Religious wars are never pretty. Take iOS and Android. I’m sure there are lots of agnostics in both camps–people who use one or the other without strong opinions about it–but there are plenty more whose feelings run very deep indeed. Just today I tweeted about a piece at PC Mag entitled The iPad Wins Because Android Tablet Apps Suck: An Illustrated Guide by Sascha Segan. Twitter pal and Android user VicWu took offense. Her charge against me: I’m being as unfair and dickish as the unfair dicks I decry on the other side. But am I?
Nobody’s perfect. I’m sure I have my moments of high snark-to-content ratios. But here are some of the things I genuinely think are problematic about Android.
1. An emphasis on being feature-rich at the expense of usability. I know which side of this issue I’m often on–and, techies notwithstanding, which side I think most users of consumer technology should be on.
2. Android devices often get software updates slowly–if at all. I’ve been hearing about the miracles of the “ice cream sandwich” release for ages, but I read that the percentage of Android users who actually have it is in the single digits. Carriers and handset makers simply have no incentive to distribute new software to their customers–and Google can’t usually do it independently of them. So there you are. iOS updates are immediately available to all handsets that can support them.
3. The Android app store has had quality control issues. From copyright-infringing ringtone ripoff artists to outright malware, you simply don’t see that kind of thing in Apple’s store.
4. In their effort to one-up each other and the iPhone, some Android handset makers have stuffed their phones so full of features–larger screen! super fast networking! unlimited tethering!–that many of them can’t last a whole day on a single battery charge.
5. Android evangelists laud the platform’s “openness.” I’m not sure what they mean by this. None of them can just download the source code of the Android operating system. The real openness I see on Android is that it’s open for handset makers and carriers to fuck it up with bad user interfaces and ham-handed attempts to shunt users into their own shoddy services and products.
You may not think these observations are reason enough not to use Android, but I don’t think any of them are grossly unfair criticisms.
There are legitimate criticisms of Apple’s iPhone, too. I generally don’t take umbrage at these. You want to cast aspersions on Apple’s app store control freakery? Have at it. I don’t share those concerns, but it generally doesn’t anger me if you bring it up. You want to vilify Apple for its relative lack of customizability? Go for it. I myself am pretty comfortable with its level of customizability, but if it’s not to your liking, knock yourself out.
Here’s what does bug me about Android enthusiasts.
1. They often accuse us Apple customers of being thoughtless victims of “slick marketing.” They say we are shallow and vain, chasing after whatever is new, shiny and fashionable without regard to its actual utility or value. There is rarely any acknowledgement of an Apple products genuine merits.
2. There’s a feeding frenzy of bad tech press and free software zealots who absolutely go apeshit every time something Apple does isn’t perfect. Even worse, they occasionally just make shit up. Have you read that the new iPad has battery problems? Well, it doesn’t. But doesn’t it overheat? No. Have you somehow gotten the idea that Apple is especially ruthless with regard to Chinese laborers and that the responsible thing to do might be to avoid their products? Well, they aren’t and you shouldn’t. Every time some Linux nerd gets out his calipers and claims that the iPhone is .002 millimeters thicker than Apple’s spec sheet it hits the front page of Slashdot where the snark runs high and the misinformation runs deep…only to have the issue debunked later.
That stuff bugs me. Because it’s unfair or wrong or unnecessarily personal and ad hominem. I think if you take a glance back at my list of Android concerns you won’t’ find anything like that.
So I’m not as much of a dick as those other guys.
No, seriously. I’m not.