Monday, February 09, 2009

Why I Switched to Android from the iPhone | Smarterware

I'm a big fan of Gina Trapani and a constant reader of her Lifehacker blog. She's taking a break from posting on and has started a new blog Smarterware. Here's a great post where she describes her reasons for switching from the iPhone the the Google Android. Why I Switched to Android from the iPhone
Several people have asked why I switched from the iPhone to a G1 running Android. My reasons are both practical and philosophical.

The practical ones:

  • I’m a heavy Gmail user, and Android’s Gmail interface far surpasses the options on the iPhone. Reading, searching, labeling, and otherwise processing my email is the most important thing I need to do on my smartphone besides make calls, and it’s simply easier in Android.
  • Android lets me manage my contacts in one place: Gmail, and syncs them automatically to my phone. No more local address book!
  • Android is better than the iPhone software in a few ways: it’s way more customizable, it offers copy and paste, the pull-down ‘window shade’ is a better notification mechanism, and in general it gives you that feeling that you’re in control of every setting.
  • Android doesn’t run Safari, but it will likely run Chrome someday.
  • I love the trackball on the G1 for scrolling and clicking. From an economy-of-motion standpoint, it’s a way more efficient way to interact with the device than swiping and tapping the screen. The snap-out keyboard is sweet, too.

The philosophical reasons:
  • Android is open source.
  • Because it’s open source, many of my favorite open source apps work with it and not the iPhone yet, like KeePass, for example. (See KeePassDroid.)
  • Android’s apps are written in Java, and as a Java developer, this delights me.
  • Android doesn’t tie me to iTunes, which is a fine piece of software, but is just a little too bossy and proprietary-like for my taste.

Obviously, your mileage may vary. But there is a misconception that the iPhone is a superior smartphone, and that’s not necessarily true. What’s true: The iPhone software has been out longer than Android, so it may be more fully-baked (though apps and Safari crash on my iPhone regularly, more so in the 2.0 ‘upgrade’). The iPhone has a much larger market share. There are probably more apps for the iPhone than for Android, but the Android Market is well-stocked, and I have had little trouble finding the stuff I need. The only iPhone thing I truly miss is its built-in visual voicemail, but I’ve installed PF Voicemail+ on Android to get that same functionality. Not being a heavy voicemail user, this isn’t that big of a deal to me (though it may be for you). Update: I also miss the excellent Evernote iPhone app, and have my fingers crossed in hope an Evernote equivalent will happen soon (or at least a mobile Evernote site that works well in a mobile browser).

Most likely I’ll remain in the minority as a G1 owner, but you know what? In a sea of iPhone-toters, I’ll enjoy actually ‘thinking different.’

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