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So Android phones turn out to be too working class to be interesting
April 12, 2014 5:06 AM   Subscribe

"Android users are less lucrative than iPhone users, and designers are iPhone users. It's a socio-economic split on class lines, in favor of iPhone over Android."

Cennydd Bowles, a design lead for Twitter, asks why developers don't take Android seriously. At the Business Insider, Jim Edwards response is that Android users are, well, poor. It also turns out that a lot of Android users use their phones disappointedly as just phones, while developing for Android is much more costly than for iOS. All of which may just explain why it's rumoured Samsung wants to abandon Android for its own operating system.
posted by MartinWisse (314 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm a UX designer. I have had an iphone for years. I had the 5s. My work sent me over to the UK for a project for a year.

Before I left, I needed to either unlock my phone (like $800) or buy an unlocked phone. I got online, checked the stats, and decided on a Moto X. I got one with the teak backplate. Everyone over here says it's the most hipster phone they've ever seen.

The thing doesn't work as well inside of the Apple ecosystem. There are a couple of apps that I miss (I'm looking at you Mailbox,) and it's been a bit of a pain to have to set up things like notes apps that automatically sync with the same app on my laptop. But it's not like that's unexpected.

Meanwhile, while it does have a few quirks, and maybe isn't quite as polished as the iphone, the sheer number of things you can do with this phone that you can't with an iphone is just fucking silly. People talk about responsive design, as if it has to do with screen size? You know what kind of design is responsive? One that lets the device know that, since I'm traveling at 70mph I'm probably driving, and so automatically changes the interface to make text bigger and more focused on voice commands.

I want to get a quick shot with the camera? I don't even have to look at the phone. I just twist it and it turns the camera on. Hell. I can set it down, leave it alone for five minutes and then just tell it to google the location of a restaurant and it just does it, without me ever touching the phone. If I can't find my phone in the house? I just yell for it to make noise and it does.

This is interesting to me, because I can start thinking about how to design for something where the screen can be secondary. I can literally remove the interface that sits between the user and the app. That's pretty cool. If you have some kind of handicap, such as blindness? We might be getting into fucking bad-ass territory.

So these designers who aren't interested in Android? Fucking idiots. We're all just designing the same stupid shit for the iphone again and again. At least on Android I can try something new. At least on Android I can Think Different.
posted by nushustu at 5:27 AM on April 12 [214 favorites]


Well, if there's one thing we've learned from the Galaxy series, it's that Samsung can't write software. So not sure how helpful a split would be.

There is something really gross about that Business Insider article with the maps, but I can't quite put my finger on it.
posted by selfnoise at 5:27 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I love the Samsung Note phones, but i won't buy Samsung again now their KNOX software voids your warranty whenever you attempt to actually use the phone.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:34 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


IMO, the only reason to ever prefer Apple as a tool (because that's what all these things are) is because they were the only company that took color management seriously. Those days are long gone, though. Nice products. SERIOUSLY overpriced. Way too insular.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:35 AM on April 12 [11 favorites]


I'm sure class plays some part but I think the picture is clouded by other factors, most prominently the experience being controlled by the same companies whose incessant rent-seeking held the mobile web back for years before the iPhone.

It's not Android per se but rather the way the vendors and carriers make it clear they're not commited to users. Android development costs more because the platform is wickedly fragmented, reducing the supply of high quality apps, and the combination of the standard UI being mugged by vendor / carrier marketing departments and problems rarely being fixed means that users are being trained to see their phone as less of a personal tool than iOS users.
posted by adamsc at 5:35 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Benny Andajetz: please don't derail the thread with another rehash of the perennial Apple pricing arguments, particularly with such flame-baity unsupported assertions.
posted by adamsc at 5:38 AM on April 12 [13 favorites]


The android app "industry" is also cheaper and easier to enter and there are free versions of just about any category. In-app purchases are probably a much bigger niche than apple and may be where the growth will be (possibly depending on an upcoming Supreme Court case).

The size and restrictions of the respective markets must also skew any statistical comparison, there are hundreds of android models vs 3(?) for apple.
posted by sammyo at 5:39 AM on April 12


You'd think it would be possible to get to that factual conclusion (Android users buy less stuff) without all the "LOL that's where the poor people live" nonsense that isn't particularly well supported by the illustrations anyway.

I mean, the data is tweets. Its not "locations of phone users," its "locations of people who think their thoughts are worth broadcasting."
posted by Western Infidels at 5:41 AM on April 12 [13 favorites]


I recently replaced my ancient, dying Android with another Android. The cheapest iPhone is around $550. The cheapest Android is the Moto-G, which is just $200. That's $200 to own the phone outright. Top shelf iPhones are almost $800, usually paid through some baroque monthly contract system. So... That says something.
posted by deathpanels at 5:43 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


Yeah, to use Samsung's existing phone software is to enroll yourself in a continuing goddamn masterclass in how to make an existing OS worse, so I'm not sure how Tizen would solve this problem (It would solve the "problem" of Google being able to tell Samsung what to do with their phones, which I'm sure they care more about, though).

I'll just be over here with my S4 running CyanogenMod.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:44 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


Yeah, deathpanels, I forgot to mention that the Moto X i got is mine outright and cost me $325. And the extra $25 was so I could get the hipster version of the phone with the wood panelling.

adamsc: I hear what you're saying about not rehashing Apple pricing arguments, but in this case, I think it's kind of appropriate. Maybe somebody said it in one of FPP links and I missed it, but it seems to me that if poorer people use android and richer people use iphones, it could just be that you can get a pretty good android phone for a fraction of the cost of an iphone. You can literally get a top-of-the-line android phone for less than half of the cost of a top-of-the-line iphone. There was a time when the higher price for an iphone made sense, because nothing could compete with it. That just isn't really the case any more. Again, there are certain conveniences the iphone provides, but not really an extra $400 worth.
posted by nushustu at 5:55 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


We just upgraded our work phones from BlackBerry to 5S, it's a serious improvement. However, having come from using my Nexus 7 for 2 years, I'm an Android convert. iOS just feels unintuitive by comparison. I'd rather have had a Nexus 5.

If the article is basing it's assertion that Android is lower class on hardware alone, then maybe, since the Apple handsets are spendy. But on the software? I call BS, there's a lot more people running Android, so even at a lower price point/app price, there's a bunch of money to be made.
posted by arcticseal at 5:56 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Benny Andajetz: please don't derail the thread with another rehash of the perennial , particularly with such flame-baity unsupported assertions.

It's flame-baity to have an opinion on Apple's prices when commenting on an article that declares that rich people use Apple and poor people use Android?

I also said they take color management seriously and make nice products. Is that also unsupported and flame-baity?
posted by Benny Andajetz at 5:57 AM on April 12 [52 favorites]


Most of what I've read over the past year or so concerning Tizen was that Samsung used it as a bargaining chip (or threat) to keep Google in line, particularly after Google acquired Moto and was seen as a competitor rather than an ally. Now that Moto has been sold to Lenovo, I think we'll see less Tizen talk and more synergy between Samsung & Google.
posted by gimli at 5:57 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


The idea of a Samsung OS to replace Android is hilarious. "Yes, customer, wouldn't you like a phone that has an even smaller installed base and software library than Windows Phone?"
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:01 AM on April 12 [11 favorites]


I feel like the Android idiom is more transparent: it's basically the Unix tool chain design with GUIs. As opposed to iOS silos.
posted by PMdixon at 6:02 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]




I am in a mixed family (I am the only Android), and what I notice is that more geeky people use Android than use Apple. Almost all of the good programmers I know have a high-end Android for personal use. The Nexus 5 screen is better, the sound quality is better, and so on. I think the idea that "upper class people use Apple" is the narrative that Apple wants to sell, but it doesn't ring true to me.
posted by sonic meat machine at 6:05 AM on April 12 [34 favorites]


Most of what I've read over the past year or so concerning Tizen was that Samsung used it as a bargaining chip (or threat) to keep Google in line, particularly after Google acquired Moto and was seen as a competitor rather than an ally. Now that Moto has been sold to Lenovo, I think we'll see less Tizen talk and more synergy between Samsung & Google.

Tizen is currently used in the Gear 2 wearables due to its lower resource requirements. I wouldn't be surprised if Samsung had an Asha-style low end line using Tizen and high end products on Android. The threat of Tizen also makes the KitKat emphasis on cutting memory and CPU use make more sense.
posted by jaduncan at 6:08 AM on April 12


So apple products are for classists?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:09 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


The blog post "Why Android First is a Myth" makes a good point - for Silicon Valley startups that are focused on the glamorous venture capital twitter buster/"huge exit" niche. The universe of mobile development is vastly larger than that particular area, although that is where the most dramatic tech stories of rags to billions occur.
posted by sammyo at 6:10 AM on April 12


I picked up an S5 yesterday and Samsung threw in a Gear 2 Neo watch for $49. To be honest, I'm not sure it won't end up as a gift to my brother who could use it a lot more than me since he's a fitness guy. My main reason for the upgrade was the grayscale Ultra Power Saving Mode.
posted by gman at 6:14 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


am in a mixed family (I am the only Android), and what I notice is that more geeky people use Android than use Apple.

If you're in an "all-hands" type of meeting in a tech company, you can usually tell the managers from the engineers because the boss types have iPhones and the coders have Android phones.
posted by octothorpe at 6:15 AM on April 12 [25 favorites]


I build mobile apps for a Fortune 500 company and the 'developing for Android is much more costly than iOS' seems completely correct to my experience. Just to focus on the difficulty part, we're porting a highly successful iOS product to Android right now and it just isn't going to be possible to provide the same flawless experience on Android that we've been providing on iOS, principally because of device fragmentation-and it's taking a lot more resources to get pretty close. 'Pretty close' is going to be a tough pill to swallow for our group...sure, the high end devices will match what we've been providing, but a low end device (where 'low-end' is running something along the lines of 4.0.4, so we're already excluding significant market share) simply isn't going to get there. We know that Android users have lesser expectations that iOS users and we're learning to lower our expectations for our product along with them. That's not a very exciting pitch to dedicated, talented developers who might be choosing a platform for their startup.
posted by Kwine at 6:16 AM on April 12 [13 favorites]


Most of what I've read over the past year or so concerning Tizen was that Samsung used it as a bargaining chip (or threat) to keep Google in line

Android is an ad delivery platform, so Google will do what it takes to make Samsung happy, because Samsung is just about the only company selling Android phones that is making money from it. Now that Apple is doing its own thing, Google can't afford to lose Samsung as a main source of advertising revenue from the ecosystem of mobile ads and apps (Gmail, search, Android Market, Google Play, etc.) that it pushes on Android users and phone vendors, both.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:17 AM on April 12


I have noticed that none of the best, most useful software on my Android devices is written by tech startup types. Actually I think most of it is written by non-Americans who seem to be working on it in their spare time. Software is still great, though.

The sad fact is that most of the monied, let's-change-a-letter-in-our-name-to-be-cutting-edge software is designed to exploit the user as a resource, not be helpful as a tool.
posted by selfnoise at 6:18 AM on April 12 [13 favorites]


Of course Android is going to push all things Google very hard. Just like Apple ties you to things like iTunes, and Microsoft uses DirectX. The question for the independent among us is how much is the company going to rely on making their system compelling enough for us to want willingly and how much they are going to rely on simply locking the gates. There's a reason the coders have Androids on their hip.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:29 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Jim Edwards response is that Android users are, well, poor.

OMG, no! Some people don't have several hundred extra dollars to throw away on a walled garden?

what I notice is that more geeky people use Android than use Apple

The huge advantage of OSS is customization. You get to decide what programs you want running or not ... all the way down. You get to swap in the software components which better do what you need them to. You have actual choices across many "degrees of freedom". If you haven't time for that, I suppose surface flash is some comfort.
posted by Twang at 6:31 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


It's interesting what you say about working without the screen, nushustu, as ios is much more popular with blind people, with voiceover, apple got there first and did it well. You can turn the screen off on an iPhone and use it just as well as you can with it on. Android has been a lot slower to get to the same place, partly due to the fragmentation. And now, many people won't switch because they know the gestures on ios and don't want to spend the time relearning how to use an android and also finding the apps that will work for them. iOS just works. I'm a big fan of android and I agree there's loads of potential for accessibility, with all the things you can tweak, launchers, lock screens, keyboards and so on, but it's not happening yet, and I'm not sure it will because apple have the market.

And I don't know if that isn't a mirror of the broader smart phone market.

(It is awesome that you can now go to a regular store and have a choice of accessible mainstream phones. The last 5 years have been revolutionary in the world of accessible technology, and a lot of that is thanks to Apple).
posted by Helga-woo at 6:32 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


There's a reason the coders have Androids on their hip.

Most people aren't coders and don't care about the same things that coders do.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:32 AM on April 12 [23 favorites]


We sell phones at my current place of employ. iPhones sell primarily to fashion nitwits and technophobes who run all-Apple products in their households due to fear of having to actually learn how to use tools that would be more powerful, more reliable and better value. Tech-folk seem to prefer Android above all else as does anyone else smart enough to avoid Apple-Tax*1

With regards to design ethos, is there anything on this Earth with less class than a gold iPhone 5S*2?



*1...doubly funny given the lack of actual tax payments that Apple actually make.
*2...trick question! Any Bugatti Veyron "Special Edition" meets this metric.
posted by longbaugh at 6:34 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


I'll admit that as a Android user for both phones and tablets for almost as long as they've been around, I've never bought very many apps. Looking at my purchasing history, I've spend about $50 in almost five years.

I'm not sure what I should be buying other than games which I don't really like to play on small devices. There isn't really much functionality on the stock Moto X that needs enhancement.
posted by octothorpe at 6:35 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]



Most people aren't coders and don't care about the same things that coders do.


And thank $DEITY for that.

Now I'm having flashbacks to meetings about naming conventions and folder structures.
posted by PMdixon at 6:37 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


There definitely is a class divide, but I'm not sure what role that plays. Certainly the cheap MVNOs don't offer iPhones and that's what you're using if you maintain cell phone service by walking to your local shop that sells everything. (The next step up class-wise being your local shop that only sells cell phones, but they don't have iPhones either.) This presumably contributes to the ridiculous fracturing of the Android market and the proliferation of phones running hopelessly outdated versions of the OS, which, as I understand it, is what makes Android development less appealing. But I don't think the non-updates of the OS are only happening to low-end phones, so I don't think it's purely related to class.
posted by hoyland at 6:40 AM on April 12


I had an HTC one for a couple of weeks after using a dumb phone for a year or so. I found it fiddly and ugly. I wasn't expecting the learning curve and didn't care to invest that much time into learning how to use it. I eventually gave up and switched to an iphone 5s which I love. It is pretty, simple to use, and does what I expect it to do.

On preview, I guess I just proved longbaugh's point-! But different strokes for different folks, etc.
posted by pintapicasso at 6:42 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: fashion nitwits and technophobes
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:44 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


There's no shame in preferring one brand over another pintapicasso. As someone who lacks any and all brand loyalty I am more than happy to recommend whatever suits you best :)
posted by longbaugh at 6:50 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


I'll admit that as a Android user for both phones and tablets for almost as long as they've been around, I've never bought very many apps. Looking at my purchasing history, I've spend about $50 in almost five years.

This is my experience too. I love my Android phones and tablet, I use them all the friggin' time for a lot of stuff, but the number of apps I've bought could be counted on my fingers and toes, and the number I've bought for more than a dollar wouldn't need the toes. (And the only in-app purchases I make are through the Kindle and Comixology stores). There's enough good free software on the market that I've very rarely felt the need to spend money.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:51 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


The smart phone seems to be the epitome of the bizarre Brand™ obsessed culture we live in. At least people are killing each other over such things... yet.
posted by Poldo at 6:56 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I've used Android since the very first Android phone was available (HTC/T-Mobile G1). Currently rocking a Nexus 5, which is a damned good phone.

I have bought maybe three apps ever. There hasn't been a need for more than that.

Android phones aren't status symbols, but they do everything an iPhone does for a couple hundred bucks less, even at the high end.
posted by Foosnark at 6:59 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


There are a couple of apps that I miss (I'm looking at you Mailbox,)

And Mailbox is apparently looking back at you, nushustu, since it came out for Android last week.
posted by The Bellman at 6:59 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Same here. I've barely bought any apps on my Androids (and I have a slew of devices). Mostly because I've yet to run into word of some either paid or iOS app where I thought "gee, that's cool" and haven't been able to find an equivalent for my devices, more often than not for free. I don't game on my phone though and think of it more like a digital Swiss Army knife.

So apparently there are plenty of people writing apps for Android, even if it's not necessarily to make large piles of money. I'm OK with that. Yes, if developers thought they were going to get rich making apps for Android, we might see some more "polished" applications but I don't need my knife to be pretty, I need it to work and that it does.

Personally I couldn't live without home screen widgets and icon grouping. Between those two, it's rare I ever need to even look at the iOS style grid view of icons.
posted by JaredSeth at 7:01 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


But on the software? I call BS, there's a lot more people running Android, so even at a lower price point/app price, there's a bunch of money to be made.

Two potential barriers:
- Android users are less likely to pay for software
- OS version fragmention makes development more difficult/costly
posted by fairmettle at 7:01 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


It's a shame we have to have the same Android users are like THIS, and Apple users are like THIS, and not the actually pretty interesting maps linked in the second link. There's something to be said for the visibility of red versus green and making subjective conclusions but that is a cool interface. It's too bad the conclusions built off the maps are so flawed.

The rest of the info here we've seen over and over and over again. We get it.
posted by Big_B at 7:02 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


It's not Android per se but rather the way the vendors and carriers make it clear they're not commited to users.

I had an iPhone, got frustrated with the limited ability to change anything, and jumped at the chance to switch to an android phone -- a Motorola of some sort, I think. It was great at the start, but they (Motorola or Verizon, i don't know) stopped providing any software updates for the phone after about six months, so I spend the next year with an increasingly buggy and outdated phone. I eventually paid a small penalty to be able to switch back to an iPhone and haven't looked back since.

I really like the idea of android and think they are doing some things much better than Apple, but I wouldn't get one again without an assurance of support and updates for at least a reasonable time. I'm probably not an untypical user in that regard -- I don't have any interest in rooting a phone or otherwise doing anything other than just using it, and an extra $300 to ensure that is for me money well spent. It might be that some android companies are now providing that, but my earlier experience really soured me on the product.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:02 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


From the business side of things you are a complete idiot if you are designing mobile apps and ignoring Android.

Further, if your app doesn't have high end perfomant needs, you should be writing javascript/HTML5 apps in something like Sencha Touch and packaging them in something like PhoneGap. Write once, publish to multiple platforms. With that framework with minimal effort and barely any new code you can even publish to Samsung's OS and Blackberry and Tizen and Ubuntu Touch and...shudder...Windows Phone.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:03 AM on April 12 [18 favorites]


Hardcore coders may want customization and the ability to root their phones, but speaking as a non-coding techie, let me tell you how effing amazing it is that after spending all day troubleshooting complex robotic systems I don't have to go home and fuss around with my phone to get it to do anything. There is simply no troubleshooting to do. I don't have to help my mom or brother with their phones (as historically I was often asked to do), because they also have iPhones and even if they can't figure something out -- which is rare -- it's easily googleable. Bliss. BLISS.

Meanwhile, my father still can't figure out how to change his Android phone's ringtone from a robotic voice saying VERIZON WIRELESS, and my tech-savvy husband has had an Android phone for 2.5 years during which he has never been able to successfully set up the Facebook app... which one would think Android/the phone manufacturer would prioritize as one of the easier apps to install and configure, regardless of the typical demographics of an Android phone user.

From an accessibility standpoint, even if Apple pioneered these features in a number of areas, I actually don't think they do a very good job of advertising accessibility at the level of, say, senior citizens. Or, perhaps, it's an issue of the Apple Store/mobile provider store workers not being that into it. The entire reason my father is the lone Android owner in my otherwise iPhone-owning immediate family is that he wanted big numbers on the screen when he's dialing and he thought my mother's iPhone's numbers were too small. I'm sure there's a way to do something about that, but it wasn't anything immediately discoverable to me, nor did anyone at the Verizon store point him in that direction -- they just handed him an Android phone that did what he wanted out of the box.

Anyway, to the topic of the FPP, I wonder how much of the class divide is due to the fact that upper-middle-class iPhone owners may own their phones by virtue of their white collar jobs providing them? Three or four years ago, how would the numbers have compared with Blackberry owners? There may be a large segment of iPhone users for whom it has little to do with status symbolism and more to do with being of a demographic likely to be provided a certain model popular among enterprise system administrators.
posted by olinerd at 7:03 AM on April 12 [14 favorites]


fairmettle: "- Android users are less likely to pay for software"

Feature not a bug. We're used to finding free/super cheap apps produced by people that actually work great and aren't overloaded corporate pieces of crap.
posted by Big_B at 7:04 AM on April 12 [18 favorites]


I have an iPhone. I also ride the bus system, in my little burg. The bus system has an android app for scheduling, routes, etc., but no iPhone app, and no plans to develop one.

In keeping with the generality (especially in my town) that people riding the bus are of a lower SES. . . .well it's spooky.
posted by Danf at 7:05 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


FWIW - our team of ten journos/production people running a tech web site asked the company to buy us an iPhone because everyone was running Android.

Which may be more a correlation between tech journalism and poverty than anything else, of course...
posted by Devonian at 7:05 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, my father still can't figure out how to change his Android phone's ringtone from a robotic voice saying VERIZON WIRELESS, and my tech-savvy husband has had an Android phone for 2.5 years during which he has never been able to successfully set up the Facebook app... which one would think Android/the phone manufacturer would prioritize as one of the easier apps to install and configure, regardless of the typical demographics of an Android phone user.


