Seriously, why do you still have an iPhone? | Opensource.com

Seriously, why do you still have an iPhone?

Posted 23 Jun 2010 by 

Travis Kepley (Red Hat)
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All right, I get it. The iPhone is certainly a leader in both terms of sales and product ingenuity. I have often been known to blast Apple for being late to a party, then claiming they are introducing some incredible new feature (see Spaces vs Virtual Desktops). I won't hide the fact that I am not a fan of Apple. Even so, the iPhone is truly something innovative. That is, it was the first to find a way to take the smartphone out of the hands of businessmen (and women) and place it in the hands of text-heavy teens and wired-in grandmas. I'm not here to argue that the iPhone shouldn't be dominant, and I'm not even here to say that most people shouldn't be happy with the functionality of their iPhone. Bottom line, it's a nice device.

However, after reviewing our "Why do you still have an iPhone" poll, I was really bothered by something I saw. While the overwhelming majority stated they have never owned one, 15% (as of June 21st) stated that they "love it." Normally on a site like Engadget or Gizmodo, I wouldn't be surprised if that number was much higher. But this is a site whose namesake and goal come from a movement that most users and followers agree is more than just a nice coding philosophy--it's something that has become a way of life. That's right, 15% of opensource.com readers say they have no reason to switch from arguably the most closed smartphone on the market.

Two or three years ago, it would be fully understandable. The crop of open source based phones was meager at best, and they hardly had anything near the featureset of the first iPhone. And despite the efforts of OSDC to reach outside of the techy world, it's well known that open source fans are generally very savvy with gadgets due to their technical backgrounds. So when the iPhone hit, the geeky wow-factor surely gave a compelling reason to have the device in your pocket--there simply wasn't another player in town. (And before too many comments come in regarding this statement, I was actually one of the first adopters of the Neo Freerunner. I ordered it on the first day of availability. It just wasn't ready.)

This situation has definitely changed. Not only are there two mainstream, Linux-based operating systems for smartphones in WebOS by Palm and Android by Google, there are multiple phones running one of the two for every major carrier--including AT&T.

So here's my argument: There is a more open device available on your favorite carrier right now. It is a device that does nearly everything your iPhone does (it can be argued that, due to the openness, you can do much more with Android and WebOS devices). With that in mind, as a fan of open source, how can you give your money to a company that actively prevents open source code from even being uploaded to their App Store? Why in the world do I know so many open source enthusiasts still lining up at each iPhone release? Why are those same people still preordering and pining for the next gadget from Cupertino? It's nothing short of mind-boggling.

To curb some of the ideas that I might be a misled open source sheep, I am under no delusions that Android and WebOS implementations on modern phones are 100% open source. I'm not simply an Android or WebOS fanboy. I am a fan of open source, and, given the current landscape, choosing a Linux-based device just makes sense given feature and function parity.

And that's my point. Surely the iPhone is the best phone for some people. However, we are a society that prefers choice because nothing is one-size-fits-all. There has to be a better phone for most than the iPhone. Sales are beginning to show this is true, as Android is quickly overtaking Apple. Yes, that has a lot to do with the proliferation of Android across 30+ mainstream devices and Apple having only one. Yet this goes to further my point: given the choice, you should go with the device that makes the most sense to you. As fans of open source, I cannot fathom how the iPhone can be an easy decision for you, the opensource.com reader.

So with that, I strongly urge you to really think about the statement you make when you drop $200+ on a device that is as closed as the iPhone. Voting with your wallet is one of the best ways to show support or disapproval for something. Maybe it's time to give some money to companies that let open source software live in the market, that allow alternatives to their proprietary software, and that don't have lock-in tactics. Barring business requirements, there is no real excuse to buying an iPhone if you are a fan of open source. Stop it.

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118 Comments

John Smith

I have been exercising this vote-with-your-wallet for years now. First it was Nvidia over ATI, now it is over anything. So proud there is already alternative on the smartphone market.

