Wednesday, August 7, 2013

We need iOS and we need Android

This morning I was trying to install Freedom app on my android phone(it lets you do in-app purchase such as game coins for free). It's basically a black market app developed by Russian hackers(and spoofing in-app purchase bypassing Google's payment gateway is definitely against it's T&C) so it's not available on Google app store; the app must be downloaded onto the phone and then installed after allowing "installation of apps from unknown sources". 

And there lies the difference. Even though it's a black market app; it's incredibly easy to install! Just a download and one-click install. Thanks to Google for making it incredibly easy to customize android. iPhone folks probably can't even imagine "easy customization" because they haven't experienced it(it's a simple truth, no offence)! Just look at the plethora of options for android customization: ROMs(123), Themes(1, 2, 3), App Markets and what not. The idea of customization has percolated to even hardware; entirely different OS like Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch can be easily installed on popular android phone hardware thereby replacing android!

And there also lies the problem. The Freedom app made some changes to the system which made Google accounts(YouTube, Gmail, Play store...) inaccessible (it basically changed DNS file /etc/hosts). Now, as easy as it was to install an unofficial app; it was much more difficult to restore access to Google account, requiring editing of /etc/hosts, a system file(android allows that degree of freedom is also something though). I actually had to do a factory reset!
So while I was all praise for android's openness while installing the Freedom app, I was all curse when things went wrong. I do  have some experience with Linux systems which enabled me to edit the hosts file with some effort, but a person not very inclined towards internal working of computers would find it very very difficult.

That's where iPhone comes in. Things just work in iLand as dictated by Apple. There is much less freedom to interfere with how things work but then there is much less messing around and much less heartburn. While many would root for the freedom of android, many others want things to just work, leaving no scope for breakdown, even knowingly(read iPhone). 
So there will always be a need for both iPhone and android like platforms. The best part is, competition is driving both platforms to learn from each other, giving us, the consumers, the best of both the worlds! :)