Gadgets Magazine

The Drawbacks of Android

Posted on the 23 October 2011 by Nerdywerds @NerdyWerds

Android is the most used OS in mobile devices today
Android is the most used OS in mobile devices today

Contents

  • Google 
  • Selection and Price 
  • More Support 
  • Open Developing 
  • Odds and Ends 
  • Wrap Up 

In the mobile phone game, there are very clearly drawn battle lines. On one side, you have iPhone and the Apple fans. On the other, Android and the Google fans. Blackberry and Windows Phone 7 are kind of sitting on the sidelines begging to get in the game; but these two aren't heavy hitters like iPhone and Android. I'd thought about going for a head to head, Apple vs. Google on this one; but I had a better idea. With the holiday season, and sales on phones, coming up, I'm going to continue my pros and cons of an OS series. For the next four weeks, we'll be looking into the reasons for and against a mobile OS; starting with my favorite, Android. As with my other pros and cons, none of the reasons will be personal opinion; if I can't find facts to support it, you won't read it.

Android is currently the most prevalent mobile operating system. There are a staggering amount of devices out there that run Android, and they run the gamut from low end to ultra high end. Android started as great platform for nerds and techies; but has since evolved into an OS for all. If you're a geek, like myself, you can really get down and dirty and mess with the OS on a very low level. If you prefer a simpler, and safer, using experience, it comes out of the box ready for that. Android strikes a good balance between the hardcore users and the people that just want a simple experience. The Android platform is loosely based on the Linux kernel, the heart and soul of Linux. If you're a geek, that means you have access, kind of, to the source code and can tweak it to your liking. If you're not a geek, it just means your OS has a very stable, proven core. The reasons for pledging allegiance to Android are many, but we're going to try focusing more on the not nerdy aspects.

One of the biggest perks of Android is the Google integration

One of the biggest perks of Android is the Google integration

Google

One of the main draws of Android is Google itself. The company behind the OS. People trust Google on a daily basis for search, email, internet, documents, shopping and more. And with Android, all of these are made available to your mobile. There is a standard widget for Google search, and almost all Androids come preloaded with Gmail, Google Shopping, Finance, Goggles, Voice and plenty more Google-y goodness. Other platforms do have some of these, but I usually like firsthand software, stuff designed for a platform, more than hand-me-downs, stuff that gets ported to a new system.

Selection and Price

If I've learned anything from my wife, it's that what something does is not the biggest deciding factor for many people; it has to have an aesthetic appeal. If you don't like the form factor, design of the phone, of one device, there are dozens more to choose from. All four major carriers in the US have a good selection of Android. Want a great camera? You literally have 10+ phones to choose from. Maybe you want an easy to use User Interface on top of Google. Samsung, HTC, Motorola, LG and others have your back. Maybe you don't; maybe you want a pure vanilla Android experience. The Nexus line is for you. Want a physical keyboard? You know Android has those too. It doesn't really matter what you're looking for in a phone, unless you're looking for Apple, Blackberry or Windows, Android will have it.

It would be foolish to think that in this, or any other, economy, people are looking forward to shelling out hundreds of dollars for a phone. This is one of the truly differentiating factors of Android. You can find new phones in all price ranges. Some people will argue that there are free on contract Windows and Apple phones. Which is valid, but those are outdated models. The were all originally $200 or more. The LG Optimus line came out of the gates at $30 or so. There is such a wide array of hardware in use, that companies can make a phone as cheap or expensive as they want. So, if budget is a concern of yours, but you don't want to settle for an outdated phone, Android is definitely for you.

More Support

Android is also supported by numerous manufacturers. As we've discussed before, this can be a double edged sword. But since this is the pro-Android article, we'll focus on the good today. I'm not accusing any other company of this, but if you're the one and only maker of something, complacency has a tendency to creep it. There's no one nipping at your heels to keep you pushing forward. That competition keeps you on top of your game. If you get complacent in the Android arena, you'll be out of the game very quickly. Look at Motorola. They had the first great series in Android with the Droids. But now HTC and Samsung have taken Motorola's place at the top of the heap. There is no rest for the wicked, or the Android producer.

Android is also a rarity in that it is supported by AT&T, Boost mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon; the six biggest cell phone carriers in the country. For the longest time, people actually had to weigh whether or not having AT&T was worth it to get an iPhone. Apple has made moves to be on three carriers now, but that still leaves three carriers in the dark. With Android, you don't have to make a decision like that. You don't have to uproot your family plan because of a phone.

Open Developing

It costs a developer $100 for the Apple development kit; $250 for a company. This may not seem like much, but it is enough to deter some from publishing apps. Just imagine if the Angry Birds guys weren't confident. They may not have wanted to pony up the $250 to bring their idea to life. The Android dev kit is free to use. This allows smaller companies or individuals to put out apps that they may be too nervous to do on other platforms. This also allows the apps to come in a bit faster. It opens up the developing landscape to anyone that wants to give it a shot. Actually, Android has some drag and drop app creator tools out there, so if you want, you can give it a shot and publish an app yourself.

Skeptics may say that this is good because it weeds out bad apps or keeps people out that shouldn't be developing. As someone who isn't in the mood to pay $250 for a dev kit, I still feel like I can produce quality apps. I've apparently done a decent job with this site! But the point may be valid; you wouldn't want small developers on the market. I mean, who wants to fling birds at pigs, or cut up fruit? Obviously these developers did just fine, but what if they couldn't find the backing, or didn't have the guts to invest in themselves? For me, I enjoy seeing what the masses can come up with.

Odds and Ends

These next few things are important to mention, but I couldn't really make a whole section for any of them. But don't believe that since they're in a catch all that they're any less important. The late Steve Jobs held the opinion that Flash was an evil technology, crude and restrictive. He thought it was holding the internet back. And I completely agree with him. But be that as it may, a lot of people still use it on their sites. Android official supports Flash on their products. So you'll be able to see web pages as they were intended, Flash and all. Android also does an excellent job of implementing multitasking. Multitasking, as you might have surmised, allows you to run multiple programs at once. So you can have your music running while browsing. You can have your navigation going while texting. And speaking of navigation, Android has the best out currently. Google Navigation is an excellent, voice enabled turn by turn navigation package. It harnesses the power of Google's Maps service, with a voice guided directions system. Upon arrival, you can also view the Street View, to ensure you're where you need to be. Speaking of voice commands, the voice controls on Android are excellent. You can use your voice alone to play music, get driving directions, make a call and more. Google has a large library of actions you can complete by using your voice alone. This is all included on every Android, right out of the box.

Wrap Up

There are more reasons for going Android, but these are the most exciting ones to non-nerds. Android is a mature, stable platform that tends to deliver an excellent mobile experience. Android has excellent features, tons of devices and support from all major carriers. You can also make Android what you want it to be. If you want a geeky experience, you can do that. But if you just want an easy to use, straight forward phone, it'll do that too. I hope this helped shed some light on why people are going to Android in droves. Thanks for reading and if anyone ever asks why you chose Android, feel free to show them this.


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