Authored by Phil Dotree in Gadgets
Published on 11-16-2009
Google’s Android, an operating system designed for mobile phones, hopes to offer some serious competition to Apple’s incredibly dominant iPhone. If anyone can take on the Apple behemoth, it’s probably Google. But how do the features stack up?
As an iPhone owner, I’ve been very pleased with my phone. However, I checked out a few Android phones to see the major differences between the two.
First of all, one thing that’s important to remember is that the Android is just an operating system. It’s not an actual phone, per se – at least not yet. This means that Apple has a hardware advantage. Apple can allow third parties to create hardware that functions with the iPhone. For instance, Griffin or another company could make a device that brings an FM transmitter to the iPhone. They’d be able to do this, since Apple would allow it. Google can’t allow third party hardware developers to make hardware for Android. This is because Android is an OS, not a handset. They can’t OK a piece of hardware, since dozens of phones could be running Android.
With that being said, Google has a leg up in other areas. Notably, Android allows background processes. This means that several apps can be open at once, working within the phone. This potentially makes Android faster. There are also a number of UI tweaks in Android that Apple hasn’t matched. Android has a great notification system, especially compared to the iPhone. On the iPhone, notifications from apps and text messages have to be clicked out. You’ll have to do this before using the iPhone for anything else. This quickly gets annoying. Android phones get around this by showing a scroll of notifications for the user.
The Gmail app on the Android is extremely impressive. It’s certainly a better implementation of email for Gmail users than the iPhone’s Mail app. Searching for specific emails is quite easy, though the iPhone’s new Spotlight search has just about equaled Android in this area.
In fact, as I used Android, the easy search of the iPhone was one of the only things I missed. There were also minor things. If you’re a big fan of third party Apps, there’s simply not as many available for Google’s Android. There are a ton, but Apple’s development community is incredibly popular. It’s unlikely that the Android will match Apple in this area any time soon. Of course, if you’re not addicted to the Apple App store, you probably won’t notice much of a difference. All the major apps are there for both sides.
Overall, it comes down to personal preference. There aren’t enough major disadvantages for either Android or the iPhone to arise as a clear victor. Try out both systems and see which one you prefer. Android will likely be available on a wide variety of phones. If you’re not an AT&T fan and you live in the U.S., this is a major reason to opt for Google Android. Otherwise, the iPhone equals the system in other categories, and the App store is a major draw. Whichever you decide, both Android and the iPhone provide an amazing, compelling smart phone experience.