This makes no sense to me. You install the app, you type in your e-mail and password, and you have a facebook app that shows you your facebook things when you open it. What setup?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:06 AM on April 12 [38 favorites]


A different spin on my last post-- As a producer of software, focusing on efficient and economic portability and cross-platform support is a good strategy, as the market and consumer behavior changes at a rate much faster than you can adapt to if you are focused on a single platform and their language and/or proprietary development environment.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:07 AM on April 12


This makes no sense to me. You install the app, you type in your e-mail and password, and you have a facebook app that shows you your facebook things when you open it. What setup?

It should be that easy. Somehow the authentication or something has never gone through properly and he can't actually load anything in the app.
posted by olinerd at 7:08 AM on April 12


This makes no sense to me.

Odds are it's a somewhat older verizon phone that was "enhanced" with some uber-lame verizon lockin apps that break the core os.
posted by sammyo at 7:11 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


I switched to an iPhone because my Samsung android phone became increasingly unreliable during the two years I had it. The phone would crash and apps were glitchy. I felt like I was owning a PC in the late 90s. I do, however, miss the big screen.
posted by Area Man at 7:12 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


"My dad and husband can't figure out how to use their phone" isn't exactly a damning indictment of the phone itself, especially seeing as probably millions of people change their ringtones and use the facebook app every day.
posted by Sternmeyer at 7:15 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


There is something really gross about that Business Insider article with the maps, but I can't quite put my finger on it.

I agree. And I think it's weird that they use different colors for the iPhone and Android maps, even when they are not overlaid - it makes it harder to do an objective comparison, because the red and green are percieved differently (see "Munsell curve"). I wonder if that was done deliberately (to skew the results), or was just a result of thoughtlessness?
posted by crazy_yeti at 7:16 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I've very rarely felt the need to spend money.

We're used to finding free/super cheap apps produced by people that actually work great and aren't overloaded corporate pieces of crap.


I'm thinking about opening a restaurant that serves nothing but ice water. Wish me luck!
posted by valkane at 7:17 AM on April 12 [9 favorites]


I like having an iPhone because I'm used to the interface, and I can do things painlessly. I'm talking about basic things like "lock or unlock screen orientation." The Android interface changes drastically every two years, and many important features like that are sub nested in arbitrary menus. On an iPhone, you can swipe up and tap to do the important stuff.

I especially like having an iPhone because it isn't made of plastic. Most Android phones are made of plastic. Materials matter, and no software can change that.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:21 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


The Android interface changes drastically every two years

Huh? There's been a little fiddling around with the notification drawer and they got rid of the dedicated search button at the bottom but mostly the UI has been pretty stable.
posted by octothorpe at 7:26 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I have made arbitrary choice {x}
I justify this choice with reasons {y} and {z}
I trivialize unsupporting reasons {a} and {b} without realizing it.
If you have not made choice {x}, I am likely to think less of you.

#repeat ad-infinitum
posted by zoo at 7:26 AM on April 12 [81 favorites]


The maps aren't very good visualizations, in my opinion. You go to the side-by-sides and I guess that the Android Manhattan is more sparsely populated, but by how much? The human eye isn't good at picking out exact numbers (which would be helpful here). It looks like, to me, that Android is still doing pretty well with the rich people in Manhattan. If anything this is a point in Android's favor, because it means that people across both classes use it, as opposed to mostly wealthy people.

It's possible that I'm wrong, but looking at thousands of dots on a map and drawing conclusions is subjective. Presenting actual numbers and charts isn't. This is like... the EXACT opposite place you'd want to use a map, honestly.
posted by codacorolla at 7:28 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


technophobes who run all-Apple products in their households due to fear of having to actually learn how to use tools that would be more powerful, more reliable and better value

I remember back when "more powerful, more reliable, and better value" argument kept getting floated by people who spent inordinate amounts of time on IRQ conflicts, Winsock, and SoundBlaster drivers, who kept insisting that this argument had merit, and that the computer was automatically less powerful if it greeted you with a smiley face instead of a blinking cursor.

Same spurious argument, twenty years later. Wanting something just to work when it's supposed to does not make you a technophobe.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 7:30 AM on April 12 [34 favorites]


Also bear in mind that it's a map of people tweeting from mobile devices. This is a subset of the smartphone using population but which subset? We have no idea.
posted by selfnoise at 7:31 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I have made an informed choice, based on my needs.
I recognize your needs may be quite different from mine.
I respect that.
Hang on, my phone is ringing. Oh, it's you!
posted by valkane at 7:32 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I especially like having an iPhone because it isn't made of plastic. Most Android phones are made of plastic. Materials matter, and no software can change that.

This seems like a strange complaint against the operating system. I have a mostly glass android phone. Apple makes a plastic (polycarbonite) iPhone.
posted by demiurge at 7:32 AM on April 12 [11 favorites]


Another reason iPhones remain popular is the network effect. For a long time, iOS was far superior to Android. My first iPhone was the iPhone 2, and despite working at Google (no longer) and getting two free Android phones, I tried them out, continued the iPhone path (3GS, 4) instead. The usability factor just wasn't there.

Now, that Android has had time to polish, I'd say there two OSes are quite close, and there are some areas (Swype keyboard) where Android is clearly superior. However, my next phone will probably be an iPhone 6, because I'm deeply embedded in the iOS ecosystem.

Also, you shouldn't underestimate customer service. A lot of people get exposure to Android simply because it's cheaper, but are left high and dry by companies who are "saving money" by not providing good support.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:34 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Atari vs Amiga vs Macintosh vs PC vs Ti9900 vs TRS80 vs Coco... man, those were the good old days, weren't they?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:39 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


The Swype or SwiftKey keyboard is high in the list of things I miss when on iOS.
posted by arcticseal at 7:41 AM on April 12 [8 favorites]


I have previously stated that iOS7 is the biggest pile of horseshit to ever happen, to much derision. To be honest, the argument used to be 'vertical support and integration' of Apple apps. But at this point, iTunes is completely unusable. I would sooner sit in silence than figure out how to play a song on it. It's really strange how much things have changed. A slow death by committee, I suppose.
posted by phaedon at 7:41 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Middle class Android user (Moto G of course), checking in. Why on Earth pay more?

Drug dealers will always have the latest iPhone. Apple Stores are packed with very young teenagers and wealthy retired people. I'm out of the demographic these days.
posted by colie at 7:41 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Phone OSs are sports teams for techies.
posted by bonehead at 7:44 AM on April 12 [18 favorites]


I think the idea that "upper class people use Apple" is the narrative that Apple wants to sell, but it doesn't ring true to me.

There are actually demonstrable income divides between iPhone and Android users that have a better basis than the maps linked in the FPP. In their May 2013 survey, Pew Internet found that, of all cellphone owners, 40% of people in households making over $75K own iPhones, compared to 31% for Android. But what is even more interesting is that while Android ownership is about equal in all four of the income categories in their survey (approx 1/3), iPhone ownership is significantly clustered in the highest income bracket. Source (scroll down to the last chart for the iPhone/Android comparison).
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:45 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


technophobes who run all-Apple products in their households due to fear of having to actually learn how to use tools that would be more powerful, more reliable and better value

Yeah, I don't like this attitude. I work with computers for a living, and I fucking hate computers. They're pretty terrible at their job. That's part of the reason I'm a designer, so I can help make this kludgy piece of shit that gets used to not suck so badly. When I use my phone? I don't want to have to think about it at all. I just want it to work. That's why I always went with the iphone, because 99% of the time, they just work.

I don't have an iphone now, and haven't had any problems with my new phone, and yes, you can do some cool shit with it that you can't do with the iphone, but I don't think it's fear or ignorance or whatever that makes people buy the iphone. The reason the iphone is maybe the biggest tech success in the past 20 years is because it's just so easy to use. Why leave that, when it's easy to use and pretty much does what you need it to do?

I'm not technophobic; sometimes, I just don't give a shit. My microwave? It has like 15 buttons that I have never pressed. It probably can do all kinds of cool shit, but I really just need it to make popcorn. Why take the time to learn how to cook shit I'm never going to buy in the first place?
posted by nushustu at 7:45 AM on April 12 [26 favorites]


I used to have an IPhone. I have an HTC One. The change was pretty freaking seamless.

The Swype keyboard on my Nexus 7 turns it into maybe the most useful note taking device ever (i take lots of notes for my job and I have shitty hand writing). People who don't know about it are literally amazed.
posted by JPD at 7:47 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


Brand politics aside, it would be good to have a better discussion about the technical reasons apps haven't taken off to anything like the same degree on Android as on iOS. Sure, fragmentation has something to do with it - but that doesn't cause too many problems for web development, so if the desire is there, one would think it could be overcome.

I make apps for iOS. I have looked into Android, and would love the extra distribution and broad market - but at the time I was most interested in making low-latency audio apps, and it didn't seem possible on Android. From what I hear, it generally still isn't. But that's pretty niche. One would think there would still be many cases in which apps could be made that did their job well and were useful to have on a pocket-sized computer with a decent display and plenty of IO.

The clunkiness and less-pleasing organisation of the UI is surely a factor. Personally I dislike Java and hate Eclipse. But these issues can't be all the story, can they? Having read the OP articles, I still don't really feel I understand why apps are so much less of a thing on Android than on iOS.
posted by iotic at 7:47 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I have no idea why Google hasn't fixed whatever quirk of Android makes low-latency audio work impossible. I guess they looked at Apple's domination in audio editing and said "welp, we're not making headway there" rather than "we gotta get us some of that!" for whatever reason.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:51 AM on April 12


I just made the switch from Apple to Android this last week. I previously had an iPhone 4 which I paid $199 for three years ago. I just picked up an HTC One for $0 on a two year contract. This time the switch was easy and I'm not missing a thing.

So yes, price point was the main reason why I switched from Apple to Android. I didn't see the point in paying $249 for a phone when I could get something for free. I didn't make this choice three years ago because the Android app market wasn't as robust as Apple's was. But that's changed. Google Play has quite a bit to offer.
posted by Fizz at 7:51 AM on April 12


Android is an ad delivery platform, so Google will do what it takes to make Samsung happy...

While I think this is an entirely fair characterization of Google, at least the user has options. I've recently migrated from dumb Moto flip phones to Moto Gs for my wife and I, and I have gotten them running nicely without going to the Play store or even tying them to a Google account. Between the Amazon appstore and sideloading from other places like the dev's own website, I haven't spent a cent and my participation in the Goog panopticon is at least somewhat limited.

Maybe I'm atypical, but I like options, like a music player that isn't tied to a download store, etc. I really don't perceive that Apple can give me that, especially for $200.
posted by werkzeuger at 7:53 AM on April 12


Most people aren't coders and don't care about the same things that coders do.

A friend just switched to Android after his iPhone went. The nut of his review to me:
The hardware is very impressive. Pretty little gadget, fast, nice camera. But Android. Fucking, fucking, fucking Android. I've tried out a bunch of different apps, and besides the fact that they don't really work, the UIs make you fucking crazy. Android developers have somehow managed to import from the Linux world the belief that all good programmes are command line, and if you need a UI you're a moron who doesn't actually deserve to be able to use your device.
Having dipped my toes into both worlds, I see exactly what he means about Android developers: the ecosphere is insane, and the only sane way to handle it is to establish a mediocre baseline for your app and then polish for a specific subset of devices that's manageable (and might actually pay money to you). Early in the design of Android it was decided to make it flexible enough to work on every possible type of device, from rulers to refrigerators, so you're dealing with a bewildering array of potential screen sizes and shapes alone, nevermind the range of power and features in the device. The toolchain is complicated in a way that only a linux developer could love. By comparison, the walled garden of iOS actually works to keep the overall level of quality high by eliminating choice.

Brand politics aside, it would be good to have a better discussion about the technical reasons apps haven't taken off to anything like the same degree on Android as on iOS. Sure, fragmentation has something to do with it - but that doesn't cause too many problems for web development, so if the desire is there, one would think it could be overcome.

The issue is that, for a dev, at every level of Android, you're making choices that support or eliminate a set of devices--screen size, power, features, audience, OS version (fragmentation in Android versions is along both version and provider, and the latter lag versions just to keep control). Once you're done, you've already done more work than the iOS guys without even starting to code. The simulator is terrible in comparison to iOSes. Anything non-native takes a serious performance hit--the cross-platform webkit toolkits fall down very quickly past a certain point in complexity. Web development has unified behind a set of JS libraries that provide a common platform, eliminating most of that platform complexity.

It's just harder to be an Android dev, which means the people you get are either very serious about it for idiosyncratic reasons or well resourced. And you've got no one keeping the walls on the garden in place, so obviously less consistency amongst everything.
posted by fatbird at 7:55 AM on April 12 [16 favorites]


"At the Business Insider..."

lol
posted by bruce at 7:59 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


The maps aren't very good visualizations, in my opinion. You go to the side-by-sides and I guess that the Android Manhattan is more sparsely populated, but by how much?

It appears that the iPhone layer is on top of the Android layer on that map, so Android usage is obfuscated when both brands are selected, as far as I can tell. Unless, of course, Android usage is so low that that’s just how it is, thought I find it hard to believe that would be the case.
posted by romanb at 8:02 AM on April 12


> remember back when "more powerful, more reliable, and better value" argument kept getting
> floated by people who spent inordinate amounts of time on IRQ conflicts, Winsock, and
> SoundBlaster drivers,

When the truth of the matter is that that sort of shite is fun. The "more powerful yadda yadda" part is true but there's an unmentioned joker in the deck, namely "...if you have me tuning it, tweaking it, and supporting it for fun." I grant you the population of such users is pretty limited. To one, actually.
posted by jfuller at 8:03 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


It's just harder to be an Android dev, which means the people you get are either very serious about it for idiosyncratic reasons or well resourced.

I don't understand this. I'm a full-time Android and Windows Phone developer, and I have an easier time on both platforms than my colleague on the iOS side where I work. We don't support Android versions less than 4.x, and that knocks out 85% of the fragmentation issues. The remaining issues tend to be due to Samsung insisting on breaking everything and platform bugs that Google can't be bothered to backport a fix for.
posted by cmonkey at 8:07 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


technophobes who run all-Apple products in their households due to fear of having to actually learn how to use tools that would be more powerful, more reliable and better value.

What a ridiculously stupid thing to say. As someone who lives half his working life at a command line, I assessed the options and chose an Air precisely because it is built like a brick using top-quality components and a unix OS, providing me the most reliable, most powerful solution at a good price — measured as the cost in dollars, cost in time, cost in aggravation, and cost in downtime.

Sure, I could save the equivalent of a half-days's wage by purchasing a generic — but that saving will be consumed by an order of magnitude more frustration with OS issues and hardware failures.

Of course, a clueless commissioned-sales phone flogger isn't trying to actually make a living getting shit done on his computer.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:07 AM on April 12 [18 favorites]


I remember back when "more powerful, more reliable, and better value" argument kept getting floated by people who spent inordinate amounts of time on IRQ conflicts, Winsock, and SoundBlaster drivers, who kept insisting that this argument had merit, and that the computer was automatically less powerful if it greeted you with a smiley face instead of a blinking cursor.

This was eventually vindicated, though. Apple themselves abandoned Mac OS wholesale. It was a big part of the reason that Apple went down the toilet during the Interregnum; Jobs was at NeXT absorbing the Unix philosophy, and OS X was pretty much an about-face from classic Mac OS. Under the hood, it's a BSD system with idiosyncrasies. These days you can run emacs on your iMac painlessly.

I work with computers for a living, and I fucking hate computers. They're pretty terrible at their job.

No, you hate software. Computers are nearly perfect at their job; it's just that their job is lower-level than we usually think.

Regarding development for Android versus iOS, it's true that it's more difficult due to device heterogeneity. However, I think in the last couple of years you've started to see some standardization. Most of the high end handsets are at the 1080p size and seem likely to stay there, for example. There are several Android tablets with the same screen resolution, and more will be coming out.

Android has a fundamental advantage in that it is written in Java, which everyone knows; as the heterogeneity is gradually hidden by more powerful libraries and frameworks, that systemic resource will help push its quality and volume of apps higher. Apple's reliance on Objective-C, to me, seems a major misstep in the long run.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:08 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Finding this all intriguing as I am a middle class user who has just switched from iPhone to an android model; not because of cost, utility, snobbery, class, culture, or any other reason mentioned here, but in an attempt to be ethical - I bought (kick started) a Fairphone.
So far it is a bit of a culture shock, but not the sort of nightmare some of the comments above suggest. But, I suspect I am the sort of person who is referred to dismissively as 'using a phone as a phone'. I am google played up the wazoo and have twitter and facebook and hopefully my fitbit tracker and I'm happy as.
So is the app failure actually a problem for most users? Or is this just something super techs and the iPhone-owning designer-types are bothered by?
posted by AFII at 8:09 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


oceanjesse: I especially like having an iPhone because it isn't made of plastic. Most Android phones are made of plastic.

It's pretty sweet to be able to replace the battery myself if needed for about $10, not to mention an easily accessible expandable memory slot that costs fuck all to add a Micro SD card with lots of extra memory. I really never see the plastic back with my case on either.
posted by gman at 8:16 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I just bought an Alcatel onetouch fierce, but now I want a Moto X. It cost $150 to own outright. The Apple equivalent of this phone is $5-600 IIRC. Can't figure out what the extra $400 would've got me.

I honestly don't know what the commenters above are referring to about interface and GUI issues. The apps I have don't look or function much different than their PC equivalents. Haven't used a command line once yet. I don't know why the one guy is having so much trouble setting up facebook, you just type in your email and password like anywhere else.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 8:20 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Disclaimer: I have an older Android and an iPod Touch (32) so I can use allllll the apps, and I've fooled with my mother's iPhone.

I don't think the actual use of either of them is all that drastically different to an average noob/non-programmer like myself. I think Apple's a little nicer, but not enough to justify the hundreds more to get the iPhone specifically. There's generally equivalents that I can use on both gadgets. However, the one thing I think Apple wins at is just plain having MOAR SPACE on it. I use my phone for Internet, GPS, and the camera (no camera on my old Touch model) and a few custom apps, and that's about it because there's just no space for me to buy and download a bunch of apps and play games and do other crap on the phone. I have run out of space on it periodically to the point where I have to delete most of the extraneous stuff I'd downloaded like games (and delete photos, and delete texts--the texts seem to be the real killer). I keep all of the useful apps, games, organizers, tunes, etc. on the iPod.

I've occasionally pondered upgrading to an iPhone once the current setup winds down (iPhones weren't offered by my carrier when I was shopping), but I don't know if I want to spend THAT MUCH on it, especially since the phones I've been looking at still don't have as much memory as I've become accustomed to hogging on the iPod Touch. I don't know...maybe? But as an Android user, I can say that's why I'm not giving them the fat moniez by buying apps.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:24 AM on April 12


jenfullmoon, my alcatel has an upgradeable micro-sd slot like gman's phone. Though I really don't know if you can put apps on it or if it's just for storage.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 8:28 AM on April 12


I don't understand this. I'm a full-time Android and Windows Phone developer, and I have an easier time on both platforms than my colleague on the iOS side where I work.

Perhaps it's improved in the last year or two, but what I suspect has happened is that you settled quickly onto a very workable toolchain for yourself that eliminates a lot of the complexity of device variation and target audience, and just go. I'm friends with a few people at a mobile app developer here that does industrial scale apps, and they put a lot of effort into their own toolchain that splits at the end into Android and iOS frontends, but overall allows them to settle quickly into very known-environment development, just to paper over the issues with excessive fragmentation. The VP of Engineering was quite (smilingly) blunt in saying "this keeps the iOS devs from being total dicks to the Android guys about their platform being more straightforward." Though in truth, all of them have cross-trained and consider themselves devs on both.
posted by fatbird at 8:35 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I just can't abide a device where the ghost of Steve Jobs tells me what I am supposed to do with my computer.

Apple's build quality is more or less the same shit as everything else with a few bits of chrome stuck on. Anecdotally I've heard a lot more complaints and seen more broken Iphones over the years than anything Android, and I know I've seen Ask Metafilters where a popular opinion is that buying the service plan is pretty much necessary for an Apple device.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 8:37 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Given the price differences, it's not surprising that iPhone users as a whole would be more affluent than Android users as as whole (especially since power users nowadays comprise an infinitesimal percentage of smartphone and tablet users). Whether or not these socioeconomic differences are the primary driver behind the disparity in quality, selection and number of apps available on the two platforms -- all of which favor iOS -- is an interesting question I'm not qualified to answer. What I can say is that I have several friends who make a significant portion of their livings developing mobile apps. None of them bothers developing for Android because, according to them, its infinitely more difficult to make money on an Android app than it is on an iOS app, and it's already pretty hard to make any real money on an iOS app. Obviously, if one of their iOS apps hit the big time (unlikely given the nature of the apps), they would figure out how to port it to Android. But otherwise it's not going to happen.
posted by slkinsey at 8:39 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Oh, I wouldn't know anything about that, I have a Windows Phone.

(I'm trying to make this the new "I don't even have a TV...")
posted by jcreigh at 8:44 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


jenfullmoon, my alcatel has an upgradeable micro-sd slot like gman's phone. Though I really don't know if you can put apps on it or if it's just for storage.

Oh, I have that too, and I've put literally as many things as I possibly can on it. But Android forbids me from moving a fair chunk of stuff onto the card, and I still have the problem.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:45 AM on April 12


But what is even more interesting is that while Android ownership is about equal in all four of the income categories in their survey (approx 1/3), iPhone ownership is significantly clustered in the highest income bracket.

This is not a real mystery. They have about the same functionality, but iPhone costs more.
posted by Foosnark at 8:48 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


The poor users don't buy apps and the android power users are just going to get the free app and ignore the ads. I can definitely understand why some development firms ignore android if the can't make back their development costs but why did we ever develop the idea that smartphone application was ever going to Be a massive source of wealth?
posted by vuron at 8:48 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


(I'm trying to make this the new "I don't even have a TV...")

