Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why Android Fans Annoy IPhone Users


Full disclosure: I'm an Android fan. I bought an HTC Aria on AT&T's network, before Verizon got the iPhone. I like how Android phones work, I like that I can customize them, and I like that the Android operating system is open-source -- I even run Ubuntu on my laptop.

Having said that, I've noticed we Android fans tend to do, say, and believe stuff that's hard for most people to swallow. Especially iPhone fans, who often have a totally different idea of what makes a good smartphone. So here's some friendly advice, for me and my fellow Android fans!

Good taste is, in fact, a feature.

And as Marco Arment explains in Feature Checklist Dysfunction, "It would be ignorant and arrogant for me to presume that your priorities are anything like mine."

Part of the reason I bought my HTC Aria was because of how classy its hardware was, and because of how nice HTC Sense looked. I'm betting a lot of people buy iPhones and iPads for the same reason -- and a lot of us make fun of them for caring about "style over substance," or choosing a phone to "impress girls/guys" or something.

I feel like the odd one out for saying this, but style is a part of substance. People are buying most of these phones on two-year contracts; the way that they look and feel is an important consideration. I like my Aria's look and feel better than I like the iPhone's, and that's one of the reasons I bought it.

Yes, I know Android lets you change the home screens all around, and make it look and feel how you want it to (at least software-wise). But the thing is,

Most people don't want to customize their phone's user interface.

OK, to be honest, the impression I get is that most people do like to personalize their smartphones. It's just that for them, to "personalize" means to change the wallpaper and ringtone, not root their phone and install CyanogenMod.

When AT&T messed up my Aria in its software update, I was glad that Android allowed me to change my home screen to one that wasn't ruined. To get it just right, though, I had to swim through ADW Launcher's pages and pages of options. And I wasn't discovering cool features, so much as trying to figure out how to turn off the things that annoyed me.

I think it's great that we get to change stuff around on our phones like this, but I didn't like being forced to.

Finally, "Android" isn't a phone.

I write articles that compare "Android vs. Apple," but I always take pains to explain what Android is: An operating system, mostly written by Google. A component, that companies like HTC use to make tablets and smartphones.

Maybe most Android gadgets seem interchangeable right now, thanks to a lack of creativity on the part of the manufacturers. But devices like the Nook Color show what it's possible to stretch Android to do, with a bit of knowhow and polish. And not everyone knows what Android itself is yet, or why they should look for a phone that uses the friendly green robot mascot.

Hopefully we can give them some good reasons, that appeal to their priorities and not just ours.

Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.

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