Android vs iPhone – a Brief Comparison

Update:

The Android phone was fine until we brought it overseas. The long and short of it is, it simply does not work. Over in the USA we’re getting messages about the SIM not allowing a connection – and yet swapping SIMs with the iPhone produces the same result while the iPhone continues to work. Orange up to now have shown that they don’t have a clue (there’s a shocker) and so we’ve a fight on our hands now getting a refund of the sat-nav software we’ve installed and getting a refund/replacement for the phone.

Incidentally though American TV shows Skype on selected AT&T Android phones, the Skype situation for Android has not changed. I’m beginning to think that in looking to see real competition for Apple, we’ve all jumped in too soon. Maybe Google should have stuck with search engines! Links like this suggest that Android has some serious problems. http://code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=2845

Original Article:

We just took possession of our first Android phone the other day, the much-vaunted HTC Desire. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that this powerhouse runs at 1Ghz or whether the Android operating system is just that much more responsive, but the phone does seem to operate more responsively than you’d expect an HTC running Windows mobile for example. The screen is BEAUTIFUL to say the least with the new AMOLED display, it really is something to behold.

And that’s where it starts to go downhill. We purchased the phone from the Orange shop and as you might expect, things didn’t go too smoothly at first, the phone continued to show no signal for around an hour, we took it back to the shop and the fellow there helpfully reset the phone, telling us that it won’t operate until it’s been reset due to the text message the phone needs to receive to activate it.  The problem with that is.. what’s wrong with a message that says “please wait for incoming message” then another that says “please reset your phone” – why does everything always have to be cryptic??!!??

That done, we took the phone for a spin. The phone sent and received calls just fine and so we took it home (where we have no signal) and hooked it into the WIFI signal at home – again no problem.

If you look on the web it’s not immediately obvious where to get APPS for the Android, looking around there seemed to be several official-looking stores with nothing but rubbish in them, however a quick look around the phone (which comes with VERY little documentation until you realise there’s an online Android manual) and we discovered the marketplace. There are TONS of apps on there.

Unlike the iPhone market where Apple control the App store with an iron rod, there seems to be no such control on the Android marketplace and so there were some pretty poor apps – but also some great ones – installation is idiot-proof. We’re still at the early learning stage and later I’ll details some of the better apps.

For now, I’m beginning to realise why Apple in their iPhone didn’t bother with multitasking. The more you use the Desire, the more it slows down – until you realise the reason why… every time you use an App and then press the home key to go find another – the app stays running in the background. GREAT for a PC, but to my mind largely silly in a phone. We ended up with something like 20 apps running.. again at first sight it is still not obvious how to finish using an App and close it!  The solution for now? We downloaded a free task handler for Android and you can simply run that and close the lot down.

I think I’d prefer the option to NOT run any program in the background unless I specifically ask (music comes to mind).

Biggest gripe so far? Would you believe it there is no SKYPE for Android yet!

iPhone DOES have Limits

A portrait of Peter Scargill

I’ve already hit the limit with iPhone Apps – 175 of them – won’t let me put any more on. There are those who say it’s something to do with performance, though I don’t see it myself as you only run programs one at a time. But there you have it – the iPhone 3GS – 9 pages of apps, that’s your lot. Well, that’s not STRICTLY true – you can only have 9 pages of apps on the MENU – you can have LOADS more as long as you’re happy to use the search function to find them! This will be fixed in the forthcoming version 4 upgrade.

Until recently there was a great APP for streaming your music selection onto your iPhone – one I planned to use over in Spain without dragging my entire collection over there. The program called SIMPLY MUSIC – is now dead. Having taken our money, the designers have shut down features and removed the APP from the iTunes store.. effectively they’ve “done a bunk” – which is not nice.  So I’ve been on the hunt for alternatives: An EXCELLENT program called AIR VIDEO lets you stream unconverted video to the iPhone – sadly it wont’ work for tunes. iPlayAnywhere will let you stream audio but their APP is awful and crashes frequently. Also tried TVersity – that works but it’s not pretty AT ALL…

Update: StreamToMe and it’s PC server software works a TREAT for all your video and music – I’ve asked them about including photos and apparently they’re working on it.. check this out…

iPhone – or i….THING? – by Peter Scargill

Sleep monitoring on the iPhoneHaving had my sparkly new black iPhone 3GS for some weeks now, it is well past my normal “novelty-wearing-off time” in which the greatest NEW thing normally becomes somehow… normal – and yet I still feel that somehow life has changed irrevocably in a small but worthwhile way.

The problem is in the title “iPhone”. In reality these devices have been so much more than phones for some time. I’ve been using Microsoft smartphones for some years and recently there have been times when I’ve left the laptop back at the office and relied on the mobile for email. This works only so well because of the limited keyboards but it sure beats carrying a huge laptop around. The MS phones are also ok for the odd game of backgammon on the train and the addition of WIFI makes them handy for receiving RSS news – ie BBC news etc. But that’s about it. They soon become out of date and Orange and some other providers don’t exactly fall over themselves to encourage updates.

