Android versus iOS: The elephant in the phone
You probably read Bill Palmer's articles on his quest for a CAMERAPhone rather than a PHONECamera. Bill is looking around the market for a replacement for his three-year-old Sony Xperia Z Ultra and is having some difficulty. So far he has written about the new Kodak Ektra and the Panasonic CM1. What is clear is that Bill's field of view is limited to Android devices. Bill doesn't do Apple.
The iPhone, which is the elephant in the room when it comes to smartphones with a camera, is beyond the pale as far as Bill is concerned. He is resolutely a Windows and Android man. I am the opposite, determinedly a MacOS and iOS man, a preference born of bitter past experience. However, I am not overly exercised by the quality of a phone camera. I see it has a small bonus to the iPhone as a pocket computer. I am not even too bothered about the phone aspect and, perhaps, it is time to call the iPhone and its competitors by a more appropriate title. These days I make and receive very few calls. Most of my communications are handled by iMessage, WhatsApp and email. The camera is about as useful as the phone facility in my book.
Why have I never looked at an Android phone; and why have I not stolen at least a glance at the latest svelte laptop from the likes of Lenovo? Of course, I like Apple products and I am satisfied with how they perform — despite some evidence of discontent from some industry watchers in the past year. I am not lured by new technology for its own sake. But the overwhelming reason I stick with Apple is the unrivalled eco-system: The faultless synchronisation, the common utility of all Apple products, the availability of a network of company stores with service and help facilities. All these things make Apple ownership a relatively painless experience and, let’s be frank, something of a pleasure.
There are some small niggles, some evidence of nannying in the common good (mainly, it has to be said, to protect the lowest common denominator from harm) but in general it all performs flawlessly. This level of backing doesn't come without a cost. No one could accuse Apple of being cheap, especially not after the recent price hikes in the UK.
But there is no doubt Apple’s “walled garden” doesn’t suit those users who like to do a bit of fiddling. Only this week I came across an article by Jim Edwards in Business Insider UK, entitled “I switched from Android to iPhone 7 Plus — and I regret it wholeheartedly.” Read it for yourself. The main plank of his disappointment appears to be his inability to record a telephone conversion on the iPhone. It seems this is something Apple blocks (probably for good security reasons). But he could do it with his Android devices. It is not something I have ever thought of trying. He has other niggles but, frankly, none of them would be sufficient to make me rush out to buy an Android phone.
I am not blind to the shortcomings of the Apple system. But it is a fact that tens of millions of people are happy with Apple and they are content to accept the limitations imposed by the company to make the environment safer for the common good. Most don’t give a thought to the sort of detail in Jim Edwards’ article. Nor do they care.
Apple just works....
Apple products just work, that’s the top and bottom of it. In fact, they work so well that we take all the safety precautions and synchronisation across multiple devices for granted. Anyone who has not had a computing life before Apple perhaps does not realise how much Apple works in the background to make our lives simpler. Contacts, calendars, spreadsheets, documents, reminders and a dozen and other helpful utilities all work together to remove anxiety and minimise error. Malware, although not unknown, is a drop in the ocean compared with the attacks on Android. The latest iteration of iOS is now installed on 76% of all devices out there; in contrast, Android is fragmented and beset with legacy versions which can only increase danger.
If you are already a Mac user then I see no earthly reason to buy an Android phone. An iPhone will make your life easier. On the other hand, if you are a Windows user like Bill you will probably be better off with an Android phone.
In a way a feel rather sorry for Bill (though he would not thank me for saying so) in that he is having to trawl around among several manufacturers to find just what he wants in the way of a smartphone. Along the way he is encountering snags and having to make compromises.
The iPhone isn't perfect, don't misunderstand me, but it is 90% right and performs as well as any layman could expect. I am familiar with it. There may be the odd bell and whistle that it lacks in relation to the latest Android OS but, overall, the iOS gets the job done. Those transient bells and whistles have a habit of arriving with the next iOS upgrade, perhaps leaping over Android for a while. And that camera is pretty damned good as well, especially for someone like me who uses it as a makeweight, only in emergency on the rare occasions I don’t have a proper camera in my bag.
Were I to leave the Apple eco system and return to the uncertainties and problems I experienced over ten years ago when running Windows and various smartphones (or personal digital assistants as they were called pre 2007) I would feel as though I had been thrown out of a comfortable home to fend for myself.