Recently we’ve had an interesting debate among some friends about which is the better platform. The debate of course came at the expense of my buddy Mitchell McKenna‘s Facebook wall… but nonetheless some interesting points were brought up. Mitch, I’m sorry we hijacked your thread. However, after David’s comment I just had to voice it all out. =p
To summarize and bring everyone else up to speed:
For Android (Droid X in particular):
- Voice Commands across multiple apps. You can literally talk to the phone to accomplish complex tasks.
- True multi-tasking in the background. The app is kept alive in the background as a process, while the iOS suspends the app and stops it from running.
- Flash support. iPhone has absolutely no support or future plans to support for Flash.
- No need of a media player like iTunes. iPhone is completely depended on iTunes. You need iTunes to activate and install apps on the phone. Many people think iTunes is slow and quite buggy at times.
- No curated App Store. You can run anything you want on the Android platform. There is not watchdog to dictate what you can run on your device.
- Native Google Apps support, Google Voice, Google Navigation. Many Google client apps are not available on the iPhone. For one, Apple would not allow some of them in the App Store for whatever reason. Also, Google never published an iPhone app for it.
- Better battery life than iPhone 4? Someone will have to do some extensive testing to confirm this one.
For iPhone 4, iOS 4:
- Apple’s multi-tasking API allows for a much more efficient structure of doing background processes. Multiple apps share the same common background process, which gives more battery life and better performance. At the end, it accomplishes the exact same thing. You have to keep an app running on Android to receive offline line instant messages, iPhone uses Push Notification API while the app quit.
- Flash support is quite immature on any mobile platform. I have been trying to run it ever since the Windows Mobile days on a XScale processor running at 624MHZ. It was slow and generally unusable. Even worse, it eats battery! It’s rare that you can’t find an alternative to a popular Flash game in the App Store. For videos? HTML 5 + Apple Quicktime X work wonders. I streamed Apple’s last media event LIVE on my iPhone! It worked both on iPhone 3G and iPhone 4.
- iTunes is thankfully the most useful and popular media player in the world. I admit its performance is lacking in some areas, but I’m sure a company that is worth more than the mighty Microsoft will eventually release something faster. Having said that, there is a reason why people use iTunes. If you care about the quality of your music, and your library isn’t full of MP3 rips you got from P2P… iTunes really works well. iTunes uses 256k ACC format which is several times the compression ratio than MP3, and the quality is just night and day. Get a pair of descent speaker or headphones and you will hear the difference.
- Curated App Store is not always a bad thing. It’s a watchdog to make sure bad stuff doesn’t end up on your phone. The Android app market is perhaps too open for the same reason we ended up installing anti-viruses and firewalls on our PCs. While the review process is not perfect, but I feel a lot safer that Apple at least does look at every app that gets into the store. It’s all about quality and standards!
- GV Mobile was just approved by Apple to the App Store. So go download it if you use Google Voice. There is MapQuest Mobile on iPhone that will give you what Google Nav has. Google just chose not to release a Nav app on the iPhone… Not really Apple’s fault. It’s dirty competition which both sides did play.
- Are voice commands that useful? Would you be speaking out loud to your phone when you on the bus? Walking down the street? or even when you are at home? Sure you may be able to do a lot of cool things with voice control… but I still feel more reassured to use my fingers. Voice commands are subject to interpretation… fingers are still much more accurate and trouble-free.
- Battery life is awesome on the iPhone 4. People just need to know how to use their phones! The reason why Engadget and Walt Mossberg both nearly got 38hr of battery life on the iPhone 4 was because they knew how to work it! Read some of my findings here to get a longer lasting iPhone. I don’t have a Droid X to test it with, but I’m heavy user. I have 4 Exchange accounts, and 10+ apps with Push Notification enabled. I’m always on 3G and I listen to music and stream podcast occasionally. Ever since I got the iPhone 4, I have never found a single situation where I wanted to use the phone and the battery is out. The iPhone is always on, and I charge it every one or two days. I will be writing more on iPhone battery life management later on, I think there are a lot user out there who don’t know how to use the battery, and Apple really did not do a very good job of conveying that knowledge to users.
- The Retina Display on the phone is amazing! It’s the sharpest display I have ever seen in my life. It’s super bright and super crisp! It also offers A LOT more pixels than any Android phones! For the Droid X, it’s 409,920 vs. 614,400 pixels! That’s a big difference.
- People say well, so for you iPhone users to do what Android does you have to jailbreak and void the warranty on your device… Well if you go around and speak to iPhone users… they’ll ask you… what do I need that requires jailbreaking? While it may be apparent to geeks, the truth is that most people already got what they need directly from Apple! The phrase “there’s a app for that!” didn’t just come from nowhere.
- This last point is against Android as a whole. There are how many different versions of the Android OS now? The most current versions can’t even run on older devices. However you can still put iOS 4.1 on a two year old iPhone 3G, and Apple had fixed all the performance issues. If you go take a look at numbers published by Google. You will realize that because there are so many different versions of Android and so many different devices… the market-share of each OS release is extremely inconsistent. This can be quite problematic for developers. Furthermore, from what I can tell… you cannot run OS 2.2 Froyo on older devices. The carriers still dictate what OS is available on your phone! That’s something iPhone stood against on day 1.
I’ll let it end there for now, and this is a rather hot topic so please voice any opinion you may have. However, I’d like to say that at the end of the day… it all boils down to personal preference. You will also choose what works best for yourself. While we may disagree, that doesn’t we have to be rude about it. Like what Steve Jobs said during the D8 Conference - “Just because we are competing with them (Google) doesn’t mean we have to be rude about it.”
I think the point of this debate is bring good ideas out in the open, so we can learn from other users’ perspectives and go back to the manufacturers with an updated list of demands. =p