Android Still Can’t Touch the iPhone

27 Comments

Android

My iPhone 3GS is amazing. It is fully integrated into my life. With its various apps I’m constantly on top of Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and RSS feeds. It would definitely be a challenge to switch. However, I’m also a gadget geek who always wants to switch to the latest and greatest. In my opinion that’s Android right now.

While bored and curious, I walked over to my local Palo Alto T-Mobile store to try out the myTouch 3G (a.k.a. HTC Magic and Google Ion). I have also been recently motivated by the compelling concept of porting my number to Google Voice, and letting that service control the phone aspect of the cell phone. While the phone appears sleek and definitely includes a vast improvement in hardware quality over the first major Android phone, the G1, I still don’t think it compares to the iPhone (specifically the 3GS).

Scrolling

The one problem I encounter on all touch screen smartphones is that scrolling just doesn’t feel right. Apple (s aapl) nailed this on the first try with the iPhone. With three years to catch up, other phones do not offer a natural scrolling experience. It’s either sluggish or it takes more pressing effort than it should to initiate the scroll. The myTouch definitely has this problem and for me that is a deal-breaker.

Multi-touch

Three words. Pinch to zoom.

The iPhone has it. The myTouch doesn’t. Being forced to use (+) and (-) magnifying glass icons to zoom in and out on a website is an enormous step back from Safari on the iPhone. Perhaps someday with a software update multi-touch will appear, but for now that is a deal-breaker.

Context

There are too many menus. Yes, two is one too many. Pressing a hard “Menu” button brings up an app specific menu from the bottom of the screen. Dragging the top of the screen down reveals an entirely different phone-specific menu. I suppose over time I could adjust to additional hard buttons and a poorly discoverable pull-down. As a first-time user, however, I constantly felt confused and lost.

The truth is Android is still not ready for the masses. Bloggers and tech reviewers may rejoice each time a new Android-supported phone is announced or released, but to me it still feels unintuitive and geeky. Yes, there exists a geek who thinks Android is too geeky. Maybe the HTC Hero will be ready with additional horsepower, multi-touch, and an easier to learn interface.

27 Comments

Nicky

I have the android LG Eve and I adore it. After switching from the iphone I have to say I’m in love. I’m not bashing iphones in any way as I think they are good to a degree but I also agree that they are very limited.
I think it all boils down to what is best for you. I use my phone for my business as well as connecting with social networking sites. If you are into networking and social media I find the android is perfect for that. I chose the Eve because it has a pull out qwerty keyboard as I’m not a big fan of touch screen for everything. I’m in love with all the applications and have been able to completely customize it to how I like. To me I’m set, sorry iphone but I have a new love.

Jonas

I admit… i was an iphone fanboy for the longest time..
i’ve had the iphone 2G and 3GS… and for a very long time, i actually thought iphone was the best smartphone and their marketshare was the highest, but recently i met some tech savvy guy and he knows so much about the mobile industry and he laughed at me for thinking this way and told me i was naive to fall for apple’s marketing ploys.

after doing some research online, i’ve noticed that other manufacturers like nokia, samsung, has very large stakes in the industry.. and for smartphones, blackberry and android have a huge customer-base that was much much bigger than apple’s iphones

after realizing, i’ve tried using the blackberry from work.. and i have to say that it’s one of the best email smartphones in the world.. perhaps the best. the email use is so fast and easy, i can’t compare to anything else.

since i have the ipod touch, i decided to buy an android phone, i purchased the htc hero from Telus, and WOW! it does so much more than my 3GS that i gave my iphone to my sister and i am an exclusive android user!!

i can’t wait for the HTC Desire to come out and if android keeps improving this way, i doubt that i’ll ever go back to apple.

iowa

Its funny…. all these so called patents apple holds…. like multi touch, and even the new ipad, they are now being sued for due to pantent infringement. Just like everything else, apple copies someone else, and claims it as its own. Guess what, apple doesn’t own multitouch. They don’t own the ipad name. And unlike in the past where apple simply bought up the rights, the japanese companies that rightfully own the rights to these things,(there are quite a few actually), don’t plan on selling out to apple, and have a lot of money already. Apple may have to pay triple damages to fujitsu, for infringement. Ouch. So long, apple.

saltesc

Think a fanboy needs to borrow an Android for a week :)

I also have an Android and a 3GS. 3GS is just so…old lol.

What I have done to my Android:
– Cyanogen Mod. Includes boosted performance, multi-touch, FLAC support, bluetooth Wi-Fi, USB tethering, utlising SD as system memory, task scheduler, etc. etc.
– Overclocked CPU which underclocks in standby making it perform better than a 3GS while active and usually requiring a recharge every 3-4 days, not each afternoon.
– Full custom theming built into the OS including additional drawers, patterned locking, selection of multi home screens, docks, dock launchers, mp3 ringtones, widgets, widgets, widgets. Nulling the use of an app menu as everything is put on one of the desktops in nice little custom folders or quick access docks.
– On and on and on.

