The mobile OS space has recently been flooded with a bevy of new devices and platforms. Just a few years ago, if you wanted a smartphone, you basically had to get a WinMo phone or skip a bunch of smartphone features and go with a Blackberry. These days you have Windows Phone 7, Kin, WebOS, Blackberry, Android and, isn’t there one more? Oh yeah, the giant pink elephant in the room, the iPhone.
In terms of usability by average users, specifically those people who don’t like to spend most of their free time on forums trying to get their phones to do cool new things, the iPhone was king. It was and remains the best designed device on the market. It is also painfully easy to use (I have seen people who have trouble with Outlook do some amazing things with their iPhone). Unfortunately, it also is an Apple device, with all that being an Apple device entails. Like the Ford Model T, you can get it in any shape, color, size and price you want, as long as those all happen to be the ones that Apple thinks are best. You also can get tons of apps on there, except the ones that Apple doesn’t like and has turned down. That is OK for 90%+ of the population, they can get their basic apps on a great device, supported by a company that stands behind its customers and they can use it on AT&T’s network. How cool is that?
Well, I don’t know about that last part, but the rest is pretty good. I happen to be outside that 90%, I want my platform to be open. I want to be able to develop apps for the device using any platform I want and I want the app store to only judge apps based on quality, not content (first amendment right to be annoying and all that). Finally, I want the device I develop for to actually be a range of devices for all kinds of people. Some should be sleek and cool for professionals and some should be cheap and colorful for teens and college kids. The bigger the segment that can afford to buy the device, the better.
Oh, and I’d like Adobe Flash, because the modern web seems to have really sunk its teeth into this Flash thing and telling companies that they need to modify their web presence in order to work on your device is like going into every country in the world and telling them Democracy is better because we happen to use it and find it to be just so swell. Unfortunately, just like in the real world, the web tends to have momentum, and getting it turned away from Flash and onto HTML5 and AJAX (or whatever Apple thinks CafeWorld should be rewritten in) will take time and we as consumers need to have a Flash patch to help us kick the habit instead of asking us to quit cold turkey.
That is the simple truth of it. Transitions are needed in life and so too are they needed in technology. When you move, it will take you a while to get used to your new place. It will take a day or two to memorize where all of the light switches are and just where on the shower the hot water becomes scalding. HTML5 is new, it is rough and we as developers need some time to get used to it. While we do that, let’s keep using Flash.
This is where Android 2.2 comes in. At Google’s I/O conference, they announced the official feature list of Froyo (version 2.2 of Android). While I may get excited about Exchange support and some vague mention of 5X performance (5 times what and in what context), the addition of Flash to browsers is amazing. Now, I too can waste time playing FarmVille in line (because I spend inordinate amounts of time in line apparently).
All kidding aside, this new update does have the potential to bring Android into the forefront of the Mobile OS market and more importantly, if Flash turns out not to suck, Google has their proverbial thumbs in their proverbial ears and say: “Nyah, nayh, na-nyah-na” to Apple. And folks, let’s face it, there’s nothing better than one multi-billion dollar company fighting with another multi-billion dollar company in the same way that 5 year olds do on the playground.
So, let’s see if Google gets the last “Uh-huh” or if Apple’s emphatic “Nuh-uh” turned out to be correct. Stay tuned.