The conversation about these two phones reminded me of the paper “The Cathedral and the Bazar” argument all over again. For those of you who aren’t familiar, this paper explores the difference in developing software. The cathedral is closed source development where all of the developers are paid and managed by the same company, the bazar style is open source, where developers volunteer and work on the project in their own way. Since the paper, many open source projects have adopted the beneficial components of the cathedral style development.
Obviously the Android OS is open sourced but still directed by Google and Apple owns the closed iPhone iOS, but the analogy extends further than that. Android has the freedom to innovate spontaneously, and there are low barriers to entry for developers so you can see lots of new technology there quickly. Since there is no review process you can find anything for sale on that platform as well. Apple takes longer to adopt new technology, they have to like the technology and it has to be mature. Since there is a review process applications are of a higher quality and approved content referred to as ‘the walled garden’.
When the phones were new and I was making my decision, it seemed like an obvious choice. The iPhone was available to purchase with a clean and well thought out interface. It worked well but was missing a few features. I bought when copy and paste still wasn’t available. Android was being talked about but wasn’t really generally available. I was very happy with my purchase for the entire time I had that phone. The same when for replacing that phone, two years later Android was still developing and offered a lot more promise than functionality. That brings us to today.
Android phones now support NFC and LTE, and they have always supported external storage. The phones format seems perfect for wireless network troubleshooting and there are a number of good apps for that on the Droid. I do agree with Apple on the size and resolution of the screen, more resolution than I can use is a waste and the format has to stay in a workable size. The iPhone’s lack of support for LTE networks is in keeping with their philosophy and attempting to develop their own answer to NFC is unsurprising. Their censoring of the content of applications is no benefit to me and continues to only annoy me.
The new technologies offer great advantages in the next two years. With NFC I should be able to ditch my wallet and pay for everything with my phone not to mention the other interesting new things it should do. With true LTE the transfer rates from my phone could reach hundreds of megabits a second, far surpassing the Internet access I’ve had in my life to this point. The difference this time is that the Android OS is a polished and error free platform. The applications are more polished for the most part and while there are some of dubious quality reviews easily show that. As well the mapping failure while not significant in itself shows that some of the focus on quality is slipping at Apple.
It’s a lot of work to change smart phones, I have to understand how backups will work, find new applications, and figure out datasync. I think it’s going to be worth it to change this time. Adding to the pressure is that my wife may not be changing, I’ll see first hand if I’ve made the right choice. Which choice are you making and why?