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Cellphones Google Java Operating Systems Programming

Where Android Beats the iPhone 365

Posted by timothy
from the but-that's-not-how-jobs-wants-it dept.
snydeq writes "Peter Wayner provides a developer's comparison of Android and the iPhone and finds Android not only competitive but in fact a better choice than the iPhone for many developers, largely due to its Java foundation. 'While iPhone developers have found that one path to success is playing to our baser instincts (until Apple shuts them down), a number of Android applications are offering practical solutions that unlock the power of a phone that's really a Unix machine you can slip into your pocket,' Wayner writes, pointing out GScript and Remote DB as two powerful tools for developers to make rough but workable custom tools for Android. But the real gem is Java: 'The pure Java foundation of Android will be one of the biggest attractions for many businesses with Java programmers on the staff. Any Java developer familiar with Eclipse should be able to use Google's Android documentation to turn out a very basic application in just a few hours. Not only that, but all of the code from other Java programs will run on your Android phone — although it won't look pretty or run as fast as it does on multicore servers.'"
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Where Android Beats the iPhone

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  • by XPeter (1429763) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:26PM (#31363758) Homepage

    It's not DRM-laden patent trolling Apple.

  • That's peachy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:27PM (#31363766)

    Unfortunately right now it appears that for users it's the other way around.

  • Thanks for Playing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by His Shadow (689816) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:30PM (#31363798) Homepage Journal
    "although it won't look pretty or run as fast...". That's all, Folks!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:32PM (#31363828)

    To those about to complain that screen resolution differences makes developing for android harder, then try using a UI measurement that does not rely on pixels, like em

    Incidentally bitmaps that use em have not been invented yet. Vectors are not good for everything, and may take more power to render on the fly.

    Also, em solves exactly nothing about how much content can you fit on a display before it becomes unreadable, a problem you may get if you treat DPI as a free variable. Oh and it also doesn't factor in display ratio, unless you think squashing things is the way to go.

  • Re:meh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:37PM (#31363912)

    You mean Windows? you can't possibly mean Nokia - which, although Maemoblin is very very new, should do well given Nokia's business-friendly sales and general market dominance.

  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:40PM (#31363938)
    Ugly multitasking on an Android is not better than slick single-app execution on an iPhone. It's only a different experience.
  • Windows Mobile (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:40PM (#31363940) Homepage Journal

    Then according to his logic, Windows Mobile is better than Android and iPhone combined, because not only can it run Java apps, but you can author software for it in practically any mainstream programming language.

    What about Blackberry? It is a pure Java based platform, even more so than Android.

    I just think it's silly to say "This device is LISP based, so it is better than device X because some corporation might have LISP developers sitting around that can write apps for it in a language they're used to!"

  • by thanasakis (225405) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:41PM (#31363948)

    You can buy and play FIFA10 or even Grand Theft Auto on the iPhone. The games are a pretty good indicator IMHO. When complex and expensive productions from big studios start coming out for a platform, you know that the platform is popular.

    And if you think Java makes any kind of difference, think again. The guys that are developing these applications do not seem to care. It's not about happy programmers, it's about happy users. And right now the iPhone still has the edge.

  • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @05:42PM (#31363976)

    As far as I can tell, 99% of the iphone apps are pure and utter shit.

  • by Zigurd (3528) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:06PM (#31364302) Homepage

    That Java is something that makes Android superior to iPhone is a dubious claim.

    Objective-C has advantages, such as that it is compiled. While Android has lots of libraries implemented in C and C++ that speed execution of Android applications, and developers can choose to implement intensive computations in C using the NDK, Objective-C requires no JNIs or other complications of splitting an implementation between Java and C/C++.

    X-Code is a purpose-built, clean-sheet IDE that may lack a few power features found in Eclipse, and Eclipse has numerous plug-ins, but Eclipse also has a pretty diabolical UI, especially compared to software from Apple.

    Java, Eclipse, and the other Android SDK tools are more than good enough, but they are not a big advantage, or, depending on your tastes, any advantage. There is a rough equivalence here that will probably extend to Android doing for client Java what iPhone did for Objective-C - making it popular. That is, Android apps will probably be the most common form of interactive client Java apps, if they have not already eclipsed AWT, Swing, SWT, and other Java UI libraries. This is going to have a big influence on Java, considering the fact that iPhone programming books crowd the top of the list or programming books at Amazon.

