5 Reasons Android is Better Than Iphone

The five reasons Android is better than the iPhone are:
• Open Source,
• Availability,
• Development,
• Adobe Flash,
• Widgets.

There are many critics of the iPhone who like to point out that Android is open source, which is seemingly a boon to its existence. But the average person may not understand (or perhaps even care) why that is.

What does “open source” mean? Open source means: though a certain developer has created this piece of software the source code is available for other developers and individuals to dabble with, so long as it’s within the scope of the license. Hence open source. With many software products, the source code is not accessible, and with good reason. Most companies don’t want anyone else seeing or using their code, like Apple, and so the source is closed.

One great aspect of open source is that it can foster community around a given project, and Android has been no exception. While manufacturers may take on Android as their OS of choice for a given device, the userbase still has the power to make adjustments to the operating system on that device. To a point, since elements of the device itself outside of the OS may be at the manufacturer’s discretion, and therefore inaccessible.

Case in point: The Samsung Galaxy i7500. This device was one of the first Androids to hit the market in Canada and launched running Android 1.5, the flagship version. Samsung supported a later update to 1.6, but would not take the device any further.

Galaxy fanatic Drakaz decided to continue the legacy, working with other Android enthusiasts to bring version 2.1 to the Galaxy i7500. And, they succeeded, now pushing for Android 2.3 for the device.

Had Android been a closed-source OS this would not have been possible, and users chomping at the bit for a newer version for their phone would have been out of luck.

Open source means transparency in the OS, encouragment for innovation, and community spirit around the software itself (not just a given device) that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

Apple’s choice to launch with AT&T alone, and subsequently Rogers in Canada, was seen as both a smart move and a bad one at the same time. While the partnership was certainly a gold mine for AT&T, many consumers lamented being pigeon-holed into one carrier. A carrier many didn’t like, and struggled to keep up with the demand and strain that Apple’s juggernaut would put on them and their network.

Since any manufacturer can take advantage of the Android OS, there are many who have opted to take the plunge and wade into the competition with Apple. As a result, there are plenty of choices as far as handsets go, and every mobile carrier has at least one Android model up for grabs.

While this does dilute the market from a manufacturer’s standpoint, consumers are given more options and carriers are given flexibility. For example, some users want a hardware keyboard, others want something smaller, others something larger similar to the iPhone. Some want more memory for photos and music, others just want something that can text and email.

Regardless of your needs, there is likely an Android out there that suits. And the mobile carrier of your choice probably has it, too.

The development of Android goes hand-in-hand with its open source nature. With the Android SDK (software development kit) updated regularly, widely distributed, and supported by a large group of users rather than one company alone, creating an app for Android is a highly accessible venture.

Crunching the Numbers:
When the Android Market first launched in Oct. ’08, it took some time to catch on. By Oct. ’10, the Market hit 100,000 apps, while the App Store sat at 285,000.

Now, according to Silicon Alley Insider, as of Mar. ’11 the Market has reached over 250,000 apps, and the App Store 368,000. At this rate, the Android Market will surpass the Apple App Store by June or July of 2011.

Though the Apple App Store still easily holds first place for sheer number of apps, the Android Market has grown incredibly quickly in a very short period of time. This is a testament to general interest in Android overall, but also developers’ willingness to wade into a new platform knowing they have support from a wide variety of sources.

Google has also made ad-supported development a piece of cake. Developers have the option of making an app that is paid up-front, or supported by ad revenue alone. Not surprisingly, with Google as an ad juggernaut on the web integrating ads into apps from the start was a no-brainer.

5 Reasons Android is Better Than Iphone
Apple has been adamant from day one: the iOS will not support Adobe Flash. Ever. Period.

In fact, Apple’s move to remove apps from the App Store that were ported from Flash using third-party software caused quite a stir amongst developers. Closing the door for many who would otherwise struggle to develop for the platform.

And guess where they went?
Google took the opposite approach, not only allowing apps that have been ported from Flash but also incorporating Flash 10.1 directly into Android 2.2. Paving the way for increased and improved mobile use of Flash, even through websites and ads.

Adobe has been working closely with Google, and the latest version of their Creative Suite (CS5) supports exporting to Adobe AIR. AIR apps are compatible with most mobile handsets, as well as other devices, opening the door for developers to produce near exclusively in Flash if they so desire. And this compatibility and breadth of Flash continues to improve.

While some of Apple’s reasoning behind excluding Flash support in their iOS products makes sense, it can’t be denied that Flash is here to stay. And only time will tell if Adobe’s juggernaut animation software can keep pace with the likes of HTML5 and CSS3.

Dawg’s Galaxy S Vibrant
showing many widgets.

Android’s OS offers a fair number of software advancements not seen in Apple’s iOS. But there’s one that has always stood out as a no-brainer, and works well. Widgets.

While the iPhone home screen has taken steps to improve user experience, the bottom line has remained the same. The home screen is where you launch apps. Android has take that a big step further and made the home screen feel more like, well, home!

Widgets are small applications that run persistently on the Android home screen, and are often extensions of a larger app installed through the Market. They give immediate access to various functions, depending on their purpose. This might be running a Google search without having to open your browser first, or seeing your calendar on-the-fly without accessing it, or incoming messages and emails.

Widgets allow users to streamline their mobile experience, speed up access to oft-used apps and information, and customize their home screen to best suit their needs.

While Android has certainly come leaps and bounds over the last 2 years, it’s by no means the perfect mobile OS. And, it can’t be denied that much of Android’s operability has been borrowed from Apple’s iOS. Even manufacturers, in some cases, have made an effort to copy the iPhone’s form factor in an effort to attract more consumers to their devices.

So where does this leave Apple, then? Tune in next week, where we’ll discuss why the iPhone is better than Android. 5 Reasons Android is Better Than Iphone.


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