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Why Android Is the New Windows 424

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the waiting-for-clippy dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Windows' dominance of the PC market has been good in many ways: reduced hardware costs, increased IT literacy and a standard development platform to name a few. Perhaps Android will bring similar benefits. But unless Google are very careful, it is likely to bring some of the same problems, too."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Android Is the New Windows

Comments Filter:
  • mobile platform (Score:4, Insightful)

    by devxo (1963088) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:19PM (#34630280)
    The biggest problem with Android is that from a developers point of view, it's a horrible platform. It's not just Android - this goes way back to early Symbian versions, Windows Mobile and other early mobile OS versions.

    Basically, you have tons of different devices you need to support, all with different hardware, resolution and features. They might or might not have changes made by the phone manufacturer and/or telcos. They might have physical keyboards or only touchscreen. Maybe multitouch on some. Camera on the back, maybe front too, or not at all? Different API's supported by different versions of Android.. It's a nightmare.

    This may now a days work okay for computers because they have a lot more power and space and you don't need to worry about batteries so much. But as for mobile developers, that's not true yet and it means you have to create and test your applications and games for every device and most likely make some changes and bugfixes to some of them. Take for example the popular Angry Birds game - the developers have outright said they just cannot support all the different Android devices.

    As much as I dislike Apple, iPhones are a solid platform. They have a few different versions of the OS (there needs to be progress, right?), but that's it. Much better for developers and for users. While Windows Phone 7 has definitely taken a better approach than before, they also haven't considered this issue.
  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:23PM (#34630342)

    Window's dominance of the PC market has been good in many ways ... increased IT literacy

    What?! That's like saying McDonald's did anything for fine cuisine. Gimme a break!

  • by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:30PM (#34630470) Homepage Journal

    Looks like I'm sticking with the iPhone for a while then. I've gotten to the point where I'll happily sacrifice a small amount of money and a little flexibility in exchange for a well-vetted, vertically integrated solution rather than an assembly kit that I can use - if I wish - to build something great. With the increased power to do your own thing all to frequently comes the need to do your own thing, with your own time and your own money. Not on my phone, thanks - I'll leave tinkering to the hobbies I choose rather than a useful accessory for my life. And yes, I'm a developer.

  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:33PM (#34630512)
    "The entire phenomenon of viruses and malware is a result of the proliferation of Windows, the people behind malware take advantage of that same standard development platform."

    This sentence is so stupid that it invalidates the arguments contained within the entire article. Who thinks that if Apple and their marriage of hardware and software were to have only existed in some anti-Capra Steve Jobs as Mister Potter world of computing, that viruses and malware would have not existed? Because there are no viruses for MAC OS? By that logic, wouldn't NeXT Step have been the most secure UNIX ever? To lay the existence of malware at Redmond's feet is to be so ignorant of computing and O/S design as to make anything said about Android totally and completely moot.
  • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:36PM (#34630562)

    if I wish

    Ah, there's the lynchpin. If you hadn't noticed, there's been a concerted effort in the mobile industry to make sure that even "if [you] wish", you can't. The point is to make you dependent on them, even when you could easily solve the problem yourself.

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:37PM (#34630578)

    Because some bozo starts whining about fragmentation whenever Android is mentioned?

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:1, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:43PM (#34630660) Homepage Journal

    Actual Android developers don't seem to share your concerns. As I've said before, only Apple fanboys seem to care abouy Android's supposed fragmentation. And lo and behold: your comment is an advert for Apple!

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:44PM (#34630676)

    Basically, you have tons of different devices you need to support, all with different hardware, resolution and features. [...] It's a nightmare.

    Sort of like developing for the PC, right? I know, we should all move to vendor-locked consoles.

    As much as I dislike Apple, iPhones are a solid platform. They have a few different versions of the OS (there needs to be progress, right?), but that's it. Much better for developers and for users.

    Well, when you've got such a tight-fisted control freak attitude it's not hard to ram everyone into a few boxes.

    While Windows Phone 7 has definitely taken a better approach than before, they also haven't considered this issue.

    Microsoft basically dictated every bit of hardware used at the level of the OS. There are some minor differentiating features, but they're all basically the exact same hardware with different attachments (displays, speakers,) plastic cases and vendor logos.

