I think it's safe to say that Android is the best thing to happen to smartphones since the iPhone (though, I'll admit, I may be a wee bit biased). Without a doubt, the massive success of the operating system is due in large part to its openness; the ability for devices to share fundamental code, while still allowing for an amazing amount of customization, has provided something for consumers, carriers, and manufacturers that Apple would never match.
Welcome to the first of a new series of polls, where every weekend, we'll ask your opinion on a timely Android-related topic. The goal is to see where the populus stands on issues and foster discussion to broaden our view. So without further ado, let's get into our first poll.
The Great Divide
Ever since the SDK was released, there's been discussion on whether Honeycomb would make it to phones or not.
It doesn't seem like it, but just a year and a few days ago, Google made available the first handset to bear the Nexus name - and what a long way we've come since. When the Nexus One was released, there were cries of "iPhone killer" and of Google entering the handset arena in direct competition with Apple. While the latter assertion remains debatable - the first does not. The Nexus One was a near-total commercial failure next to the iPhone 3GS, and even the original Motorola DROID ate the Nexus One for breakfast in terms of sales.
If there's one thing CES told us about the upcoming twelve months in technology, it's that 2011 will be the year of Android tablets. And with noteworthy entries such as the Motorola XOOM, ASUS' lineup, and the T-Mobile G-Slate, it looks like the tablets' quality might be just as high as their quantity - at least hardware-wise.
But what about the software? After all, isn't a device's OS what makes or breaks it?
I've had this article in mind for quite some time now, but haven't mustered up the courage to do it in fear of upsetting fanboys. But when the Fascinate shipped with Bing rather than Google as the default search engine, I could hold off no longer. For a Google Android phone to ship with a search engine other than Google, the search engine I know, love, and use on a daily basis (and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone here) is unthinkable; not offering a way to change it is even more of an outrage.
I have always been a techie. As a child of the 80s I had an IBM PC with a 10 megabyte hard disk that had to remain completely immobile and level or risk scratching, I had a 300/1200 baud internal modem and I stayed up all night downloading a 64 kilobyte game that, at the time, was the coolest thing I had ever seen. My wife, on the other hand, thought anything with a screen needed rabbit ears to get good reception and that PC stood for popcorn.
Before Apple's iPhone and Google’s Android OS burst onto the mobile device scene in 2007, there were few significant advances in mobile technology. Frankly, "smartphones" (if we could even call them that at the time) were boring: they did little more than email, general messaging, picture taking, some basic apps and games, rudimentary internet browsing, and enterprise integration.
The biggest players at the time were Microsoft Windows Mobile, RIM's Blackberry, Palm, Symbian, and Linux.
Android’s introduction in the marketplace hardly seems like it was less than two years ago. In that time we’ve gone from zero apps to a robust app market and enough unique handsets to give whiplash to every early adopter wanting to ride the bleeding edge.
With over 60 different phones, 70,000 apps in the marketplace, about 20 OS updates, and enough interest to keep dozens of full time blogs crammed with news, we can’t call Android a “baby” OS anymore, but we can’t call him mature, either.
If you currently own an Android phone, chances are you are running one of the four major release versions: 1.5, 1.6, 2.0, or 2.1.
Each version has its own set of supported features and a separate SDK (software development kit) which makes developers' lives a living hell - they have to develop and test on 4 different major operating systems or face users' wrath in the cruel world of application reviews.