Friday, October 31, 2008

When Android beats the iPhone

Today I discovered two reasons why Android might beat the iPhone, eventually. One, it is open source (ok, I am kidding, I did know that before ;-) Two, it has OTA firmware update.

As you might recall, I complained about the email client on the phone. Not the Gmail one, the other one. The POP/IMAP client. Apparently, I was not alone. Pretty much everyone has been complaining about the connection error I have with POP. The Tmobile support forum currently shows 229 messages on this topic...

Bottom line: T-Mobile botched this one. Google could not care less (Gmail works nice) but the mobile operator should have been more careful. People are returning the device to the store, because there has not been a fix (yet).

Why does open source help? Well, on the Android Market a new email client appeared a few days ago. It is called K9. It is a fork of the original Android client (which is open source). It has more features than the original one and, not surprisingly, it fixes the issue above.

This is great. A week or so ago Google was alone in developing Android. They made it open source and boom, an internal application is getting perfected by the community. End user benefit from it immediately, because they can download it for free from the Android Market (which is such an easy task to do). The OS allows you to define a default email client, so you are good to go.

All this, without any intervention of Google or T-Mobile. The community fixed the issue for T-Mobile... You have to love this one if you are a mobile operator.

What would have happened with the iPhone? Probably, Apple would not have released an application that buggy in the first place, but... you would have had to wait for the next firmware update. Hoping the fix would be added (and, believe me, I have been frustrated by the lack of copy&paste in the iPhone for 18 months and there is no fix in sight...). You do not have to rely on Apple. You can rely on the community as well.

When it comes to firmware update, here is a good one. Android does it over-the-air (OTA). You receive a message, click on it, wait a few minutes and your are done. No iTunes, no cable. Pushed to your phone. At the moment, it is a bit random (some got RC29 already, some did not) and they should make the process more transparent. But it is a great innovation over the iPhone.

Nice to see Apple has to catch up, once in a while...