My cell phone contract is (finally) up in a month or two, so it’s time to decide: Android or iPhone? Both are miles ahead of my current crappy phone (inbox full at 130 texts? really?), but which is the better fit for me?
About a year ago, I was pretty confident that my next phone would be an Android. In addition to being a Google product (they do alot of things pretty well), Android provided a lot of different choices for phone hardware, so I could pretty much choose the features I wanted (hard keyboard!). Stir in the ultra-customizable Android OS, its rapidly growing app selection, and a few choices of wireless carrier, and Android is sitting pretty in my book.
Then, a challenger appeared!
I must have been good this past year, because Santa brought his A game; spearheaded by a brand new iPod Touch 4G. Playing with my new toy has given me a new appreciation for apps, from email, to calorie trackers, to social media. Of course many apps are available for both Android and iOS, but something about my iPod Touch started to sway me.
I remember being impressed with the iPod’s packaging; a small, efficiently packed, hard plastic case. No big cardboard box, no set of manuals. That’s just one-time stuff though, so what about the daily experience? Apple publishes a pretty all-encompassing set of iOS Human Interface Guidelines that app developers (are supposed to) follow. The idea is to nudge developers towards creating a rich user experience that is consistent between apps.
While Apple does let some corner-cutting slide (if they didn’t, there would hardly be any apps), their guidelines do a pretty good job of creating a user experience where all of the apps seem to work in about the same fashion, even though they all have different developers. In short, I feel comfy in Apple-land.
So where does that leave me with Android? Android answers Apple with its own pretty strong list of User Interface Guidelines, but the Android marketplace doesn’t impose the same sort of approval process as Apple’s app store, so there are a lot more low quality apps floating around, raising the noise floor. Of course, none of this matters once you’ve found the apps you are going to use, and most of them probably come from quality developers who care about user experience.
All this time spent using my iPod has also caused me to change my tune when it comes to the plethora of hardware choices for Android; I’ve developed a taste for high quality hardware. This one isn’t quite as big a deal, but in general (i.e. also with laptops and other electronics) it drives me nuts how many awful devices are released between the few good devices. I really like what Apple does, providing relatively few, but high quality, choices of hardware.
Still, my only experiences with Android have come from briefly stealing friends’ phones to play around, and my feeling of comfort with iOS is something that has come with time. Most likely, the same thing would happen with Android. Also, any complaints that I’ve had about Android breaking from the interface guidelines are echoed with jailbroken iOS devices.
My final decision will likely come down to how awesome the iPhone 5 sounds versus what’s available for Android hardware, and how desperate I am for hardware for testing my Android app(s). Or maybe my employer will make this decision for me :).