Response #1

For those that weren’t involved in a recent discussion I had over on a hack piece by Jonny Evans, I wanted to respond to several of the comments put up by one particular individual. It’s unfortunate as he seems relatively intelligent, though amazingly misinformed.

I’ve given technical reasons as to why Android *appears* as a cheap knockoff, when seen running “out in the wild” as they say.  Maybe that approach is not quite correct, but it’s not like I was ever on the debate team….However, what I mean by the “cheap knockoff” term is that when one uses Android, one will run across some functions (not all) that  imitate what was done in iOS from the get-go.  For one, many of gestures, such as pinch to zoom, side-swipes to go from a home screen to another apps screen, and swipe to unlock just don’t work quite as well – on many Android devices.
My EVO is one example, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Kindle Fire are good examples, although each implements the Android OS differently.

When I say these functions do not work as well, I mean that they are sluggish, are not as effective for certain situations, such as locking up a Music app on many Android devices.  I typically have to hit the power button on my EVO just to get back to the music app, which is annoying.  It works much better on an iPod Touch.  Typical web-browsing and scrolling is better on the iDevices, thanks to the better graphics handling and more efficient use of resources.  Not to mention that objective C has better memory management capabilities than higher level programming languages like Java, which is used in many Android app (though, not all).  That’s not to say that these features may not work well on another Android device, or on ICS-specific tablets and newer smartphones, but that has been my experience thus far.  The reasons why this experience is lacking, to me, boils down to the slew of technical differences in integration I have hinted at.So, given these deficiencies I and others have seen, plus the fact that Eric Schmidt sat on the Apple board as iOS was in development phase in 2006/2007 and was, indeed, feeding this info all back to the then-Blackberry-like Android OS, Android (for Google’s part)  developed was after the fact of iOS and PARTIALLY copied (or imitated) iOS, is FREE……So it’s close enough to being a copy and it’s cheap and it is not as finely tuned.Granted, Android has not taken on Apple’s iOS path for grouping apps and has maintained an open file system, but even a cheap knockoff can be better at some things.True, Apple took ideas from several players, but it’s not like they had people sitting on those companies’s boards.  Any company can look at another company’s tear-downs on the FCC website and get a handle on the design approach and decisions.  Since both iOS and Android are descendants of Unix, or more BSD in the case of iOS, there will be some commonality, but the public-facing features like the UI and gestures are what matter and Android could have been done much differently.  It could have been implemented as a cloud-based OS to start, for example, and would have then been nowhere even close to iOS!  It could have been more like desktop Linux (certain minimal builds of Ubuntu can run on a rooted Android smartphone).  However, what Eric said was “Hey, let’s do what Apple’s doing.  Let’s beat them at their own game, let’s use capacitive touch-screen based smartphones and let’s incorporate all of the cool gestures….)  Wow, how original!  What Eric Schmidt did was pretty much about as under-handed as you can get.  Oh, and going the write-once, run anywhere route is just a cop-out – granted one that makes sense for Google, given their ad-based revenue stream, but it was a quick road to *market share*.  If you want to debate Steve Job’s little theft from Xerox, that’s fine, but Xerox had gone into an agreement to give Apple access to certain IP and cared nothing about actually turning the GUI into a computing product for mass consumption……

So, there’s comment number one from this individual.

A little context. This comment was a response to a request by me to explain how Android was a knock-off of iOS. His “technical reason” why Android appears as a cheap knockoff was a lack of vertical integration with the hardware. Let’s define “knockoff” here as well:

knock·off  (nkôf, -fn. Informal

An unauthorized copy or imitation, as of designer clothing: “the place to go for quality knockoffs” (Women’s Wear Daily).

OK, so a knockoff is a copy. Claiming that Android is a knockoff of iOS because iOS is vertically integrated with the hardware and Android isn’t just doesn’t make any sense. That’s pointing out a difference, where to show that Android is a knockoff, you’re going to need to point out areas where Android copies iOS.

One will run across some functions (not all) that  imitate what was done in iOS from the get-go.

Like what? Be explicit.

For one, many of gestures, such as pinch to zoom, side-swipes to go from a home screen to another apps screen, and swipe to unlock just don’t work quite as well – on many Android devices.

First, your experience on a particular Android device doesn’t not constitute proof. It’s an anecdote, and is relevant only to you. I could point out that my iPhone3Gs was the worst phone I ever owned. How does that affect the experience of someone other than myself? As to the gestures themselves, they’re definitely not originally iOS either. Most of those gestures date back to the early 80s.

When I say these functions do not work as well, I mean that they are sluggish, are not as effective for certain situations, such as locking up a Music app on many Android devices.

