Monday, October 3, 2011

Android Takes a Bite Out of Apple

When Android first debuted on the HTC Dream (also known as the G1) back in October of 2008, it was deemed an "iPhone Killer." While it didn't quite slay Apple's handset, it was the first step in a revolution against the tyrannous iPhone. The initial Android platform bested the iPhone OS on several levels, but lacked some key functionalities that the iPhone could provide. Since then, Android has grown - not only meeting all of the functionalities of the iPhone, but besting it in nearly all aspects from an extensive list of devices to a growing Android Marketplace. Here is our list of the top 10 things Android does better than the iPhone.

1: Android can Run Multiple Apps at the Same Time

Starting with version 1.0, Android has been able to run multiple applications at the same time regardless of whether they are system apps or apps from the Android Marketplace. The current version of iPhone OS does offer limited multitasking, but only allows native applications such as Mail, iPod and Phone to run in the background. Android users benefit greatly from this discrepancy, as they can receive notifications, listen to music, or even record GPS data without keeping the application open. Apple will try to level the playing field with iPhone OS 4, granting developers access to a small and limiting list of APIs that can run certain services in the background, but it's a long way from the true multitasking that Android has.

2: Android Keeps Information Visible on Your Home Screen

One of the key features Android has is a customizable home screen keeps active widgets right at your fingertips, always accesible and always visible - without having to launch an application first. There are widgets for just about every app in the Android Marketplace from playing music to checking the weather and keeping up to date on Facebook. Meanwhile iPhone users are force to flip through their app list to locate and launch each app. If you wanted to check the forecast, for example, you would have to find the app, launch it, and then wait for it to load. With Android, all of that information can be displayed directly on your home screen, never more than a finger swipe away.

3: Android Has a Better App Market

It's true that Apple's App Store has over 180,000 applications, while the Android Marketplace has only just broken the 50,000 mark but Android's rapid growth and adoption give it the potential to catch up to the iPhone App Store. Android also has another advantage: a completely open market. Apple receives around 10,000 app submissions per week, yet many apps are overlooked because they appear too simple or denied because a similar app already exists. The Android Marketplace is driven entirely by its consumers, so the best app is the one that succeeds - not the first one to reach the market. In addition, the Android Marketplace doesn't censor its apps, so the possibilities are truly endless.

4: Android Gives You Better Notifications

The iPhone has some trouble with notifications. Because it's restricted to pop-up notifications, it can only handle one at a time and because it lacks multitasking, applications must be open in order for them to make notifications. Android, on the other hand, has a convenient notification bar which displays an icon for every notification you have waiting. The notification bar can also be pulled downward to reveal more detail about each notification. Android also allows app developers to make notification details viewable from the lock screen, something the iPhone can only do with native applications.

5: Android Lets You Choose Your Hardware

Apple users are encouraged to "Think Different" but when it comes to the actual hardware, they don't get much choice. You can pick the color, either black or white, and you get to choose between the 16GB or the pricier 32GB version. Other than that, you're stuck with the 3.5-inch, 320x480 pixel display, 256MB of RAM, and 600MHz processor. Because Android is an open platform, manufacturers have the freedom to pair it with any hardware they want, like the Nexus One (with 3.7-inch, 480x800 pixel display, 512MB of RAM, and 1GHz Snapdragon processor) or the Motorola Droid which has a physical keypad. Obviously, available selections will vary by carrier

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