Even though I am not a regular iOS user, I still watched the 2013 WWDC keynote as much of the Gear Diary team did. The blogosphere as a whole has had a lot to say about the similarities of some iOS features. It’s undeniable that Apple has drawn from Android, WebOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry 10 here, but unlike some Android users, I am not mad at all. In fact, if I were Google, I would take it as a complement.
Apple recognized that they didn’t have some of the features that Android did, and they figured out how to make them work on their platform. What they did may not have been unique, but it certainly make iOS 7 a much more pleasant experience if they want to attract users from other platforms; these improvements will also make the experience better for those who already use iOS. The biggest thing besides all of the eye candy, I feel, is the new Control Center.
My wife, who uses an iPhone, will love being able to quickly access things like WiFi and Bluetooth, as well as being able to easily turn them on or off. Of course that will be an afterthought with her once she sees all of the eye candy delivered in the new OS, but it’s an important feature and one Android has had in some form or another for a while.
Why I’m Not Offended, and Why You Shouldn’t Be Either
I don’t care about what Apple has done by implementing some of Android like features at all; this is how innovation happens. If Apple, Google, Microsoft and others didn’t draw on the same vault of technology and ideas that have come out over time, then they’d be making grave mistakes. That doesn’t say I approve of out-and-out copying, which I’ve seen SOME companies do when it comes to both Android and iOS, but it means that, over time, certain features become expected.
For example, I am sure that some of the standards in cars were probably innovated first by someone who didn’t make the car you currently drive. Preston Tucker who designed the failed 1948 Tucker Torpedo was one of the first to have all controls within reach of the driver; he also introduced seatbelts and a padded dashboard. These are all things we take for granted now, and every car has them now. So certain things, specifically the ability to turn off Bluetooth and WiFi within an instant may seem like they were copied from Android, but that’s not necessarily true. This natural evolution of iOS to what the people want is expected. These are features that Apple did not have until now, but they are features we should take for granted on any smartphone.
Notifications, which aren’t new in iOS 7, really seem to BELONG on the top to me now. Apple thought so too back when iOS 5 was released. Android was one of the firsts, and Apple was second. Eventually, everyone will probably adopt that as a standard — not because they are stealing from Android, but because it just seems to make sense.
These are two most often compared since the iOS announcement. There are other features that were supposedly copied, but the argument is getting real tired.
Rabid Android fanboys will say, “but Android did it first.” To that I say, “Who cares?” I could say the same thing about the rabid iOS people who have the same argument for things that Android or Windows Phone took from iOS. No one remembers who did these little things first; they remember who did it best.
Sometimes best is very personal. For example, in my opinion Android did notifications best. But when I pick up my wife’s phone, I can use it and while I still prefer how Android does it, I can be comfortable with an iOS device. While I still like Android notifications better, it’s really a wash on whether iOS or Android has better notifications from a functional aspect; they both do what they need to do. Liking the Android notifications better is just a personal preference.
So what should Android people care about?
Instead of whining about what Apple stole from Android, I think Android users should take Google to task for the things that are wrong with Android now. One of the biggest problems with Android is that manufacturers and carriers are still loading tons of crap on top of the standard Android interface.
Google has started to fix that by (soon) offering the Samsung Galaxy S4, HTC One, and Sony’s Xperia Zinstead of TouchWiz, SenseUI or whatever Sony used. It still needs to be better.
For example, why can’t these devices be purchased directly from the carrier with a contract subsidy? That’s one item we need to tell Google and the manufacturers: making standard Android available on more phones will fix some, but not all of the fragmentation issues and it will let more people see the best Android can be.
As good as the current Jellybean version is, the OS still will still bog down occasionally. It’s night and day better than Android 2.3 and even 4.0, but my phone still bogs down on occasion. Some of this could be the age of my Galaxy Nexus, but this still can happen on newer devices as well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very good when compared to the Android of old, but it can be and needs to be much better.
Some of the built-in apps could use some work. As good as the calendar is, I still wish it had some features that it does not have. For example, I’d love it if there was a way built into the app to find duplicate calendar events. The corporate e-mail app could also use a lot of TLC. There’s a whole host of little things that can be done to the default apps to make the experience much better.
We, as members of the Android community, need to PLEASE STOP saying things like, “well just load Cyanogen Mod”, when asked for a solution to Android issues.
Yes, that solution may work well for some, but it’s just NOT the answer we should be giving new users. We should, instead, take Google to task for those things. They, after all, manage the Android Open Source Project. They, ultimately, are the responsible party. Failing that, we should look for solutions that don’t require users to load a custom ROM.
Don’t get me wrong, having access to custom ROMS is GREAT. I got lots of mileage from my old G1 using various builds of CyanogenMod. However, Android should just work well OUT OF THE BOX. Changing to a custom ROM isn’t a solution; it is a hack that not everyone is able to perform.
What you CAN do, if you have the skills, is get involved with the Android Open Source project by submitting bug reports and source code or writing apps for Android. Check out the Android Open Source Project FAQ for details on how to contribute to making Android even better than it is today.
Every operating system has taken ideas from others; don’t get mad about it, because it needs to happen. If your OS had this feature before another, don’t get mad and don’t gloat. Just take comfort in the fact that your OS has had that feature for a while, and it can get better now that others are doing the same thing.
After all, it’s all about making technology better for everyone which is what we should concentrate on; it’s much more important than quibbling about who stole what from whom.