Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Droid, stop comparing it to iPhone

So, I have been using the Droid for about two weeks now, and every day makes me love my Droid more and, believe it or not, appreciate the iPhone more.

That’s right, it makes me appreciate the iPhone, there, I said it.

I am continually amazed at the Droid vs iPhone debates both on the ‘net and in advertising, it’s like comparing a pair of scissors to a screwdriver, you can’t. The Droid is an integral part of an holistic communications system. When I get a text message, or an email, or a voice mail I can respond to any of them from my Droid or from my desktop computer, there is no difference, they have the same capabilities and the same contacts. If you call my phone number it rings at my desk and my Droid. When there is an emergency I am instantly alerted; in the past 6 weeks I have received 6 emergency message, 2 from the National Weather Service and 4 encrypted VitalLock Messages. They all showed up on my handset, in the background, while I was doing other things, AND on my desktop.

I don’t own an iPhone, but from what I have seen and heard, it appears to target a different use case, its not MEANT to be a communicator. Is it meant to be a cell phone? Of course. And it does a very good job, sure you may have problems with the ATT network, but that will be resolved this year when the iPhone migrates to more carriers. So what do iPhone users love about their device? For starters 100,000 + applications. Well, its hard to argue with that. Yes some say “but of the 100,000, how many are QUALITY applications?” Lets say its 20%, that's 20,000 apps, and if the Droid Marketplace has 10,000 applications, then the same 20% will be quality, so that’s 2,000 applications. (yawn) Who cares?

But the iPhone is closed! Yes, yes it is. And it HAS to be or upgrades would be TRAGIC. Imagine that Apple updates the operating system or hardware and now 50% of the apps break! By keeping the system locked down Apple ensures that upgrades are as painless as possible AND that current apps behave. The same goes for locking down multitasking, if you have an application running in the background that YOU installed that slows your phone down the average user says “stupid phone” NOT “stupid application that I installed.” Apple is just protecting users from themselves.

The reason that iPhone users love their device is that it works for them. They will ask “Why do I need multitasking?” and “Why do I need open development?” These are valid questions that have to be approached from the users perspective, NOT as an outsider (non iPhone user.) Watch how iPhone users use their device. They use it as (get ready for it…) a phone! Why do you need multitasking or open development for that? They also use it as a distraction or a gaming platform. And in that use case, multitasking and open development are evil. When Apple updates the iPhone, they need the current apps to continue working, so you MUST use the standard API’s or risk not working, in fact, it is now rumored to be part of the app store approval process.

Compare this to the Droid users that I know (feel free to chime in Droid users). The Droid is not a gaming platform, its a communicator. I NEED multitasking so that I can glance at the device and see that I have 3 emails, 1 voicemail (transcribed), its going to snow tomorrow, the NWS is calling for flash floods, and Bob has sent me an encrypted message. All this and I didn’t have to wait 5-10 seconds for an application to run, I just glance at the phone. Do I run games on my Droid? I haven’t yet. When I have a spare few minutes I read my RSS feeds or practice conjugating Spanish verbs. COULD I run games? Sure. Are they as good as the iPhone games? In some context, yes. But if I wanted a gaming device I would get an iPhone, its more dependable and locked down.

Don’t get me wrong, I frakking HATE the iPhone and would never buy one. Really. Just like I would never buy a handheld gaming system, I don’t get the appeal. I have no need for a device that is a phone and can play games and I can run apps in the fore ground only, thus limiting its utility. But there are many people out there who have said “I wish that my Sony PSP had a phone”, and they probably love the iPhone.


  1. Nivi and Naval trend to agree... http://venturehacks.com/articles/extrapolating-computing

  2. Hey Paulc, you ask some great questions and as an iPhone owner let me take a stab at them.

    First let me say that Lisa and I view our iPhones as handheld computers that also have a phone in them. Not as phones that are also a game platform, although I do have some really cool games on mine as well.

