With all of the choices of different smartphone platforms out there why would I choose Android? All of the platforms offer access to applications that the user can choose to install, and they all provide access to email and internet. What sets Android apart from the pack? The answer lies in Android’s flexibility, its integration with Google apps and ease of use.
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It has taken me a long time to acknowledge my control freak tendencies, but now I embrace them. I am a control freak and I am not ashamed that I like to have things my way. As an open platform, Android allows that to happen.
A developer can put any app on the Android market. There is no extensive review process to determine if the application provides direct or indirect access to something Google deems inappropriate. They let the developer choose what they want to develop and the user install what they want to install and that makes the control freak in me very happy. I want the only app choice limitation to be a developer’s motivation to create what I want to install.
Another thing that I like is that I don’t have to go through the Android Market to install applications on my phone. If you go into settings and select “Applications,” there is a check box that, when checked, will then allow the user to install an application outside the marketplace. I wanted to participate in Gowalla’s beta, so I simply went to their site, downloaded the application and installed it. The only real instances I have seen where applications I have wanted haven’t been on the market has been when they were in beta form, but it is nice to have the option.
The other advantage of an open platform is that sometimes phone manufacturers decide to spruce the UI up a bit. If I decide that I don’t like the appearance of Android I can take a look at some of the interfaces Motorola or HTC have cooked up and see if I like those better. Once again, I’m given choices.
Android can also be placed on a number of different devices, so if you don’t like the look and feel of the Droid you can choose the Nexus One or any number of other phones. And not only do you have the choice of hardware, you can also pick which network. Every major carrier in the US has an Android phone available. So there is no danger of needing to break your contract if you decide to switch to an Android phone from another device.
I will admit that all of this flexibility can come with a downside. For instance, there are some junky apps in the Android Marketplace that can make searching for a good app a challenge. Also, different Android phones that are for sale right now can have different versions of Android on them and this can potentially impact which applications in the Market you are actually able to run. That can add some frustration when you’re looking for that perfect app out there to make your life easier.
That’s where sites like AndroidGuys and AndroidGals come in. We hope to inform you about what good apps are out there, where to find them and what their limitations might be. For me, with the assistance of sites like these, the benefits of Android have far outweighed the consequences.
I am a pretty heavy user of Google products. I use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, and so on. My frustration with past smartphones (I had both a Windows Mobile phone and a Blackberry) was that the integration with Google products was pretty poor. Android, another Google product, has made my life easier by developing a phone operating system that makes access to their online applications pretty darn smooth.
I now deal with my email and calendar information almost exclusively over my phone. And while I still access Reader and Docs primarily at a pc, I open them fairly regularly from my phone as well. I don’t have to hook my Droid up to my computer to sync things up, wirelessly or through USB. Everything is always synced and ready to go when I need it.
Ease of Use
I do sometimes lament the fact that Android is considered the geek platform, though it really is. But it’s the geek platform because of its flexibility, not because it’s hard to use. Though I will admit that it isn’t quite as intuitive as the iPhone, it is still very easy to navigate through Android. Once you realize that tapping and holding an item often opens shortcut menus you can get around in Android pretty quickly. I have found it much easier to navigate my Droid than my previous Windows Mobile device and even easier than my Blackberry Storm.
All of these aspects of the Android operating system intrigued my inner control freak and compelled me to become an AndroidGal. I’m excited to see how Android will progress and improve and what apps may hit the marketplace that will make staying connected on the go even easier.