    Android's advantage is in openness. Android developers are not just app developers. They can be system customizers and extenders. They can be technology vendors to a large number of OEMs using Android. They can have all kinds of products, customer, and business models, throughout the mobile economy, not just retail customers of the app store.

  • by owlstead (636356) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:13PM (#31364412)

    Java does not just allow bad programmers to write sloppy code, it also allows good programmers to write better code (than in C/C++ and direct derivatives). Shitty programs are available in all languages. I managed to write a shit application in Lua in a minute flat. How difficult is it to grasp this concept? Do you really want a programming language that makes it harder to write manageable code, on purpose?

    I'm getting sick of this argument. Most of my esteemed C++ colleagues like Java once they've actually tried it out for real. Unfortunately we don't always get Java libs for the hardware we are using.

  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:27PM (#31364622) Journal
    Politics
    Religion
    Mac Products
  • by BearRanger (945122) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:28PM (#31364644)
    That a phone that caters to developers is NOT a phone that the rest of the world has much interest in using. I love the flexibility promised by Android, but if smartphones are going to take over the world I would not want my grandmother to have to deal with fragmentation and software complexity. Android phones and the iPhone occupy two different market niches. This is a good thing for both developers and consumers.
  • by yogibeaty (224757) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @06:49PM (#31364900) Homepage

    Really? Productivity defined as?

    Would an excel spreadsheet render properly on a Droid? Do you code in C# on the Nokia? Pray tell, what forms of productivity do you increase, Almighty one?

  • by dangitman (862676) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @07:09PM (#31365128)

    Some of us carry smartphones to increase productivity, not play video games on a 4 inch screen.

    And some people use smartphones to socialize and play games on a 4 inch screen.

    If you want to play games, buy one of those portable game widget things that Nintendo or Sony sells.

    So, someone who already has a smartphone should spend potentially hundreds of dollars, and carry a separate device, rather than spending a few bucks for a game on a device they already own? Why, just because you don't approve of games on a phone out of some misguided ideological notions of purity and productivity?

    Also, have you seen the relative difference in price for Nintendo DS and Sony PSP games versus the ones for the phones?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @07:22PM (#31365250)

    Why? Why would I want to do this? Why on earth would I ever want to buy, and cary around, yet another device when one that I already have a fully capable playing one of these games... if one of these games is what I to play?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 04, 2010 @07:34PM (#31365350)

    Apple was never "evil yet innovative". The most "innovative" thing they ever did was introduce graphical computing to the masses...by buying the GUI PARC invented and basically using it as is. They've been especially uninnovative since the return of Jobs though, as their main business strategy has been entering rapidly growing markets and doing the same as everyone else, but more expensive and with less features. But they put it in shiny white plastic and market the hell out of it and everyone buys one because they want to be cool and Think Different, just like everyone else. Apple isn't a tech company, they're a fashion accessory company whose products happen to also function as gadgets.

  • Re:That's peachy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @07:38PM (#31365390) Journal

    That's not what the buyers are saying with their money since they are still buying more iPhones than Android phones.

    And there are far more buyers buying Nokia, along with Motorola, Samsung, LG, and even RIM, high above Apple or Google.

    You need to expand your sampling of "users" to beyond the slashdot neckbeards.

    Yes, exactly. I wish people would do that, instead of pretending it's just Apple versus Google.

  • by mdwh2 (535323) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @07:48PM (#31365480) Journal

    Internet access. Mapping software. Communication. Taking/showing photos and video. Playing music. Running useful utilities (there's more to life than spreadsheets). And *gasp* phone calls.

    If all you want to use it for is playing hand held video games, then there are better - and more popular, incidentally - devices for that.

    And come on - every time someone points out one of the many basic features that the Iphone lacks or lacked, we get no end of "Why would I want to do that?" So here we are, saying "Why would we want to run video games on a phone?" You only cling to this as being an important, because it's something that the Iphone can do. Next, you'll be telling me how fundamentally important you think multitouch is.

  • Re:That's peachy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @08:53PM (#31365970)

    That's not true. ONE reason for the iPhone's dominance is that there was no competition with a similar hardware class for quite some time.

    Sounds to me like you didn't know smart phones existed before you saw the iPhone.

