As the Vice President of Innovation at Voalté, it is my responsibility to understand smartphones and work with caregivers to figure out ways to help incorporate these devices into their lives at the point of care. In fact, our company focus is entirely on providing hospitals the best communication solution for clinical communication on the latest cutting edge mobile platform.
I have used multiple BlackBerry devices throughout my career and have also used an iPhone the last few years. I can easily claim to be a smartphone “fanatic” and it is probably the one device I would not be able to give up in my professional life (seeing the value of smartphones in my personal and business life was a deciding factor in why I started Voalté to help bring about smartphones at the point of care).
Last month I decided it was time to see what all the fuss was about regarding the Android operating system. On April 20, 2010, at approximately 4:15PM- I pulled the SIM card out of my iPhone 3G and switched over to a Google Nexus One (both use AT&T and I wanted to make sure the carrier was not a deciding factor in the experiment).
This wasn’t just a one or two day test of the Android- this is full fledged, 100% business operations, mail, app’s, and all - switch from the Apple iPhone OS to the Google Android OS. Below are a list of my thoughts after more than a month of Android vs iPhone use:
1. Multi-tasking and widgets
The first things I noticed about the Android was the concept of widgets vs just being able to run applications. The widgets enable you to peak into an application and see small amounts of information right on your desktop. For example, my mail widget shows me the latest email that has just come in, my calendar widget shows the time and attendees of my next appointment, and my Facebook widget shows the last status update in my newsfeed.
My imagination goes into overdrive regarding the potential of Android Widgets in point of care communication- but that is the topic for another blog post.
Multi-tasking was OK (iPhone 4.0 levels the playing field)- but it really was the capability to use widgets that really impressed me.
The applications for Android are not up to par with Apple. It’s not even close. The look, the feel, the quality- it’s day and night. I would imagine this is due to a couple reasons. First of all- Apple has a head start in the world of App development. There are more developers working on iPhone app’s; Apple claims more than 200,000. And while a majority are not worth downloading, there are a few gems that really raise the bar for other applications. Second, developing software using Apple’s iPhone Software Developer Kit provides more guidance and better tools for development, compared to Android’s Java based SDK. You give developers better tools and they will build you better app’s.
There’s an App for that- and chances are- it runs much better on the iPhone.
3. Performance and Battery Life
I get pretty good battery and performance out of my iPhone (especially considering how much I use it in a single day), but the performance of the Nexus One Android running 2.1 was much better than my iPhone 3G running iPhone OS 3.X. I will admit that I was using an older generation of the iPhone, but the performance on the Android device was noticeably better. I usually get a good 12 hours out of my iPhone, but the Android was easily pushing 18-20 hours.
Performance and battery were an easy win for the Android.
4. It’s the little things
Moving from an iPhone to an Android, you quickly begin to appreciate Apple’s meticulous attention to detail and creating a compelling user experience. A simple example is the location of the home button on the Android phone- it is located directly under the touch screen and tends to be very sensitive to touch. When the virtual keyboard loads up, it is located right under the Space Bar (one of the most used buttons when constantly typing). The end result is the potential miss type that exits the application and sends you to the home screen- not a pleasant experience when deep in the thought responding to 100’s of emails (which most of us use a smartphone for). The Android is littered with these minor flaws, and while they may seem minuscule, the experience quickly becomes degraded due to these flaws.
Overall – I can’t say that either phone is a clear winner over the other. The quality of the app’s and the attention to detail make the iPhone a great platform for a mobile device, but the concept of widgets and the philosophy of the Android being more of a portal to the web make the Android a really attractive alternative. So here is the big question…
What phone will I be using next month?
Well, to be perfectly honest - a lot of that will be dependent on what we find out from our friend Steve Jobs at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference…