The mobile market is the most intense in competition than it has been in years. The platform players have been shaved down to three major runners, Android, iOS, and Windows Phone (one can make an argument for Blackberry pulling up the rear). The intensity of competition even rings through websites and social networks, where loyal users from each camp take up arms and fight to the death through forum and site comments. Sometimes, it seems like the mobile phone market is the NFL for geeks and the trolling of each other is like sitting across the stadium from opposing fans shouting each other down. That being said, today we are going to look at one of the major players in the mobile arena and tell you why you should consider it for your next mobile operating system.
Android was introduced in 2007 on the heels of Apple’s iOS and iPhone. The first Android phone released was the HTC Dream (also known as the G1) running Android 1.1 and was released in 2008. Over time Android has spread through a variety of OEM platforms and has matured into its current software version 4.3 (JellyBean). Android 4.4, KitKat, is expected sometime soon. Through Android’s history it has been both praised and criticized for a variety of reasons. In this article, we are putting aside the Android hit-and-miss history, focusing on what it is today and why you should consider it as your next mobile platform.
The Android operating system is available on a variety of OEM hardware makers such as Motorola, LG, Oppo, HTC, Samsung, and Sony just to name a few. Hardware choice is a huge advantage to the one size fits all model which other mobile platforms use (although with the introduction of the 5C Apple could be considered having choices, albeit on a smaller scale). This really gives you, the user, a good variety from which to choose. Of course, not every phone model is the epitome of perfection, so do not expect that every Android handset on the market is going to offer killer specs or even the latest Android version. It is important to research your potential purchase before laying out the cash (PRO TIP: Don’t rely on your mobile carrier representative’s handset advice too heavily. Remember, they are there to sell you a phone by any means necessary). All of this is to say that hardware choice is a significant plus to Android, and find that phone that fits you.
One of the pinnacle advantages of Android over most all other platforms is the ability to customize your phone homescreen and lockscreen. This is true creative control, allowing you to express who you are through your phone. It is really not unlike changing the rims on your car or painting your house. All of these things allow a user to define their personality and bring them a sense of individuality. Other platforms are, for the most part, static designs where everyone is subject to what the OEM has giving them. Android allows deep customization and it starts with the launcher (other platforms may call this the springboard). The default Android launcher is already highly customizable, allowing widgets on the homescreen and lockscreen (Android 4.2). You can go even deeper, however, with launcher apps such as Nova, Apex and TSF Shell. All of these not only allow for widgets but for custom icons and resizing of the homescreen grid. If I had to pick the single BEST reason to choose Android, customization would be it. I could write an entire piece on customization alone (I just may) but I do not have the time in this article to get any deeper. A new user should understand there is a learning curve to customization on Android, if you are not prepared to put a little effort into it then you are probably not the type of person who truly wants a stand-out device. Research, Google, forums and social networks are your friends when it comes time to customize your Android phone. Asking questions and searching for answers will save you a lot of time and frustration. Therefore, customization is a paramount plus to Android. The buck stops here if you want true individuality.
Open Source Open Platform
This reason for choosing Android will probably cause some debate, and to those who disagree with me, let me tell you, I understand your arguments why you would not agree with me and they have some merit. That being said, Android is built on a partially open source platform. This means the core of Android is free to use and distribute by any company who wants a fully functional mobile operating system (other things like Google Apps are not part of this). Being Open Source is the reason why consumers have that hardware choice above. Each OEM uses the Android OS as a base then builds a layer on top of that (also known as a skin or interface). Samsung has Touchwiz, HTC has Sense, and the Nexus line uses stock Android with no special interface (otherwise known as AOSP). Being open source simply gives the consumer more choice in hardware and software. Now, you will find that not everyone agrees on which OEM version is the best. You have HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony and Nexus loyalists that fight tooth and nail about who does it better. But that is not the point. The point here is choice. The open source sharing of Android’s core system to various OEM’s for distribution allows for a broader spectrum of devices that consumers can choose from. As you can see, open source, open platform is a plus for the industry and consumers alike in that it provides alternate choices and true competition.
Android Has Matured
In the past there was a valid argument against Android. There were many things that one could point to that made sense as to why somebody should not buy Android. But with anything great there are growing pains and issues to overcome and work through. Android has come from version 1.1 and is heading into version 4.4. And through each and every transition Android has become a stabler more efficient mobile operating system than it ever has been before. Google has been refining the operating system with Project Butter to make it less laggy and preserve battery life. They have also taken their “core’ apps and ripped them out of the OS and placed them on the Playstore. Doing this allows everyone’s core apps to be updated with the latest features even if the OEM’s don’t update their Android versions (which is a whole other argument). Hardware and Software optimization is something Google is also working on with their Moto X phone, the first time an Android phone has been built this way. The Android landscape has gone from disarray to a sense of order. If you tried Android 3 years ago and today still say you think it’s bad, then you really have not tried Android since then and you should give it another go.
Wrapping it up, Android has come a long way. It has matured to the point of true competition with Apple and should really be a consideration of any consumer looking for a mobile device. The hardware choices are immense and can overwhelm some but with proper research you should be able to go in knowing what is worth it and what is not (do not let those wireless retailers snooker you). The open source platform is what gives the consumer choices. There are valid arguments against it, but in the end I think with user common sense it is the best thing for choice in the mobile market. Customization is key in Android. These are your devices, why not make it your own in every way. As you can see most of what I covered are good points of Android. Are there any bad points? Of course there are. All platforms have their bad points but this article is not about the bad points. You can find thousands of articles online expressing the bad, just Google it. We at Techaeris like Android. It is here to stay, and it’s only going to get better. Happy phone hunting!