When I read the comments of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak in an interview with The Daily Beast, my first thought was "this sounds like an eminently reasonable man making some well-reasoned points." Of course, being an Android site, we took interest in Wozniak's comments on Android's superior (in some respects) voice commands, as well as his praise of its workable built-in navigation solution (something iOS currently lacks outright).
I've used Siri. It's pretty fun (and funny) at times. But in my opinion, it doesn't do many things better than Android's voice commands (word recognition is, perhaps, a little better - though I've not compared it to Android 4.0's instant STT engine, which I've heard is a big improvement). Natural language recognition is an interesting idea, and it is the future (think Star Trek), but right now the artificial intelligence and actual speech recognition haven't reached a point where natural language recognition is all that much more useful than simple "function call" words (eg, in Android: directions to, map of, call). You have to pay too much attention to what you're saying to the device for natural language to feel natural in the first place - if that makes sense.
That's why many of the distinguishing points to Siri over Voice Commands remain, at this point, relative gimmicks and party tricks. Even if the underlying technology might be better, more versatile and advanced, it doesn't mean squat if the end product isn't actually more useful. I've not seen a compelling argument that has convinced me Siri is any more useful than Voice Commands. Steve Wozniak draws more comparisons in speech recognition accuracy and the apparent failings of Siri's natural language recognition in release form compared to earlier betas, but his point is the same - Siri isn't "wow-ing" him like he expected it to.
The other Steve also points out one of iOS's most noticeably lacking features: GPS navigation. I have also used the built-in Maps app for directions and quasi-navigation on iOS. It is just terrible. It makes me thankful every time I pick up my Android device and say "Navigate to x." It is, literally, a bazillion times better than the present iOS solution (or non-solution, if you will).
Shades Of Gray
It's clear that Steve Wozniak doesn't have many reservations about criticizing the products of a company he helped create - something the late Steve Jobs obviously couldn't afford to do publicly given that he was the company's number-one cheerleader (and, of course, a major shareholder). But Wozniak's criticisms were level-headed, logical, and even-handed. He didn't have to scream "iOS sucks!" or even say "Android is a better OS." He laid out two features, and very reasonably concluded "these are a couple of areas where Android excels, and iOS does not." That's it.
Some have taken this to be a die-hard Apple "guy" caving in and for the first time expressing doubt about iOS. That it's clear evidence iOS is just an inferior operating system. Or that Apple just isn't innovating anymore, and is simply playing catch-up to Android.
All of those things are wrong. Dealing in absolutes like that is not only dangerous, it's just plain stupid - not to mention unproductive. Don't get me wrong, criticism can be extremely constructive if expressed in a well-thought-out manner. I'm probably the most critical writer here at Android Police, you don't have to tell me twice on that point. I've laid out some harsh criticism of Android devices in the past, but I always try to provide a clear picture of the reasoning that leads to those conclusions.
However, I don't think even I have ever uttered the words "iOS sucks." Or really anything close to that. iOS is a product that has received countless hours of attention to miniscule details and user experience that Android phones, frankly, don't ever get. The Galaxy Nexus is probably as close to iOS as Android has gotten in that respect, and that's only because Google did all of the UX legwork. I'm perfectly willing to concede the iOS user experience is significantly smoother than that of Android, especially in regard to some 3rd party apps. And I want that buttery smoothness on my Android phone. It doesn't mean I'm going to go out and buy an iPhone tomorrow. On the contrary, I'd much rather just wait for Android to improve in this area, and I very much hope it does.
But then I look at something like Apple's pull-down notification bar and just think to myself, "well, this is pretty... terrible." Or its subpar multitasking solution. But that doesn't mean that iOS is a crappy mobile OS. It doesn't mean that it has simply become a failed Android copycat. It just means those particular features haven't been implemented as well as their equivalents on Android. It's a point or two for Android, sure, but it isn't "game, set, match." (As a note, my girlfriend is an iOS user, so I've played with many things in iOS on her phone).
There's a reason the iPhone is the number-one selling smartphone device in the world - and it's not because iOS users are "Apple fanboys." That's like calling someone who buys a BMW 3-series instead of an Audi A4 a "moron." Both have their merits, and for some people, one may be a better choice than the other.
Taking A Step Back
This gets me to my point: the name-calling and unsubstantiated derisions toward Apple, and the completely over-the-top glorification of Android have to stop. It's stupid. They're products - not polytheistic deities. Products all have shortcomings, and as consumers, it's our job to demand the very best of the products we buy to keep the marketplace competitive.
You don't think Apple realizes that the lack of a true GPS nav system on the iPhone is a problem? Of course it does, Apple's product developers aren't a bunch of black-sweater wearing sycophants praying, shoeless, to a Steve Jobs altar in an all-white glass enclosure for answers. And they also know that if they continue to fail in implementing a solution to this shortcoming, they're going to start losing customers over time. It's not rocket science, and it's not something that is evidence of anyone's (or any company's) "stupidity."
But on the flipside, you think Android manufacturers are aware battery life is a major gripe consumers have about their phones? If Motorola's DROID RAZR MAXX or Samsung's all-day battery life promise are any evidence, the answer is "duh." Am I still going to complain if a phone I review has crappy battery life? You bet your ass I am. Am I going to rag hopelessly on a device when its UI overlay makes it less than enjoyable to use? Until the day I die (or, you know, stop writing about Android things).
Really, what I'm trying to say is this: it's not the time to get complacent with Android. In fact, we should never be completely happy with any consumer product. There should always be some room for improvement, and we shouldn't hesitate to call out those shortcomings, like Steve Wozniak has. There's nothing honorable or even remotely admirable about being a mindless fanboy. In fact, I hesitate even to call those people "fans."
A true fan of Android doesn't constantly deride and belittle iOS with name-calling. A true Android fan hears someone with an iPhone or a BlackBerry (or whatever) complain about something - and says "Well, you know, Android actually has a pretty neat way of handling that - let me show you." And that same person isn't afraid to say, "Yeah, well, battery life kind of sucks on Android, and this phone's camera isn't very good compared to the iPhone's." Then, you've actually informed someone about something they may not have previously known anything about. You've sparked their curiosity - you've shown them what it looks like on the other side of the fence, instead of just pissing all over their lawn. But you've also shown them some brown patches of your own, and left drawing the real conclusions to them.
It's always good to take a step back and remember we're talking about products, not people, and that perhaps we should separate some of our emotions from that discourse. So, take a deep breath, relax, and for a moment, stop focusing on what the "other guys" are doing wrong, and start looking at the whole picture. What is Apple doing right, and more importantly, what can Android improve on (and how can it capitalize on some of that success)? Apple fans should be doing the same thing, but in reverse. One thing's for sure: it's a hell of a lot more constructive than calling someone a douchebag.