    I assure you, I owned more powerful phones before hand, the only thing the iPhone has that its predecessor didn't is accelerometers and iPhone OS, my original iPhone was actually less powerful than the WinMo phone I owned before it.

    Hardware wasn't the problem. The problem is that smartphones in general suck, the iPhone happens to suck a whole lot less.

    No, don't tell me about what smart phone you have and how it doesn't suck. It does, you just don't realize it, they have a long way to go before the start getting to the non-suck state. We're about at the C64 stage right now. Which many look back on fondly and talk about how great they are ... from their modern, billion times faster PCs.

    The problem is that people like you still have no clue why the iPhone is popular. Its not the hardware. Its not the OS. Its not the app store. Its not iTunes. Its the whole package. From start to finish its all fluid. If you say that about Android, the only response I can give you is to come back and talk to me after you've actually owned one.

    People don't give a flying fuck about the processor it user, how much ram it has or who makes it. Really, they don't. They care about having a device thats enjoyable to use, across the board. As long as you keep trying to compare a product based only on specifications of the hardware or OS, you'll continue to be unable to understand why your predictions are invariably wrong. Regardless of where you want to believe it or not, style and user experience are actually what the people care about ... well, normal people anyway. It either does or doesn't meet their requirements, thats all they care about tech specs. A 400mhz proc is no different than a 200mhz proc if 200mhz plays their latest downloads of survivor.

    The iPhone isn't going to put up a fight because the contenders still haven't figured out that we're boxing, not playing checkers. To put it bluntly, as far as the general public is concerned, the iPhones contenders simply aren't.

  • by MobyDisk (75490) on Thursday March 04, 2010 @09:16PM (#31366176) Homepage

    We heard so many complaints from customers it was rather eye-opening.

    Then your layout sucked. Nothing is more annoying than a static 1280x1024 layout on an iPhone, that requires me to zoom in and out constantly. For a good flow layout, take a look at Wikipedia or Amazon's mobile sites. Just because you couldn't do it right doesn't mean all flow layouts are wrong.

    As a result, the cost of us building an Android app is now double that of an iPhone app.

    You are supporting more hardware devices, so you have to test on more hardware devices, which costs more. Would you rather that each of those pieces of hardware have a different operating system? You should be thanking Google for Android, because the only reason you are even capable of supporting all these devices is because it is so much cheaper because of Android. Before Android, you had to write for even more operating systems.

  • by pydev (1683904) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:05AM (#31367492)

    Android it has. Not to mention the other hardware inconsistencies.

    "Inconsistencies?" Has it occurred to you that there is actually a demand for these varieties of devices? The iPhone resolution and keyboard simply don't work for me (I tried). They don't work for many other people either. We want high resolution devices with a keyboard. I'm sorry that inconveniences you as a developer, but you'll just have deal with it (unless Apple succeeds into turning us into the United Socialist Apple Republic, where everybody is forced to use a single standard device by Apple Corporate).

    As a result, the cost of us building an Android app is now double that of an iPhone app. And at the rate the new Android phones are coming out, that is likely to increase if customers want a full compatibility guarantee.

    And the market share is likely going to be double that of the iPhone soon as well. Again, go deal with it. Or if you don't want to deal with it, fine, that's your choice; I'm sure other developers will be happy to take your market share.

    We've spent over $2500 acquiring Android hardware just in the last six months of last year and have already spent another $1400 this year.

    I hardly call $5000 in hardware per year a significant expense for a development shop. But you don't have to do it anyway since you can test on emulators.

  • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:46AM (#31367738) Homepage

    So a handful of patent lawsuits and a weirdly restrictive app store make a company "crazy evil?"

    Pardon me if I can't quite hear Steve Jobs cackling in the background, but technology companies have been suing each other for patent violations as long as they have existed -- even our darlings at Novell are no strangers to being on the plaintiff's stand at patent hearings.

    When they got successful with the iPod, they brought legal (and eventually drm-free) downloads to the masses -- great for artists and consumers alike. I'm not a fan of the proprietary format, so I shop at Amazon these days, although Apple certainly deserves credit where it's due for (finally) managing to get the industry on board for a sales model that wasn't entirely draconian. Without iTunes, there'd be no Amazon mp3 store.