Cannot wait for the Droid X to join our family of Droid phones...

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Unidentified

It is tivoized and self-destructs if you hack it. That is worse than proprietary iPhone. Nobody who supports open source should even look at tivoized phones like Droid X. It is a DRM party on Linux.

On the other hand, Nokia respects users freedom and MeeGo is going to be libre, like Maemo was. Real Linux phones will be ones with MeeGo.

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rprice
Newbie

Travis,

Very good article. I have enjoyed every one you have put out so far. Thanks again for a great read.

While I agree with almost everything you put into this article, I can't help but feel I am a bad person for owning an iPhone. 90% of the daily activities I do in my life revolve around opensource. The other 10%, to me, is me using flash, nvidia proprietary drivers (if needed), Windows to play my favorite games, etc... Does that make me any less of a fan of opensource? Of course not! Do I promote this to my family and friends when I get a chance? Sure I do!

But for my use and for what I do, I find it perfectly fine. I know for a fact a lot of opensource die hards use proprietary applications in their daily life. For instance, I know a lot of people who use Windows to play their favorite games but promote opensource full time. Does that make them any less of a candidate for promoting the opensource gospel? I don't think so. At the moment that is how I feel with the iPhone. I enjoy using it and the feature it has. Fedora 13 works beautifully with it now. I do hate having to use iTunes but I get by with what I need using it.

When my contract ends or I absolutely need to get off the iPhone, I will in a heartbeat, but for now it does what I need and it does it very well. I have to admit, the new opensource phones coming out are stunning and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them. There is no doubt in my mind they will smash the iPhone market share.

To quote our leader in Linux:

“Anybody who tells me I can’t use a program because it’s not open source, go suck on rms. I’m not interested. 99% of that I run tends to be open source, but that’s _my_ choice, dammit.”
-Linus Torvalds

Thanks again for a great article!

~rp

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manielse

Certainly, you have the choice to use an iPhone but I'm curious on why you do over an Android? What draws you to the iPhone that Android does not? Is it that you feel that the iPhone is a superior device despite not being open source? Are there specific apps that are unique and important enough to keep you on the platform? Is it simply that you've owned an iPhone before Android exploded and matured? I can understand the Windows argument, it does things that are limited or difficult in Linux today but I don't know if I agree with the same view of the iPhone these days which is clearly even more locked down than Windows? I'm just curious of the draw of the device from an open source advocate.

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quaid
Open Minded

I could be a minority, but I'm waiting for my contract to run down to where I get a deal on a new phone. My personal budget I can't have me "dropping $200" on a phone when my old not-a-smartphone LG Voyager is making calls just fine still. There is no clear business case for me to expense it before my new-every-two-years, so I'll wait. Of course, that means I get the choice of Droid 2, Droid X, or whatever else I want, and that's what I get for having patience.

Two years ago I made a conscious choice to wait two more years for a Linux-based phone, and it is way beyond my dreams back then.

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Stu

I've had an iPhone ("iPhone in the morning, 'cos the battery's flat by the afternoon") for 18 months now. In the meantime, I've ended up buying a BlackBerry as well, as the iPhone just wasn't good enough for business use.

Now my iPhone contract's up, I've chosen to go with the HTC Desire, and it's a fantastic bit of kit. The problem I've had migrating, however, isn't the phone, it's the apps. The community has done a fantastic job of creating iPhone apps that have been so useful and often of such good quality, that it's very difficult to find replacements.

Yes, I can replace most, or even all of these apps with *something*, either from the Android store or from within the open source community, but somehow it's just not quite the same.

I guess really what I'm saying is that Apple aren't providing the best product, they no longer produce anything revolutionary or unique. Apple's contribution is probably just about good enough. But thanks to the third-party development community the iPhone still remains a fairly compelling proposition.

