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Apple vs. Android – a users perspective.

After being the user and owner of an Apple iPhone 3G I finally made the jump up to the Samsung Galaxy S2. And what a relief. Yes, I do understand that there is a difference of 2.5 years in improvement of the technology, but still, the freedom Android gives compared to Apple. It’s amazing – but also keeps you keen. Let me try to list a few advantages and disadvantages between the 2. I’ll try to ignore the fact that I had “only” a 3G iPhone and the top of the range Samsung Galaxy S2. Apple however still keeps the reigns tight with their newer products so that won’t change much there.

Apple has done a great job(s) in simplicity; you don’t need to be able to think for yourself very much, Apple will do that for you. So when it comes to the Appstore you can click whatever you want and it is safe. Because it is Apple and Apple does a great deal in closing in possible threats. Or take out games that they don’t want you to play, due to some policy (or maybe it was just a bit too much anti-Apple).

Apple’s apps are safe?
You wish.
Some of my linux nerdy colleagues have been able (but only after jailbreaking, doh, we “wonder” why?) to install a firewall on the iPhone. To their surprise, simple tools like a heartbeat monitor was sending data to all kinds of strange websites. So much for security.
Yes, this also happens on Androids; but at least they do not claim to be secure and closed like Apple pretends.

For me the Android wins on a few other points as well:

Batteries?
Yes, batteries. Although Apple has done a lot with battery lifetime, they still have a closed case. You can’t open it up. You can’t even change the batteries. Why?

When that Apple geek on the ferry going from Corsica to France was dying to put his iPhone charger cable into something – cos otherwise his iPhone would die… I just grabbed a fully recharged Samsung battery for 15EU and replaced it. I loved the look on that guys face.. and I smiled, I had enough juice for navigating the trip back home :)

external SD Card
The more GB your iPhone can store, the more expensive. But wait, you can’t swap that storage.
The Samsung amongst many other Android smartphones has got a slot for a mini-SD card so you can take it out and quickly add/delete all your photos/videos/music on it if needed. Or, you’ll have a prefilled SD card and you can just put it in. No more interference by iTunes.

iTunes?
Ah, the great dinosaur of Apple. iTunes. It forces you to
* Have either a Windows PC or a Mac.
* Have plenty of time
* Encrypt your files before you can use them on your iPhone and
* even then, it will erase everything it can not find in it’s own database.

With a Mac- and Windows free IT infrastructure at home (debian/ubuntu only) it is a pain to have an iPhone. I refuse to use VMware or anything like that, because it’s just another workaround for a problem a product brings in. A seemlingly neat product like iTunes can become a hell once you are forced to use Windows (in my case).

* I won’t start the rant about Windows on a small smooth eeePC running Ubuntu nicely.
It will stall the eeePC when I start a browser *and* iTunes. Eats all the memory. And it becomes hot. Never mind a VM with Windows. At least you can kill the bugger with a -9 if it becomes too bad.

I won’t start bragging about KiesAIR – the OSfree, browserbased, WIFI enabled media-sync tool from the Androids, because it will still need a lot of work. But imagine you won’t need a hundreds of MBs tool, Windows/Mac only, just a browser and WIFI to sync your data? Sounds cool, huh? According to Google, that’s the way to go forward. And I love the thought of browserbased tools more and more.

* iTunes will happily erase your stuff because it thinks it isn’t supposed to be there.

Yes, with Ubuntu you can hook up your iPhone and drag and drop your mp3’s in with Amarok, Banshee or even commandline. But the all evil iTunes will, whenever you put your iPhone on a Windows brick and try to back the iPhone up, erase all the non-encoded mp3’s – so bye bye 12GB of music you put on there in 4 hours.
You are allowed to put it on there again, in Windows functionality, taking hours to transfer and re-encode.

* Backup your data?
Ahem – well, good luck with finding it. Only under iTunes you are allowed to backup and restore. And if you made a firmware upgrade from e.g. 3.X to 4.X, you are not allowed to go back to 3.X again, just for the simple reason that the latest iTunes won’t allow you to use that old crap. So much for that, thank you. The 3.X did however contain the stuff I really did like, and it got erased with the 4.X upgade. Sorry.

On the Androids you can logon to your own device using e.g. an app like sshdroid. It can start while you’re connected to a Wifi. From there on you can connect to it and rsync all the data you want.

all the data?
Yes. You can go down all the way to / if needed.

* Store what where?
Ever tried finding your data back on an iPhone? I read in several testers’ reports that they had lost their pictures. They were all capable of finding the data back because they had jailbroken their devices. But well, as a windows user, used to click on “whatever windows gives you as options”, Apple did it even better. They have decided where they want you to store your data. Which means you can’t even find it back once their database gets corrupted.
* On an Android you can define where you put your data, like music, pictures and videos.
This means you can put your data on the device’s internal memory itself, or, preferably, on the mini SD card. You can take it out and put it in your PC’s SDcard reader with an adapter and change the data which you need. So much faster, so much safer.
* On an Android you can define where you put the programs. Yes, not all programs will run from the SD card but a bigger part will. This means you can safe your programs on an external SD card and copy it whenever needed. This also means that the big programs using loads of data (like e.g. offline maps) can be used in a safe way without eating all your free space.

Some people complain about the data being sent to “strange websites” from some Android apps. Research however showed that around 60% of the Android apps did so. To my not so great surprise over 80% did so from Apple apps.

The Apple apps would be considered “more safe” because the checks seem to be a lot higher on the incoming programs. This however also means that e.g. 18+ programs will never ever make it to the Apple Appstore.

One big difference definately points out the difference in Apple vs Android users: Apple users will take whatever they will be given. And yes, it will work perfectly, until something doesn’t work or you want to have just that little bit more.

Apple (Windows-like) users will reboot their systems when something won’t work straight away. Only if it happens everytime they might consider it’s a bug (but who will expect that from a perfect operating system?).

Android users are keen and will doublecheck everything which they’ll get, if they’re aware (and not like those many Windows/Apple users who will just take what it gives). Android(Linux-like) users will just login to their systems, read the logs, debug and propose a workaround or a fix to the community.

Let’s see where the current technology race will bring us – if not only in front of patent-courts. Freedom and creativity should be shared, not captured.

Edit: This The Next Web article also describes the lack of flexibility of the iPhone..

There’s hope after an Apple life :)

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