An Ode To The Incredible Versatility Of Android – And The Amazing Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With It
When Android phones first started gaining popularity, Steve Jobs reportedly said he would make it his mission to stamp them out. But while he and some Apple aficionados see Android as a ‘copy’ of iOS, that is in fact completely missing the point. Android is something far more powerful and transformative than iOS, which is probably a big part of the reason that Samsung has just overtaken Apple in terms of profitability (Android devices first outnumbered iOS devices long ago now).
Android of course is a free and open operating system that right away places it in start opposition to iOS. Based on the Linux operating system, Android is something that anyone can work on and that can be installed onto practically any device. iOS is tied inextricably to Apple and to iPhones and iPads, but Android can find itself on a slew of 3rd party phones and tablets, on televisions, on Raspberry Pis, on computers, on games consoles (see the Ouya), on kiosks, on watches and much more.
So then ask yourself, if you were a developer why would you create an app for two devices when you could design it for millions? And as a consumer, why would you force yourself to choose from two screen sizes for your phone when you could choose from hundreds of different devices with every combination of specs under the sun?
The flexibility of Android lies partly in the way it can be so easily customised. My friend showed me his phone running a preview copy of iOS7 the other day, and when I saw it I was far from blown away. Sure the 3D effect was nice, but ultimately the operating system looked pretty much the way it always had. He still had a homescreen that consisted of a simple grid of application icons and you still had to scroll through these in sequence. There were no widgets, no folders, no transition effects of live wallpapers… just a grid. And if you have 500 apps on your iOS device? Then you have to scroll through pages of those icons to find what you want.
Compare this with Android. Out of the box any Android phone will allow you to use widgets to show the time or see the news on your homescreen. You can set backgrounds on every single homescreen, or you can have an animation of a swirling black hole consistent across them. You can lay your icons out in groups, you can replace them with stylish text or you can arrange them like a Windows 7 desktop. It’s completely up to you.
And that’s before you’ve even started playing with homescreen launchers which let you completely change the way your phone looks when you press the home key. If you like you can make your Android device look exactly like iOS7 or Windows. Or alternatively you can make it so that you launch everything from a single minimalistic button in the centre of the screen. Or you can cover your homescreen in widgets and completely do away with the icons (see the incredible crowd-funded ‘Chameleon’ launcher).
The point is that when you have an Android, that’s your device because Android doesn’t belong to anyone you can do with it literally whatever you like.
But even more than that, Android is open to OEMs to toy around with under the hood and to make far more extensive changes. Though the Ouya games console runs Android you would never know it to look at it. And then you have the customisations added by manufacturers like Samsung – how about the impressive multitasking feature that Samsung have introduced that allows you to open more than one app at once? Or the ‘touchwizz’ features they added for their Note line of devices to make it more stylus friendly? The only limit on Android is the imagination of the developers and the customers.
This is why Android is only going to go up in the world as time goes on. It’s lightweight, it’s free, it’s open and it’s incredibly customisable and powerful. Whatever your device, and whatever you want to use it for, Android is the right fit. Watch this space while it completely takes over the world…
Today’s feature contributor, John Cooper, is a part of the team at Armodilo Display Solutions, a company that provides tablet display stands. He has a keen interest in mobile phone technology and enjoys sharing his opinions via blogging.