There’s a lot of reasons why I like Android, but admittedly, there’s some jealousy too on my part when I see a shiny iPhone or sleek looking iPad. The truth is, when I selected my first Android device, I was doing it out of spite to AT&T. I hadn’t intended to become a Droid lawyer, I couldn’t upgrade to an iPhone, so I decided to hike over to Verizon. After playing with the Droid, I was in love, and I still am. However, the iPhone and iPad will still beckon to a lot of people, so it’s important to know why you’re selecting the particular operating system or device.
I’ve discussed choosing devices, but I haven’t really given a run-down or comparison on either operating system.
One of the greatest advantages of Android (or “Droid” for a generic reference) is the prolific number of available devices, across a number of carriers. In comparison, only 3 carriers offer iPhone, and there’s only one model. The same goes for a Android OS tablets. Apple likes to control their product to ensure uniformity among devices.
I actually favor Apple’s approach to device control. One huge complaint with the Android OS is fragmentation. This refers to the variety of devices and the number of different versions of Android OS being run on each device. Check out this site for an idea of the span of versions. The majority of devices are running Android 2.x, but the current or newest Android OS is 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich.
Apple prefers to make sure that all iPhone or iPad devices run a uniform operating system, with similar (aside from versions of the iPhone/iPad) hardware configurations, and meet particular technical requirements.
The App Store v. The Android Market
One benefit of Apple’s control is that there are more lawyer-specific applications (“apps”) available in the Apple App Store, than in the Android Market. Since apps are the reason we purchase mobile devices, Apple certainly dominates this lawyer-specific market.
Google approaches its apps the same way it does its operating system, favoring an “open” platform. Developers may upload any app without much oversight from Google. This openness leads to criticism that Google’s system is open to malware. Apple controls its apps quite heavily, testing and ensuring usability to the nth-degree.
I expect that within a few years time, Android will have more lawyer apps than iOS, it’ll just take time to get there. If you’re a litigator and need something now, such as TrialPad or iJuror, then you’ll want to pick Apple. If you can work around those “must have” apps, Android has a number of apps for lawyers.
Android’s Advantages and Disadvantages
Android is a “flexible” operating system. If you don’t like something, you fix it. The easy “fix” is to root your device. This means you add a modified version of your OS. One popular ROM is Cyanogenmod. Android devices also tend to have external ports for USB or HDMI output, and expandable storage through SD cards. When I asked a colleague who owned an iPhone why he purchased an Android tablet told, he me that “if I wanted another iPhone, I would have bought one.”
Android is Google-based, therefore, it’s also heavily integrated with Google’s products and services. I think Gmail on Android is heads-and-shoulders above iOS’s native mail app.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the greatest disadvantages to Android is its fragmentation, this includes the fragmentation among devices. The fact is, a device produced by one manufacturer will look nothing like the device produced by another manufacturer. Although I’ve never had a problem with this, some people may get frustrated because of the lack of uniformity. A second, underlying aspect of that problem is the fact that this also presents a real-time “next big thing” issue. For instance, I purchased my Motorola Droid Bionic, and shortly thereafter, Samsung announced its next big device, the Galaxy Nexus, that exceeded my phone’s capabilities.
iOS’s Advantages and Disadvantages
If you want the “cool” device, iPhone or iPad is it. For lawyers, iOS offers a number of apps that are lawyer-specific. If you’d like a rundown, check out iPhone JD or TabletLegal. Apple has Siri, which is getting a lot of attention (see here for Android’s best alternative) and FaceTime, which are two apps that Android can’t touch. For Dragon Naturally Speaking users, you’re going to love the DNS app, which fails to perform on Android.
The iPad and iPhone also work “right out of the box.” There’s almost zero setup, and the interface (UI) is sleek and classy. iOS users love the iPad or iPhone because they can get working quickly.
Apple isn’t without its problems though. iOS can’t run Flash, which means that some sites don’t run cleanly (although that won’t matter with HTML5 and Google’s decision to drop flash too), and at this time, iOS users are stuck with 3G. When compared to my Verizon 4G, a 3G connections is like going from broadband to dial-up. iPhone also lacks a great native GPS or navigation app. Sure, you can get some decent ones for a price, but Android’s free native navigation app rocks.
And The Winner Is…
Who knows! The choice to purchase a mobile device is up to you. Many will choose Android because that’s what’s available on their cellphone upgrade package for cheap. Others will choose iOS because they love the look, feel, and prestige that comes with owning an iPhone or iPad. If you’re a lawyer looking for customization or some additional features like USB or SD Cards, Android is going to win. If you’re looking for an easy-to-use device, with a lot of attorney related apps, then iOS is your choice. The fact is, the right device is the device you choose because it does what you want it to do. If you’re like my friend, you may even choose to own both because one satisfies one element of your life, while the other provides the tools and resources you need for the other.