Mobile

Brace Yourselves: The iPhone/Android Wars Are Back In Town

With the announcement that Apple’s holding an event on September the 9th that’s likely to see the official reveal of the next iPhone, we’re going to shift back into the inevitable
Android/iOS fan bickering. I really wish we wouldn’t.

Image: Massimo Barbieri

I don’t know for certain that Apple will announce a new iPhone on September the 9th. It’s always feasible that they might hold the entire event simply to show off iWatches, or new iPods, or iNewton: The Next Generation.

Although probably not that last one.

It looks as though we know quite a bit about the upcoming iPhone models. The current rumour roundup points to at least one and possibly two new iPhone models, one of which is likely to be a larger version at around 5.5 inches if the rumours are true. NFC is also being widely touted. There are probably a few under the hood enhancements we don’t know about just yet as well. iOS 8 would seem inevitable, and we already know quite a bit about that.

The thing here is that inevitably, I can see a rising tide of Apple defenders talking up how wonderful it is that Apple’s innovated in terms of enhancements, met by an equally noisy but no less correct tide of Android fans talking up how Android’s had large screens, user keyboards and NFC, just to pick a few things for quite some time now.

Both sides can actually be correct. Not every detail of the new iPhone has leaked just yet, and as such there’s space for innovation. Equally, not everything that Apple declares as new, shiny and magical is actually new, shiny or magical.

Don’t get me wrong. If you want to be passionate about your tech gadgets, by all means do so. I certainly do. Right now my daily phone is an LG G3, but there’s an iPhone 5s within arm’s reach as well. I’m notably not as much of a fan of “big” phones as many, and the 5s could well be my daily device were it not for the use of a nano SIM and a few too many bad experiences with SIM adaptors.

I may switch over to an iPhone 6 once available, and I’m certainly keen to get my hands on one. There are elements in both ecosystems that are laudable, and the reality is that a lot of progress in these fields comes from building on what came before. Innovations are often borrowed ideas given a different polish, in other words.

There’s also the side thought that rattles around in my brain that by engaging in bickering back and forth, we’re all doing a lot of marketing work for Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC, Sony et al, because that kind of absolute slavish advocacy is advertising that money just can’t buy.

Also, the point of a war is to win.

I don’t want anyone to “win” the Android/iOS wars, and I’m willing to take a large number of handset casualties along the way if that’s what it takes, because the prospect of anyone “winning” and a platform becoming dominant is good for absolutely nobody. Yes, that does include Android, even though Google’s notably more open than Apple when it comes to modifications. What we’ve seen there over the years is a shift towards a more vanilla Android OS design, and that’s no accident. Google doesn’t want to lose control of its platform any more than Apple does, and were Android to “win”, it would significantly affect the evolution of smartphone platforms. The same is true if Apple shifts to absolute dominance, especially given that it plays in a very restricted premium space with a strong walled garden approach.

The base line is this: I’d much rather see actual competition, including borrowed features from each platform to push the state of the art in smartphones forwards. There’s nothing more terrifying for this technology enthusiast than the idea of an absolute monopoly, because that’s the slowest and most boring way forwards possible.


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