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:45PM (#34630696) Homepage

    Because some bozo starts whining about fragmentation whenever Android is mentioned?

    But, it seems to be a valid criticism.

    I'm sure I've seen people saying they can't get the latest update because their carrier won't do it, or when they do get an update it breaks things and introduces even further lock down -- completely against the aims of the Android.

    From what I've seen, fragmentation within Android is becoming a big deal as companies muck with it. Just how many flavors of the Android OS are there, and how much have the carriers/manufacturers been altering it to make themselves more money?

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @01:47PM (#34630738)
    McDonald gave us a restaurant in every city in America. That would be a better comparison. I'm guessing you weren't around in the 80's when the ONLY home PC was an Apple. DOS was hard to use for your average non-techie and Apple was ridiculously expensive. A similar quantity of ram for an apple was easily 10x the price of that for a PC. Almost all software written for Apples was also prohibitively expensive. Apple really did themselves in back then, had they priced their stuff reasonably, they would have crushed Microsoft.
  • Re:mobile platform (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sancho (17056) * on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:04PM (#34631044) Homepage

    But there's fragmentation on iOS, too. The oldest generation of iPod Touch and iPhone can't get the newest software version. Still supported devices may not have cameras (last gen Touch and iPad.) They may not have a consistent data connection.

    All of these cases have caused issues with software. For example, some apps require a camera. That's fine. But when someone links to an app and says, "Check this out," and you follow that link on a device without a camera, you basically get to a 404 page. You're left wondering what's going on.

    Then there's the data connection. A very popular app (Angry Birds Seasons) inexplicably requires an Internet connection. I suppose it's because the winter levels form an advent calendar and they want to make sure people don't jump ahead. You could do that by checking the date, but I guess that wasn't good enough. Regardless, it took a lot of people by surprise when they tried to play on their Touch.

    But of course, software version is the biggest issue. When I update apps, I can't count the number of times that an update has been required because the developer didn't test well enough on one version or another of the OS and got complaints. And of course, there are people on older devices who get left out in the cold because a developer wants to use the worthless Game Center.

    No, there's fragmentation on iOS, and it's only going to get worse. It's just that this fragmentation is a dirty little secret swept under the rug in order to have an excuse to complain about Android.

  • by rjstanford (69735) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:17PM (#34631294) Homepage Journal

    But your assembly kit analogy is was really kind of throws me off. 80% of what you use your droid for will be built into it, no assembly required. Particularily the line "With the increased power to do your own thing all to frequently comes the need to do your own thing" - I honestly have no idea where thats coming from or what you mean by it. So your phone is more flexible... so you feel pressured to use its flexibility? Can you elaborate on the situation where you felt the need to "Do your own thing" - what that thing was and how an iPhone got you around that problem? This is what is absolutely perplexing me.

    Frequently, with flexibility comes the absolution of design. Standard keyboard doesn't work quite right? No worries, the user can install one that they really like, and most apps will even respect that decision! Can't make up your mind as a developer on the right way to solve a problem? Add a checkbox and let/force the user to decide. Crap at making GUIs? Make a completely skinnable app and let the user sort though them all, or make their own! Not everything scrolls smoothly? Don't worry, truly high-class apps can just implement their own scroll solution!

    Its the same way that I don't miss having a carb on my daily-driver (even though I enjoy rebuilding and tweaking them) - the ability to completely tweak my air/fuel ratios is nice, but having something that isn't perfect but is "good enough" and never having to think about it is also nice, and frequently underrated.

    The iPhone will never be perfect for my needs, but with close to zero time spent messing with it, its almost there. The Android devices I've looked at before could probably be tweaked closer to my ideal than my iPhone, but out of the box (or rather with a couple of hours of tinkering, at least on the Dell/Droid ones I've spent more time with) they fall below that line.

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:42PM (#34631760)

    Basically, you have tons of different devices you need to support, all with different hardware, resolution and features. [...] It's a nightmare.

    Sort of like developing for the PC, right? I know, we should all move to vendor-locked consoles.

    As the previous poster mentioned if you'd bother to quote them in their entirety, PC's don't have to worry about severely limited cpu power and battery life. Running Flash on a Mac can be annoying and will drain your laptop's battery and use way more processor cycles than any other plugin. Port the same thing to an iPhone or other Mobile and you have people with mobile devices that are unresponsive, crashy, and don't even last a whole day on a battery. When resources are limited by the size and portability, problems get magnified sometimes to the point where they are game changers.

