Credit where it’s due
For once, I think that Android deserves a little credit.
Let’s get this out of the way first: No, I still don’t love Android, and No, I certainly don’t understand the appeal of most Android features advertised. And finally, No, I don’t think Android is better than iOS.
But what Android deserves credit for in 2012 is an incredible transformation. Ice Cream Sandwich, aka Android 4.0, took the phone lightyears ahead in terms of design. Continuing that trend, the two versions of Jelly Bean 4.1 we saw in 2012 added features that seem to actually solve problems such as Google Now. When you look back at the enormity of the problems that plagued users in the 2.x era (when Android really took off) and compare them to the quibbles users have buying a new Android phone, you can’t help but be amazed.
You look at Android’s prime competitor, iOS, and what it’s done in the past year. A not-quite-ready mapping service. LTE. Passbook. These are the kinds of features that hardly move the needle by comparison. The UX of iOS remains stuck firmly in 2008, and little beyond incremental hardware compels a user to move to a newer iPhone.
One could defend the iPhone by saying that it had comparatively little that had to be ‘fixed’ as 4.0 had to fix for Android. While this is definitely the case, you have to ask why Apple couldn’t spend its immense resources on building something amazing and new. When your backlog is empty, you’re empowered to move that much faster forward. Apple, however, seemed too complacent in 2012 to take that opportunity, and this could hurt their long term trajectory.
Congrats on being ‘Most Improved’, Android. While you’re still not my favorite, every improvement you include pushes the entire ecosystem to do even better. Let’s hope that 2013 will be just as innovative as your competitors respond.
Disclaimer: Yep, I still work on WP, and there are many reasons I don’t directly compare Android and WP. These opinions are still my own and not my team’s or company’s. No forward-looking or insider assumptions should be inferred from this post.