Wandering Thoughts archives


Why my smartphone is going to be an iPhone

I'm going to get a smartphone soon, not just for backup Internet but for other reasons too (and honestly, it's about time). When I do this, I will be getting an iPhone. This may surprise some people, but it isn't a recent decision; I decided several years ago that my eventual smartphone would almost certainly be an iPhone, and nothing I've seen since then has changed my mind.

(If anything, the more I've learned the more I've strengthened my view.)

On the surface, I ought to be a natural Android person. Android is sort of Linux, it's available in a wide variety of form factors, individual Android handsets can be reasonably open, and so on. Android is the relatively natural choice of the open source person and someone who wants freedom in their devices. By contrast, iPhones are infamously closed and locked away from you, with limited choice and Apple saying 'no' a lot to a lot of things. If I was buying something that I thought of as a computer, I would agree with all of this. But to me my future smartphone is not a computer but an appliance, even if it's a rather expensive one. I don't want to play around with it and tweak it and tune it and get in the guts; I want it to work.

(Also, Android's openness today is in large part an illusion. There was a time when Android really was the open platform, but those days are clearly over (although it remains more open than iOS). In fact, that actual Android today is more and more a closed and closed source platform is one of the problems.)

Over time, I've accumulated a collection of reasons to pick the iPhone over an Android. I'll start with the more moderate ones:

  • There seems to be general agreement that iPhones (and iPads) just plain work nicely and are more smooth and pleasant than Androids. Android models can be quite capable but they just aren't as well put together and as polished an experience as an iPhone.

    (And yes, there have been cases where Apple fumbled the ball, such as Apple Maps.)

  • For various reasons, iPhones generally have better apps available and a healthier and better software market (cf, and). The iOS App store is not entirely a healthy place by any means, but it's better than the alternatives if you want good, polished apps.

  • iOS is in practice more secure than Android, especially once you start loading apps and so on. I follow a certain number of infosec people on Twitter and their pretty much universal recommendation here is 'get an idevice and don't jailbreak it' (Chromebooks are apparently okay too).

But those are just the relatively mid-level reasons to choose iPhone over Android. Long before I started thinking about those, I had two high level reasons that I found sufficient.

First, the overall Android ecology is a slow burning trash fire. For example, much of your apparent wide variety of hardware choices evaporate once you look closely and start demanding things like ongoing security updates; the canonical advice here seems to be 'don't buy anything except a Nexus'. Finger-pointing abounds and you get pretty much the result you should expect from a multi-party environment where no one has much motive to do the right thing. It certainly doesn't help that almost no one is making much money on Android. But the hardware mess is not the only thing in the trash fire; there is the whole area of sketchy apps and sketchy app permissions, for example, and the previously mentioned health (or lack thereof) of the app ecology. When people write apps for iOS and laugh at the idea of putting them on Android, this is not a good sign for me.

Beyond that, at an even higher level, is a simple difference between Apple and Google: Apple is ultimately a hardware company while Google is ultimately an advertising company. Apple makes money by selling me sufficiently nice boxes. Google makes money by exploiting me. I know which one of those two I trust more here, or at least I know which one has corporate motives that are more likely to be aligned with what I want. This alone would be enough to tip me into Apple's camp for a smartphone, assuming that everything else I cared about was comparable (which it isn't; it's already lopsided in Apple's favour).

(There was a time when I might have believed in Google's fundamental goodness and well intentioned nature, what with the whole 'don't be evil' thing and so on. Those days are long over and I know better now; Google themselves taught me this a while back. But that's another entry.)

tech/SmartphoneWhyIPhone written at 00:03:28; Add Comment

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