    The iPhone is also the most open platform to have ever reached a considerable portion of casual cell phone users, and spurred considerable innovation in the industry. Without the iPhone, there almost certainly would be no Android. Again, I don't own one because of the stupid app store policies, but it's not hard to acknowledge the effect it had on the marketplace. It really was the first smartphone that didn't completely suck.

    Although Apple's ideas might not all be completely original, their talent scouts seem to have a knack for snatching up promising technologies, and incorporating them into successful products, largely influenced by their user-centric design and extensive usability testing. At the end of the day, this is really all that matters to the company -- it doesn't matter if the technology was invented in-house, purchased outright, or "inspired" by something else. After all, Jobs loves quoting Picasso: "Good artists copy. Great artists steal."

  • by GlassHeart (579618) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:50AM (#31367760) Journal
    Professionals who tell their clients that "the software sill work on all shipping Android phones" better have tested on actual hardware. Emulators could not replicate for you chipset quirks, subtle timing problems, and many other issues that only occur on hardware. If you've shipped commercial software tested only against an emulator, I would strongly urge you to not admit it, and maybe get a lawyer.
  • by starfire83 (923483) on Friday March 05, 2010 @12:53AM (#31367770) Homepage
    You can blame that on pre-packaged apps that the carriers put on. Not to mention putting high-end UIs on two year old hardware (HTC Hero). Go over to the SDX forums or Android Forums and read up on how to root your Android and kill those pieces of crap apps that run in the background slowing everything down. Get Advanced Task Killer too. I've put the latest SDX kernel and recovery onto my Samsung Moment and it runs blazingly fast and is free of a lot of cruft thanks to a handy shell script written by Joey at SDX that removes the pre-packaged apps that take up space as well as make themselves run in the background. It's also still fully functional with no problems. Remember, with the proper help and setup Android is still a Linux machine and has tons of flexibility built-in. Besides jail-breaking your iPhone, you don't get much more flexibility out of it. http://www.sdx-developers.com/ [sdx-developers.com] http://www.androidforums.com/ [androidforums.com]
  • by Lundse (1036754) on Friday March 05, 2010 @01:08AM (#31367866)

    "...but in calling Apple evil, you're espousing a communist standpoint."

    No. The communist standpoint would be all corporations, and indeed any mode of production where the tools for production is owned and people then sell their labour-hours to the owners, is inherently and necessarily evil. (Socialism, btw, is thinking you can keep that system and mitigate its evils).

    The things Apple are doing; suing, lying, pushing a model where people have no control over 'their own' devices and generally selling a platform to the so-called content owners instead of servicing the public - is evil. Their motivation does not matter, the things they do have bad consequences for everyone but their shareholders, they know it and this is about as close to 'evil' as you get without waxing theological.

    Doing whatever makes money is not a get-out-of-having-a-conscience-card just because 'that's what the public wants'. How is that paper on the invisible hand (which allegedly guarantees this weird thesis) coming, Mr. Smith?

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:19AM (#31368218)

    They've been especially uninnovative since the return of Jobs though, as their main business strategy has been entering rapidly growing markets and doing the same as everyone else, but more expensive and with less features..

    Typical geek. "How can this iPod/iPhone be better ? It has less features !" Would the average person have been able to get work done on the PARC machine ? Probably not, but they could on the mac. Some people actually care that it's nicely designed, that the feature that are included work in thoroughly logical and planned out manner, that it's easier to use and yes it even looks nice. THAT is Apple's strength.

  • Re:That's peachy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MemoryDragon (544441) on Friday March 05, 2010 @02:32AM (#31368286)

    Actually my HTC Hero is pretty good at non sucking, every aspect except the 3d games performance is way superior to the iPhone...

  • by Sancho (17056) on Friday March 05, 2010 @04:51AM (#31368900) Homepage

    "All shipping Android phones" is a somewhat silly claim to make. Do you tell your clients that your desktop software will run "on all shipping Windows laptops?" Your testing costs must be through the roof. It's amazing that anyone makes any money in this field.

  • by mcvos (645701) on Friday March 05, 2010 @06:55AM (#31369492)

    that it's easier to use

    This especially. Say what you like, but the iPod's UI was way better than that of any other music player at the time. Same with the iPhone that did way with navigating through crappy menus just to do something basic.

    There's tons of stuff wrong with Apple, and I'm glad I switched from iPhone to Android, but Apple does know better than anyone else how to make accessible and usable interfaces.

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