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The key point most Android vs. iOS arguments miss

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In my approximately 97 years of covering Android, I’ve heard it all:

  • “You can’t have privacy if you use Android!”
  • “You can’t have security if you use Android!”
  • “You can’t get upgrades if you use Android!”
  • “You can’t have a good user experience if you use Android!”
  • “YOU CAN’T BE ONE OF THE COOL KIDS IF YOU USE ANDROID!”

All right, so that last one might be a bit of an exaggeration (though only a little). But that aside, these are all shockingly common sentiments you hear not only from tech enthusiasts but also from people who write about this stuff for a living. And I’m here to tell you they’re all equally misguided.

Now, don’t get me wrong: There’s a nugget of truth to every one of those statements (even the last one; hey, we’re all proud nerds here, right?). Lots of folks using Android genuinely don’t have the most optimal privacy scenario or the most secure setup imaginable on their phones. A depressingly high number of Android phone-owners don’t get timely and reliable software updates. And, yes, a huge amount of Android users have horrible user experiences (whether they actively realize it or not).

But treating all of those issues as blanket condemnations of Android itself — as inherent and unavoidable flaws with the platform — overlooks one key point. It’s a foundational reality of Android that’s been at the system’s core since the start, and keeping it front of mind changes the entire view of what Android represents.

The best way to sum it up is with two complementary words: choice and control.

Choice and control: Two platforms, two approaches

For people accustomed to the Apple universe, the notion of choice and control within a smartphone environment can be a funny concept to grasp. When you buy an iPhone, for better or sometimes for worse, you get The Apple Way™ — the Apple way of balancing privacy with function, the Apple way of providing Apple-controlled software updates to Apple-made devices, the Apple way of forcing you to see a static grid of all your app’s icons on your home screen all the time, and the Apple way of having to use Apple apps as your default browser, email service, mapping service, and so on.

Like I said, some good, some…not so good. But it’s always The Apple Way™.

And so when people who are accustomed to that sort of approach think about Android, they frequently assume Android operates in a similar manner — that whatever they read about or see on, say, a Samsung phone is The Android Way. The problem is that there isn’t an “Android way” — not in any Apple-esque, platform-wide level.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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