    For example I have navigation functions. Not just for driving but Navionics charts for all of the east coast plus all U.S. lakes and rivers. I can also get data from all NOAA weather buoys as well as the marine weather forecast and tide data. I have MS office on my iPhone where I can create, edit, and share Word, Excel, and PDF files with my home and office pcs as well. I do barcode and document scanning with it too. The Driod will have these apps too eventually which will make this a wash.

    As for multi tasking there's a good reason that the current iPhones don't do it, the processor. Currently in my 3G it's a 400MHz (600Mhz in the 3GS) single core processor. Apple has chosen to hold off on multitasking until the next generation of iPhone which will either have the new Arm A9 multi-core prosessor (which was just unveiled a couple of months ago) or a version directly from Apple. That's still up in the air right now.

    On being a communicator I don't understand you're implied critism. I get my email from any account I want on my iPhone and it also has an RSS reader. So from what I can tell they seem to be equal in this regard.

    As for the lockdown there's a good reason for it aside from compatability, viruses. The first iPhone virus is now out there. I believe it's called the Duh Worm. But here's the kicker. It only attacks jailbroken iPhones. For anyone unfamiliar jail breaking is a process that unlocks the iPhone so it can use third party apps that aren't approved through the app store. Where the Droid is open I'm waiting to see if it will have to run an anti-virus program once the hackers get going on it.

    If you ask me what I like best about the iPhone it would be the GUI and it's touch screen. They give the device a polished feel to it.

  3. If you like your iPhone, keep using it. But my droid does everything your iPhone does as well as all the stuff steve jobs doesn't want it to do. I agree with PaulC that it borders on malevolence to compare the two devices, but I jus can't help it. It's like comparing... I dunno. There's a valid comparison because there is some overlap in functionality, but everyone keeps saying "well yeah, but mine does this" about things that they both do.

    It all comes down to preference. If you like never having to worry about "will this work on my device," the iPhone is for you. If you like having open development and the ability to run apps in the background, and don't mind a bit of "oops. I broke it," get a droid.

  4. After reading your post I get the impression that your problem is not really with the iPhone but more with someone (Steve Jobs in this case) telling you that you can't something. You say that your Droid does everything my iPhone does plus things SJ doesn't want it to do. Please enlighten me. With over 80,000 apps out there, and more popping up every day, it's getting harder and harder to find something there isn't an app for. And since opening up the 30-pin connector to developers, apps are starting to come out that use third party hardware. Blood glucose monitoring for example. Will the Droid be able to do that? Sure, once the apps and hardware have been developed. So please, tell me again what a Droid can do that an iPhone can't besides being susceptable to hacker attacks and viruses?

    As for running apps in the background what's funny is that the Driod by it's very nature will be using part of that up running antivirus and firewall programs to keep it from being attacked just like any other pc that's online. So what has really been gained if part of it's abilities have to be dedicated to running these protection programs? That may be fine for my main pc where I have resources to spare but not my phone which has limited resources.

    Also, I want to know that when I pick my phone to make a call (as long as it has a signal) it's going to work. Especially if it's a 911 call. The last thing I want to happen in that situation is to find out, "oops. I broke it."

  5. i agree with not comparing them but mostly because its hard to convince someone that just dropped a load of cash on a phone that another is better. I got a droid cuz i like it for one. Another reason i got it is because ATT has absoulutely no coverage here, and verizon has the only digital network in my area. so thats good enough reason for me. I have better things to do than argue about which phone is better when they will both be crap in a couple years anyway as with any computer type device. I will add though that considering how long iphone has been out now, the droid compares pretty well. and as far as viruses go, honestly if a hacker...using that term loosly here, but really if a hacker wants you, he will have you if he knows anything, i dont put much worry in it. i am pretty carefull with what i run on all my equipment. Please just enjoy your phone whatever it may be, and take some time to just be amazed at how far the phones have come. Hope everyone has a great holiday!