Eyeballs are translated into website page views which bear advertising which makes the site, and ostensibly the writer, more money. That also means technology websites are full of blithering blather of product comparisons which are just plain wrong.
iOS Is Regressive
Tech writer David Gewirtz has learned the art of misdirection well. He came up with a single Android smartphone home screen which he says makes iOS positively regressive.
Oh, really? Well, hold on to your hats, because it gets worse. Not only is iOS 7 regressive compared to Android OS, it’s even less flexible than Palm handhelds in the 1990s.
That’s a nearly perfect example of website hit whoring of the most titillating kind.
Something seems fishy in Make Believe Land, that distant place where technology writers learn to bash Apple on a daily basis.
The argument here is that Android is more usable because it has widgets. What’s a widget? It’s an app, usually a single purpose app, but an app nonetheless.
Gewirtz uses a Samsung Galaxy S4 to display how much better Android is to use than an iPhone, but he keeps an old iPhone around as an iPod touch. He complains that the iPhone uses page after page of app icons.
How does that differ from an Android smartphone? It does not.
While Android OS has some features iOS does not, iOS has features Android does not. The difference lies in customizability, which Apple obviously sacrifices for usability.
If you want to root your smartphone and dink around for a year to get it just right, as Gewirtz said he did, great. The rest of us just use our smartphones for various and sundry purposes.
Recently I tried to think different, think out of the box when using my iPhone. I turned off a bunch of the background processes, notifications, alerts, etc. Usability did not change, but battery life doubled. Doubled.
Second, instead of having page after page of app icons, I put the most frequently used apps on the home screen (much how everyone else, iOS or Android, does it) and put everything else– a few hundred apps– onto the second screen– in folders. All of them.
That’s 20 folders on the second screen, organized and categorized, each with about nine apps, a total of at least 180 apps on two pages. Half of the Home Row of apps at the bottom of the iPhone’s screen (just above the Home button) are also folders with nine apps each.
That means 22 apps are a single touch away on the home screen. 18 apps are another touch away. Two touches and I have access to any one of more than 200 additional apps– without having to flick through screen after screen of apps. I’ve also adjusted that to add another row of four folders on the home screen, each with about nine apps. That’s 36 additional apps available with a touch from the home screen.
There is no way that any customized Android smartphone home screen is more accessible or usable than mine. Similar? Maybe. More accessible? Only to the point of diminishing returns. In other words, it’s a monumental effort to gain one less touch to find and open any specific app.
Apple knows this. Apple knows most customers are not willing to jump through the hoops that the technorati elite, as exemplified by Mr. Gewirtz, do so often simply so they can be critical of Apple’s strategy and tactics.
The Heart Of Android
The thing to understand in the battles between Android lovers, Android users (they’re not the same), and Apple is this.
Apple is the heart of Android.
Google stole Apple’s design for the iPhone and updated Android to match. And, recognizing that Apple and a growing world of applications would cut into Google’s desktop search engine advertising business, had no choice but to give Android OS away for free.
Without Apple to copy, where would Android be today? It would be a Palm or a BlackBerry, but it wouldn’t be an iPhone.
Android’s ability to be customized beyond iOS 7 doesn’t make it a more usable OS for any but the technorati elite. Is there any feature or functions within any version of Android OS that Apple could not copy and implement into iOS? Of course not. Apple chooses a different course. It’s an example of discipline and restraint, not an example of inferiority. All the gee whiz bells and whistles that Google bolted on to Android do not improve usability for the average user. It’s merely easier to say, ‘We’re better because we have more features.’
That’s why Android smartphone users are divided into two groups. One huge. One tiny. The huge group is made of Android smartphone users who just don’t do much with their devices. It’s a phone. It does text, plays a few free games, and plays music and YouTube. That’s why Android has such a small percentage of web usage vs. iOS devices. The teeny tiny Android group is made up of David Gewirtz and his ilk who think usability is the same as customizability. It’s not.