Let us take the two biggest up and coming Smart phone OS developers and pit them up against each other. They both offer snazzy, touch based interfaces, carried on the top two Cell Phone service providers networks, and have thousand upon thousands of downloadable apps to do just about anything. Now, take those two OS’s and make on wide open, and the other completely closed. This is what we have with Google’s Android OS and Apple’s iOS.
To the untrained eye, both OS’s are identical, for the most part. They both have brilliant touch interfaces, icons, multiple home screens, and great apps. However, underneath the hood, both are very different.
Without going into details about what type of OS both are categorized, we will just look at the level of “openness” the two have. By this, I mean how openly available the OS is to the general public, handset manufactures and the carries.
Google Android OS
The Android OS is based upon Linux OS. Linux is an open source, open platform OS. It was designed to offer the world a free alternative to Unix OS, and later was able to offer a free alternative to Windows and Mac OS.
The Android OS carries on this mentality. Google’s intent appeared to give not only manufacture’s the ability to create quality phones without huge subsidiary fee’s, but also give the end user more control over their own, purchased device.
With this, savvy users can “root” their device, install virtually anything they want, and, with the proper drivers, install the OS to virtually any device.
Apple designed the iOS from the ground up. It feels and acts like a typical Apple product, but it isn’t based off of the Mac OS. Because of this, Apple has made it completely closed. It is not an OS that is open to the public. It isn’t even open to manufactures as Apple is the only manufacture to use this OS on their own device, the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Even AT&T, iPhone’s carrier, doesn’t even have access to the OS!
Many iPhone users are completely fine with this, as they feel secure in knowing that the device will “always work, and is totally reliable”. Yeah, I work at a particular store with a particular group of Geeks, not unlike the “Nerd Herd”, and I have seen my fair share of iPhone’s coming in due to OS issues, and hardware issues.
Which is better?
Depends on how you look at it. From an end user perspective, both have their merits. However, Android offers true multitasking, which is great for those that need to have multiple apps running at once, such as IM, SMS, Email, and a Browser. iOS offers the idea that if you have an iPhone, you KNOW it was made by Apple. Android phones come from Motorola, HTC, Samsung, LG, and a few others. Each of those design and build their devices differently.
From a manufactures perspective, Android is best. Why? Because every manufacture has the chance to put out a top notch Android device. Witch each device that comes out, it seems they just get better, and more innovative. Where is that HDMI output on the iPhone 4?
For the carriers, I am sure they all prefer Android, considering AT&T is the ONLY carrier with the iPhone. Also, due to Apple’s closed mentality on the iOS, they wouldn’t be able to customize it to fit their network. Android, however, lets them put on the company apps, and regulate what the handset can do, for the most part thanks to being able to literally alter the OS itself.
The Downfall of being “Too Open”
The argument going about is that the carriers, such as Verizon, are taking advantage of the openness of Android and practically locking it down. I understand and respect the concept, as they have a business model to maintain. They also need to maintain some level of quality control management. Something as open as the Android OS could literally take advantage of a carrier network and give the end user limitless abilities to avoid high phone charges, such as getting an inexpensive calling plan, and an unlimited data plan, and make unlimited FREE calls using just the 3G data.
We could argue how the carriers could fix this issue with the customers bottom dollar in mind, but it’s their bottom dollar they are concerned with, with good reason.
My point is that Android needs to be open. It needs to be open to us ALL. However, we as users should have the ability to always choose what we want our device to do, as long as it has the hardware capability to do so.
Apple has gone overboard in locking down the iOS. It is restrictive on who can develop, and what can be developed, for it. I understand the issue of quality control, but then why is it that there are still “crap apps” on the iPhone market? It will always happen. Experienced users shouldn’t be told how to use their device.