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Chris

I'm a table-top gaming fan. I'll take a nice boardgame over the newest FPS computer game any day. I'm not talking Risk and Monopoly, though; I'm talking about hardcore tabletop slugfests like "Neuroshima Hex", "Carcassonne", and "Tide of Iron".

As a boardgame fan, I've seen the game publishers I love swarm to develop their apps on the iOS platform (and particularly the iPad with the larger real estate conducive to boardgames), with barely a sideways glance at Android. I'm not going to shelve my love of these games to make a political statement about the open source movement. If the movement can't attract the app developers that make the games I love, I'm not sidelining my interests in protest.

So why aren't they developing on Android?
Not my problem.

I'm a consumer, and I go where the goods are. Others may be happy living lives of political protest, but activism isn't the life for me. Life is too short for that kind of behavior.

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rprice
Newbie

I owned an iPhone before there was any decent choice. I think the only choice I had was a blackberry at the time? That's one of the major reasons. I almost got one of the Google phones before I made my iPhone choice (tkep can back me up since I came to him) but the device just wasn't there yet.

~rp

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Mike Harvey

yes, there is a practical aspect to all of this. If you already bought an IPhone, you've made a small investment in a good phone that was a good choice at the time of purchase. I don't think anybody should feel bad about that, I don't. I have an ITouch (I'm too cheap to pay the carrier and be locked in), it works great and I like it. When I go into the market again in the future for a mobile device, I will evaluate the choices and take a good hard look at mobile devices running open source operating systems and apps.

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tkepley
Open Minded

as stated, 2 years ago....understood, there wasn't a comparable phone. but that's changed...i urge open source fans to relook at this scenario and really think hard about where they are giving their money. if you have an android phone, and it has a problem, you report it to your carrier. assuming a kernel issue, the carrier will open a bug with the open handset alliance. then every android phone will get the fix for this bug. all from purchasing a linux based phone vs a closed OS phone.

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Rebecca
Open Source Champion

Ok, as someone who has not yet swallowed the big price tag of the smartphones, but will gladly buy one in the next few years, I am curious.

I frequently see useful apps for the iPhone that are targeted at non-tech users. For example, there's a gluten-free restaurant info card program for iPhone that I recently got an email about. I've seen fitness programs from magazines I enjoy, etc.

Do these apps also run on Android? Or do they need someone savvy to port them over?

I'm curious because I rarely see a "mainstream" but small-focused app advertised as running on Android.

I mostly want a smartphone for better Internet access on my cell and access to useful apps and my shared google calendars. So that's one thing that will definitely influence my choice--availability of the apps I find useful and future apps that may come out.

Of course I'm typing this from a dual-booted Windows/Fedora 13 machine, so I'm more a pragmatist than purist.

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manielse

To answer your question, there are apps on Android for Gluten Free Restaurant Searches and plenty of Fitness apps that are all within the Android Marketplace (kind of like an iTunes Store built directly as an App on the Android Phones). Not knowing the specific apps you were referring to for iPhone, I don't know if they are exact matches but certainly usable for these needs.

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tkepley
Open Minded

Rebecca, most apps either have an alternative or an Android specific version available. The best way to check is to search Android's marketplace:
http://www.android.com/market/

That's not a comprehensive list, but it gives you an idea of what you'll find on there. But bottom line, most major apps are on both platforms with alternatives available for ones that aren't.

The reason that most companies are getting Apple specific apps is because Apple used to have the market share. Most non-tech companies are always behind the curve, and you'll start seeing more and more apps specifically for Android now that it's taking over the marketshare. Who would have imagined that, Linux is finally getting in the hands of everyone! :)

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Ed Clark

Just an FYI, androidzoom.com and appbrain.com are probably the most usable search engines for the Android Market right now (sortable by popularity, rating, newness, etc).

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tstclair
Newbie

I couldn't agree more, but I think what lies at the crux of the matter goes beyond features and functionality, and lies deep within the psyche of most people. IMHO I believe it relates to "status","popularity", and the "lemming effect". Apple's marketing and subsequent fan-boy-ism has reached a fevered pitch. e.g. - Apparently they have sold 3 million iPads?

