Android is the Linux of the smart phone world

I’ve decided the Android is the Linux of the smart phone world.  Metaphorically, as well as literally, I mean.  Think back to when Linux first started being semi-known.  Who was it for?  Not Mr. and Mrs. “I just want my computer to work.”  No, Linux was (and still is, for the most part) for hackers.  (Not black-hat, computer destroying “hackers”, traditional hackers).  People who wanted to be able to see what was going on, in the smallest detail, and change it.  Change anything.  Change everything.  

Android is like that.  It’s built on Linux, of course, so technically it’s exactly like that.  More importantly, it’s * philosophically* like that too.  Don’t like the keyboard? Install a new one (the gingerbread one rocks, btw).  Don’t like the font? Change it.  Manufacturer not providing an upgrade to the next version?  Find a different ROM and upgrade it yourself.  All supported by the OS.  (Yes, carriers and vendors try to lock it down.  That’s *not* part of the Android philosophy.)

The downside is, of course, that’s it’s harder to guarantee stability and compatibility.  You start to get device specific apps (not many) and ROMs (lots are just for a few devices, such as Cognition, which is Captivate *only*).  People are calling this “fragmentation” and it affects developers daily.  Rovio, the makers of Angry Birds, had a bunch of issues after the Android release, mainly due to fragmentation.

On the other side of the coin in iOS.  iOS works.  It just does.  The install provided by Apple (non-jailbroken, of course), works, and it works the same on all their devices.  It almost never crashes, or does something unexpected.  Apps can still crash, of course, although it’s not very common.  It. Just. Works.  Which is a fantastic achievement, and what most people want.

As always, there’s a downside, and it’s less customizability.  A lot less.  Want a new keyboard, like Swype? Tough.  Different font? Also, tough.  But for the average person, they don’t care.  They will adjust to the phone, rather than wishing the phone will adjust to them.

And that’s just fine.  Just like Linux isn’t (for the most part) for everyone, neither is Android.  If you want your tech to just do what it’s supposed to do, and don’t care if you can change the parts you don’t like, iOS is your baby.  If you, like a good deal of us, want your tech to conform to your way, sign onto the Android boat.  It’s for hackers, and we love it.


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