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Why I have an android phone

February 25th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

Like many of us, I guess, I was underwelmed by the launch of the iPad. It seems just to be a large version of the iphone, without the capacity to make phone calls. But who knows, it may catch on – many doubted whether phones without a physical keypad could ever be popular.

However what really worried me about the iPad is the choice of operating system. the iPad runs of Apple’s mobile platform, developed for the iphone. And that platform is locked down. You cannot add an application from a CD Rom or from a memory stick. You cannot download an application from the Internet. The only way to add an application is from the Apple Store. And Apple decide what they will allow on the store.

My Motorola Milestone phone (the European version of the Droid), running on the opens source Android platform, is not so slick as the iPhone. Sometimes the apps don’t quite seem to sync with each other. Just like with the iPhone, I can go to the app store – unimaginatively called ‘Market’ – to search and download apps. But I can also download any application I like from anywhere on the internet and install it. This means developers are not beholden to Android (read google) in the same way as with apple. they have freedom to try out their ideas. It preserves the idea of the Open Internet. And in the long term I suspect it offers more opportunities for developers to get paid for their work than does the Apple Store. there has been much hype over how the iPhone has fostered a new generation of developers. But I have not talked to any developer who has made any substantial money from their Apps. Furthermore the App store is now so huge it is virtually impossible to find anything unless you know its precise name. So developers are forced to maintain their own web site to publicise their work, but are not allowed to add a download link. Ultimately this will stifle innovation – not that I think Apple will be greatly concerned by that.Over the last year I have been involved in a number fo project applications involving mobile learning. We have had long discussions over platforms. Should we develop for the Apple as it has the largest user base in education for smart phones? Should we try to use browser based JavaScript type applications to provide cross platform functionality. In the last few months we are increasingly seeing the Android platform as the best for rapid development and deployment. Of course this may change especially with Nokia also adopting open source platforms. But the iPhone is looking increasingly unattractive as long as apple retains its walled garden approach.

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One Response to “Why I have an android phone”

  1. admin says:

    Totally agree with you arguments around closed OS and controlled selling platform but I disagree with that here:

    “…Furthermore the App store is now so huge it is virtually impossible to find anything unless you know its precise name. So developers are forced to maintain their own web site to publicise their work, but are not allowed to add a download link. …”

    I think that is the same like saying I cannot find a music band or an album of a band in the iTunes Music Store when I do not know the precise name or I cannot find the right name for something I would like to find information in WikiPedia. I’m always very happy with categories and so I will look for somebody who’s name is something like MM Cool K not in classical music because I remember he was one of the early Rapper. Or take SourceForge.net how do you find things on that platform.

    When a specific app gets my attention via a review I have the name and a link (nearly 100% sure) which will lead me finally to the App Store. Yes, it is not a direct download link but the “Available on the App Store” will open in iTunes the app place where you get all info and a buy button. So the developers websites and others are allowed in principle to have a download link.

    And if we ignore this counter arguments. How will you prevent the Android “Market” or other upcoming “store-things” to get so big? Will be a wide spread decentralised community better? Will it make it easier to find apps and compare them and the reviews?

    I still find very useful software with features I’d liked to have for a while and find out it exists for years but I never found it before. So this search-find problem is not an AppleAppStore problem only. And as I said Im fine with categories, reviews and recommendations by friends and networks so far.

    Dirk

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