Android Isn’t so Open

One of the big reasons Android users use to back up their choice to use Android is “openness”. They claim that Android is more open than iOS. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Sure, Google would like their system to be completely open. Unfortunately, the carriers have made sure that this couldn’t happen. The very same carriers that saved Android are destroying the one reason people would actually choose the OS over iOS. Whereas Apple doesn’t let carriers put anything on the iPhone, Google can do nothing to stop the carriers from adding whatever they want to the system. If Google had it’s way, the OS may actually be “open”. But really, it’s not.

So, what’s so closed about Android? There’s a few things to consider:

  • Carriers put apps on the devices that can’t be removed
  • Carriers don’t allow phones to be updated when a new version is out
  • Phones that are only a month old can’t get new Android updates
  • Carriers are blocking the Android Marketplace, locking users down to their own app stores
These are things that would never happen on iOS. Carriers just don’t have a say as to what’s on the iPhone. However, manufactures and carriers can do whatever they want with Android OS. The bloatware apps are often trials that can’t be removed, and bug the user to buy them, or continue being nagged. And the only way to remove these apps? “Rooting”, which is essentially jailbreaking. If you have to do that to remove trial apps, how is the OS “open”?
But wait, there’s more! Android 2.2 is out, and less than 5% of Android users have it. How could this be? Simple, the new update won’t work on most phones, carriers won’t let you update to it, and you have to root  your phone if it’s not supported. Open? I think not. Apple puts new updates on phones and iOS devices that are years old. Android can’t even get on phones that are a few months old. 
The Android Marketplace is being replaced on many carriers phones with their own markets? That’s absurd! The Marketplace is said to be open, and yet it’s being blocked. Verizon is talking about putting their VCast store on Android phones. The VCast store has very little to offer, why would they do this? Simple, they make more money this way. If they have to choose between user freedom and money, they’ll take the money.
Finally, we come to rooting. Rooting your Android phone isn’t as easy as jailbreaking. To jailbreak, you can download an app to your computer, sync your phone, and a few easy steps later, you’re done. For Android phones, you have to wait until the right process is out for your specific phone and firmware. It’s not as cut and dry as the iPhone version. You’ll also have to wait longer before you can do it. Since you have to Root/Jailbreak your device to gain full customizability on it, and the iPhone has more options even without Jailbreaking, it seems to me that for a truly open and free experience, you should go with iOS.
Inspired by a post at TechCrunch

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