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Tech Soup

Android may be evil: The sequel

You can’t please everyone. I’ve always known this, but only an hour or so after last week’s column, that expression hit me firmly upside the head. More than once. My email inbox was filling up with messages rife with discontent, and many people weren’t happy with my apparent dissing of Android. I say apparent because it really was not meant to trash Android, despite how many of those who took the time to email me chose to see it.

The whole point of the column was not an Apple vs. Android thing. Just because my own experience lead me back to the Apple Promised Land doesn’t mean that Apple is for everyone. As much as I prefer the iPhone and most of what Apple has to offer, I’ve said it (and written about it) before: I think Android is, overall, a better mobile operating system. The iPhone is just much more reliable and at least for now, more secure.

At the risk of throwing more gasoline at the already-burning-out-of-control iPhone vs. Android fire, I’m going to share with you another reason why I’ve ditched Google’s mobile operating system. After my column appeared last week, a good friend sent me some research detailing the short support cycle facing Android phones.

Michael Degusta of Theunderstatement.com has been meticulously researching the software update history of iPhone and Android devices since 2007. You can check out his research here, but there are some stats to consider.

Of the 18 major Android phones under contract as of late October:

  • 7 of the 18 Android phones never ran a current version of the OS.
  • 12 of 18 only ran a current version of the OS for a matter of weeks or less.
  • 10 of 18 were at least two major versions behind well within their two year contract period.
  • 11 of 18 stopped getting any support updates less than a year after release.
  • 13 of 18 stopped getting any support updates before they even stopped selling the device or very shortly thereafter.
  • 15 of 18 don’t run Gingerbread, which shipped in December 2010.

In a few weeks, when Ice Cream Sandwich comes out, every device on here will be another major version behind.
At least 16 of 18 will almost certainly never get Ice Cream Sandwich.

These numbers are based on U.S. data, but unfortunately the picture for Canadians is even worse. Canadian carriers are usually late to the Android upgrade party, showing up well after the lights have come on and the pretty people have gone home.

My motives for writing about this are honest, as I’m trying to take a look at the bigger picture here; I’m not trying to distort things by doing a Picasso job on the face of Android. With Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) coming out, Android is going to have the coolest mobile operating system. There are some amazing features that iPhone’s iOS won’t have, and the new crop of Android phones that come preloaded with ICS will arguably be the hottest devices around.

If such things as smartphone genies existed, I’d actually rub its lamp (get your mind out of the gutter, people) and ask for a phone that had the best of the iOS and Android worlds.

Apple is not the be-all-and-end-all, but right now I feel confident that, all things considered, the iPhone is the better bet.

Of course, that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.

Tech Video of the Week

Staying with the Android vs. Apple theme here, Samsung's new ad has done a great job with a nice dig at iPhone and its legion of Apple fans. 

Apple hasn't had a good commercial spot like this in quite some time.

"Dude, you're a barista."

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About the Author

Each week, Tech Soup will be written by a member of the Okanagan's burgeoning first-rate technology community. We already have a few regular contributors, but if you're interested in writing a tech piece for this weekly column, send us an email to [email protected]




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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.


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