There is a core set of FlipPhone users.
posted by sammyo at 8:53 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I can definitely understand why some development firms ignore android if the can't make back their development costs

This. I may be overstating the difficulties of development on each platform at the developer level. iOS is NOT easy to develop for, but neither is Android, and Android has, like, five extra layers of complexity due to device fragmentation, market segmentation, vendor fragmentation, device range, etc. This shows up less at the individual level than at the business decision level: If making your money back is important, you start with the platform where development costs are lower, the audience is more uniform and affluent, and the environment simpler. The Hacker News crowd continually repeats the decision to do iOS first for just these reasons. This strips out a bunch of small and indie development for Android, leaving behind a bunch of larger dev efforts seeking to minimize complexity by ignoring it, or being a ripoff dev shop, or being the kind of monolithic entity that can absorb the costs of actually building a really polished Android app--but in that case you're Samsung, and not that interested in writing the killer cross-platform mail app.

why did we ever develop the idea that smartphone application was ever going to Be a massive source of wealth?

Angrybirds.
posted by fatbird at 8:56 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


i had android phones for years and the quality was crap. the hardware broke all the time and i take really good care of my phones for the most part.

so then i went with iphone for a few years.

then the Samsung Note 3 came out and i was like well, i'm gonna give this a shot.

i forgot how much i missed Swype.

and the voice stuff works eons better than siri which i wasn't expecting at all. like the very first comment here, i am absolutely amazed that i can say "hi galaxy" and tell it what to do. like if i get a text message while i'm cooking or baking in the kitchen, i can have an entire text convo via voice.

siri just never worked right despite my best efforts. i had to be right on top of the phone to get it work right.

i think android has improved dramatically over the last few years and Samsung phones were always my favorite. also, Sprint does not do the horrible things that Verizon does to their android phones. (i used to have verizon).
posted by sio42 at 8:56 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I had the first Android phone (the g1) and had Android phones up until switching to an phone at the beginning of the year, when I switched to the 5s. I have an android tablet. My husband has an iPad. I've worked in the past where I have a pile of phones at my desk for development.

My conclusion is that ios7 is terrible, and yet still manages to be better than Android. The biggest shock to the system when switching from Android to iPhone is how restrictive ios is. I can't put widgets on the desktop. I can't space my icons out to using their placement on the desktop as a way to make them easier to see. The interface looks like someone didn't have time to finish the visual design, so went with using the wire frames for the end product.

And yet, it's still better than Android.

I've yet to have my iPhone crash. All my Android devices crash at some point. Sometimes a lot. Android drops support on "older" devices, or at least doesn't allow the most recent whole-number versions (I'm looking at you, Revue!) and it's just too muddled. Sure, I can install a billion free apps, but will any be good? It's a crap shoot.

Meanwhile, the longer I have the iPhone, the more I adore it. Having wrist problems, the speech recognition is amazing and is light years beyond Android. Like I can't believe I ever tried to use the android speech recognition. And ios, for all its flaws, is more intuitive. I think about how something should work, and most of the time that's hiw does.

I'm typing this from my nexus 7, so it's not as if I'm unfamiliar with the tech. But even typing this, Android is being buggy and cutting off part of the text area. It also forgets my keyboard app more often than it has any right too (and using the default keyboard is frustrating beyond compare.)

Both do have their flaws. I think ios7 will be seen as the windows Vista of ios. And yet, it still manages to be better than Android.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:57 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Motorola V325 for life.

Or until the smart phone police pry it from my cold, dead hands.
posted by nerdler at 8:58 AM on April 12


Benny Andajetz:
It's flame-baity to have an opinion on Apple's prices when commenting on an article that declares that rich people use Apple and poor people use Android?
No, it's flame-bait to say things like IMO, the only reason to ever prefer Apple as a tool (because that's what all these things are) is because they were the only company that took color management seriously. Those days are long gone, though. Nice products. SERIOUSLY overpriced. and completely ignore all of the other factors while making fantastically ignorant claims about pricing which ignore the fact that all of the comparable products tends to cost about the same.

There's a conversation to be had about how things are marketed, what features make people use phones more, the relative successes of trying to cover the entire market or focusing on the higher end, etc. but the Apple-is-overpriced shtick is one of the most tired, intellectually-lazy arguments on the internet. Just on MeFi you could probably go back to 1999 and find essentially the same argument made by people who were pretending that a dodgy $500 eMachine was “basically the same” as a $1500 Mac because for whatever reason they were emotionally invested in the belief that Mac users are wasting their money and this position required external validation from everyone else. This has been done to death and, with a few isolated exceptions, the only honest conclusion that people are making rational decisions based on different priorities and budgets.

I would much prefer to focus on the interesting questions about what makes one particular ecosystem healthier than another rather than another religious debate.
posted by adamsc at 9:02 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


the longer I have the iPhone, the more I adore it. Having wrist problems, the speech recognition is amazing and is light years beyond Android. Like I can't believe I ever tried to use the android speech recognition.

I'm going to suggest you haven't actually used Android's voice tools then, as a current owner of an iPhone and a Galaxy S4 there is no contest, voice interaction with my Android phone is a generation ahead of Apple.
posted by Cosine at 9:06 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: looking at thousands of dots on a map and drawing conclusions.
posted by frodisaur at 9:08 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


If I was an indie developer, why would I develop for Android after reading this thread, when the people who talk about buying Android apps are talking about why they don't buy Android apps and sneer at anybody who does (slight hyperbole)?

I don't use a lot of apps on iOS, but Threes is addictive, Tweetbot is essential, and the iCatcher podcatcher app works right for me (nearly) all the time and with every feature I want - which are myriad. How spending $2, $3, maybe $5 to support one and two person shops that make tools I spend hours using every week equates to spending $$$ on overpriced corporate crap escapes me. Outright offends me.

I played with the first Nexus 7 on and off for a year or more, but the browser choked when typing posts to Facebook (trailing as much as a sentence behind what I had typed). The only passable Twitter app I found was Falcon, which is godawful ugly and (thanks to Twitter's silliness) abandonware. The best podcatchers were poor next to their iOS counterparts (Pocketcast being almost good enough, and well designed at least). I didn't try hard enough to find an RSS reader, but those aren't very good either.

I'm not exactly a zealot, I'm typing from a Win 8 tablet. The Win 8 multitasking gestures are a huge improvement, and both the OS and browser are rock solid (where Safari crashed several times a day on my iPad in the iOS 7.0 era). The battery life is great and the Atom processor is really damn snappy. But there are no apps worth mentioning, and the Dell drivers for the touchscreen and light sensor are awful five months in.
posted by wotsac at 9:12 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I have a HTC One and an iPhone 5 (though I'm switching to 5s now) for work reasons. I have to use both.
The camera in the HTC is far better than the one in the iPhone. And I love the calculator app on the HTC. But I even if I just use it as a phone (and camera and calculator), it irritates me every single day. And crashes at least weekly. The UI is terrible, and I keep on calling the wrong people or deleting stuff I need accidentally. I'd never buy an app for that phone. I spend time trying to get rid of apps that are pre-installed on it, which is not easy.
I'd prefer to use the iPhone only. If I need an app for some reason, I'll buy it for the iPhone. I listen to music on my iPhone, and in spite of the map-failure, I still prefer using the map on my iPhone. Obviously, the google-maps are better, and I've installed them on my iPhone, but again, the UI on the android drives me crazy.
posted by mumimor at 9:12 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


But Adams is the hardware really that different in quality between a top of the line iPhone and a top of the line Samsung smartphone released somewhat close to the same date? If not the primary difference is in the software and I'm not sure that android is that far behind ios. So what are you paying that big markup for? Developer ecosystem? Reliability? Brand loyalty? Relatively cheap Veblen good? Everyone is going to have different opinions.
posted by vuron at 9:13 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


People aren't talking about a top of the line Samsung if they're saying they bought their phone for $200 outright.
posted by maledictory at 9:15 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


This was eventually vindicated, though. Apple themselves abandoned Mac OS wholesale. It was a big part of the reason that Apple went down the toilet during the Interregnum; Jobs was at NeXT absorbing the Unix philosophy, and OS X was pretty much an about-face from classic Mac OS. Under the hood, it's a BSD system with idiosyncrasies. These days you can run emacs on your iMac painlessly.

Vindicated? I do not think that means what you think it means.

Apple didn't abandon the OS it was using in the early 1980s wholesale any more than Microsoft did. The fact that OS X's core is BSD is actually pretty immaterial and hasn't really changed the end-user experience. OS X still just works, pretty much, and in 2014, you're still stuck having to hunt down drivers for fresh installs of Windows.

Having to muck about with drivers and config files isn't a sign of a more powerful computer, and it's not objectively better for user experience; it's worse.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 9:20 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Just on MeFi you could probably go back to 1999 and find essentially the same argument made by people who were pretending that a dodgy $500 eMachine was “basically the same” as a $1500 Mac because for whatever reason they were emotionally invested in the belief that Mac users are wasting their money and this position required external validation from everyone else.

If you have time to kill and are looking for amusement, find the Mefi threads about the initial iPod, iPhone or iPad releases. All of them are filled with comments about how the devices are underpowered and overpriced and will ultimately fail after the Apple zealot market is reached because this other device is cheaper and has more features.

All of this has happened before and all it will happen again.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:20 AM on April 12 [25 favorites]


If there's anything I've learned from the current technological generation, it is that eyeballs are a pretty important thing for future success. Even if you talk about an inferior product or whatever, if you have people in masses looking at your thing, it's a foundation for some kind of significant money making enterprise. With this kind of framework, you can work on improvements piecemeal over time, taking along people with you who have some brand loyalty and often increasing income over time. It's a long-game to get people hooked, for whatever reason possible (even "buying" them with cheaper products), and then tie those eyeballs into other money making endeavors (such as search, ads, etc.). You can build something significant on that. It's probably more effective that coming out with the perfect product from the womb and hoping people spend a lot of money on quality over availability, and then trying to figure out how to keep them.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:23 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


vuron: I think we're in agreement. My point was that if you buy the current top model Android and iOS devices, the hardware isn't very different — Apple might have a slight advantage for awhile if they get, say, a new display or CPU sooner or cheaper because of they can promise high volume but that usually isn't significant and goes away within a few months. What I was complaining about are the people who do the “Apple costs more” thing but are comparing, say, an Android device based on 3 year old technology to the current top iPhone or vice versa.

The only area where I think Apple has a major advantage is the direct sales model – it's too hard to buy an Android phone which has software support for more than a year or without hideous vendor or carrier customizations and that's because Apple gets a recurring chunk of revenue from app/content sales but the e.g. Samsung only gets the initial sale and Verizon doesn't care about user experience if you're locked into a contract. I'm certain Google has people working hard to fix this since it's the only area where they're structurally blocked from competing with Apple effectively.
posted by adamsc at 9:28 AM on April 12


Apple didn't abandon the OS it was using in the early 1980s wholesale any more than Microsoft did. The fact that OS X's core is BSD is actually pretty immaterial and hasn't really changed the end-user experience. OS X still just works, pretty much, and in 2014, you're still stuck having to hunt down drivers for fresh installs of Windows.

I think this is true and not true. Certainly, the old Mac OS just worked with minimal fiddling (or didn't work at all on occasion). But the change to OS X was a massive change in the end-user experience. Stability improved (remember the application that did nothing but crash to demonstrate it wouldn't bring down the OS?) and there were a bunch of changes that took getting used to. The notion of the home folder was foreign to Mac users before OS X. 10+ years later, I still occasionally try to eject a disk with command-Y.
posted by hoyland at 9:30 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


What's this incredible markup. The latest generation iPhone 5s at TMobile is $650. The latest generation Galaxy S5 is $660 at TMobile. The HTC One M8 is $630. Yes, there are cheaper Android phones with roughly the same features, and Apple has been far more (far too) reticent to serve the lower ranges. And I don't suppose they will as long as the US default is to hand out a +/- $400 subsidy to the manufacturer with every phone plan.

But an apples to Apple comparison just doesn't show that enormous cost difference.
posted by wotsac at 9:31 AM on April 12 [6 favorites]


I have a Galaxy S4 with 80GB of storage (16GB internal, 64GB microSD). It cost $130 subsidized, plus $40 for the card. An iPhone 5S with 64GB of storage (the highest available) would cost $400 subsidized. Since I need that extra storage for music and videos, that's where the savings comes in for me.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:33 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I participated in a Tizen mobile hack in Portland last summer (and took second prize with a transit tracker app) and it was clear to me that, at least as of last year, Tizen was not ready for consumers. That's not to say that it didn't do some interesting things, and it's the first truly HTML native phone I've played with (like, the standard way of drawing interfaces throughout the device was literally jQuery Mobile, even on system screens), but it was wonky. Part of this was probably the development device I was using (and still have in a drawer, probably not that many Tizen devices in a phone form factor floating around), but it crashed all the time, had a clunky and inconsistent UI, and had a feel that I can only describe as unfinished. However, I think it seems like it could be a great system for embedded devices that aren't as general-purpose as smartphone or tablet — another winning team at the hack ported Tizen to a third-party in-dash display system, and they seemed to be really pleased with it. I'd love to see a more recent demo of Tizen, though, to see if the issues I had with it are still there.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:34 AM on April 12


After four years of iOS/Android development my experience was much smoother with Apple. Google Play was a shitshow of malware and keyword spam when it was first released, users had to enter their CCs manually, purchases often failed -- even today developers have to handle each refund manually. We had to buy a $500 Samsung POS just to fix a single device-specific bug. Push notifications were unreliable. Every new release of Android seemed to break something.

Nowadays Android is getting better, and Apple with iOS 7 is getting a little worse. Many devs are using cross-platform tools like Unity or RoboVM so porting is simpler. I'm hoping for push-button ports in the future, but as revenues drop we will have less and less time to worry about unprofitable platforms.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 9:34 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Kwine: We know that Android users have lesser expectations that iOS users

I-- what?? Do you have a way to back that statement up?
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:50 AM on April 12


I'm a pretty big believer in apples to apples comparisons. Apple is trying to avoid commodification of their smartphone by avoiding having a budget option. Android phone sellers obviously see a market for budget options. Of course it is easier to develop for a single platform in comparison to suPorting multiple platforms
posted by vuron at 9:58 AM on April 12


These Maps Show That Android Is For People With Less Money

I like how the San Francisco one has a big arrow pointing at McLaren Park saying, "Look, no iPhone users here! This proves my stupid theory!"
posted by oneirodynia at 10:09 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I have a Galaxy S4 with 80GB of storage (16GB internal, 64GB microSD). It cost $130 subsidized, plus $40 for the card. An iPhone 5S with 64GB of storage (the highest available) would cost $400 subsidized. Since I need that extra storage for music and videos

Well you could use iTunes Match, which while it's still a beta is worth paying for and BWAH HAHAHAHA I can't finish

(I used iTunes Match for two years. It's shit.)
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:17 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I use iTunes Match every day and love it. Considering that it also disables ads on iTunes Radio (which I also use regularly) $20/year is a steal.

I will admit that sometimes getting music into your Match account can be a frustrating experience (good ol' iTunes...). I've had absolutely no issues with any other aspect of the service and since you only have to get them into your Match account once it's easy for me to overlook the occasional file/album that makes iTunes puke.
posted by polyhedron at 10:23 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I'm going to suggest you haven't actually used Android's voice tools then

Yes, because the logical take away from having a different experience is that you divined my experience didn't happen.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:25 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Sure, fragmentation has something to do with it - but that doesn't cause too many problems for web development, so if the desire is there, one would think it could be overcome.

Fragmentation is a huge part of why Android First is indeed a myth, but the web is even slower and more underpowered than Java. If you're doing anything that needs performance, like game development, the speed bump you get from using a native language like C++ over a VM-interpreted language like Java is measurable. Compared with the web, it's not even a question of which is faster. If you're a game company, you know you'll need performance. If you want to try to eke out every pixel to make your game look and sell better, it's easier (cheaper) to do it when you don't have to worry about QA testing on every single incarnation of modern Android devices, given the sheer variety out there.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:25 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


So I deal with apps written for both iOS and Android (Windows? What Windows? Not even on the radar), and here's some observations:

#1: Fragmentation in Android is real. We're struggling with trying to dump support for Android 2.x. Why? Because our analytics say our users are still using it. It's 10%, but that's still not "nothing". iOS is basically iOS 6 and 7, and on the current releases of each. I attribute this to the different distribution mechanisms. Apple distributes directly to the phone owner, Android goes Google -> Manufacturer -> Carrier -> Owner. Carriers are the worst people in the world. They simply don't care, and their incentives are to make you buy a new phone to re-up your contract. Maybe this is different outside the US.

#2: Android does have some great ideas and innovation in the APIs that we would kill for in iOS; but, we can't use them because see #1.

#3: APIs are more "mature" on iOS. The core APIs. The things a developer uses day-in and day-out, are simply more well thought out.

#4: If you compare Oranges to Bananas, and only focus on smart phones being used as smart phones, the market share difference isn't that big. Without going into the nitty gritty details, there's a very high percentage of Android devices that are basically fancy touchscreen phones. Nothing wrong with that, but when you're writing an app, that's not your market.

#5: Our "device library" for testing is 90% Android. This is due to both the fact that there's simply a massive variation in Android devices that we have to deal with, but also that the "simulator" for Android is crap. Total, useless, worthless crap. The iOS simulator is pretty good. This means we have to start physical device testing MUCH earlier. For example, one of our apps crashes the simulator, but not on real devices. We can't debug it because the way the simulator crashes leaves ZERO traces of the cause.

#6: There's weird issues in Android around what you can and can't do "offline" (i.e., when not connected to the Internet, or with a Google account). They make no sense, except as a way to funnel people into Google. They certainly don't have any technical justification.

#7: To do it "right", you simply have to write two totally different applications. They can't share any code. You do get reusability of business processes, sometimes, but because the internal model of Android and the internal model of iOS are wildly different you end up with all sorts of conceptual incompatibilities. So, we keep two totally parallel code bases.

#8: The Android version of one of our apps that was started with the same basic resources and same size development team is about 3 months behind the iOS application. Make of that what you will.

#9: The security approaches are wildly different. Android has a nasty tendency to default to insecure decisions inside the code, which requires a developer to choose not to be a security nightmare. Most developers don't. iOS makes more "safe by default" decisions.

#10: As much as I hate Java, Objective-C is a nightmare sometimes, especially if the developers don't use newer capabilities in the language to shorten some of their code.

So, tomato v tomato. I have both Android and iOS devices personally, and I can see the attraction of each. I don't want to call it left v right brain, but there's definitely a difference. Just like all programming languages are Turing-complete, so the capabilities are similar. But that doesn't mean it's as easy to write certain things.
posted by petrilli at 10:26 AM on April 12 [31 favorites]


So I was wondering something. I'm on iOS, and have been for years. Never owned an Android, don't have much experience with them aside from last year, when my girlfriend got a Galaxy S3 for a few months before ditching it in frustration and getting an iphone instead. The S3 was kind of completely awful; the biggest problem for me, my biggest dislike, was the fact that the touchscreen just didn't work at all. Sometimes it wasn't responsive, sometimes it was TOO responsive, and in general
It just didn't understand what the user was trying to do, so there was a huge amount of repeatedly tapping and swiping trying to get it to recognize stuff.

Using a stylus on such a screen was clearly completely out of the question.

Now: I use my iPad for several hours daily to write notes in Penultimate with a stylus. I know that's not how Steve Jobs wanted me to do it, but it's what I do. I take notes in class, and I write outlines for my master's thesis; I jot down notes for work and make sketches. This is a big part of my life, and probably the main reason I'm tied to iOS.

Have Android touchscreen gotten better at all since the days of the S3? I know that was a few generations ago - that is, like three years ago, in tech time - so has the responsiveness improved? Does anybody anywhere use a stylus regularly and cleanly on an Android interface?

Just kind of wondering.
posted by koeselitz at 10:31 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I'd agree with petrilli's points - even when we made Zombies, Run! 4.0+ only, we still had to spend a lot of time dealing with underpowered Android devices, or devices that act in strange/wrong ways. You just don't have those same problems on iOS.

However, things are definitely improving in Android-land - not only is the OS getting more mature, but revenues are catching up with iOS, and of course there's the ever-present fact that the submission process is so much quicker for Android.
posted by adrianhon at 10:32 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


There are certain niche markets that iOS totally owns because Google just doesn't seem to care. For instance, creating music. There are tons of interesting music apps for iOS, many universal, and only a smattering of really good ones for Android because of a ridiculous latency problem that Google simply ignores, release after release. Many app developers would love to expand to Android and have been screaming at Google about this problem for years to silence. It seems to be a case of someone at Google saying, "No, we're just not interested in those users." That, plus the predations of the carriers most people get their phones through makes me think Android is mostly targeting a "you don't need that" kind of audience. Who cares if you give me ten cool new features if you don't give me the one feature I want?

I have an Android phone and an iPad. I've been through a couple Android phones, and have been using Android almost since day one. I got the original Droid the day it came out (more by accident than design) but I'm seriously starting to think some of the stuff on my iPad is just too much fun not to have on my phone, too. And even if some of these apps eventually appear for Android, I'll have to pay for them twice.

The other great thing iOS is good for is, um, pinball.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:34 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


koeselitz, someone close to me had that several-years-ago-Android bad touchscreen experience -- they gave me that old phone, so I can attest to the responsiveness being so chancy as to be unusable. Just recently I've used a more recent Android phone (both Samsungs) and the touchscreen has been much, much better. Haven't tried a stylus on either.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:36 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Have Android touchscreen gotten better at all since the days of the S3? I know that was a few generations ago - that is, like three years ago, in tech time - so has the responsiveness improved? Does anybody anywhere use a stylus regularly and cleanly on an Android interface?