And the apps are just mind-blowing.

What it took me to do all of this? A couple of hours, some reading, and a little bit of geekiness. But if you can’t be bothered to do this and just want an out-of-the-box phone… get an iPhone, they’re okay. Frustrating, slow, messy, and utterly limited, but they work straight away and don’t disappoint.

Gabriel

I love the way the iPhone moves and feels while scrolling and navigating through the menus. Its simply flawless, but it’s not for me.

It just doesn’t give me that always-connected feeling as the Android system does. I love the notification area and the multitasking it offers. I suppose its a trade off, but i don’t mind it.

In the end, it all comes down that’s best for you and what YOU need a phone to do. Once you know what you want, the choice is easy.

I find debates on which phone is best simply pointless and futile. If you are undecided, try out both (you most likely have a friend or two that own such a phone) ans see which one is BEST FOR YOU.

Matt

I agree with Tom. When it comes to cell phones, name brand doesn’t carry much weight. When it comes to MOST THINGS, name-brand doesn’t carry much weight… There is one exception. Apple. Apple is trendy and cool, and their marketing campaign is solely based upon that.

Tom

So many “deal-breakers”. I think the fact that it isn’t an Apple product is a deal-breaker.

The best thing going for the G1 IMHO is the slide out keyboard. I would use my phone half as much (maybe less) without those 48 wonderful little buttons. No physical keyboard? Deal-breaker.

Tlex

I have to agree with IG.

Multitouch is available on the HTC Hero and the Sony Ericsson Racheal.
The available HTC custom Roms have a lot of improvements regarding speed and even smoother scrolling.
The SE Racheal has better hardware then the HTC models, including the Snapdragon and even an 8.1 Mp camera. Just Like HTC designed a new android UI (HTC Sense), SE also designed a new UI which looks awesome.

Link from a translated durch site for a video of the SE UI : http://translate.google.com/translate?js=y&prev=_t&hl=nl&ie=UTF-8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.androidworld.nl%2F4551%2Fvideo-van-de-se-rachelsweeeeeeettttvideo%2F&sl=nl&tl=en&history_state0=

Android and the devices that use it are improving really fast.

IG

This article is so biased and the writer is uninformed… who writes articles after only trying a phone for a few minutes?

First, I own a myTouch and agree there is a learning curve. I also agree the scrolling and transitions are not as smooth as the iPhone’s.

However, the notifications “menu” is so useful, desktop widgets are great, and background tasks open so much potential. The unimaginative author just doesn’t know better. He just can’t picture having a real desktop on his phone, with several widgets (mini-apps, really) open at once, graphics customized to his liking, etc etc

Oh, btw – multitouch is coming to Android and is *NOT* protected by Apple’s patents – it was invented in the 80’s and Palm took out patents long before Apple which likely knows their claims won’t hold in court…. it was a delay tactic against the competition…

DeVon

I have to say I also have to say i have the MyTouch 3g but in no way is it better than the iphone….My reasons for not using the iphone are simple ..Gmail and Google voice are integral parts of my life. My touch does a decent jobs at most things …Music Player Interface sucks and please don’t tell me to use tune wiki or the Meridian Music player. Video is not as easy as it should be and has not gotten any better with cupcake. And seriously alot more serious developers for app on the iphone…….. Blackberry and Android are capable substitutes nothing does email like a blackberry nothing……and Google always improving android……..But for the record the iphone is the got to have phone……

Dan

I wouldn’t expect Android to copy too much functionality (multi touch, user experience, etc.) from the iPhone. Remember, Apple has patents for all of those things. You can’t just expect Android to do it as well if Apple has already done it. Certain things are protected.

Champs

Of course the iPhone misses a lot, too. It may have the best browser and apps, it’s an iPod, and all that, but compared against a lot of other devices, the camera feature is weak at every level, there are no external notifications, and yes, I really do want a physical keyboard — without a slippery back, it wouldn’t be any more bulky than the skins so many people put on their iPhones already.

None of these popular devices would suffer to have just a couple more hours of juice in the battery, either.

jbelkin

Look, it’s nice that the Google android option is available and for some people, being able to tinker with EVERYTHING is more imprtant than anything else but the fact is the Google android phones will also be “kit cars.”

The simple fact is this:

a) While Google SEARCH is brilliant – but beyond Google search, look at the “MORE” menu from search, it’s a hodgepodge of icons of different sizes and directions. The simple fact is that Google has never met 35 different interfaces it didn’t all like at once. Google cannot design a UI to save its life. Smart. Brilliant, absolutely – best search and best results – yes but design and UI – better than MS but that’s not saying anything.

b) Having andreoid tools to design an interface is not going to make samsung, Moto, LG, etc… design a better UI interface when they have been floundering for 15 years BEFORE Apple showed up.