    No one is proposing that we all move to consoles for the laptop/desktop market... but you're conflating that market with the mobile market where there are different needs and limitations.

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Timmmm (636430) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @02:49PM (#34631880)

    I'm an android developer, and I *do* share his concerns. There are three aspects to the problem:

    1. Unintended device differences.

    I've had loads of emails from people saying that my app behaves incorrectly on their phone, whereas it works perfectly well on mine and many other phones. There are certain areas of development where the differences in behaviour on different devices can be pretty huge. In my case it is sleeping and waking the device, but there are others, like sound latency, graphics capabilities, and multitouch behaviour (*cough* stupid dual-touch *cough*). You really do need to test these apps on the actual phones in order to make sure they work (or wait for "I am shocked that this free, ad-free app doesn't work." emails).

    2. Intended device differences.

    There are a ton of different android phones. Suppose you want a layout to work nicely on all of them. Android has a pretty nice framework for selecting a layout file based on device differences, and these are only *some* of the things it can consider: orientation, whether the keyboard is open, screen size, screen aspect ratio and night mode. Multiply those and you have a lot of work. Ok presumably you wouldn't use all of them, but you could *easily* end up with 6 layouts for one screen. It doesn't help that Android's layout system is one of... no *the* least well behaved I've used. It frequently does stuff that makes no sense (search StackOverflow for examples).

    3. Old versions of Android.

    Yes it is a bigger problem than on iOS. 17% of users are still on Android 1.5 or 1.6. How many iOS users haven't upgraded their OS for a year? Actually I checked, and Apple stopped providing updates for the original iPhone 2.5 years after its release. It seems most Android phones don't even last a year before they are end-of-lined. This affects developers because it means you can't use the latest nice APIs without either using ugly reflection hacks (not possible with the NDK) or ignoring some users.

    There's lots to like about Android, but don't pretend there aren't any flaws.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:18PM (#34632340)

    Would you please read again?

    It's not a WORSE interface. It depends on what's your goal. If you want someone to accomplish something fast without a steep learning curve, then yes, a GUI is the way to go. But that does not make the person more "computer literate". It allows him to get something done, and get it done without having to dig into the matter deeply before he can actually accomplish anything.

    Now, if someone can accomplish something by knowing less, do you really think that makes him more literate?

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zeroshade (1801584) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:22PM (#34632412)

    No one is proposing that we all move to consoles for the laptop/desktop market... but you're conflating that market with the mobile market where there are different needs and limitations.

    Just because there are different needs and limitations doesn't remove the analogy. On a desktop or laptop you have all the same differences: different hardware, monitor, resolution, mouse/touchpad/trackball, joystick or no joystick, discrete or onboard graphics, discrete or onboard audio, drivers out the wazoo, varying amounts of ram, cpu, and disk space, built in camera or USB connected, or no camera at all, etc. etc. etc. Just because the environment's needs are different doesn't eliminate the fact that it's a similar situation. You have a system with a large amount of variation in the type and amount of hardware and specs. If developers can write applications for windows and linux that successfully run on hundreds if not thousands of variations of hardware for desktops, laptops, netbooks, etc. Then developers can write applications for Android. This type of variation is new in the mobile space which is the only reason why it keeps getting this much attention, it's not a new development for software developers and should stop being treated as such. It's just simply FUD.

  • Re:mobile platform (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grapeape (137008) <mpope7.kc@rr@com> on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:31PM (#34632574) Homepage

    Please explain where the "bullshit" is? The devices I mention are an Archos 7 Home Internet Tablet, An aPad and my Samsung Galaxy S. None are even remotely similar interface or app set wise beyond all having the little green robot show up when they boot. As I stated, denial isn't helping, why cant android fanboys figure that out...its as bad as apple zealots that dismiss areas that are lacking when they all know the minute Apple announced they have suddenly "invented" it again...it will become a feature they couldn't live without. It really is ok to like something and still be critical of it...there is simply no other way to improve upon something without it.

  • by zeroshade (1801584) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @03:40PM (#34632708)
    You're right, I can complain about the $99/yr cost. There is absolutely no reason why I should have to pay an additional $99/year just to install what i want on a device I own.

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