Yes, they have. I've never used the S3 but I've used other Android phones with bad touchscreens. My last two Android phones (Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 5) have touchscreens that are at the same level as the iOS phones I've used.
posted by zixyer at 10:39 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I've disliked developing for Mac OS X whenever I've done so, presumably iOS works similarly. Android sounds positively lovely though :

Android Development Fundamentals: What I wish I knew when I started

I dislike Java too however, so my first Android project will use Scala and Scaloid instead, probably not build the interface the Android way though, not using the Scaloid DSL.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:42 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


lagomorphius: "There are certain niche markets that iOS totally owns because Google just doesn't seem to care. For instance, creating music. There are tons of interesting music apps for iOS, many universal, and only a smattering of really good ones for Android because of a ridiculous latency problem that Google simply ignores, release after release."

I have to say that I'm not sure how much of that is down to Apple. I do know that for years and years and years we really, really struggled to so musical stuff on iPads, because Apple built the OS with walls in place and made that difficult. High-end audio production was basically left either (a) trying to cram everything - creation, production, publishing - into a single app, or (b) using an iPad just as a lame controller for something that actually made music on an actual computer. AudioBus (and to some extent JACK, although we'll see how that turns out) changed the game completely here - and while Apple thankfully recognized that and got behind it by integrating it a bit better into the ecosystem and adding support to GarageBand, it doesn't seem like they were the ones taking the initiative. One wonders what would happen if someone took a similar initiative on Android.
posted by koeselitz at 10:44 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


(Really, though, AudioBus is INCREDIBLY FREAKING COOL for music and audio production on iOS.)
posted by koeselitz at 10:46 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


in 2014, you're still stuck having to hunt down drivers for fresh installs of Windows.

I have not had to "hunt down drivers" since Win98.
posted by Foosnark at 10:47 AM on April 12 [11 favorites]


Have Android touchscreen gotten better at all since the days of the S3? I know that was a few generations ago - that is, like three years ago, in tech time - so has the responsiveness improved? Does anybody anywhere use a stylus regularly and cleanly on an Android interface?

I have a stylus I use on my Nexus 7, although as I mentioned above - they swype keyboard is so great I don't use the stylus as much as I expected to. But it works well when I want to use it.
posted by JPD at 10:48 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Part of the problem is that audio latency is so device-dependent that it would take a huge initiative to get every relevant party on board, and since all of those parties have thoroughly alienated the people who care about audio already, they would be undertaking that initiative for basically no short-term reward. Issue 3434 will remain open for the duration of Android's existence.
posted by invitapriore at 10:50 AM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I just recently bricked my iPhone 5 and needed to replace it for as cheaply as possible.

None of the Android phones available were significantly cheaper than a new iPhone.

I actually ended up downgrading to an iPhone 4s, as it was far and away more affordable than switching to an Android.

The "class" argument is bullshit, unless we're talking about cultural markers on the level of, like, tennis vs. NASCAR, or Dodge vs. Honda.
posted by Sara C. at 10:53 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Any comments running Linux software on Android?

How do the apps XServer and XServer XSDL differ? Or should I use a different X server?

Any comments on the differences between the different distributions like BotBrew, Debian Kit, and Lil’ Debi? A priori, Lil’ Debi wins simply because the Guardian Project rocks. BotBrew integrates more or differently with Android, probably not even Debian.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:56 AM on April 12


Late to the party, here, but despite its market share, Android is probably on borrowed time. Devs hate developing for it, Google has been unsuccessful in keeping the platform from fragmenting, and, well, it costs a lot of money to develop for a product they give away.

As Chrome OS and Glass improve, Google will transition them to smartphone-like platforms, and make the Android platform increasingly uncomfortable to develop for, use and deploy, and then shank it outright once the profits for the new mobile platforms trend the way they want.

I'm a Cyanogen user myself, but really, Google doesn't need three platforms when two would do.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:58 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


OTOH, Apple says you're not allowed to run Bittorrent, Bitcoin, porn (including Euro stuff that's just different nudity standards), apps that could interpret code Apple hasn't approved for your consumption, Wikileaks, any non-Apple web rendering engine or etc. that competes with an Apple app... Seems like a broken device to me.

Yeah, anyone tried those GNU/Linux distros (it's not just RMS being mad anymore, Android/Linux is actually a separate thing!) for Android yet?
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 11:00 AM on April 12


As Chrome OS and Glass improve, Google will transition them to smartphone-like platforms, and make the Android platform increasingly uncomfortable to develop for, use and deploy, and then shank it outright once the profits for the new mobile platforms trends the way they want.

It is quite possible they will extend the Glass walled-garden development model to Android, particularly as it extends its reach with vendors over the rest of the platform with Google apps and Google Play. Making the ecosystem "sticky" is profitable.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:01 AM on April 12


If you're in an "all-hands" type of meeting in a tech company, you can usually tell the managers from the engineers because the boss types have iPhones and the coders have Android phones.

80% of the people in my tech company office have iPhones. 100% of my team (all coders) do. So there's an anecdote for you.

I worked on an Android app for 6 months at this company. It was really easy to get started with Eclipse and the Android dev tools, and I loved being able to just plug in a phone via USB and run adb.

But overall that platform was such a pain. A small example is memory management. A lot of the insanity was fixed in version 3, but we couldn't take advantage of it because we had to support version 2.3.3. Something like 20% of all phones are STILL on 2.3.3 today.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:03 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


OTOH, Apple says you're not allowed to run Bittorrent, Bitcoin, porn (including Euro stuff that's just different nudity standards), apps that could interpret code Apple hasn't approved for your consumption, Wikileaks, any non-Apple web rendering engine or etc. that competes with an Apple app... Seems like a broken device to me.

Well, when I want to make a phone call, I can, and when I want to read (Kindle vs iBooks, because that's where my books are), I can, and when I want to browse internet, I can. These are the things I buy phones for, and iPhones do it well.

All that said, I expect my preference for the iPhone largely boils down to it being the first true smartphone I've owned, and so the interfaces and whatnot feel intuitive to me.

Also, I write and review code for a living, but I find that I prefer to spend my free time doing things other than attempting to set my phone up for Bittorrent, Bitcoin or porn (and if you really want to get porn on anything, just turn off safe search on Bing).
posted by Mooski at 11:10 AM on April 12 [4 favorites]


save alive nothing that breatheth: "OTOH, Apple says you're not allowed to run... porn (including Euro stuff that's just different nudity standards)"

Yes, Apple doesn't want me to "run" porn. Which is unfortunate, because I long deeply to download apps that allow me to check the weather or calculate sums via an interface that features naked people having sex. It's tragic - I'm forced to look at pornography on the internet, through a browser, like some common savage.
posted by koeselitz at 11:11 AM on April 12 [21 favorites]


None of the Android phones available were significantly cheaper than a new iPhone.

You weren't looking at the right Android phones. You could have gotten a Moto G for $180, a Nexus 5 for $350, or a Moto X for $400. All very well-reviewed phones that are all but guaranteed to keep receiving updates for the foreseeable future, and those prices are all with no contract.

I think that if more people bought phones like these, rather than whatever some pushy salesperson talked them into buying, there would be far fewer complaints about crap Android phones. And they'd save some money to boot!
posted by jessssse at 11:13 AM on April 12 [7 favorites]


You weren't looking at the right Android phones.

I was looking at all of the phones my carrier offers.

I paid $99 for my iPhone 4s.

Poor people do not buy full-retail smartphones.
posted by Sara C. at 11:18 AM on April 12 [9 favorites]


I switched to an iPhone because my Samsung android phone became increasingly unreliable during the two years I had it. The phone would crash and apps were glitchy. I felt like I was owning a PC in the late 90s. I do, however, miss the big screen.

It's too bad that the Samsung Galaxy has become the default high end Android phone because it's shit, really. Glitchy, poorly built and the software is fucking terrible. I never got any of mine to sync or backup properly, not once. (i had three).

I have an HTC One now and it's a near flawless phone. Everything just works. It's built like a tank and the battery lasts forever. I've heard the Moto phones praised in the same way.

Samsung is giving Android a bad name, imho.
posted by fshgrl at 11:24 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


I have not had to "hunt down drivers" since Win98.

To be fair, I have not had to hunt down drivers since Thursday. I suppose it could have changed in the past 48 hours.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:30 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


If you're in an "all-hands" type of meeting in a tech company, you can usually tell the managers from the engineers because the boss types have iPhones and the coders have Android phones.

This is a very apt description. Extending from this: When you see someone going from development into management, pay attention to their phone. Android -> iPhone? They're gunning hard to manage. Android -> Android? Probably more amenable to dev concerns.
posted by CrystalDave at 11:33 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Poor people do not buy full-retail smartphones.

If you buy a subsidized phone, you're paying about $40-50 more a month than you would on a prepaid plan (for two years). If you take that into account, that kind of changes the $99 iPhone vs $180 Moto G equation.

Of course, everyone is different depending on how many minutes they need and which carriers have coverage where they live. But a lot of people don't even consider prepaid even though would be a much better option.
posted by zixyer at 11:35 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


If you have $108 dollars in your bank account and you suddenly found yourself without a telephone of any kind, you're getting the $99 iPhone.
posted by Sara C. at 11:45 AM on April 12 [5 favorites]


OTOH, Apple says you're not allowed to run Bittorrent, Bitcoin, porn (including Euro stuff that's just different nudity standards), apps that could interpret code Apple hasn't approved for your consumption, Wikileaks, any non-Apple web rendering engine or etc. that competes with an Apple app... Seems like a broken device to me.

I can see why, from your perspective, Apple is terrible vendor both actually and philosophically, but you're a vanishingly small demographic in comparison to the rest. And you're really not giving Apple its due at serving the rest what they seem to be quite happy using.
posted by fatbird at 11:48 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


actually, if you only have $108 in your account, there are a shit-ton of non-smart phones that you might want to consider first. And even if you absolutely had to have a smart phone, I bet if you gave me 30 mins I could find an alternative to the iphone, if you wanted one.
posted by nushustu at 11:50 AM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Though, of course, on the subject of class and mobile phones in general, I think the more interesting contrast is the mainstream contract carriers vs. things like Boost. There is definitely segregation in the market, but which OS your phone uses isn't really part of the conversation now that any carrier can offer the iPhone.
posted by Sara C. at 11:50 AM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: "I was looking at all of the phones my carrier offers. I paid $99 for my iPhone 4s. Poor people do not buy full-retail smartphones."

I've been poor, and I've been broke. There was a big difference, as I saw it. Broke means I really should have saved some of my paycheck from last month because now I have to replace my car tire. Poor means I couldn't even think about having a car or going off food stamps until I get a job.

Broke people get the subsided phone from their carrier by signing a contract and paying the extra monthly fee. Poor people don't have "carriers" they pay monthly fees to, and only ever buy phones with prepaid plans.
posted by koeselitz at 11:56 AM on April 12 [10 favorites]


nushustu, the really interesting thing is that when I bricked my phone and used my work phone to call AT&T to see what my options were, I wanted to go to a "dumb" phone temporarily. Not only was there not anything cost effective offered, but the rep on the phone actually pulled strings to get me the iPhone cheaper.

While, yes, I know it's because they want that sweet, sweet $15/month data package I pay for, I definitely thought a lot about the class ramifications of the big corporate mainstream carrier bending over backwards to get the middle class white girl an affordable iPhone. I bet if I were someone of an obviously lower class background calling up thinking about switching from Virgin, but who couldn't afford a smart phone, they wouldn't be waiving fees and finding obscure discounts for her.
posted by Sara C. at 11:59 AM on April 12


Poor people don't have "carriers" they pay monthly fees to, and only ever buy phones with prepaid plans.

Sure, but they're also not like, "OMG you could save so much money by buying this $500 Samsung instead of this $600 iPhone, which you should obviously buy full price because of abstract ideological reasons!"

When you don't have resources, you take what you can afford.
posted by Sara C. at 12:01 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


... and it's not even really a question at the point where you're budget-constrained to lowest-cost prepaid. If you can find a place that sells iPhones for $50 outright for prepaid stuff, well, that's awesome. But poor people are often going to go for the crap Android that at least can do some stuff and allow them to fool around on the internet when they're near somewhere with wifi. Frankly, I wish such stuff had existed when I was poor, because that would have been kind of neat.
posted by koeselitz at 12:04 PM on April 12


That window title is a first-class troll. Congratulations, MartinWisse. I hope you got what you wanted out of it.
posted by NortonDC at 12:04 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


which you should obviously buy full price because of abstract ideological reasons

I'm not sure if you're responding to me, but that's not what I said. I was saying that in some situations people can save a lot of money by buying an unsubsidized phone. I didn't say that everyone should do it or they should do it for some non-economic reason.
posted by zixyer at 12:12 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]




zoo: "I have made arbitrary choice {x}
I justify this choice with reasons {y} and {z}
I trivialize unsupporting reasons {a} and {b} without realizing it.
If you have not made choice {x}, I am likely to think less of you.

#repeat ad-infinitum
"

A-and don't forget to insist that you are not in any way influenced by trends, fads, peers, marketing or advertising when making this choice.
posted by chavenet at 12:17 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


zixyer, I'm really just referring to the entire conversation about which smartphone to get, and whether you should get a "subsidized" phone on contract, or have a jailbroken phone, and all this "but like how can it be hacked" type stuff that Windows people tend to care about.

If you're buying a cell phone based purely on economics, you are not at all thinking about that stuff. That's hobbyist stuff. If there is a class differential at all between Android vs. iOS, it absolutely is not because Android phones appeal more to programmer types.

My guess is that, if any real difference exists, it's because iPhone was so slow to uncouple itself from AT&T. At this point -- as I discovered when I had to replace my phone at short notice -- the various providers are invested in getting people to make a choice and stick to it, and expect future phone purchases to be upgrades, not going back to the drawing board on the entire question of what kind of phone to have. So lower-cost providers have a lot of legacy users who were already using Androids, and who will be pressured to keep using Androids.
posted by Sara C. at 12:21 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


l'm typing this from my nexus 7, so it's not as if I'm unfamiliar with the tech. But even typing this, Android is being buggy and cutting off part of the text area.

I always see that too but figured that it was a bug in Metafilter's mobile site, not Android since it's the only site that does that.
posted by octothorpe at 12:28 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Man, reading this really does take me back to the Mac vs Amiga vs PC wars about 25 years ago...
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:34 PM on April 12 [6 favorites]


it's easy for me to overlook the occasional file/album that makes iTunes puke.

-That drove me to distraction. I gave up on loading some files/albums after a while, or downgrading them to get smaller file sizes.

Also in my experience:

-It constantly pukes on short tracks.
-It frequently pukes on long tracks.
-If the iTunes store version of the song is corrupted, no option (within Match) to force it to use an uploaded version instead. (Store customer support is very solicitous about this, but if the label doesn't provide new source files there's not much they can do).
-Does not do the space management stuff Apple claimed it would. Eventually you have to delete files yourself to get back space, which on a 32GB 4s was frequent.

I got to the point where it was easier to resurrect my beat up but perfectly serviceable iPod Classic and cancel my account.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:36 PM on April 12


The whole iTunes model is a mess. It's one of those cases where a walled garden that makes money is clearly inferior to a more flexible interface. I can't do something insanely simple like download an mp3 and add it to my music collection on an iPhone; Apple wants me to either buy it from their store or go through the weird hassle of plugging my phone into a computer and opening an arcane interface to transfer it. Which is why the "iTunes" and "Music" apps on my iPhone and iPad are in the "Nope" directory and never get used. Unfortunately I see that in order to make money there's no way they'd ever fix this, and I have found other more complicated solutions (getting another player, keeping my music there instead, etc) but it does highlight the ways that walled gardens monetize things in problematic ways, I think.
posted by koeselitz at 12:54 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Apple wants me to either buy it from their store or go through the weird hassle of plugging my phone into a computer and opening an arcane interface to transfer it.

You can do wireless syncs. It works reasonably well, though it's not as fast as USB 2/3 transfers.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:08 PM on April 12


Yes, Apple doesn't want me to "run" porn. Which is unfortunate, because I long deeply to download apps that allow me to check the weather or calculate sums via an interface that features naked people having sex. It's tragic - I'm forced to look at pornography on the internet, through a browser, like some common savage.

I personally don't, but a ton of people like to use apps that are basically slightly more native windows onto a website - often enough just rendering HTML in a browser widget. This includes, on Android, apps like this for pornographic purposes.

You seem happy with Apple-approved activities. Enjoy your Iphone!
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:19 PM on April 12


I'm pretty sure you can use Safari, Google, Tumblr, etc. to look at anything you want. I've never deliberately tried to look at porn on my phone, but I don't doubt that I could find porn with my phone if I wanted.

I would be unlikely to download an app dedicated to porn, though, because sometimes other people see my phone. At least on a browser you can clear your history. If you have the Sexy Sexy Porn App on your phone, it's right there for everyone to see, forever.

--

OK, I just checked, but not only can you look at porn via the Google search app, I googled something fairly innocuous and got bestiality. Apple is in no way trying to prevent people from accessing pornography.
posted by Sara C. at 1:24 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


fun exotic fact: I was very, very poor, not in the US, and my roomy who was also very very poor but worked in a call center got us labeled as premium customers on some global database thingy. So till this day, when we need new phones, we get them at extreme discounts. Like 90% discounts. So us poor people, we don't think much about prices when we choose our new phone. But we think about what works for us.
posted by mumimor at 1:34 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


For people who go with prepaid phones -- and most of them are poor-to-lower-middle-class people who either want to avoid the credit check that comes with a regular cell phone data plan, or can't justify the high price of a monthly data plan -- there's really a big discrepancy, not between the $500 Samsung and the $600 iPhone, but between the cheaper $150-250 Android phone and the $600 iPhone.

I have yet to be able to justify what it would cost for a monthly data plan on any of the non-prepaid carriers, but I can justify spending $200 on an Android phone.
posted by Jeanne at 1:45 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


I've never spent more than $300 on an iPhone. I must be doing something right.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:49 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Apple is in no way trying to prevent people from accessing pornography.
That's an absurd statement.
posted by brokkr at 1:53 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Apropos of nothing, I picked up a new HTC One M8 when it came out earlier this month. What a lovely phone. Blisteringly fast, great battery life, beautiful screen, awesome speakers... I love it. I'm incredibly happy with it.

Of course, I would be slightly more happy if it was running stock Android, but I didn't have the $700 on hand to buy the Play variant.

The biggest problem with Android are the carriers and device manufacturers. They can't get out of their own way. Software updates to Android take forever to trickle out. Each manufacturer has to grapple on their poorly implemented sheen of custom software in an attempt to make themselves stand out. It's... bothersome. I eventually rooted and installed custom ROMs on all thress of my previous Android phones. That solved the problem, but it's also like diffusing a bomb.

It's really my one big complaint. And it's a big one. Android is great. People just keep trying to do everything they can to ruin it.
posted by kbanas at 1:55 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Android is great. People just keep trying to do everything they can to ruin it.

That seems to go for some of the developers, too, not just vendors and carriers:

"Brightest Flashlight" Android app disclosed location of 50 million people, but FTC imposes no fine

The free app, which was installed by at least 50 million Android users, transmitted users’ real-time locations to ad networks and other third parties. It was, in other words, a stalking device disguised as a flashlight.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:03 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I have yet to be able to justify what it would cost for a monthly data plan on any of the non-prepaid carriers, but I can justify spending $200 on an Android phone.

This pretty much. We'd had dumb phone service and I've gotten our residential wifi working reasonably well. I wanted to pop my existing T-Mobile SIM into an affordable smartphone and use it mostly around the house as a tablet and my phone when I'm out. I'm concerned enough about privacy that I've sideloaded everything and don't have a google account.

I didn't even consider Apple, because my perception is they are not interested in someone who wants an open system. I can't fathom only getting software from one source.

I got a Moto G and it's fine. It's got a couple glaring limitations, but it's also under $200. I've found the interface and display fantastic. I understand its version of Android is very close to stock. I'll probably root it when updates end.
posted by werkzeuger at 2:07 PM on April 12


Lately Google has been moving more and more core Android component to Google Services (basically, the Google part of Android, which isn't open source). This allows them to make major system updates directly, rather than waiting for OS updates to wend their way through manufacturers and carriers.

This is a very good thing in terms of fixing the fragmentation issues, but it's also a concern because it makes Android a little less free.
posted by jessssse at 2:28 PM on April 12


Lately Google has been moving more and more core Android component to Google Services (basically, the Google part of Android, which isn't open source). This allows them to make major system updates directly, rather than waiting for OS updates to wend their way through manufacturers and carriers.

Really? They're not doing this because they want to bypass carriers. Because this stuff is "oh we're using 4.4" and the carriers are still on 4.2 or 4.3. They've been doing this deliberately to kill off the last few parts that were still being put into AOSP. The Google Now launcher is just a taste of the shit to come over the next two years. Google are successfully stuffing the genie back into the bottle by using Google Play as their biggest bargaining chip.
posted by Talez at 2:39 PM on April 12


Oh and does anyone remember the Android Update Alliance? What a fucking farce that ended up being. There's a good reason my only Android device is a 2012 Nexus 7.
posted by Talez at 2:45 PM on April 12


I personally don't, but a ton of people like to use apps that are basically slightly more native windows onto a website - often enough just rendering HTML in a browser widget. This includes, on Android, apps like this for pornographic purposes.

With the added benefit of doing things like accessing your contacts or worse, which no website could ever do, no matter how shady (yes, barring security vulnerabilities).

I am a coder/developer and I like the iPhone *because* it's locked down. I don't have to worry about malware, or at least I have to less than any other platform out there. I like being able to run whatever I want on my computer, but I mostly want my phone to work and be secure. I can still write software for it, it just has to run in a sandbox, and I need to submit it to Apple for approval (and pay them $100/year for an account).

I can understand the hate for iTunes 11. I agree they took away some functionality after 10, but it still works to manage a huge music collection, and keep my phone backed up and synced.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:55 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


I haven't felt this authentic since I last drank a PBR.
posted by ocschwar at 3:06 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon: "You can do wireless syncs. It works reasonably well, though it's not as fast as USB 2/3 transfers."

