Since the iPhone 4S came out, I've heard that Steve Jobs wanted to destroy it
, that people are so much happier
on their iPhones, even my friend Garry
. But guess what? Though my primary computer is a MacBook Pro and I haven't been without an iPad since their launch, I really like my Android phone, yes Android phone
, a Nexus S.
Now I know a smartphone is just about the most personal piece of technology you can buy: We carry them everywhere, play with them constantly (or until the battery runs out), and fuss over them assiduously. In that light, this post isn't an attempt to prove to you that Android is better than iOS, just a desire to share some of its qualities I appreciate.
Yes, I know Siri is amazing (or not
), but most of the time you'll still be typing on that tiny keyboard. On iOS, that keyboard has barely evolved in four years and it blows. On Android you can actually replace
the default keyboard. My favorite is Swype
, it's fast, fluid, and feels natural. It almost achieves (dare I say it) Apple-level elegance. If Swype isn't your thing, SwiftKey X
most certainly will be.
2. Home screen. Android allows you to do so much with your home screen than iOS. You can embed shortcuts to apps, documents, bookmarks, and even app-specific features. Widgets make your home screens even more useful by surfacing views into apps such as calendars, tickers, weather, etc. iOS5 makes up for this a little with the updated notifications but Android's options are way more powerful.
3. The buttons.
Android has four buttons to iOS's one (which now has triple click functionality, talk about overload). The Home button is there as are Back, Menu, and Search. Back is the handiest IMO, esp. its ability to cross applications. Sharing something in one app? Go ahead, then hit Back and you're returned to your original flow.As an aside, one of my biggest beefs with Android apps is that they're not designed to take advantage of these buttons: Why include a magnifying glass on the screen when there's a search button available?
4. Long presses and sharing.
Long presses, the ability to pull up a contextual menu by long pressing an object on the screen, sound trivial but used well they unclutter the UI and give users handy shortcuts to functions. Sharing, a feature almost all apps... share
, lets you to send data (text, URLs, tweets, pictures, etc.) from one program to another. Natural and powerful.
Android is by no means perfect and the iPhone has a lot going for it (it is, after all, a cathedral
), but hopefully this post redressed the balance a little, at least until someone with a hammer comes along!