November 23, 2014

Comparing my Android Phone to my iPhone/iPod Touch

I have both an Android phone as well as an iPod Touch and I carry both everywhere. I tend to use my Android phone for quite a bit more than calls even though I have had the iPod Touch longer.  I admit that the iPod is just “so cooooool” with its one button, lovely user interface and apps-only home screen. But…For someone who uses their device daily to store information, email, browse the web, maps, etc, the Android devices seem to have these little things here and there that make using them a lot smoother than the iPod/iPhone.   And the phones look cool too.Disclaimer: My phone has Android 1.5 (hoping to get the 2.1 update soon). The latest version has quite a few more features including turn-by-turn directions for one.

1) One button vs multiple buttons

Android phones have multiple buttons and a trackball/D-Pad as opposed to a single button on the iPhone.

To me, the trackball is a very useful little tool!  Anyone who has makes a typo on their iPod/iPhone in the browser URL can tell you what a pain it is to correct. You have to dance with the cursor to get it precisely at the place of the typo or you end up deleting text in order get to the typo.  With the trackball I just move the cursor to proper location.  Another place I find the trackball useful is when there are multiple links on a page, email, or tweet. It is rather easy to hit a wrong link with the touchscreen whereas with the trackball I can be sure that I have have the right link selected before pressing.

The one touch search button, which I use all the time, brings up a Google search pop up window. Long pressing on the search button will bring up voice search, which actually works quite well.  If you are using an application like the Android Market this button can perform searches related to the app.

The back button is great. It’s default action is to go to the previous page in an app or to close the current app and take you to the previous app. For example, if you are using an app and click on a link in it, the browser opens up with the web page. Once you are done just hit back to go back to the app you were using. This is possible also because of the “multitasking” capability in Android. This means that the browser, and multiple other apps can be running at the same time. No need to close the one you are using to open another.

Which brings us to the home button. The default action is to take you to the home screen from wherever you are. Long press on it and it will open a pop up window which shows you all of your currently running apps, and you can switch between them.

The menu (button) is where you find all the extra features, information and navigational stuff for any app that you are using.

2) Amazing Maps integration.

Touch an address in a webpage, and the Maps application is brought up! From there you can get directions, search nearby, etc. Also I love the “my location” in the maps which shows where I am, as I am driving. Yes, I haven’t had gps before.

3) Apps and App Store

Installing apps on the Android phone is better. On the iPhone, the App Store is closed each time you install an app. On the Android phone you can continue browsing other apps. Once installed you can open an app from the Market page itself. This helps when you can’t find it on your phone(has happened to me on my iPod!). You get notifications for all of the apps that you just downloaded, so when you are done browsing you can open all of them from the notifications tab at the top of your home screen.

Any apps you have purchased are remembered. You can uninstall and re-install them later if you want.

The iPhone App Store is well organized, with lots of categories that makes finding apps easy. The multiple “featured lists” and  “top 25″ lists in the App Store also help. It has better games than the Android Market.

Most of the top IPhone apps have been ported to the Android Market. You will find what you need in terms of productivity, travel, social networking etc. The Android Market is growing by leaps and bounds everyday!

Come back next week for Part 2! There will be more on Maps and other features that are great about Android.

  • hiwattage

    I read your article hoping to find information on why I should use Android as opposed to iPhone but did not find much useful and hope to help you with your iPhone/iPod usage. The information I was hoping to find related more toward the capabilities Google versus Apple's MobileMe service. How do you use Android in such a way that may compare with that? Trackball: there is no need for this on the iPhone and here is what you can do when you have problems with typos and links. When you want to correct typos, all you have to do is press and hold on the screen and a helpful magnifying window pops up and you can drag your finger to the precise point you need and then hit the backspace key to delete and correct your text. As for links, the iPhone/iPod is multitouch and you can pinch to zoom which can make the text you want to choose almost as big as the screen. As for Searching: the Google app on the iPhone works the same with text or voice search. Multitasking is coming to the iPhone although it may not work the same as Android. Menu: there is no need for a menu button on the iPhone as there are menu buttons within the app itself. Maps: Google maps follows me with the "my location" as well and has the Google driving directions in it. App Store: although the store may close when you select an app to install, you can still re-open the App Store and browse and choose to install another app while the first app is still in the loading and install process.

    • Srilaxmi

      App Store – seems like you agree but are saying you are Ok with it. There is quite a bit of lag opening the App Store each time it is closed.
      Maps – The point I was making was you can tap an address from a *webpage* to open the Maps app, which I don't see on the IPod.
      Trackball – Regarding the links, my phone has multitouch too, but sometimes, for eg, when I'm carrying my baby in one hand, I can't use multitouch. The trackball is really useful here.
      The magnifying glass seems to have a lag popping up, though I will give you that one. Personally I will still prefer using the trackball than wait for the magnifying glass to pop up each time when I'm correcting multiple typos at once.
      Search – The point here was, I don't have to open the browser to do a search. Here I just hit the search button, which I do a LOT.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/anakin78z anakin78z

      Regarding the menu button, you might not need it, but it frees up screen real estate. I'm noticing that some of the iPhone apps that are being ported over to Android have a lot of ui clutter on screen. A lot of the things which could really be hidden away and pulled up using the menu button have to be displayed on screen, because iPhone doesn't have that option.

  • marcsumus

    Great post, though I think this comment is wrong:
    "Which brings us to the home button. The default action is to take you to the home screen from wherever you are. Long press on it and it will open a pop up window which shows you all of your currently running apps, and you can switch between them."

    I'm 90% sure that when you long press the home button it brings up your 6 most recently used apps, not apps currently running. I'm on a droid with 2.1 though so maybe it is different.

  • marcsumus

    Great post, though I think this comment is wrong:
    "Which brings us to the home button. The default action is to take you to the home screen from wherever you are. Long press on it and it will open a pop up window which shows you all of your currently running apps, and you can switch between them."

    I'm 90% sure that when you long press the home button it brings up your 6 most recently used apps, not apps currently running. I'm on a droid with 2.1 though so maybe it is different.

  • Weirdia

    Here's a great example why Android is more useful than iPhone — I use my Sprint HTC Hero with 16GB memory card every day to a) connect my work PC to the internet and b) save and store my files and docs of all types that I create or download with the work PC (sort of a portable "My Documents"). I do both of these simultaneously through USB, and can still get push email, texts and calls on the phone (calls will interrupt the internet connection, but it restores itself when the call is finished), and the phone charges at the same time. I do this because it allows me to work on personal and side business from my employer's cubie while not using my employer's network, and without leaving personal stuff on my employer's computer. Currently an iPhone can't do this because a) it won't multitask , and b) if it could do a 3G tether (I don't know if it can), AT&T's clogged network would be unusable anyway. I usually get near or over 1MB down and up with Sprint.

  • weirdia

    Oh yeah, and there's no file storage/access on the iPhone.

  • kRx

    Nice article, really good work how you point out your most useful features.
    Looking forward to Part2

  • jaamgans

    Don't forget that you also have the long press which can often bring up useful features sometimes included in the menu button option, sometimes not.

  • VampyreElizabeth

    can you download the meebo app on the i pod touch? if so, how much is it? cause its free on the android phone.

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