The Case for Android

An ex-iPhone owner sings the praises of Google's operating system.

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Paul Stamatiou switched from an iPhone to an Android phone three months ago. He loves Android. He’s got a lot of company, but I’m not sure if anyone has written as extensive and cogent an argument in favor of Android over iOS:

I set out to write an article about how I feel Android provides unique affordances that create a unique cohesive mobile experience (more on that below) rather than talking openness, features and apps. However, the more time I spent living with Android it became obvious that being able to do anything and suit a variety of needs is a pillar of the Android experience.

Mainly I’m talking about a less restrictive canvas for developers. You can access the file-system, the hardware, use intents to pass data to other apps and services, and much more.

Don’t like the lack of lock screen notifications? Install DashClock (example) or NiLS. Want to customize the LED color or each type of notification? Light Flow is just the ticket. I predict many more lock screen notification apps will emerge soon; Android 4.3 brings needed notification APIs (current lock screen solutions hackily register as an accessibility service). For example, you can bring Moto X style notifications that light up your screen when notifications arrive with ActiveNotifications.

I don’t agree with Stamatiou’s conclusion that Android is definitively better than iOS. (To me, it’s more that both platforms are excellent choices for a lot of folks, but neither is the right one for everybody.) There are certain places where my take is the opposite of his, such as his contention that Android’s universal back button is one of the best things about the operating system. (It drives me nuts, since its behavior varies from app to app.) There are also instances where Android’s advantages seem less striking to me than he suggests. (He rightly lavishes praise on Google Now, but it’s also available for iOS.)

And note that he’s been using “Pure Google” phones running an unaltered version of Android – a scenario in which the software does indeed shine, but one which is anything but typical.

Still, he makes his case well. If you like Android, show this piece to your pals to help explain why. If you prefer iOS but have an open mind, you should also pay attention. And if you’re uncommitted and trying to decide what your next smartphone should run, it’s a must read.