I picked up my first Android phone at the beginning of this year — the Google Nexus One. Prior to that I had been a BlackBerry user and the IT organisations I managed all ran BES servers and only supported BlackBerry devices so the transition to the Nexus One was quite a significant one!
It was only a short couple of weeks later that I had decided the Android OS was the only way to go and I have never looked at a Blackberry again! Just a couple of weeks ago, however, I got an iPhone 4 and can understand why there are so many iPhone addicts out there. The phone is very simple to use, has a very clean user inferface and really doesn’t lack a whole lot. The Android definitely has it’s leg up in some areas, but falls way short in others.
I’d like to highlight the areas that I found the Android fell short for me in day-to-day use and why (while adoption rates are rapidly growing) the Android will never beat out the iPhone:
1) Music Player
Quite simply, the Android really doesn’t come close in this department. The music player apps are very good on the Android and I like the way I can see song lyrics while the MP3 is playing (using the TuneWiki app), however syncing the music onto the Android is just not easy. I like how iTunes manages my music and how easy it is to set up and sync playlists. Silly things like ‘number of plays’ and ‘star rating of songs’ are just not there right now. This is a big win for the iPhone.
Similarly to my comments above, I listen to several podcasts and the Google Listen app just isn’t up to my requirements. It’s tough to add a podcast, they are unreliably updated and the whole experience is just below that of Apple. Another big point to the iPhone!
Android wins this one hands down. The notification configuration on the iPhone is pretty basic and you don’t have nearly the control over what, where and how notifications are managed. The Android, however, had a very well designed notification system — with very granular control over how you are notified on different events.
4) Picture Gallery
I have to say the Android picture gallery is pretty good. I like the way it syncs with my Picasa Web gallery and shows all my pictures. Android also makes it very easy to share your pictures with the different apps you have installed.
5) Maps and navigation
Another win for the Android. The Google Maps and Navigation apps are outstanding and for the price (free) they easily beat out the iPhone Maps application. Yes, you can buy a navigation app for the iPhone, but they are not cheap!
6) Wireless tethering
When I had my Android, I used the ability to create a wireless hotspot using my phone on a large number of occasions. I almost took for granted how easy it was to so simply connect my laptop up to the phone using WiFi. I wasn’t super impressed when I found that the iPhone didn’t tether via WiFi. I did manage to get Bluetooth tethering working, but I find it very unreliable (hello Windows 7) and prefer the USB option now if I need to tether.
7) Bluetooth Headsets
I use a Plantronics Voyager PRO headset and could not for the life of me get it to pair reliably with my Nexus One. I ended up giving up on the headset until I got my iPhone and now I live on my headset again. Clearly, it wasn’t the headset, but for some unknown reason the Nexus One just kept losing the pairing. And there is nothing worse than an unreliable bluetooth headset.
Clearly, there are several major wins for the Android, but until Android comes up with a way to easily manage music, video and podcasts, there is no reason for Apple to fear the Android! The premise of the iPhone was a combination phone and music player – Android simply can’t compete with that currently.
Steve Berg is a senior IT executive. Follow him on Twitter at @CIOSteve. This post appears on his blog, IT Perspectives. The views and opinions are his own and do not reflect those of his employer or any other corporation or individual. .