That's still an awful solution, though. What it means is that every time I'm looking at Mefi Music and see an mp3 I want to add to my music library, I should put the iPad down and open up my real computer, download the song, add it to iTunes, then do this wireless sync thing. I have this terrible habit of trying to use my iPad as a real computer.
posted by koeselitz at 3:07 PM on April 12 [9 favorites]


So I am one of the Android poors because T-mobile had a good deal, and before that I was on a non-smart phone because again, poor. I don't use apps much; internet, camera, maybe the notes/calendar (though the native apps are a pain and feature-poor, so not much).

I'll tell you why, too; downloading apps, the few times I've attempted it, is filled with checkboxes, permission-granting, and unexplained blurps/denials, and I get angry at spending so much time setting up a damn phone. I would probably need to log into T-mobile on my computer to get them done right (the double authentication on my Gmail seems to trap me in an endless loop when I try to install it), but I haven't bothered, because I don't need them. A computer is a work device, but phone apps are largely about entertainment for me, and I just don't feel like spending time on them. I check my email through the internet, which is slow but ok for the few times I need to do it on my phone. I use the camera (it's not bad) and have some tunes on there, but the sound is tinny through headphones so I don't use that much.

If it was my main communication device, instead of the computers/ancient iPad that I generally use, I would take the time, but I don't like typing on a tiny screen and don't communicate with work people on it.

It really is a phone plus web-browser for me, basically; is that because I was too poor to get into the app lifestyle, or because I have an app-averse temperament? No idea.
posted by emjaybee at 3:16 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


That's still an awful solution, though. What it means is that every time I'm looking at Mefi Music and see an mp3 I want to add to my music library, I should put the iPad down and open up my real computer, download the song, add it to iTunes, then do this wireless sync thing. I have this terrible habit of trying to use my iPad as a real computer.

Try GoodReader.
posted by Talez at 3:20 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


If I were in the position where my mobile device were my primary "computer" for daily use, I'd probably switch to Android because there's just too many things I cannot do with my iPhone. Android is less restrictive.

As it is, I have an iPhone 5, and having a nice desktop computer at home (Windows 7, if you please), I can do pretty much everything I want. iOS is restrictive, but as an "additional" mobile device for me, I don't feel very restricted.

But hell, I see everyone in this thread fighting over which incomplete, half-assed turd of an operating system is better than the other. Every iPhone and nearly every Android phone has more memory, storage, and CPU cabability than the $3000 windows 95 machine I got in 1997. Batter consumption aside (let's assume I'm plugged into the charger), why can't I run win95 in a VM on anything in the market now? Why can't I plug in a keyboard and mouse into it and have any mobile device let me run Civilization II on the full screen while playing back MP3s in Winamp in the background?
posted by chimaera at 3:28 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


The "class" argument is bullshit, unless we're talking about cultural markers on the level of, like, tennis vs. NASCAR, or Dodge vs. Honda.

I think you're comparing the top end of the market on both sides, when there's really an entire other end of the android market that makes people make these distinctions.

You're comparing phones that cost >$200 even used for the most part, whereas the "low class" or "poor" or whatever android market are the phones that cost $50, or even as low as $30. Basically only windows phone and android play in that space unless you're just getting a feature phone with a keyboard or something.

Right after i got out of college these phones had just started coming out. They were an aspirational product for people who wanted to get in on the whole smartphone thing, but didn't really have the money. At first they were $120-99, then they were $70, then they were $50, and now they're sometimes even $30.

These cheap phones sometimes even still in 2014 don't even run android 4.0, and are on 2.3. A few run 4.0 or some 4.1 variation. It's verifiable fact, from various sources linked in this thread(and more i could dig up) that most of these phones don't even get many apps installed and are basically just used for the maps, facebook, and as phones(this was even highlighted above in the FPP, this is the kind of phone and user they're discussing).

The class comparison there is that the cheapest iphone is either $400+, or requires a contract(which requires a credit check, which...).

It's lot like saying a comparable machine to a macbook pro costs only a little bit less, so you're not seeing the class difference. The difference is that windows machines start at like $300 at costco or even less on sale some places, and that range is where the bread and butter of the market is.

Jeanne brought this up here too, but yea. I think it's just that basically everyone on metafilter has the money to play in the big boy phone leagues with whatever side they support and buy what is essentially tier 2 but totally current software wise, or tier 1 phones.

And i also find it utterly amazing that anyone argues that people should be writing android apps or they're "making a stupid business decision" or whatever when both the statistics and opinions of people here support that being a money pit. People buying the cheap phones with outdated software are a mess to support, and won't buy anything anyways. Nerds buying the high end new stuff don't pay for anything. So what's the market?

It's also worth mentioning, at least to me, that i've bounced back and forth between both platforms. What brought me back to apple every time, as a consumer who doesn't give a fuck about the reasons why, but just the experience... was that all the "big" apps your friends tell you about or you see online always come to iOS first. Always. Some new suddenly popular game like threes? yep. Whatever the next new instagram/snapchat type thing is that everyone suddenly wants to message you/add you on or do stuff with? every damn time.

And even when most of the apps catch up, the android version always feels like they just give less of a fuck. I could count on one hand the number of apps that actually felt consistent, impressive, and as well made on android as they did on iOS. And they usually went through a period of crappiness prior to that and only caught up when both platforms got a big redesign. And sometimes, as with instagram, that actually means that features get dumbed down or taken out to support a unified experience(still bitter about the shitting up of filters and live previews... grr).

But yea, really just read this. It pretty much explains why it isn't "bad business sense" to not go with android, and also why that lagging occurs. Is it a self defeating cycle? Yea, total chicken and egg. Does it matter? no, i just want the good stuff. And i'm not going to jump ship just to prove a point or get a couple extra features i kinda miss.
posted by emptythought at 3:28 PM on April 12 [9 favorites]


put the iPad down and open up my real computer, download the song, add it to iTunes, then do this wireless sync thing.

That's a good point. You can add a picture to your library from the web browser, but can't do the same with music or videos.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:30 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


It really is a phone plus web-browser for me, basically; is that because I was too poor to get into the app lifestyle, or because I have an app-averse temperament? No idea.

I've found that after the 'honeymoon period' with my smartphone, I've basically uninstalled all the apps except for the stock ones, Kindle, and Netflix. So I too am confused by people with pages upon pages of apps.
posted by Pyry at 3:33 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


90% of the mobile usage on the site I run at work is iOS. The users are largely Doctors and others from the professional class. If you want to reach people with money you target iOS.
posted by grubby at 3:43 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


Apple is in no way trying to prevent people from accessing pornography.

"We do believe we have a moral responsibility to keep porn off the iPhone. Folks who want porn can buy an Android phone." - Steve Jobs
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 3:52 PM on April 12 [10 favorites]


That's still an awful solution, though.

That solution not being palatable to you is a different thing from that solution not existing at all, when it works just fine for millions of people (myself included).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:59 PM on April 12


Hey, hey, why you all worrying about porn when it is Thomas the Tank Engine's dominance on Netflix taking over the backbone?
posted by jadepearl at 4:01 PM on April 12


And millions of people use Android phones - more than use iPhones, in fact. Are you suddenly convinced that Android is a worthwhile platform?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:02 PM on April 12


Blazecock Pileon: “That solution not working for you is a different thing from that solution not existing at all, when it works just fine for millions of people (myself included).”

You're seriously arguing that downloading a file and keeping it to listen to later is an arcane, silly thing that only geeks would want to do?
posted by koeselitz at 4:04 PM on April 12 [10 favorites]


Most people aren't coders and don't care about the same things that coders do.

Indeed. Most people don't give a shit if it's harder to code for iOS or Android either.

In my circle Android is king, in terms of use, with BlackBerry second (curiously enough, amongst the programmer keyboard centric bunch and not surprisingly amongst some medical professionals I know), with iPhones initially used by those who like Macs but all but one ditched for Android the moment it hit version 4.x and the Nexus 4 came out.

I'm guessing that most people don't give a shit who makes their phone or what mobile OS is on it outside those with very specific needs or a useflow they're used to. Whatever suits you at the time will do.

Personally, I'm on an independent carrier that is $30/month, unlimited everything, but you have to buy the phone outright. I prefer the Nexus devices because of stock Android, they're unlocked, and the price for the hardware is great (still have my Galaxy Nexus since the new models don't have a replaceable battery). Up until recently no iPhone models were compatible with broadcast frequency but that may be changing.
posted by juiceCake at 4:34 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


My first smartphone was an iPhone 3GS and I absolutely loved it. Having a smartphone has really helped me because I've always kind of been unorganized and a bit of an airhead so having a tool that can easily handle a lot of that for me at all times (plus give me a game to play, a book to read, music to listen to, a way to look up directions and facts) was just incredible. They can have a seriously positive impact on your life. Back then though I feel like the iPhone was so far ahead that even a geek would have to consider that the direction to go.

Years later when I stepped on the phone and unfortunately broke it Android was established and, being a geek myself, I decided to switch to an Android phone because I was a little frustrated with the price and lack of customization from the iPhone line. I really, really liked Android. Many more useful free apps and it gave me the customization it wanted.

I had problems though. The hardware just never lived up to the OS in my experience. This is likely just a run of bad luck but I went through four Android phones breaking for reasons I can't explain quicker than the lifecycle of my previous iPhone. Samsung Galaxy S2, Pantech Burst x2, and Motorola ATRIX HD. I loved the Motorola, great big screen and it had the nicest feeling in the hand of any phone I have used. If I had stuck with Android I would have gotten another Moto set. But, I got really frustrated that the hardware kept failing and I always felt like the batteries were draining faster than I expected.

I went with the iPhone 5c, and I love it. The battery has never run out on me, and it seems much more durable and well put together than the Android offerings. I wish it was more customizable, and I wish the screen was a little bigger...but the interface is so good that what customization I would do is just cosmetic nitpicks. It's not a big deal. My expectation is that this will be, like the 3GS was, my phone for many years.

I had similar experiences with laptops. I went through a few Windows laptops quickly with the hardware falling apart, then I got a MacBook in 2009 and I'm typing on it right now and it still works fine. I don't know if a study would verify higher hardware quality for Apple products vs. the competition...but my experience has always been that they last long enough to justify paying more for them.

So anyway, I'm definitely a geek and that's why I like Apple. If my finances were stretched I would probably still try and go Apple because it has given me a better long term value.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:49 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

Seriously. I have an android phone, I'm happy with it, but there's probably 5 non game apps I regularly use: a news reader, yelp, a video player, along with a uPnP client, and netflix. I do have a few things like Goodreads that I open once in a blue moon, but that's not going to really affect me much. Since I commute by public transit, games are another story, and I do wish android had the same kind of library as iOS, but I don't think that's the focus of this thread.

(Oh and the Android is for the poors framing really squicks me out and reminds me just how judgmental and classist the tech crowd is.)
posted by aspo at 5:07 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


(Oh, but I wish iTunes and the iPhone reliance on it would drown in a fire)

To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

You mean not built in apps?

Daily...Facebook chat, Yahoo Weather (could just use Apple but this one has pretty pictures), a notes application I like better than the Apple version, a Something Awful app, Fark app, Reddit app, Audible, Tune In Radio, a sports app (which depends on season), My Fitness Pal, Runkeeper, a Google authenticator, a Blizzard authenticator, my bank app. (No two party authentication there!)

A few other non-built in are used at least once a week...Hulu/HBO/Netflix/CNN/ESPN (one of these likely once a week, not all), an IRC app, Wegmans app, a tip calculator, the Kindle app (I mostly use an actual Kindle but occasionally).
posted by Drinky Die at 5:18 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Well, it's also for sex perverts. I just learned that in this thread.
posted by thelonius at 5:19 PM on April 12


(I also replace the default mail with the Gmail app and Apple Maps with Google maps, also I am a sex pervert so that isn't exclusive to Android)
posted by Drinky Die at 5:28 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


aspo: "To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?"

The big distinguishing one would probably be Prizmo, one of the most fantastic apps I know of. It does something so elemental that sometimes I wonder why it isn't a bigger priority for consumers: it scans written text, performs OCR, and can read it aloud - in other words, it will read written text to you aloud. I scan in the week's chapter from my textbooks and listen to it while I'm walking around; I listen to Game of Thrones or essays I find online or other things I'd rather not have to sit down with. It's not perfect, but it's good enough that I can listen to it smoothly, and there are a variety of voices (available for dozens of other languages, too.) So I have it read stuff to me as I'm walking to school or riding the T or driving. Very useful, and I can only imagine that in the next few years it will dawn on people how awesome this capability is and they'll use it more.
posted by koeselitz at 5:31 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: I googled something fairly innocuous and got bestiality
posted by moorooka at 5:37 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


Apps I use daily:

Alarm clock
One of the map/GPS apps, whether it's the native one, Google Maps, or Waze
native Camera/photo app
Instagram
Google
Songza
Hulu (for chromecasting to my TV, mostly)
Facebook
Tweetbot
Calculator
Period Tracker (not literally every day, but it's one of the most consistently used apps on my phone)
Flashlight (another that I don't use daily, but wouldn't want to be without)
Drop 7
Threes
posted by Sara C. at 5:41 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


I'm still an Apple guy when it comes to desktops and portables, but for tablets and phones, Android all the way (and I was an iPhone 1 and 4 and iPad 1 and 2 owner).

With my Nexus One, then Galaxy Nexus, then Nexus 4, now Nexus 5 (and Nexus 7 2013, now Nexus 7 2014), I can do *what I want* without having to jump through jailbreaking hoops, or waiting for the exploiters to catch up with Apple in the latest round of exploits and patching. I have unrestricted access to the system at the hardware recovery/debugger level, and can completely build my operating system from source and install that, if I like.

One example I like to point out - "Automatic". $99 for the OBD-II Bluetooth dongle and companion app for iOS. For an Android device, it's $12 for the OBD-II dongle off Amazon, and then, what, $5 for Torque off the App Store (or free, if you use the same-but-different-feature-set "Dash").

When my mother found the screen on her iPhone 3GS to be getting too small, I bought her a $200 (done, out the door, own it outright) unlocked Moto G and helped her migrate everything over. She loves it - "the screen itself is as big as my old phone!". I'll never be able to get her to switch from an iPad, though - but that first purchase of a refurb iPad 1 (and I've since gotten her an iPad 2 and an iPad Mini) was one of the best things I've ever bought her in terms of "use she's gotten out of it".
posted by mrbill at 5:51 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


So, my job for the last few years has been to help startups develop cross-platform mobile strategies. There are only three real contenders these days: iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

Nobody has been very interested in developing for Windows Phone, and certainly not doing it as the first target while worrying about burn rate, but everyone is keeping an eye on it and ready to jump when it makes financial sense.

Everyone has to decide between iOS and Android. The trade offs have been rehashed ad nauseam: ease of monetization, pain of development, market share. Most people pick iOS because users monetize better and the development experience is better. Then when they're almost done and their investors are like, "so... Android?" is when they call me.

Before I continue, I would like to state my personal preferences:
Platform   Developer Experience   User Experience
iOS        2nd                    1st
Android    3rd                    3rd
WinPhone   1st                    2nd
The user experience rankings are pretty subjective and there's no point in arguing about it; here's what I think: I like the cleanliness of iOS and I don't care that I can't side load an ssh terminal or whatever. I also like the cleanliness of Windows Phone and the fact they tried to really do something different. WinPhone breaks down for me when somethings get shoe-horned into the paging widget. I also don't like its tendency to load every person I may have ever received a hotmail message from as a contact. I'd have to create a new passport (I'm old) account to switch to Windows Phone for real, just to start clean. And I don't like the maps. Android just feels like a stupid mess to me. So, yeah, 4.1+ is a massive improvement and I haven't spent enough time with it to really critique it. I'm set in my ways. Honestly, there isn't that much of a difference. I tell people to just go with what they like. Real developers have two or three of each laying around.

The developer experience, however, is ridiculously different for each.

Microsoft: give us money, click here, run the installer. DONE. Visual Studio is absolutely great and getting things done quickly is just so easy. I ported one app to Win Phone (as a complete re-write on the MS stack) and it took me two weeks to do what it took the Android guys two months to do. And when they changed the backend to return JSON instead of XML it took me less than an hour to change XMLDocument to JSONDocument and test that all the LINQ stuff still worked just fine. It took the iPhone and Android guys days to switch over.

Android: Here's 20 steps (24 if you're on Windows) to install stuff. Okay, that's not fair, they've made it a lot better recently. Now it's only a few reasonable steps. But the emulator still sucks, the Android SDK manager, ADB, ADT, DDMS and Eclipse are all horrible in their own special ways. Why does it feel like everything is being masking taped together? Oh yeah, and then there is the Android emulator: slow, very difficult to configure, and a frequent pain in my ass. I want to slit my wrists every time I have to go down this path. And Google knows this which is why Android Studio exists. Seems like it's been beta forever. I can't wait to switch to it.

But you still have to deal with dalvik and stupid things like oh yeah getters and setters are slow. Really? REALLY? Anyway. Yeah, they can be optimized out. Whatever. I don't have to worry about that stuff with iOS and WinPhone. And I don't have to worry about supporting over 1000 different screen sizes and probably 10,000 hardware/OS configurations.

iOS: Install XCode. Bang your head against the wall dealing with our stupid developer portal and provisioning profile bullshit. Waste another week just trying to setup your app with proper entitlements and creating placeholder marketing artwork just so you can setup an IAP for testing purposes. Waste another week trying to get your submission right. Waste another week waiting for us to reject your app. But aside from that, it's not a bad experience. Xcode is acceptable, mostly configurable so the annoying things go away, reasonably advanced and modern, and at times hysterical (seriously read that if you work on xcode for a living) somehow.

[Somehow what I wrote here got destroyed by my including some characters that MetaFilter's editor didn't like. The jist of what I said here was that you shouldn't write for iOS first and then offshore the work or assume you can hire an Android team later, but that you should consider a cross platform strategy before starting development and here are some methods to consider.]

Method 1: Native Code.

Android has the NDK (even though it's a pain in the ass and at times poorly documented and JNI is slow). ObjectiveC and ObjectiveC++ are native supersets of C and C++ so you're covered there. Microsoft has been reluctant to let people run native code, but you weren't seriously considering a WinPhone app anyway, were you? If your app is a game that will use an openGL engine and custom UI everywhere, this is a good choice. It may be good choice for your app regardless, depending on what it is. The down side is C++ is hard and you may run into things you just can't do without bridging to Java (and then you will want to slit your wrists).

Method 2: C# + Mono + MonoDevelop.

Holy crap, I wish more people went down this road. Is your app primarily a bunch of UITableViews? Or a big scroll view that has some text and images? Write once in C# using the amazing MonoDevelop IDE (which will be really comfy if you like(d) Visual Studio). C# is a legit language, Mono is a mature supported project, and the MonoDevelop community is very responsive to bug reports and new releases from the major vendors. They have bindings for both UIKit and Android widgets, so you may have to write your UI twice, but you can write all your core logic once and share it. You can make packages right in the IDE. It's great. The downside? I can't wave a magic wand and turn your ObjectiveC shop into a bunch of C# developers... but it's not hard to pick up. Fire the ones that can't adjust.

And if you're feeling really baller, write a custom DSL for defining your UI and code gen the C# that instantiates the necessary UI. Or serialize it to JSON from some editor and just write two parsers.

Method 3: Just run your ObjectiveC code on Android.

Say what? Yes. ObjectiveC is just a language. The latest gnu compilers support it quite nicely, as does clang. Google updated the NDK to use a compiler that supports Objective-C. And a lot of the core Apple frameworks are open source.

Of course UIKit isn't. However there are at least two companies working to make that irrelevant: Apportable (full disclosure: I have worked with them) and Marmalade. They each have slightly different approaches but the underlying idea is the same: take your Xcode project, add a few #ifdef's and compile for Android. You still have to deal with things like Android has a back button and iOS doesn't, but if you're game (OpenGL, cocos2d, etc), this is a great choice. And it is increasingly becoming a very viable choice for non-OpenGL apps.

Personally I think this may be the future of cross platform mobile development, but you have to deal with, rely on, and generally cut-in a third party. Though each has a free version with some degree of support.

Method 4: HTML5.

Yeah, good luck with that. I hate web development, so this is when I exit, stage left. Maybe famo.us will save us all. You still have to play in the HTML sandbox if you go this route, though yeah, phone gap. Again, have fun with that.

So, yeah, the market is very fragmented right now, and iOS gets everything first, but this is slowly changing. As more and more companies start thinking about their cross platform strategy from the outset, things will get better.

---

iOS apps I use a lot: Yelp, OpenTable, Up Coffee, Facebook, Twitter, Steller (self-plug), Secret, Chrome, FlowDock, Jelly, HipChat, My Bank's app, Feedly (RSS reader), Waze, SoundHound, Spotify, and until recently Uber (I left SF).
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:52 PM on April 12 [17 favorites]


As a developer working on both Andriod and iOS, I've come to really loathe them both equally.
posted by humanfont at 5:58 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Yeah, on second though, me too.
posted by jeffamaphone at 5:59 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm not buying a Windows phone so deal. :P
posted by Drinky Die at 6:08 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

I use Papers, which has no equivalent on Android.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:18 PM on April 12


To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

A particular banking App I won't name
Amazon
ebay
AirPort Utility
Atomic Web Browser
Chrome
Camera Plus Pro
Camera +
djay 1 for Iphone
DoSavannah
Sav Happs
Dropbox
Facebook
Twitter
Tumblr
Figure
Frameographer
iStopMotion
No Budget Slate
Google+
Netflix
HBO GO
YouTube
Vimeo
iFitness
IMDb
Kindle
Pacer
Pinterest
Quora
Pocket Light Metere
Feedly
Savannah Morning News
Savannah Music Festival
Shazam
Shot Designer
Track 3
WordPress
Write Room
Walgreens
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:21 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

Evernote, Spotify, MapMyRun, Instapaper, Feeddler, Kindle, Coursera, Yelp, Costco, Target, Target Cartwheel, Amazon, Saviry, Google Hangouts, Gmail, Google Search, Google Maps, Google Voice, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Password storing app, MouseWait

How is Feedly? Can you load stuff from the Old Reader or push to Instapaper?
posted by FJT at 7:29 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Does iOS have an equivalent to Google Sky Map, because that's my favourite and the one thing that every iPhone user I know says, "What?"
posted by shoesfullofdust at 7:47 PM on April 12


I use an iPhone because work gave me one, I know how to use it, and loathe change.

