Developer. Gamer. Yo-Yo Thrower.

My Life as an Android’ian

I use Android as my mobile platform because it gives me the most choice. That’s really what it all boils down to. This is because it features something special that is in no other major smart phone: the software is free, and open source. The specialness of this feature is marred by wireless carriers making their own decisions, demonstrating that this freedom is a two way street (like all true freedom). The mobile carriers (Bell, Rogers, AT&T, T-Mobile, etc) tend implement a few ‘software locks’ that can make it harder to take advantage of the open source community – they feel that because you’re on their network that they should be able to dictate how your device works. The result of this is that your brand new phone gets updates from their carrier once or twice in their lifetime – if that. However, there is a thriving vibrant community of developers who all put in a tremendous amount of time and effort to provide software alternatives (IF you have the patience for it and in some cases the nerve to risk ‘bricking’ your device). If you take some time and read lots of somewhat technical stuff, learn how to obtain root access for your phone, install a new software image designed specifically for your phone (“ROMs”, but oh how I hate that antiquated term, it’s not ‘read only memory’ if you’re always writing it!) and VOILA: your 3 or 4 year old device is running the newest version of Android, obviously not as fast and perfect as a new phone, but it’s still a better experience and it feels like a new phone… for free.
No other mainstream phone can do this. Blackberry, Windows Phone 7, and Apple iOS are all closed-source. If you care enough to look you can’t see what’s really going on in the background. Which most people don’t (which is fine). The trade off, in my opinion, is that with a little more effort to learn about how your phone works you can literally treat your phone as if it were a mini-computer. A “computer”, as in a real desktop computer with: USB ports (so: floppy drives, flash drives, hard drives, keyboards, mice, Xbox controller … almost anything with Linux support is possible), and full HD video and sound over a mini-HDMI cable. All off of your phone!
I understand to some people the concept of their phone having even text messaging seems overkill, “I remember when a phone was just a phone” they say. They’re looking at their phone as if it was the big clunky phone they kept on their wall growing up. The problem is they’re not phones anymore, stop thinking like that. What they really are is miniature computers that happen to have a phone number attached to them. Even without cellular service a “smartphone” is still a very useful device: a music/movie player, GPS access, WiFi, e-reader, gaming, even payments. In fact, WiFi is becoming so ubiquitous it’s to the point where you could get away with having a $5 a month VOIP account, only use WiFi on your smart phone, and only not be reachable by phone while you’re in transit (and even then you could probably convince a friend to lend you WiFi hotspot access from their connection).

I’ve used the other devices, I know how they work. I prefer Android because I prefer to continue to learn, and I also enjoy being free as in freedom.

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