Aug 1, 2011
Recently, I got my hands on the Motorola Xoom tablet, and will be reviewing apps for it here on Android Rundown. I’m learning a lot by using it, not just about what the Android tablet experience is compared to the iPad (something that I will cover in a future column) , but a revelation struck me recently. When people, including the prominent tech bloggers and writers, try to talk about Android and iOS, are they actually comparing the operating systems, or their app marketplaces?
Android as an OS is impressive in part because it is so flexible. It has to be comparable feature-wise with iOS, which Apple can build from the ground up for their devices. Android has to run on such a wide array of devices, that it’s impressive that there aren’t more issues with fragmentation. Android also has more flexibility and customization available to users; iOS users will likely get widgets when hell freezes over. The notification system is still better than iOS, especially on tablets, where they are very unobtrusive. Android is very powerful, and there is little that the OS can’t do that Android can.
However, it is difficult to escape the thought that the iOS App Store is superior to the Android Market. There are just more high-quality apps on the App Store at this time than the Android Market. There are more apps launching on the App Store first. More original games are available on the App Store first. There are fewer apps of dubious copyright status. The App Store is far from perfect, but it has many advantages over the Android Market at this point.
The problem is that the difference in application stores is what has defined the debate between the two OS’s more than anything else. It’s not as if Android is lacking for apps – there is little in the way of functionality either builtin or available through apps that it can’t do, the game selection is wider than it may seem, and this isn’t counting what the platform can do that iOS can’t. It just feels like Android devices are somehow slighted because of their app store is mildly inferior, and it doesn’t have as vast a swath of apps as its biggest competitor. As an Android user, it is baffling and frustrating, because the experience of Android gets unfairly derided by the media and iOS-focused types.