To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

Four different financial apps
Four meditation apps
Three fitness/food tracking apps
Spotify
Sleep Cycle
Google Mail
Evernote
WhatsApp
Stash
CallToPark
YouTube
Netflix
Kindle
Facebook
posted by dotgirl at 7:56 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised Apple left such a low end around for Android to sweep up. The iPod had a near-total dominance over its market because they kept heading downwards, first with the mini, then the shuffle and then the nano.

It sounds like they were thinking that way - a recent court filing has Jobs talking in 2010 about making a low-end iPhone based on the iPod Touch. But if the 5c is the result, they botched it. It' still way too expensive.

I suspect they've got too used to the income they get from carrier subsidy to give it up. It's a pity, as they could definitely go cheaper if they wanted: the original iPhone was £399 *without subsidy* in the UK, and its successors were £499+ with subsidy. Meanwhile the iPod Touches sell for sub £200. It can't cost that much to add a 3G radio to one.

Perhaps they think the low end market has already been lost to Android?
posted by bonaldi at 7:57 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


shoesfullofdust: "Does iOS have an equivalent to Google Sky Map,"

I use SkyView
posted by the_artificer at 7:57 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


Yep, just checked. 32gb iPod: £249. 16gb iPhone 5c: £549. What are they smoking?
posted by bonaldi at 8:00 PM on April 12


- Android users are less likely to pay for software

I was talking to an Android developer about this just last week, and he told me that if you look only at high-end Android phones (rather than all Android models), then per-capita consumer spending on apps is around the same level as for iPhones.

Also, that link showing average app price is misleading, because nowadays the common Android revenue model is to offer a free download of the core app, with in-app purchases for upgrade to a deluxe version, extra game levels, or whatever.
posted by Umami Dearest at 8:04 PM on April 12 [5 favorites]


Yep, just checked. 32gb iPod: £249. 16gb iPhone 5c: £549. What are they smoking?

Lots of profits.

"Does iOS have an equivalent to Google Sky Map

I use Star Walk.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:33 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised Apple left such a low end around for Android to sweep up.

This is entirely because of corporate culture - Apple has always been more expensive, and in return it offers more value for your money.

It's kind of worrying, because Tim Cook, if he wanted to, could use that quarter-trillion dollars in cash-on-hand and quickly liquefiable assets to utterly own the low end. Faster, cheaper SOCs, bring the fabs in-house, circuit traces and surface-mount components on the case interior instead of a separate PCB... So many ways to steal Google's lunch money, and they just aren't doing it. Meanwhile, FirefoxOS lurks down low, Sailfish lurks up high, Ubunto is due to drop around X-Mas, and they will wreck them some house if you let them.

Yet, Apple keeps accruing cash and sitting on it. Maybe they're hoping it will hatch or something.

They need to be investing everywhere with that money to keep one step ahead of the shoeshine. Bad mojo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:59 PM on April 12


I got a Galaxy Nexus because my inexpensive carrier didn't have iPhones at the time. I thought by getting a Nexus I would at least have better support as compared to all the phones that weren't being upgraded to Android 3 or whatever it was back then. Turns out that a) updates aren't pushed as fast to Canada, and b) Google last fall decided to stop updating the Galaxy Nexus because it "falls outside of the 18-month update window when Google and others traditionally update devices". And yet you can get iOS 7 for an iPhone 4 (~2010) or higher?

Yes, I know such an iPhone probably won't be that fast, but neither is this thing nowadays. Also, I know I can flash mine with Cyanogen but why is this on me? I actually did flash it once when our official Canadian update was delayed for months without explanation (which mean having to install the dev tools... ugh. Never again.). Why should I care that there is supposedly some sort of unsupported chip that prevents the update? But which apparently doesn't, re Cyanogen? Google would only say "18 months, that's it". And that's a Nexus, the best case! I'm still angrier about this than I am about the iPad 1.

As for apps, I have some on my iPad I would have used had I an iPhone. Papers comes to mind, and Instapaper (which was eventually offered, apparently outsourced. It mostly seems to work, mostly). I think Tumblr is terrible on both.
posted by maledictory at 9:48 PM on April 12 [2 favorites]


Yet, Apple keeps accruing cash and sitting on it. Maybe they're hoping it will hatch or something.

Apple knows they have a lot of cash. It's not like this is news to them. Despite spending less of their % of sales on R&D because the sales have increased so obscenely you need to look at the Y/Y% to realize that Apple has continued to escalate the rate that it plows money into R&D.

Blindly acquiring and hiring just because you have a hole in your pocket is poor strategy. You end up with an organization that's not going to be able to support the weight once these growth markets start to flatten out. Apple's style is to invent a market out of whole cloth, dominate it then dominate the high end. They'll acquire what they need to tap the market or stay on the high end of an existing market. Anything else that they can't deliver what they consider the very best products, they'll ignore; even at their peril.
posted by Talez at 10:48 PM on April 12 [3 favorites]


Blindly acquiring and hiring just because you have a hole in your pocket is poor strategy.

You could lower the price? The huge stack of cash combined with the annoying fanboys are what keep me from owning more apple stuff that I have to.

Then again, a low price would probably hurt sales, since a lot of the pride owners have in iphones is how much they cost, it's like buying a high-end car. You might get a squeak more build quality or power or whatever, but mainly what you're buying is a way to try and impress your peers.
posted by maxwelton at 11:25 PM on April 12 [4 favorites]


I always see that too but figured that it was a bug in Metafilter's mobile site, not Android since it's the only site that does that.

Nope. It happens to me on a number of community sites with a text area. Of course, I refuse to use tap talk (native Web represent!), so that may be the difference.

I can't recall if it's happened in a blog comment window other than mefi.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 11:36 PM on April 12 [1 favorite]


You could lower the price? The huge stack of cash combined with the annoying fanboys are what keep me from owning more apple stuff that I have to.

Have you seen the price on a Macbook Air lately? Or a 13" rMBP? In those segments nobody can compete with them. They're undercutting everbody at the equivalent specs, delivering a far better HiDPI experience than Windows 8.1 and still making money to boot.

I love my Windows 7 desktop with its gobs of processing and GPU power compared to a mobile form factor but I sure as hell will never buy a Windows laptop again. The trackpad alone on the laptops is worth the price of entry alone.
posted by Talez at 11:42 PM on April 12 [7 favorites]


With regards to design ethos, is there anything on this Earth with less class than a gold iPhone 5S*2?

Vertu Constellation.
posted by the cydonian at 12:24 AM on April 13


i wish crickets were phones
posted by sirlikeitalot at 12:32 AM on April 13


To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

* VSCOcam, PS express, afterlight, and other photo editing apps(bouncing between these, i can get a basically aperture amount of work done. it's not editing RAWs, but other than the VSCOcam port which is lacking a couple features iirc i haven't seen android alternatives for a lot of this stuff that are as usable or powerful)

* soundcloud
* vine
* snapchat
* google maps(lol)
* shazam
* waze
* yelp
* imdb
* netflix, occasionally(only if i'm stuck in say, a doctors office waiting room i know i'll kill serious time in and there's free wifi. data hog)
* alien blue*
* imgupr
* glitche*
* eat24
* ebay, and a few other ecommerce apps, and the slickdeals app occasionally
* square
* onebusaway
* skype
* pandora
* the facebook messenger app
* lyft, uber
* VLC, mostly for local network streaming. I'm transitioning to plex though
* grooveshark, although this app has languished on both platforms and works like shit now
* flickr(free 1tb of backup, fuck paying for extra icloud! set it to automatically set everything to private and go crazy)
* wikipedia, when i don't just use the browser to quickly google something
* speedtest.net, teamviewer, and a couple others im probably forgetting for work related network testing/support on the go stuff.

I think i missed a few, like instagram and stuff. If i added games, there'd probably be at least 10 more. And i'm constantly downloading and deleting apps, or downloading apps which then cause me to delete something i already had. I especially love playing with photo apps, even moreso now that i have a nex 6. Which in a scifi as fuck way can create a point to point wifi network and copy photos to an album on my phone(!). Amusingly, to sort of prove my point from above, the android version of this app works like ass. The iOS version is relatively fine. Is that totally sonys fault? yea. Do i care? not really, i just get the better experience. The loltastic thing here is sony makes android phones. In fact, they make some of the nicest ones(outside of america at least, why do we get the plastic shitty versions?). It seems like it would be in their interest to make that app totally rule so that if you had a sony phone and a sony camera you'd both enjoy it, and be able to show it off to your friends who would then want to buy their stuff. But nope.

I'll also add that a bunch of the apps on that list launched on the iphone first. some took over a year to make the jump.

It sounds like they were thinking that way - a recent court filing has Jobs talking in 2010 about making a low-end iPhone based on the iPod Touch. But if the 5c is the result, they botched it. It' still way too expensive.

I think this is just the first step. The ipod mini wasn't that cheap, it was $250. I remember at the time there were competing 4gb music players(like the rio carbon) for a LOT less, like as cheap as under $150 on sale, and most were under $200 easily.

Then they just didn't stop firing, generation after generation, and eventually got close to $100 themselves. And they added features and improved it along the way, too.

Yes, I know such an iPhone probably won't be that fast, but neither is this thing nowadays

God i'm going to sound like such a "fanboy" or whatever, but on the several android phones i had... i had a much crappier experience flashing up to newer than officially available versions than i saw testing out a friends ip 4 with ios 7. In a few months, that phone will be 4 years old. i've had 2 year old android phones that ran the latest OS crappier. It's not butter smooth warpspeed fast, but it's not a hilarious stuttering mess either. A lot of my friends still have 4's, and still use them every day with nothing to really complain about. And the 4S, approaching 3 years old is still solidly kicking ass at pretty much everything.

But yea, as a closing note i really want to like android... and i LOVE phones like the HTC one, but i can just never buy in because they feel so disposable. Imagine if you bought a really nice windows laptop, like a thinkpad x or w series, or a dell precision. Then imagine if it only got ONE windows update, and you could never officially install an imminently releasing version like windows 9. you get 8.1, that's it. no 8.1 update 1, nothing.

Wouldn't you feel totally ripped off? would you care that much that you could go through some relatively complicated process to unofficially hack the newer version on? The nexus one is about the same age as the iphone 4. It's less than 4 months older. Think about that for a second. Similarly, my 2007 imac came out two years before windows 7, in the middle of the vista days. How many 2007 systems do you think would run windows 8 well? how many would have essentially every new feature fully functional smoothly?... yea. I've tried that. None have drivers officially available, and all end up having issues.

I also think, on the "You can just load a modded version of the new firmware yourself!" front that one of the reasons besides on principal that it's a crappy argument, is that every time i've seen that... or even when i just read a post about it for a newer phone i never owned, it's always like "Oh yea, works great but bluetooth is fucked up in XYZ ways and this and this are slightly glitchy/disabled for now" or some factory feature most other phone models don't have is no longer active or working totally properly.
posted by emptythought at 1:01 AM on April 13 [2 favorites]


I've been trying over the last two days to get an Android Emulator running not, mind you, to do anything so complex as build/test an *app*, nope, just to try and reproduce a bug only reported on (some, possibly one) android devices.

That activity *alone* tells me that I might rather work with the Facebook API again than work on Android apps.
posted by weston at 3:35 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I've used exclusively Apple stuff since the early 1980s. Windows Phone is the only non-Apple product (where Apple had a product) I've thought seriously about. It looks gorgeous. But I'm so tied into the Apple ecosystem.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 3:43 AM on April 13


I remember back when "more powerful, more reliable, and better value" argument kept getting floated by people who spent inordinate amounts of time on IRQ conflicts, Winsock, and SoundBlaster drivers, who kept insisting that this argument had merit, and that the computer was automatically less powerful if it greeted you with a smiley face instead of a blinking cursor.

Same spurious argument, twenty years later. Wanting something just to work when it's supposed to does not make you a technophobe.
posted by one more dead town's last parade


Exactly what came to mind for me. I've been seeing these same arguments play out for over 25 years. Jeez, people, se what you like and let other people use what they like. I'm the tech guy in my house and I'm an iPhone guy. My wife isn't quite as techy, and she uses an Android and I play with her phone sometimes, things like flashing custom ROMs or playing with settings to see how long I can get the battery to last. I mean, who should be looking down on who in our house for our choice in phone OSs? I'm just not sure anymore.
posted by azpenguin at 8:37 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


I mean, who should be looking down on who in our house for our choice in phone OSs?

Just make sure you have a safe word.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:05 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


You might get a squeak more build quality or power or whatever, but mainly what you're buying is a way to try and impress your peers.

You just keep telling yourself that.
posted by fatbird at 9:29 AM on April 13 [4 favorites]


if you look only at high-end Android phones (rather than all Android models), then per-capita consumer spending on apps is around the same level as for iPhones.

I would believe that. Unfortunately you can't just target those phones. Even if you put strict hardware requirements in your manifest, you'll still get people side loading the app on 5 year old phones with tiny screens leaving you 1 star reviews saying it's crap.

There is definitely money to be made on Android. It's really a question of how much more painful it is to get than just targeting iPhone first.

In the mean time, this inefficiency presents an opportunity for shovel sellers.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:47 AM on April 13 [1 favorite]


vuron: "why did we ever develop the idea that smartphone application was ever going to Be a massive source of wealth?"

1) Before smartphones were commonplace, ringtones were a huge market. It seems plausible that people would buy apps in similar fashion, if not more so.
2) There's enough diffuse software engineering knowledge now, that there's a goldrush any time a new platform emerges. Personal Computer is the first market I can think of where two dudes in a basement. The web was the next wave, then phones. Perhaps there's another wave coming along between Google Glass and Occulus. Or computers in cars, with a windshield HUD? IDK, the future is hard to predict.
3) Google set out to deliberately chum the waters with app developers. Given Google's brand recognition, and stories floating around of people like my acquaintance Demi making huge money, it was pretty much assumed by mobile developers that the gravy train would continue.

Of course, there's also bullwhip effect where supply outstrips demand and drives prices down. The received wisdom is the key to making money in goldrushes is to get there first, or sell tools to the prospectors. Indeed, there is no shortage of tools!
posted by pwnguin at 1:35 PM on April 13 [1 favorite]


With regards to design ethos, is there anything on this Earth with less class than a gold iPhone 5S*2?

What are you talking about. Gold is best. Everyone knows it.
posted by humanfont at 2:33 PM on April 13


1) Before smartphones were commonplace, ringtones were a huge market.

This feels like a lifetime ago in terms of how weird it now seems.
posted by SpacemanStix at 4:25 PM on April 13 [7 favorites]


Devs complaining about the Android emulator. You're using HAXM or Genymotion right?
posted by markr at 5:36 PM on April 13


One of the many annoyances of mobile development is the number of third party tools required to make ordinary shit just work. Emulators, Crash analysis, beta distribution, AJAX/Restful interactions, just to name a few glaring and annoying examples. Progress has been made, but then you face the dilemma of switching get to the immature vendor provided solution or sticking with the old stuff.
posted by humanfont at 5:50 PM on April 13


I've used Android since the G1. Android has some horrible, stupid usability flaws -- the storage issue STILL hasn't been fixed, I have a 32gb SD card and still can't install all the apps I want because the apps partition on the internal storage is full. Stupid, stupid stuff like that. I do continue to use it though because I have a very active lifestyle and tend to break phones in less than a year, and Android is so much cheaper for the phone itself.

If you don't like the Android emulator, try Manymo -- it seems to be some kind of magic.
posted by miyabo at 8:11 PM on April 13


Devs complaining about the Android emulator. You're using HAXM or Genymotion right?

Tried Genymotion yesterday, since the latest version of the ADT wouldn't even start the emulator ("Bus Error", every time). I was kindof excited, because all the commentary said that not only was it easier to set up, it was *fast*.

Nope. Might have been a network problem grabbing image files, but it couldn't even create a virtual device.

HAXM sounds like something for someone who has the stock emulator working.
posted by weston at 8:22 PM on April 13


Try Manymo! I am using it right now ON MY IPAD.
posted by miyabo at 8:31 PM on April 13


Unfortunately you can't just target those phones. Even if you put strict hardware requirements in your manifest, you'll still get people side loading the app on 5 year old phones with tiny screens leaving you 1 star reviews saying it's crap.

I'm pretty sure you can't leave a one-star review unless you've actually downloaded from Google Play - otherwise it would be much too easy to game the system.

That's not really the point though - the point is that there's nothing inherent in the Android platform that makes people spend less on apps - it simply correlates to handset price.
posted by Umami Dearest at 9:41 PM on April 13


That's not really the point though - the point is that there's nothing inherent in the Android platform that makes people spend less on apps - it simply correlates to handset price.

It's also the polish and appearance of the app itself - ugly, kludgy apps don't make bank in the App Store and Apple's dev environment makes it easy(ish) to put a lot of polish on your project with just a little effort. You kind of have to hunt around for visually appealing Android apps that pay attention to detail (and they're usually ports of iOS apps).

This is what kept the Mac as a viable platform, even during the darkest days of the mid-90's - small developers kept developing for it. Mac users would pay for shareware, and pay more than PC users for equivalent software - because the fit and finish of the software made it seem like a bargain rather than a rip-off.

Looking at the kid's educational games on either platform, it feels the same - I use a Nexus 4 as my daily phone, and hand it over to the 4yo to keep her busy when we're stuck someplace, and we have an old iPad2 at home I've set up to keep her busy in the mornings (she's a very early riser) and on long car-trips.

The Android apps are quick and dirty and buggy (and loaded with content ripped-off from Disney), iOS apps are slick and polished and updated with new content constantly. More expensive, but a better deal.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:17 AM on April 14 [5 favorites]


Apple Reportedly Wants to Raise the Price of the iPhone by $100

I like my iPhone and prefer it to the Samsung phone I used to have. However, there is a breaking point, particularly if hear HTC or Motorola or someone else has a particularly good Android that I can get for $100 less. I'm wondering where that point is for me and whether I will be posting an AskMetafilter question about the best android phones when I next switch phones.
posted by Area Man at 10:41 AM on April 14


You might get a squeak more build quality or power or whatever, but mainly what you're buying is a way to try and impress your peers.

This is ignorant and offensive, and one of those tropes people who don't have experience with Apple products trot out whenever we have a discussion like this (another is that Apple users are technophobes, which I see has already made an appearance in this thread). I am old enough that I don't give a damn what my peers think of me, and I have never been the type to associate status or class with possessions. My phone, my tablet and my laptop are all tools that I use. I just want tools I can rely on to work the way they should.

Engineers who have worked with Apple as well as other tech companies will tell you that Apple is the strictest in its Quality Assurance and tech spec requirements by far. They have extremely specific, and demanding, output levels, temperature tolerances, etc. for their custom components, often more stringent than what is acceptable for the military and space program tech. A lot of that comes directly from all that research and development they do (and Steve Jobs' perfectionism). There IS a difference in quality, period.

They are also adept at packaging and marketing their products to reflect that, of course. You are not going to find an Apple phone in some ugly vacuum-packed hard plastic container hanging on a rack, for instance. Aesthetically pleasing packaging like those trademark white boxes and cushioning foam separates Apple by design.

But don't assume from this sexy presentation--a calculated marketing move on Apple's part--that Apple users are just sheeple taken in by the snob appeal. People can, and do, research the options and make informed decisions. Some of us have found that the high price of an Apple product is offset by the lasting quality and the way they support those products and their customers. I have an old G4, for goodness sakes, that I could fire up right now and use. In contrast, the (at the time) top-of-the-line Sony Viao my husband bought me as a gift became virtually unusable in a year because the video card was no longer supported and you simply couldn't get the right drivers, etc.

This is what people mean when the say Apple "just works"--not that they don't care to educate themselves on technology, but that it is a relief not to have to constantly be tweaking stuff just to keep it working the way you want it to.
posted by misha at 1:08 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


misha: I am old enough that I don't give a damn what my peers think of me, and I have never been the type to associate status or class with possessions. My phone, my tablet and my laptop are all tools that I use. I just want tools I can rely on to work the way they should.

Yes, exactly. I don't quite get the tribal affiliation going on - I don't want to be affiliated with one corporate behemoth or another. I just want it to work and get out of my way. Or make me happy in a way I didn't expect.

To iPhones users, a serious question: beyond games what non os apps do you actually use regularly?

Paid apps only, or all of them? Going screen by screen on my phone and only picking things I've used in the last couple of months, plus a few other [rarely used these days but interesting] apps:

* Weather: Check the Weather (with Dark Sky)
* Maps: Google maps, Apple maps, [MotionX GPS]
* Travel: Tripit (pro), Flight Update (pro), Kayak (pro), Ride14850, Tripcase (only because our travel agents work through this one)
* Notes: SimpleNote, Vesper
* Lists: Ita, Clear (meh)
* Photo: Hueless, [Photosynth (was essential before the native panorama mode got so good)]
* Video: Netflix
* Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr
* Reading: Instapaper, Feedly, Marvin, also Kindle, Play Books, iBooks
* Cooking: Epicurious, How to Cook Everything
* Games: Ugh. But you said "besides games" so moving on...
* Banking and money: none. Still prefer paper and pencil for those logins and passwords.

