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Windows vs. Android vs. IOS

September 9, 2012

What an embarrassment of riches. Never have there been so many great portable computing devices. But with so many great devices has come a profusion of mobile operating systems. Ideally, I would like to focus our home’s devices on one, but I fear that may not be possible.

We currently have: a Windows Phone 7.5 (that I use), a Nexus 7 Tablet (used in our living room), and iPhone used by my wife, a couple of old IOS devices (an iPhone 3GS used over Wi-Fi and an iPod Touch used by the kids), 5 Kindles of varying types and generations (one for each person in our family).

We have a common family account for Google, iTunes and Amazon so that we can share content purchased from each of the services. At this point, I have purchased core apps for each platform, making it possible to buy a new device without a big investment in apps (this investment probably would not exceed $75 in any event).

I wish we could standardize on one OS and one content provider, but that is not without issues. Here is what I like and dislike about each of the operating systems and ecosystems:

Windows Phone

In general I like the user interface on my Windows Phone, preferring it to Android and IOS. I like having a device with a large 4.3” AMOLED screen.

Here is what I don’t like:

  • Missing key apps: e.g. and app for HomeSeer, for Schwab and for Amazon MP3.
  • Lack of folders for apps, which leads me to forget about apps that I have and might otherwise use more frequently.
  • The need to use Zune software to load music files. I wish I could simply copy music files onto the phone when it is connected by USB to my computer.
  • Broken podcast support. I cannot get podcasts to sync, despite spending over 4 months in email communications with the Zune support people. So I am forced to use clunky third party software.

IOS

In general I like that almost any app I want is available for this platform.

I dislike the small 3.5” screens on iPhones and iPads that are too heavy for comfortable reading. I also would find it had to justify spending $400 for an iPad to be used mainly for Media consumption.

I find the user interface is dated, but functional.

Android

In general I like that almost any app I want is available for this platform.

I like the size and price of the Nexus 7. I like the fact that the Nexus 7 can act as slightly too expensive digital picture frame when not in use. I like the fact that I can sync whatever content I want with the Nexus 7 simply by connecting it by USB cable to any PC.

Like IOS, I find its user interact (with screens of icons) to be dated but functional. I have not found many widgets in useful enough forms to make much use of them.

To Standardize?

If nothing new were on the horizon, I would move to standardize on Android, replacing my Windows phone with a Galaxy Nexus. I like its openness, plethora of apps and inexpensive nice devices. (We will keep e-ink Kindles in any event because they service a unique function for which we don’t need a generalized computing device: replacing stacks of books.)

But that is not the case and the following events that will occur in the next two months lead me to hold off on that course of action:

  • The emergence of Windows RT tablets. At what price? Any 7-inch tablets that I could substitute for the Nexus 7?
  • Windows Phone 8. The new Nokia 920 looked like a very nice device. Will it have folders? Can sync music files to it without using Zune?
  • The Kindle Fire HD. Will this marginalize the Nexus 7 that I like so much?
  • iPhone 5. Will this be so great it leads me to reconsider the reasons am skeptical of IOS devices.
  • A new Galaxy Nexus phone. How will this compare to the new Windows Phone 8 phones and iPhone 5?
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