James Scariati

Tag: Android

Why Your OS Name Matters

Ben Brooks on why operating system version numbers are important:

It’s difficult [to tell if your device’s version of Android is affected by a security vulnerability] because Google has decided that the non-numeric name is a better way to sell the OS to consumers…no Android user is likely to know what version number they are running, or what version number corresponds with each name.

That’s entirely true, but then he goes on to say:

…on Mac OS X, Apple can say: only affects Macs running 10.7.4 and older. As users we know how to count, thus we know how to tell what we have.

How is OS X any different than Android in this regard? Apple uses the non-numeric name (currently “Mountain Lion”) exclusively in all of its marketing material. In fact, across the entire OS X section of Apple’s website, there is only a single mention of the “10.8” version number: in a footnote referencing a JavaScript performance test. Even Apple’s support site refers to the OS as “OS X Mountain Lion.”

If anything, Android has a slight edge here because there’s a “trick” to the non-numeric names: they go in alphabetical order. If you’re aware of this (which, admittedly, most users are unlikely to be), you can tell that Jelly Bean is newer than Ice Cream Sandwich, for example. Apple’s non-numeric names for OS X don’t really follow a pattern at all, other than that every other version is a “spin-off” of the one preceding it: Leopard (10.5) > Snow Leopard (10.6), Lion (10.7) > Mountain Lion (10.8). But that’s even less obvious.

The clear winner here is iOS, which doesn’t go by a non-numeric name at all – it’s simply called iOS 6, iOS 5, etc.

Why Hasn’t Windows Phone Taken Off?

This question comes up a lot in tech circles: why hasn’t Windows Phone taken off?

The product has been showered with near-unanimous praise – reviewers love it, the consumers who use it rate it highly, and its design is innovative and unique. It seems to check all the boxes for a smash hit product, and yet…it has had virtually no impact on the market.

I think Windows Phone isn’t taking off because it occupies a weird in-between space where it doesn’t have support from consumers, carriers, or OEMs.

The iPhone has huge support from consumers: it’s a highly-desireable product, everyone knows and trusts the brand, etc. People will go as far as to switch carriers to get an iPhone, which is virtually unheard of otherwise. That, in turn, creates huge support from carriers for the iPhone, since offering it can draw in tons of new customers.

Android has huge support from the carriers: it gives them something “iPhone-like” that they can offer if they either (a) don’t carry the iPhone, or (b) want more control over the product than Apple will give them. Android also has huge support from OEMs: they can use it for free and tweak it however they see fit.

Windows Phone, however, fails on all three counts:

  • Consumers either have no idea it exists or think it’s related to Windows Mobile
  • Carriers have no incentive to carry the product when consumers aren’t asking for it
  • OEMs have no incentive to use it since they have to both pay for it and cede control to Microsoft

So I think in order for Windows Phone to succeed, Microsoft has to do something to give at least one of those groups reason to support it.

David Pogue on the Nexus 7

The headline of David Pogue’s review of the Nexus 7:

A Tablet to Rival the Leader

And the page title:

Nexus 7, Google’s New Tablet, Seriously Challenges the iPad

Great! So how does he conclude his review?

Until then, the iPad still makes a far more compelling total package (hardware, software, store).

Where “then” is an undefined point in the future at which the Nexus 7 “maybe” becomes popular enough to attract developer support:

Maybe once it becomes popular, people will finally start writing decent apps for it, and more movie and music companies will come to the Google Play store.

Again, nothing against the Nexus 7 – it does seem like the best Android tablet to date – but ending your product review by conceding that its main competitor is still “far more compelling” doesn’t jibe with the premise in the headline.

Joshua Topolsky on the Nexus 7

Joshua Topolsky, concluding his review of the new Nexus 7 Android tablet:

While Google’s new OS and latest app initiatives are very, very good, Android on tablets still suffers from an incredible lack of developer support. Mainstream apps like Twitter have yet to be updated to an appropriate tablet-friendly design, while others, like Pocket, seem to be slightly optimized but not working 100 percent correctly. Some apps simply aren’t optimized for the tablet in any way…

But then he states:

There are still issues that need to be addressed — particularly around growing the tablet app footprint and expanding content offerings — but I don’t think those are deal breakers.

On the one hand, the Nexus 7 does look like the best Android tablet yet, and certainly the highest-quality tablet compared to others in its price range.

But the whole review emphasizes specs – size, weight, display quality, storage, battery life, etc. – while glossing over what you can actually do with the device. Sure, there are some cool new features of Android 4.1, and the latest versions of the built-in apps look very nice – but the complete dearth of tablet-optimized third-party apps is written off.

I’m not saying the Nexus 7 (or any Android tablet for that matter) has to have hundreds of thousands of apps in order to be useful. But when something as major as Twitter doesn’t even offer a proper tablet experience, you’re kind of not even in the same league as an iPad, no matter how nice the device itself is.