A few special cases:
* Scanner Pro - passably good scans from the camera, fine for travel expenses.
* SoundHound (what is that music? Fails on most classical stuff though.)
* PCalc for a proper RPN calculator. Paid several bucks mostly for the spiffy blue logo.
* [Peterson Birds] for when I will have time to get more into birding.
* VNC Viewer

And also
* Proloquo2Go - not on my phone but on my son's iPad. We paid $180-ish for this, I think? (Yeah, it's an app. I didn't miss a decimal point in the price.)

Apple has done an amazing job of accessibility, and iOS 7 makes it trivial to adapt almost any app with thoughtful design to be switch-accessible, for example. Most people don't know or care about this (nor should they, unless they're app designers) but it really matters to some of us.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:55 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


I like my iPhone and prefer it to the Samsung phone I used to have. However, there is a breaking point, particularly if hear HTC or Motorola or someone else has a particularly good Android that I can get for $100 less.

HTC already made that phone, and then revised it.

Sort of like say, voodoo(see also their absolutely bonkers tower) pre hp destroying their brand, or maybe sony with the nex/alpha cameras compared to canon/nikon right now.

They're not necessarily beating apple, but at least design/build quality/etc wise playing the same game on the same field.

The only issues i have with it relate to things that bug me about android, or android versions or the lack thereof of apps i use. The phone is perfect design wise. It feels solid and expensive the way a 70s dive watch or an old harmon/kardon receiver does. It's basically 100% metal everywhere, and the pieces fit together like it's one solid bit. The speakers are also awesome. Every iphone has felt more breakable to me since the 1st gen, but every android phone feels breakable compared to the One with the only exception being a few discontinued, and currently horribly outdated very metal-y motorolas.

So yea, if the iphones really do go UP in price(which i don't believe will ever happen, apple has only pushed prices down basically since Steve's return to power, look at how quickly the retina macbooks dropped in price), there is someone out there listening to "i want an alternative that feels like it was actually built out of good materials by someone who cares about something other than just printing money with flimsy plastic fondleslabs"
posted by emptythought at 2:19 PM on April 14


I just switched from a Galaxy a couple months ago to an iPhone5s (gold, accidentally).

The hardest part? Giving up Swype, which was awesome. I still wish iPhone would get it, but I know they're hinky about allowing anyone to mess with keyboard inputs.

I'll also say that a lot of what I hated about my old phone was directly because of Verizon, including a bunch of terrible pre-loaded, undeletable software, that they gave up on supporting the phone within a year (despite assurances that they'd keep it going for a full cycle), and the biggest thing was that the battery life was absolute shit. I was just talking to our designer at work who was lamenting the same thing, saying he shouldn't have to carry a charger with him to use a phone.

But apps were often wonky, glitchy and prone to causing crashes… the whole thing was just kind of a terrible experience. Again, I think a lot of that was from Verizon. But when I switched to T-Mobile and tested some of their phones, the iPhone just seemed the best overall value (especially given that used iPhones hold more of their resale value, so I plan on selling this one when I upgrade).
posted by klangklangston at 2:22 PM on April 14


Samsung spends more money on advertising than Apple.

You *can* jailbreak your iPhone if you want.
posted by Pronoiac at 2:22 PM on April 14 [1 favorite]


* Proloquo2Go - not on my phone but on my son's iPad. We paid $180-ish for this, I think? (Yeah, it's an app. I didn't miss a decimal point in the price.)

Oh, and just a bit on this. There may be android versions of this sort of thing, but this app(and its stablemates) is a huge freaking deal for a lot of people. You know when you see someone who can't speak and they're carrying around, or have attached to their wheelchair/other mobility device a fancy little touch screen unit or a panel with tons of buttons and keyboard with a speech synthesizer?

Those things cost like $2-4k, sometimes even more.

A used ipad 2-4 from like cowboom, craigslist, whatever can be as little as $200, and is generally under $300 just for a basic point and shoot 16gb no frills model. Then you drop $180 on this app.

You just obsoleted a minimum $2000 device for under $500. If you hustle and are experienced with buying things online used, probably close to or under $400.

For people with certain disabilities the ipad coming out was like cheap, readily available broadband for nerds on here. Which is to say, a huge fucking deal and something a lot of people will likely remember as "pre" and "post" that time period. Even if you pay full price, you're out the door for under $600 unless you buy the fanciest ipad.

There were people, and families going without stuff they really needed just to get those communications units. And they were expensive for a reason, they were complex devices requiring custom circuitry, software, tooling for manufacturing, etc which would sell in low volume. But now a better in every way device that can also do any number of other things in addition to the previous functions is being subsidized by everyone from construction workers and college kids who just want to view some PDFs and play angry birds in class, to grandmas who finally have an easy way to email their kids and grandkids.

The ipad feels more like some kind of everymans computer than anything to come before it, at least to me. Someone who doesn't even know how to use it can be told "oh, just push in the one button and tell it" if they ask you how to send an email. "Send an email to emptythought". And if that persons in your contacts, bam.

That egalitarian star trek future seems just a little bit more like its happening in at least one tiny way when you see someone with special needs, or no knowledge of how to use a computer using one of these "post-pc" devices. Ever seen a blind person use siri with the screen reader on? It's pretty damn close to her.
posted by emptythought at 2:32 PM on April 14 [13 favorites]


(This is a bit offtopic, sorry, but:)

You know when you see someone who can't speak and they're carrying around, or have attached to their wheelchair/other mobility device a fancy little touch screen unit or a panel with tons of buttons and keyboard with a speech synthesizer? Those things cost like $2-4k, sometimes even more.

Yeah, more. The Dynavox unit we have - nowhere near the top of the line, I'll emphasize - cost insurance over $5K. It boots Windows XP (yes), weighs over 10 pounds (?), the battery lasts no more than 36 hours, and the touchscreen sensitivity is truly awful. On the plus side, it's supposedly somewhat robust. Basically Dynavox achieved a minimum viable product and then milked it all the way into looming irrelevance.

The iPad has been a literal life-changer for so many kids and adults with disabilities... And once again, Apple actually builds in almost everything you need to make iOS apps fully accessible. Here's one developer's experience. Here's Apple's guide for developers.

To their credit, Google has also expended some effort on their Android accessibility initiatives.

These things matter, and they will eventually matter a great deal to many of us, unfortunately, as we age.
posted by RedOrGreen at 3:11 PM on April 14 [4 favorites]


I thought I'd add links to Brandon Blatcher's statement: If you have time to kill and are looking for amusement, find the Mefi threads about the initial iPod, iPhone or iPad releases. All of them are filled with comments about how the devices are underpowered and overpriced and will ultimately fail after the Apple zealot market is reached because this other device is cheaper and has more features.
posted by Pronoiac at 3:17 PM on April 14 [3 favorites]


I just picked up a Galaxy S5 on Friday after using an iPhone 4 for years and years. My iPhone is still in good condition even though I never used a case. The battery still has ~20% charge left at the end of the day despite heavy use. It really was a great phone from a hardware perspective, and I do worry that the S5 won't hold up as well.

But it was getting more difficult to jailbreak iOS (taking longer for exploits to be found), and the file management system on iOS is not user friendly at all. I had to put an SSH client on the phone to use a simple file manager. With the S5 I just plug it in and it's mounted in Explorer. Copying files to a 128Gb SD card (removable storage, right next to the removable battery!) is a breeze, it even offered to convert video files I was copying into a more supported file format without having to use a third party app. "Flow" typing in Swiftkey and Swype is also much easier than hunting and pecking on a small keyboard. The screen is just as sensitive to touch as the iPhone (not the case with older Galaxy models). I was able to find Android versions or equivalents to all of the apps I used on a daily basis through the Play store, which is little different than the iTunes app store.

I'm sticking with my iPad for a tablet because I'm not sold on any current Android tablet offerings, but I'm very happy I switched phones.
posted by Thoughtcrime at 3:43 PM on April 14 [2 favorites]


I have an ipad and MacBook Air and needed an unlocked phone because I moved overseas. I bought a Huawei running 4.2.2 for $100 usd. An unlocked iPhone 4S is about $300. I can run the basic apps I need on the Huawei, but the camera is poor and I turn off wifi occasionally to save battery life. An equivalent Samsung device would cost twice as much. Despite its flaws as a low end phone, I found it as delightfully life changing as my first palm pilot eighteen years ago.

iTunes renamed all of my mp3s to cryptic, random alphanumeric six-letter gobbledygook. I now avoid it.

I'm waiting for some sort of meta-app that will let me create apps without delving into Java or objective c.
posted by mecran01 at 8:45 PM on April 14


I'm waiting for some sort of meta-app that will let me create apps without delving into Java or objective c.

There are a number of alternate programming languages, especially for android, but it all looks like C(or worse, lisp). Even the pointy-clicky drop-and-drag programming environments like AppInventor turns out to just be a long-way-'round visualize-your-program-with-C-derived-idiom educational toy. It's just getting you ready for looking at ASCII files full of line noise and camelCase capitalization.

There are three fields that remain stubbornly resistant to an effective and complete professional GUI workflow: database management(SQLServer doesn't count), HTML/CSS web design - and programming. It's not that I think it's impossible to drag them out of the text editor's icy embrace, it's just that the right person/group for the job hasn't tackled a very challenging problem yet.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:53 AM on April 15


Slap*Happy: "There are a number of alternate programming languages, especially for android, but it all looks like C(or worse, lisp)."

That's a weird way of spelling "better."
posted by invitapriore at 8:11 AM on April 15


(oh,(,I(don('t)(know about(that(.))))))
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:27 AM on April 15 [2 favorites]


and the file management system on iOS is not user friendly at all.

Yup. I'm going to end up emailing somewhere between 100 and 200 voice memos to myself because of this.
posted by weston at 9:34 AM on April 15


It's curious that five or six years on, Apple is still allowing third-parties (i.e. Dropbox) to provide the de facto file system on iOS.

It is interesting to look back on those old iDevice threads. Many of us, myself included, held app-managed libraries as one of the major problems with Apple's design decisions, iTunes being the offender in chief. That continuing philosophy is a major reason why I can't ever see iOS working well for my own use, or as a good general purpose OS. Android isn't much better, truly, but at least it allows easy, supported work-arounds, instead of kludges like Dropbox.
posted by bonehead at 9:51 AM on April 15


That said, I'd be really curious to hear how well workflows work on iOS for multi-app processes: photo or music production, maybe. How do you go from a RAW/dng to a TIFF for editing to a final jpg/png format? How do you handle file storage?
posted by bonehead at 9:58 AM on April 15


It's not that I think it's impossible to drag them out of the text editor's icy embrace, it's just that the right person/group for the job hasn't tackled a very challenging problem yet.

I think even when they try, the audience is super-resistant to it. The amount of "I'm a real man, I code my HTML tags/UI by hand" nonsense is amazing. If we were writing Postscript by hand the DTP revolution would never have happened.
posted by bonaldi at 9:59 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


It's curious that five or six years on, Apple is still allowing third-parties (i.e. Dropbox) to provide the de facto file system on iOS.

And a lot of people sidestep one of the main reasons this is shit: Data caps.

If you're perpetually uploading and downloading things from Ze Cloud!, you're eating into whatever limited single-serving amount of data you pathetically get from your carrier each month(and besides sprint, even "unlimited" plans have all kinds of asinine limits).

I mean i get that the iphone launched with unlimited data, and held onto that for quite a while(even into the verizon launch!)... but sometimes it feels like apple never really noticed that unlimited data plans died a quick death.

I thought I'd add links to Brandon Blatcher's statement: If you have time to kill and are looking for amusement, find the Mefi threads about the initial iPod, iPhone or iPad releases.

Is it weird that it makes me really sad every time i see these old threads, how many of those users never post anymore?
posted by emptythought at 10:10 AM on April 15 [3 favorites]


If you're perpetually uploading and downloading things from Ze Cloud!, you're eating into whatever limited single-serving amount of data you pathetically get from your carrier each month

Except that if you live and work in a major urban center, you're continually in wifi zones--data plans are increasingly about being a fallback for those odd moments when you can't connect to wifi. You've got wifi at home, you've got wifi at work, you've got wifi at your favorite coffee shop, and having connected to each, your phone or tablet seemlessly connects thereafter. I'm not sure why anyone gets tablets with 3G or 4G or LTE anymore, because you've already got a phone, and you're either in wifi or you can tether to your phone and shave a hun off the purchase price and not worry about a monthly plan.
posted by fatbird at 12:20 PM on April 15


That's my experience. My tablet is on wifi at home. It replaces the laptop on the couch. It's a bit big to carry around with me, but when I do, it piggybacks on my phone using a wifi tether.
posted by bonehead at 12:49 PM on April 15


bonehead: "It is interesting to look back on those old iDevice threads. Many of us, myself included, held app-managed libraries as one of the major problems with Apple's design decisions, iTunes being the offender in chief. That continuing philosophy is a major reason why I can't ever see iOS working well for my own use, or as a good general purpose OS. Android isn't much better, truly, but at least it allows easy, supported work-arounds, instead of kludges like Dropbox."

I don't think this is really true on every front, and it clearly isn't true that this is Apple's wish or intention - at least if I'm understanding what you mean by "app-managed libraries" properly. And while I know I was strident about the iTunes model bothering me above (sorry if I was blunt, Blazecock Pileon) my bluntness really should be qualified a bit.

To see how I think Apple believes media ought to be managed on an iDevice, look at the way it handles photos. Photos seem to me to be the area where Apple has been able to most thoroughly and completely achieve the dream Steve Jobs had for computers as mobile devices which help us carry around our lives. They are stored centrally on the device, available to any app which one wishes to use them with; if you want to open a photo in Goodreader or Photogene or iPhoto and edit it, just open the app and it will be able to access your photos. All those photos are now also synced to the cloud, so that all your photos are available to all your devices. If you want to send photos to someone, pick one or several and email them, or share them using any of the array of methods that are available now. This process is pretty seamless and simple enough that pretty much anyone can handle it. It makes the files available and present in a way that doesn't really necessitate any cleanup or time spent managing files.

That's how I think Apple would like to have iDevices manage all files. It's certainly how things should be, in my opinion; and I'm glad it's how things are at least when it comes to photos.

This is not, however, how things work with "consumer media types." Why? Because Apple can't make it easy to manage and share mp3s, PDFs, and other "content" without (a) drawing the ire of the people who have an interest in stopping said sharing, and (b) cutting into their own bottom line as a seller of such content. So as far as I can tell they've put up just enough roadblocks to make it just difficult enough to pirate music and movies and (to a lesser degree) books to keep most people from doing it.

I actually don't think that's much of a roadblock, however. Music is probably the big one since people actually like to use the music player, since it's so central; but it's almost as easy to use any other media player to load and manage your files. And so many things sync to Dropbox / Google Drive / etc nowadays that it's actually relatively simple to handle this. I don't regard an app with Dropbox syncing to be too kludgey, depending on how the app handles it really. (The Dropbox app itself I wouldn't use, but I don't know if that's what you meant.) Syncing to cloud storage is functionally identical to a central library, so I don't think it causes as many problems as it might appear at first.
posted by koeselitz at 2:29 PM on April 15


Yeah, I don't like this attitude. I work with computers for a living, and I fucking hate computers. They're pretty terrible at their job. That's part of the reason I'm a designer, so I can help make this kludgy piece of shit that gets used to not suck so badly. When I use my phone? I don't want to have to think about it at all. I just want it to work. That's why I always went with the iphone, because 99% of the time, they just work.

Yeah, that's a straight up technophobic attitude intended to ingratiate you to other super-duper non-technical folks who might not understand what you do maybe? But it just makes you sound like a privileged git whose entire living depends on this "terrible" technology.

Computers are actually fucking amazing much as the human minds that created them and the basis for life itself can essentially be summed up as a "self replicating code that 3D prints itself into existence through protein coding." Some perspective is due...we're trying to re-invent the mind from scratch and map it back to the minds that created it. It's coming along swimmingly.

All of these entitled newbs who want them to "just work" while taking advantage of the technology one way or another for decades need to sit tight and figure out what that means for their particular problem domain. It's the very nature of the awesomely challenging problems we try to solve with computers that bring out this "terribleness" but it's not terrible at all, really, "creative types" just need to get a little perspective on the matter and appreciate how far things have come if they want to have more credibility beyond being glorified color-pickers.

Have you seen the Louis CK bit where he talks about people whining about their cell phones despite the amazing technology that makes it all possible? No, computers aren't "terrible" at their job, and they don't "just work" because they aren't magical, until someone very technical makes it possible by interfacing with others who may or may not be "technical." The best facilitators actually try to bridge the gaps between a discipline and the technology.

Maybe designers should be more involved early on during the dev process? But no, they aren't "fucking terrible" at anything, except perhaps enabling the surveillance state apparatus and enabling identity theft, which is more of a problem with the financial industry than the technology that largely improves peoples' lives and gives them more free time in an increasingly detail-obsessed pay-your-bills and do-your-taxes pain in the ass society.

They are also our only hope for predicting and surviving global calamities like asteroid impacts, volcano eruptions, climate change disasters, etc. So no.
posted by aydeejones at 5:09 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


Which is not to say that you aren't one of those good facilitators, I just hate when people do the whole "computers are stupid idiots ha ha don't they suck" thing, essentially distancing themselves and reinforcing that unrealistic expectations are OK. It's just such a privileged BS hyberbolic thing for me to take in...usually if I take the "computers are stupid" route it's more along the lines of "computers just do what we tell them to, but unfortunately there are a lot of people behind the scenes building the software, and some of them are stupid or disorganized, or whatever, but it's complicated, so just remember that you could be doing this the fucking hard way instead of whining about how the super-easy way isn't totally automating you out of your job..." I think explaining the nuance is more helpful than shitting on the technology and all of the people who made it possible.
posted by aydeejones at 5:14 PM on April 15 [2 favorites]


bonehead: "It's curious that five or six years on, Apple is still allowing third-parties (i.e. Dropbox) to provide the de facto file system on iOS."

Apple doesn't think you should have to think about your file system. Which I guess is great if it works but is aggravating to the extreme when it doesn't. If iTunes is any example when it doesn't it is frustrating as hell.
posted by Mitheral at 7:51 PM on April 15 [1 favorite]


I think explaining the nuance is more helpful than shitting on the technology and all of the people who made it possible.

Eh, but the same thing can be said for a lot of complex human-made objects, processes, and even institutions. People will complain all the time about government agencies like the DMV, but they fail to understand the intricacies of bureaucracy, organizational behavior, or law and government. They could bitch about fast food, but not have any understanding of industrial farming, product development, and business franchising.

So, I'm of two minds on technology (and other stuff). It's both wonderful and terrible. It's wonderful that I can just pick up a smart phone and it works, or I can drive my car across the US, or that I can get a Big Mac in Beijing. But it's also terrible because if any thing fails (and sometimes it will) in this long complex web, I am completely screwed.

And I don't know if I would blame people for wanting something to work. We're all specialists in society and rely on others for something to work. It sucks when that contract. is broken.
posted by FJT at 12:48 AM on April 16 [4 favorites]


wow, aydeejones, looking back at what I said, I can confirm I didn't say "computers are fucking terrible AND IT'S ALL AYDEJONES' FAULT" so I'm not sure why you're being such a grumpy gills. But I take your point. Computers are amazing, they've come so far, and they've made us capable of so much. And I truly believe that. We've been on the FREAKING MOON. We almost have self-driving cars. Someday, we're going to clone people, or something. They are amazing.

And yet... there are still a lot of companies that pay people like me a lot of money to help them make software that people can use. So clearly they're not perfect yet. And their shortcomings involve a little more than just picking colors. It's true, I don't have a degree in computer science, but I do some front-end stuff. (I know I know, it's not REAL coding, but it's something.) I work in an agile shop, and try to pair with devs for at least a couple of hours every week.

Also? Part of the reason that there is a stereotype of devs being these anti-social semi-pricks with no friends? It's because occasionally one of them will call people "entitled newbs," and just generally pull the same bullshit they're complaining about, lumping a whole bunch of hyperbole into an argument just because they got personally insulted by something some anonymous prick said on the internets. If I insulted you with my "computers are stupid" thing, I'm sorry. Have a good day. :)
posted by nushustu at 2:51 PM on April 16 [3 favorites]


Mitheral: "Apple doesn't think you should have to think about your file system. Which I guess is great if it works but is aggravating to the extreme when it doesn't. If iTunes is any example when it doesn't it is frustrating as hell."

As I said above, that doesn't appear to be true. iPads and iPhones have perfectly functional, perfectly transparent, easily managed file systems. You can move files around, send them to friends, delete them, create new ones, arrange them in folders, check their metadata, access the file system from within relevant apps, etc. It works brilliantly.

The only trouble is that it only works for photos and some videos. But for those things, there's no question that Apple is fine with a transparent, easy-to-use file structure that you can manage yourself all day long or ignore if you don't want to.

The idea that "Apple doesn't think you should have to think about your file system" is a myth; at best, it's spin from Apple themselves. The real reason why the file system isn't transparent for certain media types is clearly not a matter of Apple's "vision" or "philosophy" about how devices ought to work. It's a matter of soft DRM.

I'd actually be interested to hear from a developer who's familiar with the hard limits here. Access to the photos file system is clearly nice and direct; all kinds of apps use it. Access to the music and movies file systems is a different matter. I know of at least half a dozen apps, most of them DJ and music creation apps, that can import songs from your music files. But I don't know any apps that allow your to export songs to your music files. And I can see why pretty easily. Apple doesn't want people downloading music from the Internet (their friend's Dropbox, a file-sharing site, etc) directly to their iPhones and iPads. They want people opening iTunes for that.
posted by koeselitz at 8:37 PM on April 16


Apple doesn't think you should have to think about your file system. Which I guess is great if it works but is aggravating to the extreme when it doesn't. If iTunes is any example when it doesn't it is frustrating as hell.

The perfect solution, and the one they need to/i expect them to implement right along with how they did push notification would be the "share" button being something that you can pull up in any app, any time there's a list of files or you're viewing a file. From there, you just get a "send to..." button and you can select any supported app, in addition to the message/email/etc. Maybe even a separate "send to app" button and then it pops up the task switcher.