Remoet printing for the iPhoneExit MS phones, enter the iPhone – which I only really discovered as a couple of pals of mine were determined to convert me over (I’m not known for being MAC-friendly). There are a couple of features which TOGETHER give the iPhone 3GS a head start and they include the tilt sensor and compass. Combined with sat-nav hardware, a solid, reliable operating system and unlimited data bundling, these together forma fantastic base – which makes possible the REAL innovation which is the APP store and the thousands of often very clever APPS, none of which would be any use at all at normal software pricing but at anything from free to typically a couple of £££s you have a market that’s hard not to get enthusiastic about. Not only can you idle the hours away looking for new APPS, but you’re informed automatically of any updates to existing APPS which then come in pretty much without any attention (preferably on WIFI but I’ve updated a few over 3G without problems). So what is actually happening here is that your “phone” is evolving on an almost daily basis without even being connected to any PC.. and that’s part of what keeps up the interest.

tmpF934Every couple of days I see something new, some new idea that might never have occurred to me – or some gripe I have with an existing app simply goes away due to constant improvement. Who would have thought you could use a phone to monitor sleep patterns or to identify stars or point to restaurants using the camera or remote control your media centre or measure distance or go shopping… the list is never-ending and continually growing.

I have around really good 150 Apps on my 16G 3GS iPhone and the biggest of the lot is TOMTOM which covers all of Europe – yet looking at the graph below as you can see, I’ve used only a small part of available memory, under 3GB out of 16GB on APPS. Not only that but having just written my first WEB APP I feel I’m on the way to making a contribution to the APP community (see Bedrock Cam above, keeping an eye on our place in Spain).

I can see where it might be worth getting the 32GB version if you really want to carry around a bunch of videos and thousands of tunes as well. Personally I’m happy with access to thousands of radio stations and my entire music collection back home as long as I have a 3G connection…. yes, a decent 3G connection is perfectly adequate for streaming music to the device.

APPS consumption of memory in iPhone

And that’s really what this is… it’s an “iDevice”, no longer simply a phone but a portable entertainment system. Does this make it any less valid as a business tool? Hell no, email handling is superb, I have multiple email accounts in there along with the ability to read business documents (WORD and PDF as examples) with ease – within the limitations of the screen size of course. The copy and paste ideas implemented by Apple are superb and until you’ve seen them in action along with the associated magnifying glass, it’s hard to describe other than to say they are completely intuitive and need no training to use unless you’re very, very slow.

Golf on iPhoneLet me say that the phone itself is NOT perfect… the battery life is ATTROCIOUS, fortunately there’s a way around that and so my phone is permanently carried around in a MILI sleeve which fits snugly over the phone and includes a built-in battery, taking the combination to well over 24 hours operation and removing the need to use the ridiculously complicated Apple connector in favour of a bog-standard mini-USB socket. Thankfully the iPhone power supply is one of those mains plugs with a USB connector on the bottom so it’s just a case of ditching the Apple lead (curiously white even though I bought a black iPhone) and replacing it with a USB to mini-USB lead.

From serious business using multiple email accounts including MS Exchange (which the iPhone handles flawlessly including email, contacts, notes and the all-important calendar) through novelty business applications to full-on gaming this is in my mind currently the best option for a mobile device – loving every minute of it.

Anyone for GOLF?

Here’s a partial list of things I can currently do on the phone thanks to the various Apps I have installed…in no particular order…

  • Watch out for speed cameras and contribute to the database
  • Monitor our place in Spain via cameras
  • Edit movies
  • Play thousands of Internet radio stations
  • Play Golf
  • Control my PC
  • Get the weather
  • Know my legal rights
  • Play slots
  • Check valid email addresses
  • Get my Exchange and Google mail
  • Measure distances
  • Car race
  • Check my sleep patterns
  • Check train times
  • Send screens to my remote printer
  • Read barcodes and get best pricing for any item
  • Test broadband speeds
  • Record meetings
  • Play all of my music and that of my pals without carrying it with me
  • Watch TED
  • See what shops etc are around me
  • Keep a shopping list
  • Check flights
  • Read the news
  • Watch Al-Jazeer and other news channels live
  • Book hire cars
  • Learn Spanish
  • Make dirt cheap Internet phone calls with Skype and Truphone
  • Watch webcams all over the world
  • Make HDR photos
  • Make panoramas
  • Take normal pics and movies
  • Control my SKY box remotely
  • Read RSS feeds
  • Get and read remote files off my PC
  • Use all the social networks
  • Monitor sound levels
  • Tell what any star is by pointing at it
  • Handle my PAYPAL account
  • Check my speed
  • Use Google Earth and Google maps
  • Read books
  • See movie previews
  • Wakeup calls with alarm clock
  • Remote control any PC with LogMeIn
  • Watch YouTube
  • Take notes
  • Use the compass
  • Handle contacts
  • Use my calendar
  • Send text messages
  • Make phone calls by voice command

And that’s just the start! Soon it appears much of this will be available for the new iPad. The Jury is still out on that.