I want to tell you a story. This story takes place in September of 2009. My brother had just gotten a new iPhone 3GS. The phone was simply amazing and I had to play with it whenever we saw each other. It was at this point that I wanted an iPhone. I had one problem, I was on Verizon. I had been suffering with an LG Chocolate for the last 2 years while much better phones were coming out and decided that my next phone would be a smart phone. I had contemplated a new BlackBerry, but the iPhone was just too cool. The biggest problem I had was AT&T. Their coverage just wasn’t as good as Verizons and my brother would drop calls often. I was stuck. Not wanting to switch to weaker carrier I figured I would just wait until Verizon picked up the iPhone.
By November everyone had an iPhone. It seemed iPhone fever had swept through my work and to all my friends. That’s when I saw the advertisement. A squadron of stealth bombers dropping “bombs” in different parts of the world with a one second glimpse of the Motorola Droid inside. At this point I had never even heard of Android, what the hell was a G1? But I knew Motorola and I liked their phones. So I was at an impasse. Do I follow the crowd and jump to AT&T to get an iPhone or do I stay with Verizon and try out this new, Motorola Droid. I took a chance and it was the best purchasing decision I’ve ever made.
The world that opened up to me after buying the OG Droid was simply amazing. The development community is just top notch and extremely friendly. Have a question? Post it on one of the many Android forums and it will be answered within minutes. XDA is a truly shinning gem in this regard. I knew very little about computers and the notion that Android is for “geeks only” is a complete fiction. In a few months of owning the Droid I had rooted it, used a custom ROM and had a home replacement launcher installed, it was easy. At this point, iPhones seemed dull and boring.
So what is it about Android that keeps me coming back for more? The answer: freedom and function. Phones have become a status symbol, an expression of who we are. Freedom and function is the backbone of the Android OS. Freedom to do whatever you want with your phone and the functionality to use your phone for more than just playing games, surfing the web and watching YouTube. My phones have always been a personal companion, backing up work documents, keeping my schedule, updating me on news and sports, directing me where to go when I need it and letting me search for things effortlessly. Some of you reading this will say, well my iPhone can do that. The simple fact of the matter is that Android does it better.
Androids ability to tweak the UI lets the you, the user, transform the phone into what you need it to be. What good is a stock ticker if I don’t have any interest in the stock market? What if I use Google+ and LinkedIN instead of Twitter and Facbook? Android lets developers integrate their apps with the operating system. If I’m going through my gallery and want to back up a few pictures why do I have to exit the gallery and open up whatever cloud service app I have and then find the pictures again? Android just makes things work easier and with less steps. Why do I have to Jailbreak my phone to get access to a simple file system or customize the home screen? Why is adding to the user experience is looked at with such disdain by Apple but welcomed by Google?
The funny thing about this is when Android was becoming popular, iPhone users were brushing off these added features as nothing more than gimmicks. The answer “why do I need that” came up a lot in conversation. The funny thing is, while iPhone fans were defending there lack of “gimmicky features”, Apple was scrambling to come up with their own answer. Heres a few examples:
The notification center is a blatant copy of what’s available to Android users. In fact, most people I know don’t even use it and instead rely on the older badge notifications on the home screen.
This “new” feature was available on my Droid 3 in July of 2011 running 2.3.4 Gingerbread and was integrated into all devices running Android 4.0 later that year.
I know from first hand experience how bad this is. Apple fans say this is blown out of proportion but my friends and I used an iPhone 4S for turn-by-turn navigation to go to a bar one night and we were directed to a vacant parking lot nowhere near are destination and were told to proceed on foot. Luckily I had my Galaxy Nexus, which gave us directions to the bars front door.
Another problem I have is the hardware itself. It took six generations of iPhones just to change the screen size. After being told that iPhones had the perfect screen size for years, they finally had to admit that they needed to change something to stay relevant and what did we get? A longer phone. Their great re-design features an added row of icons. They even went on to brag that it was the thinnest smartphone ever made, because apparently no one at Apple has ever seen a Droid Razr. Did they add any function to the hardware? No. In fact they took function away with their lightening port. Apples love of screwing the consumer over has encouraged them to continue to forgo the industry standard micro USB so they can sell there own chargers. Got an iPhone dock in your car for you 4S? Too bad it won’t work with the 5. Don’t worry though, Apple has an adapter for you. For the added cost of $30 you can use some of your accessories. Thanks Apple.
This is what my phone has looked like over the past 6 months
The last thing I want to talk about is customization. This no doubt gives the most avid Apple fans headaches. The typical “I could just jailbreak it if I wanted to” answer has been said over and over, but why should you? Every jailbroken iDevice I have seen has come at the cost of performance in one way or another. Android lets you do what the majority of jailbroken users want, customize the home screen. Its pretty hypocritical to hear someone talk about how cool iPhones are and then go out of there way to get some of the same function out of their device that you get with Android. A rooted Android device, along with its native ability to customize as you want, gives you options that a jailbroken iPhone just doesn’t have. You can run a custom ROM with a custom theme, while running a home replacement launcher with its own custom theme. Add all the widgets you want and have a device that looks like no other in the world. Don’t think customization is anything special? Hop over to the Android Themes Community in Google+ and see what people are doing with their Android devices. Take a look at Armando Ferrieras YouTube channel and see his Boss Theme videos. It’s truly amazing what people have come up with and how different themes inspire people to try something new with their devices.
It’s scary to think of what might have been had I switch carriers and gotten an iPhone. Would I be an avid Apple fanboy or would I have seen the light and escaped from Apples prison?