Apps would need to support the new API, but i would seriously bet money on this being a big touted ios 8 feature that the audience claps for. I called the push notification thing while 2.0 was out, i'm calling this now.

It's just exactly the right level of "close enough" cop out.

Except that if you live and work in a major urban center, you're continually in wifi zones--data plans are increasingly about being a fallback for those odd moments when you can't connect to wifi. You've got wifi at home, you've got wifi at work, you've got wifi at your favorite coffee shop, and having connected to each, your phone or tablet seemlessly connects thereafter.

This is an ok point, but it falls apart as soon as you're not and you want to copy something like that, or load something, or whatever. It's true that it alleviates a lot of using your data plan, but even moreso what if you're somewhere where you can't or don't want to use wireless at all? It's a huge hole in the platform.

One i don't see them leaving open, but "wifi is everywhere!" isn't a solution. It's more of a crutch for the lack of any actual way to copy files around.
posted by emptythought at 9:16 PM on April 16


What you describe is almost exactly how Android has done things since the start. You hit share, and any app that has registered as able to handle the content type shows up as an option.
posted by markr at 9:24 PM on April 16 [1 favorite]


emptythought: "The perfect solution, and the one they need to/i expect them to implement right along with how they did push notification would be the "share" button being something that you can pull up in any app, any time there's a list of files or you're viewing a file. From there, you just get a "send to..." button and you can select any supported app, in addition to the message/email/etc. Maybe even a separate "send to app" button and then it pops up the task switcher."

That would be way too much like Android for them. Of course, they would probably figure out a way to manage the list better than Android does. (Seriously, for some content types, it'll show 20 different apps you can use to "share" a file, and that's before manufacturer and carrier app preloads)

More abstractly, it's interesting how some of the most vocal "Apple makes things easy" people are the same people who are, if not happy, are perfectly accepting of having to use silly workarounds to do certain things on iDevices.
posted by wierdo at 7:31 AM on April 17


Weirdo, as one of those Apple types, can I say that I agree that iTunes is practically unworkable now and incredibly frustrating? I highlighted The comment above about the Samsung Galaxy 5 because when my tools do start getting harder to use, I consider switching, believe me.
posted by misha at 8:56 AM on April 17 [1 favorite]


I may have overgeneralized a bit, but it is a common sentiment among the fanboy/girl types. Don't get me wrong, Android has it's fanboys as well, but it's a qualitatively different form of excusing its failures from what I can see. The typical Android fanperson ignores or minimizes the problems (oh, no my phone never stutters when scrolling, or if it does, it's so rare I don't remember it), while the typical Apple fanperson argues that the Apple way is simply the right way to do things.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that Apple is willing to just say no to features/knobs/buttons/whatever, if they think it will be too confusing to their userbase, I just think they take it too far. Moreover, their most..enthusiastic..supporters infuriate me when they tell me I shouldn't want to do whatever thing it is I want to do.

All that said, the prevalence of that attitude been easing somewhat in recent years, thankfully. It seemed to be at its loudest just before iOS got user-facing multitasking.
posted by wierdo at 9:13 AM on April 17


I'd actually be interested to hear from a developer who's familiar with the hard limits here. Access to the photos file system is clearly nice and direct; all kinds of apps use it. Access to the music and movies file systems is a different matter. I know of at least half a dozen apps, most of them DJ and music creation apps, that can import songs from your music files. But I don't know any apps that allow your to export songs to your music files.

As an iOS developer, no, you can't import anything into the music or video libraries directly. And yes, that's very annoying and limiting - it really involves a huge workaround every time you want to pass media around between apps etc.
posted by iotic at 9:54 AM on April 17 [2 favorites]


markr: “What you describe is almost exactly how Android has done things since the start. You hit share, and any app that has registered as able to handle the content type shows up as an option.”

That is exactly how Apple has done things from the start, too.
posted by koeselitz at 11:05 AM on April 17


emptythought: “The perfect solution, and the one they need to/i expect them to implement right along with how they did push notification would be the 'share' button being something that you can pull up in any app, any time there's a list of files or you're viewing a file. From there, you just get a 'send to...' button and you can select any supported app, in addition to the message/email/etc. Maybe even a separate "send to app" button and then it pops up the task switcher.”

I'm kind of confused here. What problem does this "solution" solve? Maybe more to the point – how is this any different from how iDevices work right now? This sounds exactly like the way iOS7 works currently.
posted by koeselitz at 11:11 AM on April 17


That is exactly how Apple has done things from the start, too.

Really? I've always seen Google's "Intents" system -- where a program can register itself as, for instance, capable of taking a URL as an input, and then whenever you hit the "share" button on a webpage that program will show up as an option -- mentioned as an Android strength that iOS doesn't have a counterpart for.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:16 AM on April 17


I don't know iOS well under the hood, so I don't know how this works, but after I installed Google Drive, Safari started to pop up an "open in Google Drive" button for certain file types.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:18 AM on April 17


Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish: “Really? I've always seen Google's "Intents" system -- where a program can register itself as, for instance, capable of taking a URL as an input, and then whenever you hit the "share" button on a webpage that program will show up as an option -- mentioned as an Android strength that iOS doesn't have a counterpart for.”

We're talking about "Share" buttons on web pages now? Or what? I was talking about "Open In" buttons in iOS apps, which are pretty much exactly what emptythought described above: gives you a list of compatible apps in which to open the document or file, generally lets you email or iCloud-send the file, and even allows you to share it via Bluetooth with nearby devices with that AirDrop thing. I guess maybe I'm confused about what we're talking about at this point.
posted by koeselitz at 11:26 AM on April 17


What Android calls "Share" could also easily be labeled "Open With," yeah. I forgot that can be confusing. I guess it's "sharing" the file with another app.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:32 AM on April 17


Android does call that "open with", at least in 4.4.
posted by bonehead at 11:38 AM on April 17


I'm basing this off pieces like this one from the runup to iOS7, which says:
One of the biggest features in Android is your ability to share virtually anything almost anywhere. I can share a contact card (for example) to Dropbox or Google Drive, to a QR code on my screen, via Bluetooth, by Gmail, or I can even make an NFC Tag out of it. If that’s not enough, I can install an app that will give me more sharing options.

How about a picture? I can share an image via Bluetooth, NFC, MMS, Picasa, Email, Goggles, Pinterest, Google Keep, WordPress, Google+, Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Pages Manager, Facebook itself, Dropbox, Google Drive, Plume, Twitter, and even “NIA Super Ops” (Ingress). This list varies by what I have installed on my device, and your list will be customized to what you have on your device. Apple’s list? It’s whatever they tell you it should be — nothing more, nothing less.

Ironically, Apple’s own Newton OS introduced the concept of “sharing” years and years ago — they called it “routing”, but it did the same thing as Android’s sharing mechanism. I wonder whatever happened to the developers who wrote that elegant bit of code?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:39 AM on April 17


koeselitz: "That is exactly how Apple has done things from the start, too."

Nah, until iOS 7, I think individual apps had to know beforehand what other apps might be capable of opening which data types for sharing to work between them (via URL schemes, I believe), unless the data type was something a default app could handle or an app that was blessed by Apple. This may still be the case, I'm not really sure. Android's Intents, by contrast, only require an app to register itself as a handler for a certain datatype and then every other app can send that data to it. Intents are more robust too because you can share activities, so that for instance clicking on a URL in your email app doesn't open a minimally-featured webview pane or switch to another app but instead opens a fully-featured instance of that app within the context of the currently active app. This is mostly very useful but sometimes confusing and annoying, since if you decide you want to keep working in the temporary app instance but also want to go back to the owner app, you can't do so without popping the temporary app instance off of the window stack and then opening it back up from the launcher. It also makes the back button behave unintuitively if you don't have an accurate picture of the state of the window stack in your head, since if you have a temporary browser instance open and follow two links but hit the back button three times, that last back button press will bring you back to the owning app rather than being a nop since you have no more pages to go back to.

But really the nicest feature that Intents give you is the ability to assign any app that handles a given data type as the default handler for that type, which is one of those things that Apple prevents you from doing not because it has any downsides for the user but solely because it has perceived downsides for Apple.
posted by invitapriore at 12:02 PM on April 17 [2 favorites]


Huh. So I guess that's useful for saving a tap when selecting which app to open a file in, then? But we're really not talking about file system availability anymore, are we?
posted by koeselitz at 5:29 PM on April 17


I've never seen how Apple handles anything but music so yes my experience is limited. My experience with Apple's file management philosophy is strictly with music on a Nano. Which has to be loaded with iTunes. Which is bar none the worst file management program I ever used and I've used some pretty hoary stuff. None of it went to great lengths to intentionally obfuscate, hide, or seemly randomly store files like iTunes did.

Now whether that is an earnest desire by Apple to hide the file system as good for users; to provide a boost to their store; to acquiesce to DRM demands from copyright holders in a soft DRM way; or as the result of incompetence I don't know but it provided a horrible experience with no chance to opt for something more conventional.
posted by Mitheral at 6:15 PM on April 17


to acquiesce to DRM demands from copyright holders in a soft DRM way

There's no DRM on iTunes Store music files and there hasn't been for some years, now.

(NB.: I buy my MP3s from Amazon and Bleep and put them into iTunes.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:37 PM on April 17


Mitheral: "I've never seen how Apple handles anything but music so yes my experience is limited. My experience with Apple's file management philosophy is strictly with music on a Nano."

Well, I can tell you that that is only the case with music and movies. With all other filetypes, things are much simpler, and in some cases remarkably elegant.

As I said above - the best example is the photos and videos subsystem. Open the built-in Photos app on any iDevice and you'll get what is essentially direct access to all images on the file system. You can make new folders, sync some folders to the cloud, delete folders, move files around, email one or many files to a friend, share them any way you like, or open them up in any app you own. Furthermore, such access is not limited to the Photos app; it's available to other apps, too. Photogene, for example - a relatively good photo editor and retouched for iOS - just opens up your photostream directly; you can save photos to that photostream or create a new folder to save them to, whatever you want to do. It's immediate access, and it's what people seem to be asking for when they wish iOS allowed "access to the file system."

Other filetypes don't have the same robust system, but they are still relatively easy to work with via "Open In." You get an email with a PDF attached, you can open it in any app you want so long as it's registered itself to handle PDFs. Same with just about any type of file.

Except - music and movies.

I was the one who first used the term "soft DRM" here, and I think it fits. iTunes is a form of "soft DRM," in the sense that the system is clearly designed to keep people buying through the iTunes Store.

To pull an example out of the air - one of the most familiar situations in which I encounter music is when a friend says "check out this song - it's great! You've got to hear it." What do we do? The first thing most of us might think is - "here, let me email the song to you." If that doesn't work, the second thing we might think is "let me do an Internet data transfer kind of thing," ie Dropbox or an equivalent. Apple has made this impossible in two ways: first, on the sender end, they've made it impossible to take a song from your Music app or iTunes account and email it to another person; second, on the receiver end, they've made it impossible to import a song from your email into your Music app or iTunes account.

What they want, obviously, is for the path of least resistance to be just to open iTunes, click the button, and pay the dollar for the song. That's how they make their money, so that makes sense. And that keeps the people selling stuff on the iTunes Store from getting wary about the possibility that their music is being pirated, although I'm not entirely sure that wariness has ever even come close to being a problem for Apple. So they make this devil's deal with their users - fine, they say, share music and movies however you want, but here's a small built-in hassle if you insist on doing it that way. Which makes sense to me, ultimately. They're running a business, and although it annoys me mightily, I accept it because I like the device.

In any case - it's clear that they're not trying to hide things from the user or dumb down the system as a philosophical point. The photos file system makes that clear. They're just running a business, and you can't run a business selling music by selling devices that make it so people don't ever want to buy music.
posted by koeselitz at 9:18 PM on April 17


There's no DRM on iTunes Store music files and there hasn't been for some years, now.

I would strongly imagine that when Mitheral refers to soft DRM [s]he refers to the obsucation of file names that iTunes does when putting the music on the file system. There's very reason not to make file names and music tags human readable other than making life hard for humans and alternate clients trying to parse what's on there.
posted by jaduncan at 8:53 AM on April 18 [2 favorites]


I feel like I got nerd sniped.

There's very reason not to make file names and music tags human readable other than making life hard for humans and alternate clients trying to parse what's on there.

It saves everyone the headaches of dealing with character encoding or Unicode in filenames. And filename collisions. And it saves memory and disk space via the database, and those are often at a premium.
posted by Pronoiac at 11:33 AM on April 18


I agree that intents/activities are wonderful, invitapriore, but I'd prefer that :

(a) Activities usually switched application rather than creating a temporary instance. It's fucking annoying that you cannot continue reading email just because you opened a URL.

(b) Activities should reduce the number of taps by replacing the "Always" and "Just once" buttons on the "Complete action using" menu with a single checkbox that you must tap before selecting an app to always use the same app.

(c) We need utilities that fine tune the "Complete action using" menu either manually based upon regular expressions or by learning your habits, maybe pressing back immediately after an action could dump you back into a menu, config, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:34 AM on April 18


It saves everyone the headaches of dealing with character encoding or Unicode in filenames. And filename collisions. And it saves memory and disk space via the database, and those are often at a premium.

The filenames? You have a very good point. The stripping of ID3 tags is still a lot of work for very little benefit outside DRM, as was locking down and refusing to document the database format.
posted by jaduncan at 12:11 PM on April 18


> saves everyone the headaches of dealing with character encoding or Unicode in filenames.
> And filename collisions. And it saves memory and disk space via the database, and those
> are often at a premium.

\rant on

There's no gain in convenience that could possibly compensate me for not being able to browse and examine my filesystem(s) easily--or effortfully, as with a disk/sector/byte/bit editor or with the likes of fsdb--and find my files and be able to identify them easily, and move them around manually or copy them out or otherwise work my wicked will on them. Firefox lost a good deal of my loyalty when mozilla went to keeping stuff in databases instead of open, editable text files, and that's just a tiny example. When a whole OS starts doing that with everything I save it's a much MUCH bigger shit sandwich the vendor just handed me.

The point about conserving disk usage on mobile devices (in their present state) is well taken, but I'm not prepared to turn conserving resources by hiding them from me more deeply (to discourage me from using them; yeah, it does that) into a wonderful general virtue and The Way It Should Be Done when it is actually just a workaround for an aspect of mobile computing that is really primitive and really sucks. I haven't had to worry about memory or storage limits since the 1990s and OMG here they come again! The pitiful amount of storage on mobile devices makes me think I walked through a time warp and I'm back in the era of 140kb floppies.

\rant off, tips hat
posted by jfuller at 1:18 PM on April 18 [3 favorites]


The stripping of ID3 tags is still a lot of work for very little benefit outside DRM, as was locking down and refusing to document the database format.

What strips the ID3 tags? I just checked some files on an old iPod Nano, and the original tags are intact.


jfuller, if you track metadata in a database, you get a faster startup, as you don't have to iterate over everything in the filesystem. You can have playlists, and smart playlists. You don't have to edit the files (which is a bit dangerous) to track play counts. So using the filesystem in a totally "simple" layout would give a more brittle, slower, and likely more complicated (read: buggier) system.


While I use iTunes to manage my iPhone, I use gtkpod on Linux to manage my Nano. There are other alternatives to iTunes. You can also possibly use ifuse to look at an iPhone's music database.

Oh yeah: I think one of the most frequent issues with the original iPod was that of properly ejecting the media. It had a vfat filesystem, right? Connect it, and the OS would say "oh! an external drive! let me look at that!" And then if you unplugged it - or jostled the cable, or used a flaky cable - without first telling the OS, it could screw up the entire drive. Making it so only iTunes recognized the device lets you avoid that problem.
posted by Pronoiac at 8:18 PM on April 18 [2 favorites]


A year ago none of the windows alternatives worked with the latest version of the nano because they hadn't been jailbroken yet; older nonos were fine. Don't know if that changed as I stopped fighting with mine when the power button stopped working and just bought a new head unit that uses USB instead.
posted by Mitheral at 2:12 AM on April 19


It will be a beautiful thing when the "plug device into actual computer to manage files" model is abandoned entirely. What a useless hassle.
posted by koeselitz at 12:01 PM on April 19 [5 favorites]


I don't know, it is quite comforting to know that regardless of what some malicious worm/trojan/hacker/brain fade does to the file system of my internet connected device the hard drive sitting on my shelf is immune. An air gap in physical connections is a nicely secure security measure.
posted by Mitheral at 5:45 PM on April 19 [1 favorite]


It's not completely air gapped when you're plugged in of course, but yeah it's more under control. We'll eventually develop user-friendly cloud storage tools that provide a user's whole directory structure along with all their friend's shared folders, like their movie collections, and maybe public folders, like the Pirate Bay and Gigapedia, but only only keep locally the files the user actually wants. Arguably git-annex with a Tahoe-LAFS backend does this reasonably securely, but nowhere near polished enough. In essence, your local filesystem would shadow a larger shared filesystem elsewhere from which useful files are selected.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:15 AM on April 20


I'm wondering if we should just accept that Android represents the triumphant desktop environment, as opposed to Gnome or KDE. We could push Android to become more truck-like by basing a regular Linux distribution on Replicant.

I'd envision two types of workspaces, Laptop-like workspaces that use Android apps exclusively and optimize real-estate with a tiling window manager, while Desktop-like workspaces that allow X software, likely including Gnome and KDE applications, and uses a traditional non-tiling window manager.

I deeply despise Job's vision of good little users doing what corporate software developers facilitate. It's horribly classist, authoritarian, anti-freedom, and anti-evolution. We could however sabotage Jobs' later life's work by putting the truck back into the tablet, phone, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 4:29 AM on April 20


You are mistaking "the users" with a class of tech enthusiasts, usually paid professionals, with the inclination, education and free time to tinker with surface aesthetics. When that class of user gets religion about tackling security, data integrity, usability, accessibility and data automation for everyday users who don't have hours and hours to pour over tech documentation and have the luxury of bricking their phone to play with software, we'll talk about getting the average user a truck.

Jobs' vision is currently offering superior applications and end-user experience. It could be better, but let's be real - Android is dominant because it's cheap and ubiquitous and offers various ways for carriers and phone manufacturers to screw over their users offer an enhanced experience, not because it offers a better user or dev environment.

If you want a truck, wait for Ubuntu. Elon Musk is patient and relentless, and I'd put money on Canonical over Microsoft in the phone wars at this point - it will absolutely dominate the power user market.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:52 AM on April 20


Android is dominant because it's cheap and ubiquitous

And because Microsoft wasn't paying attention to mobile. Also, Jobs was a control freak, for better and worse, and he wasn't going to give up the hardware and software combined and lose any control. This relegated him to a boutique operation that appeals to users who choose expensive and less common devices as part of their personality. I think Ubuntu and Microsoft will both succeed at phones, because android isn't modeled to proprietorially eliminate competition like Microsoft was in the 90's.
posted by Brian B. at 1:50 PM on April 20


this relegated him to a boutique operation that appeals to users who choose expensive and less common devices as part of their personality.

Although I've met a few of these my iPhone, my Mac, my Fender Strat, my whatever watch defines my personality and identity types I'd say most people (thankfully) aren't even remotely like this for smart phones and I'm finding it difficult to define an iPhone as a "less common device" when they've sold and continue to sell millions of them.
posted by juiceCake at 11:50 PM on April 20 [2 favorites]


I'm finding it difficult to define an iPhone as a "less common device" when they've sold and continue to sell millions of them.

They currently have 17.6% of world market share, and falling. When Jobs was alive, before iPhones, he was glad to have 6% of the desktop market share. They'll likely hit that 6% again very soon and be happy with the high profit.
posted by Brian B. at 7:24 PM on April 21


What a useless hassle.

I've owned mobile devices since Palms. The only companies that seem to force you to do this are Apple and Blackberry. Blackberry stopped requiring a computer connection to manage the device and data files about 3 or 4 years ago. I've owned four Android devices (lost one, upgraded one). I've never plugged a single one of them into a computer to manage its data. They either sync entirely to the cloud (contacts, photos, music, device backup), or I can move stuff around via shared applications (dropbox, media sync---plex or Calibre--or just a file transfer using a file manager), or I can use an SD card to move stuff around. Using files on an android device is like using a PC; they do not feel like second-class devices.
posted by bonehead at 8:11 PM on April 21


There are small standalone MP3 players that run Android? Huh. I didn't know that.
posted by koeselitz at 5:50 AM on April 22


I'm worried about kids, not existing power users, Slap*Happy. Apple has always had poor pedagogy because it obscures the underlying system too much. We don't want to require that kids learn the system before using the device either, ala the command line, but friendly tools that still expose the system's structure make sense.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:55 AM on April 22


bonehead: "The only companies that seem to force you to do this are Apple and Blackberry."

To be clear - Apple only "forces" this in the case of small MP3 players like the Nano. (And honestly I'm not sure even about that - doesn't the Nano have wireless now? I haven't used one in a very long time.) Anything running iOS is not forced to plug into a computer unless (a) you insist on using the default Music app and (b) you refuse to use iTunes. I don't use either, so I have no problems aside from the slight annoyance that all the alarm clock apps seem to use the central mp3 library, so I can't use my own songs as alarms in the morning unless I plug-and-load them myself or buy them through iTunes. I haven't plugged my iPhone or iPad into a computer in months - which is largely because I don't own a machine that can run iTunes.
posted by koeselitz at 10:43 AM on April 22


Is OSX iTunes good? Because Windows iTunes is hot garbage.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:44 PM on April 22


It's hard to say. By the time anyone gets comfortable enough with iTunes to potentially like it, someone in UX apparently has to do something revolutionary with it.

I will say I really, really don't want to upgrade from iTunes 10 after playing with 11 a bit, and I'm currently at the point where I might prefer to never use it again for anything except where forced (iDevice related management).
posted by weston at 7:07 PM on April 22


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