS devices --- software I can trust for the most part because it is reviewed (unless somebody sneaks something by the reviewer). If advanced customization and tinkering became a big concern for me or if there was a must-have app that Apple would not allow, then my first choice would be to jailbreak iOS rather than switching to Android.
I'm not knocking Android 4.0 / ICS at all. Its a beautiful and smooth running OS that is delightful to use. But for me, ICS and iOS 5 are a wash on the surface. The next layer for me is great third-party software -- that's what makes the phone fun for me. I've not seen much beyond the basic popular apps and the Google apps that get me excited on Android. Most stuff folks show me is some cool utility that lets them do something geeky. Don't get me wrong, I DO get excited about geeky stuff, but not nearly as excited as I do for things like:
- Starting up Solar Walk and show my kids information on Mars as we look at it in the sky.
- Using iThoughts HD on my iPad to organize thoughts and information in a mind map while sitting in a meeting.
- Playing Real Racing 2 or Infinity Blade II or just pulling up the Scrabble app on my iPad and having friends and family use their iPhones or iPod Touches as tile racks using the tile rack app.
- Plugging an SD card into my iPad using the camera adapter to upload vacation photos to the device, and then making an iMovie of the vacation before we even get home so we can share it with family by simply using AirPlay to send it to the Apple TV.
- Making a professional looking presentation in Keynote with a few taps and the ability to easily take screen shots or import photos and include them.
The list goes on, but for me, the best things my iPad and iPhone do are mostly not things Apple created. Apple simply created the environment to encourage the development of such third-party apps. For me it is all about the software because these devices become my main computing devices for presentation and sharing and fun. My iMac is essentially for working alone, but the iPhone and iPad are for work, play, and just kicking back and reading a book. You couple that with the great media ecosystem of iTunes and it makes it a winner for me.
Android can certainly catch up in these areas and Google is trying. They have some obstacles to that like the rate of adoption for ICS, the fragmentation of the various marketplaces (manufacturers wanting to push their own media and app marketplaces), and developers having to test compatibility with older versions of Android in order to make a profit. The thing is, that I don't think I am Google's target customer for Android so these areas might remain "good enough", but are never "great". I could be wrong and I would love for Google to focus on somebody like me with their Android endeavors. I think ICS addresses many of my "delightful to use the UI" concerns, but I don't know if Google just wants to cover the masses of folks who just want their phones for calls, messages, photos, web surfing, and social.