Again, this is more “proof” that doesn’t in any way show Android to be a knockoff of iOS. Claiming that one system does or does not work as well as the other is anecdotal and subjective. Your example of a music app is irrelevant and lacks context. Personally, I use WinAmp as my music player on my Android device. Is that the music app that you’re talking about, or was it a different one. How can you claim that Android isn’t as good as iOS based on an app that can be replaced at any time based on user preferences? Personally speaking, I think that points out a strength of Android.

Typical web-browsing and scrolling is better on the iDevices, thanks to the better graphics handling and more efficient use of resources.

Again, based on what? My personal preference is the Dolphin browser on my phone, but I prefer Firefox on my tablet. How is “typical” web-browsing better on an iDevice than either Dolphin on my phone or Firefox on my tablet. I’d point out that “better” is again subjective. Both Dolphin and Firefox have a plugin interface, allowing me to increase the functionality of the browser. Safari on iDevices does not allow for that.

Not to mention that objective C has better memory management capabilities than higher level programming languages like Java, which is used in many Android app (though, not all).

Again, you’re pointing out differences in the two platforms. You seem to be failing to understand what a knockoff actually is. Whether Objective C has better memory management is also up for debate. One comparison I read reached this conclusion: “Each solution has its own benefits and disadvantages. Although Objective-C’s retain/release runs smoother and faster than Java’s garbage collection, it places a much larger burden on the developer and introduces a much larger risk of memory leaks.” The claim that Objective C has better memory management is still very much in contention.

The reasons why this experience is lacking, to me, boils down to the slew of technical differences in integration I have hinted at.So, given these deficiencies I and others have seen, plus the fact that Eric Schmidt sat on the Apple board as iOS was in development phase in 2006/2007 and was, indeed, feeding this info all back to the then-Blackberry-like Android OS, Android (for Google’s part)  developed was after the fact of iOS and PARTIALLY copied (or imitated) iOS, is FREE.

This  particular portion of your response is just rife with error. Where Eric Schmidt was sitting at any given time does not prove that Android is a knockoff. As you pointed out, Google didn’t write Android, but purchased it in 2005 along with the company of the same name, which was founded in 2003. Long before Apple decided to play in the phone market. In many ways, iOS is much more like a Blackberry than Android ever has been, even in 2006 and 2007. Quite honestly, no version of Android that the public has ever seen has been overly “Blackberry-like”. The cost of Android only points out that Android is less expensive than iOS, not that it’s a knockoff.

So it’s close enough to being a copy and it’s cheap and it is not as finely tuned.

So, you’ve failed in pretty much every way to show that Android is a copy of iOS, but still make that claim. In re-reading your comment several times, it barely looks like you even attempted to show how Android copied iOS. The only feature mentioned was multi-touch gestures, which it’s easy to point out were not invented or pioneered by Apple in anything.

The public-facing features like the UI and gestures are what matter and Android could have been done much differently.  It could have been implemented as a cloud-based OS to start, for example, and would have then been nowhere even close to iOS!

Please explain how the UI of Android is even remotely close to the UI of iOS. It’s also worth noting that Android started out with many “cloud” type features, even though at the time it wasn’t called “The Cloud”. For example, the Google account was configured with the phone, and that account was used to tie Google’s mail and Calendar services to the phone. Also, that account was used to track purchases in the Market, so purchased software could easily be installed on a new device simply by configuring the Google account there. Believe me when I say, Apple is late to the cloud game when compared to Android and Linux in general.

However, what Eric said was “Hey, let’s do what Apple’s doing.  Let’s beat them at their own game, let’s use capacitive touch-screen based smartphones and let’s incorporate all of the cool gestures….)  Wow, how original!  What Eric Schmidt did was pretty much about as under-handed as you can get.

That’s a very interesting theory, but Android isn’t tied to hardware. It runs on a wide array of devices. Yes, some of them use capacitive touch-screens. Some of them don’t. You’re focusing on a single segment of the devices that Android runs on and making general statements about the OS based on that single segment. I’d love to hear you tell me how the Parrot Asteroid is a knockoff of the iPhone.

If you want to debate Steve Job’s little theft from Xerox, that’s fine

Well, it doesn’t really matter if Apple stole the idea from Xerox or not. Apple tried to sue to keep other companies (namely Microsoft) from using ideas present in their GUI, despite the fact that they were not the originators or really the owners of those ideas. Xerox didn’t grant Apple sole ownership of those ideas. Regardless, I had no intention of bringing Xerox up at any point, though it is worth noting that one of the primary features that both Android and iOS share (the icon grid) did originate there, not at Apple. Really, that feature is one of the few that Android and iOS share.

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