If you don’t want an Apple iPhone for WHATEVER reason – that’s fine but understand what it is – the Iphone is a phone for people who want professionals to design the phone and to maintain its best in class for ease of use, design and UI … the iphone is not perfect but it is the best in class for those three reasons. If YOU do not feel that you want the best in class for ease of use, design and UI – that’s fine – if you want to trade tinkering (or just because you hate Apple) for those three reasons – great – but at last you know WHY we choose the iPhone,

rom

Have two Android phones, a G1 and another one that I cannot say due to an NDA (but the phone is available in the market already – just not released in my country yet).

Whilst I love the openness of Android – total geeks will surely love it (being able to tweak it to the max) and developers have both a love/hate relationship with it. Love it because the SDK is too powerful. Hate it because it is not as easy to create an app for it compared to the iPhone SDK and IDE.

As for using it – I admit that I used an iPhone first (and still use one). There are just some UI issues that make it a deal-breaker for me. The response-time is nowhere near the iPhone’s. Scrolling, typing on the keyboard, you name it, it is slow. The HTC Hero is a bit faster but is still not there yet (played with the Hero last week).

To give it a bit of unbiased view – I had a friend play with the Android phone (she hasn’t touched an iPhone yet) and I heard her complain about its speed — SMS is slow! No, correction, typing an SMS is slow. Then I handed her my iPhone and she immediately saw the speed improvement.

The multi-tasking is superb on the Android – but having a task killer is a major fail! I just wish that the Android will allow us to tag apps for background use and other apps as kill-when-necessary — to speed up the way handles the application’s lifetime.

The Notification bar (and page) is the best I have seen – which something Apple needs to photocopy for iPhone OS 3.2.

Just my two pesos worth.

Tim Ardan

My wife has an iPhone, I have a G1.

I will agree with you on the multitouch end of things. Even with custom roms that support it on the G1, it’s not as nice as it is on the iPhone.

However, scrolling may be a bit different from phone to phone, but I would hardly be able to say that it is “better” or “worse.”

Gordon nailed it with his response to “too many menus.” There’s one menu, one notification area.

I admittedly have difficulty when I use my wife’s iPhone, but it’s not because it’s “not ready for the masses” nor is the difficulty a “deal-breaker.” Besides, haven’t Android phones been sold in the millions? Seems ready for the masses to me.

I suppose I should not be so surprised to see reviews like this when since the iPhone came out first, folks got used to it and when competing phones are released they’re always labled as an “iPhone killer.”

Though in the op’s defense, it was stated he only played with the android phone for a few minutes.

Fredrik Olsson

Scrolling on Android is definitely worse; the obvious flaw is the missing rubber band effect and the end-points of all lists. It makes Android feeling like dragging bricks on asphalt, whereas on iPhone it more like fine tuned ball bearings.

ExemplarDesign

Is there no such thing as an unbiased comparison these days? It breaks my icy stone cold heart that the all these phone comparisons are carried out by fanboys(and girls). Though there is something [not nice] to be said about the individules who deliberately seek out blogs that obviously contain some bias in order to interject with their scathing comments fueled by their own bias. Having little experience with any “smartphone”, I personally cannot comment on UIs or ease of use, or the direction of steps in the development of mobile technology, but I can see when people are arguing opinion (which is wrong) and these comments are a pretty good example of that.

Oldmanhorton

uh, the HTC Hero is out, and yes it does have a pretty interface, but it is known to have very little horspower underneath. there should be an update soon to bring it up to speed, but thats not the issue. its not that Andoid is too geeky, its that the iPhone isnt geeky enough. the iPhone UI is meant for those who dont know what a browser is who just want to have fun with their phones. the Blackberry, Windows Mobile, or Android platforms are for the business people and geeks who need to get stuff done, and get it done fast. thats why there are pop-up menu’s in WinMo or BBOS or Android- it helps to make things get done faster, which is a good thing. no matter what anyone says, it sucks to get things done on an iPhone or iPod Touch. i know from experience. i feel much more empowered when using my Dad’s Blackberry Tour or my friends Samsung Omnia or G1.

Gordon Fontenot

Are you sure you have used an android phone before writing this? There is no “entirely different phone-specific menu” in the pull down bar. That’s where notifications go. There is 1 menu. You get to it by pressing the Menu button. Which seems like a pretty logical UI design to me.

Android has it problems. It really does. But this is a lazy, lazy article. These 3 items (was expecting more when I clicked over from my RSS reader) are dumb, lazy complaints to make. Do a little research please. Maybe actually use the phone (shocker). Not just play around with a T-Mobile display phone for a few minutes while you’re “bored and curious”.

David Klein

I assume borrowing a phone for a week would result in a different article. These are the things I came across in a few minutes of play.

Devon

This is not an intelligent article. I personally have used the iphone, g1, and now I plan to get the my touch 3g. In my opinion android blows apple way out of the water…i mean come on… it took 3 iphones for video capability?? And the iphone plans are ridiculous If you look at the minutes and data usage you pay for with the iphone, then compare that with the g1?? No competition

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