iPhone & Android

I’ve had a Nexus One for a couple of weeks now, and think that with Android 2.1, it’s a good advance. Right at the moment, I’m having issues with the battery — can’t hold a charge for more than about 5 minutes, even after multiple varieties of soft & hard resets. But setting that aside, I think it’s a good device with a good operating system.

A few thoughts on the comparisons — I think I’m not adding much here that hasn’t already been written:

  • The fit & finish of the hardware I like on the Nexus One a little better than on my iPhone — but you should take that with a grain of salt, since my iPhone is more than a year old.
  • Nexus One is much faster than my 3G iPhone, which is getting slower and slower with higher latency all the time.
  • The web is a much more legitimate first class citizen on Android than on the iPhone — should be no surprise. It’s just more integrated in dozens of ways. Not as totally web native as Palm, but still really good.
  • Notifications on Android, and background processes that can fetch data and fire notifications, are much, much better than anything on iPhone. (Except for the inability to have app badges — seems like they should add those soon.)
  • And I really like that there are indicator lights — the trackball and the charging light — on the Nexus One to tell you things without needing to unlock the phone.
  • The virtual keyboard on Android has some good advances, but ultimately doesn’t enable the quick accuracy of the iPhone — I think the iPhone is messing with hit targets as you type, depending on the likelihood for each letter — and it helps tremendously.
  • I’m no longer really worried about the lack of applications on Android — it seems very clear that everyone will start writing apps for both iPhone and Android as first tier platforms — but I am a little concerned about the quality of the app experience on Android — the apps just don’t feel like they’re put together nearly as well. It seems like they can access more of the operating system than iPhone apps can, so they should ultimately be more compelling, but the user experience just is very inconsistent at best, and really awful at worst. This is clearly due to the SDK for each OS — Apple’s SDK just seems to allow developers to put together applications that feel better overall. This is just one area where the battle feels a lot like we’re repeating history with an Apple platform versus a more open platform.
  • Google Voice on the Nexus one is a fantastic experience. It’s very clear that traditional telephony is walking dead.

At the end of the day, though, my iPhone experience is just more intimate than my Android experience — it feels more like it has my life on it, while the Android just feels like a very good phone and mobile web device. It’s just easier to get more of what I care about — my pictures, my music, my movies, games I like, and all my books (via the Kindle app) on my iPhone. So it feels more like an integrated part of my life than the Android. As frustrated as I am with my current iPhone 3G because of battery life & sluggishness & general physical-falling-apart, I still feel better when I have it than an Android.

So I’m encouraged by the advances of Android & the Nexus One — and fully expect that the huge array of players in the ecosystem will push things forward more quickly now — ultimately, we as consumers really need a platform for our mobile lives that’s an alternative to Cupertino — not because of what Apple is per se, but because multiple choices means that everyone has to get better.


  1. I made the switch from an iPhone 3G to Nexus One myself last week. So far I’m loving the N1, with the only thing I really miss being the slick way the iPhone handles music. I love the fact that the N1 uses the new industry standard micro USB connector for power and data connections, and that it just shows up as a removable drive when you connect it to a computer. No more iTunes.

    Also, the screen is absolutely gorgeous.

  2. Swype looks really useful as an alternative text entry format for Android – be curious to hear if you try it out. Check out the demo: http://www.mobilecrunch.com/2009/12/15/swype-android-video/

  3. John – I second the plug for Swype. I use it, and it is really fast.

  4. I agree that the keyboard has so-so accuracy but the word guessing and the voice input are super. I’m finding I’m using the voice input more and more.

    iPhoto/iTunes integration would be nice but I am able to drag what photos and music I want to it so not really hurting too much.

    Google Voice is crazy good. Transcribed voice mail, voice mail email notification…rocks hard.

    The Google Translate app is interesting too.

  5. I totally agree with the conclusions. I would like to get a more “open” device, but so far I didn’t see anything that would make the “things I really care about” accessible and seamless.

    You didn’t mention Flash BTW, which I really don’t want to see on the iPhone or anywhere else for that matter, but I guess lots of people, or maybe just few tech reporters, seem to think is a fundamental part of the web experience.

  6. I’ll probably sound totally off-topic, but what stroke me during the Nexus One demo is that i’s tied to Google’s services, such as Maps, Contacts, voice recognition, Google Voice etc.

    The Nexus One ties the user more than ever to services offered by Google, enabling Google to know more about people than any other company:

    * Who you called
    * Who called you
    * Where you are (GPS)
    * Where you want to go
    * Who you know (contacts)
    * What’s on your mind (when you search)
    * What you say to Web apps when using voice recognition to fill forms

    And many other informations that are linked to your phone number and therefore your identity. As Eric Schmidt recalled, all of this can be requested by the Government, thanks to the USA Patriot Act.

    Am I the only one to be concerned? Is privacy actually dead? Should I accept it?

    I heavily dislike the AppStore model because it censors apps, but Apple’s model sounds actually better (or “less bad”) than Google’s approach.

    • I’m with Tristan on this one, that’s my biggest fear as well about all the google stuff. Google says what a open and innovative company, but everything they do just makes them more and more corp looking. I keep looking at dumping my google accounts just so I don’t have to worry about it, but then again, i never use any of my real info just for this issue alone.

      I think that tying too much to one or a few companies is really going to hurt things down the road, just look at google books and all the realization people are having now that they screwed up.

      The N1 looks to be nice, but still lacks some major areas, memory, why would i buy a phone that has not even a gb of on board memory when the iphone has 32gb, that makes no sense. I really wanted to like the N1, but all apple needs to do is add snapdragon, larger screen, amoled, better camera and a few other enhancements and they win hands down.

  7. Can the Nexus One display animated GIFs? I’m getting reports from DROID users that they aren’t supported in Android phones.

    The Android App Store is annoying for people contemplating switching from iPhone to any Android phone because you can’t browse the entire store with anything except an Android handset.

  8. I agree that the keyboard has accuracy but the word guessing and the voice input are super.I am able to drag what photos and music I want to it so not really hurting too much.