Why?
It's not the features, or functionality... my net-book has more capabilities, and at a much cheaper cost I might add.

The important thing to note, is fads come and go, but real solutions last the test of time, look at Linux.

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yardie

Let's break this down one by one:
Status: It's being sold at Walmart for $99 on contract. 2 years ago it was "the" phone to have.
Popularity: You can't be a status symbol if you are popular. If everyone has the same thing than that defeats status.
Lemmings: This is trading one form of fanboyism for another. Like saying that consumers are too stupid to know what they want and obviously choose the inferior, cheaper product.

The differences are vast between the netbook and iPad. I still don't understand why people continue to compare them. If people wanted a netbook they would get it. The form factors and usage are completely different. Netbooks were great when they were the best option. There is another option and for some it's better. Personally, I never saw the appeal of netbooks. Although I fit the netbook demographic, for my work they don't work. Trying to use a netbook while walking 3km/hr is impractical. Doing the same on iPad, Kindle, iPhone, Droid is totally workable. This is why netbooks lose they filled a niche but people wanted more.

Fads aren't 30yo companies. If Apple is a fad then Dell is definitely a fad. The former is gaining customers everyday, the later is trying to hold onto the ones they have. If the iPhone is a fad the iPod is one of the longest running fads. At some point you have to call it what it is.

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Colin Asquith

In hardware, doing is more important than the hype, although I'd agree pple have plenty of the latter. We all know some people will use Linux because of the "ethos" rather than how good it is, and some people will not use it because it seems alien to them, when it may suit them perfectly.

I'm a developer, have had numerous smart phones, and the iPhone is the first phone I've used that I just think got everything exactly right, it does what I want and I don't have to think. It seems Apple have moved away (maybe intentionally) from the way other companies sell, and sell their hardware more like cars, rather than speed/RAM/pixels, it is experience they are selling which is harder to quantify and it is up to you if you think that it is worth paying more for (some people will buy flashy cars as status symbols), and whether it fits your values of open source. I would happy use/back/develop open source software, but would I avoid buying a toaster I couldn't get the source code to? No. I am just of the opinion that open source is great, but isn't the only solution.

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Brian Boley

To me, it's purely a matter of choice. Being an advocate does not mean that you must use open source in every facet of your life in which it is possible to do so. I push people to OSS all the time when I feel that the particular OS, piece of software, etc has the features that meet exactly what they are looking for. Why pay for it?

However, I think it's important to respect choice. Just because you're a fan of Open Source doesn't mean you should never use a device that isn't.

There are many factors here that aren't being taken into consideration. Perhaps people prefer the interface, perhaps they like having their wifi functioning with 802.11n without having to hack the phone, perhaps the apps available integrate better with things they are already using. I mean, there are just too many different angles from which you can approach why a person arrives at their specific choice.

Android is an mobile device operating system that is not tied to a specific device. The iPhone is an all-in-one device. The operating system does not come separately from the device, and that is why they only have one. That's just how Apple does business though, and is why I don't own anything Apple other than the iPhone. I don't like not being able to swap out hardware as I see fit. I can't swap out hardware on my phone, or any other phone for that matter, so in that respect it's not even an option. This also doesn't take into account carrier lock-ins, pricing, coverage in that person's specific area, etc, etc.

Anyway, to bring it back around, I think it's just a matter of what each person wants. I don't believe that owning an iPhone makes you any less of a worthy fan of Open Source. Owning a Honda doesn't mean you can't like Toyota as well. To me the principle is the same.

Let people buy what they want. They work for their money, and that alone earns them the right to choose what they spend it on. You can "urge" them to buy something open source, but I don't think they should have to answer to anyone over what they spend their hard earned money on.

Personally, what I find more shocking here is that Blackberry still leads the market. That alone shows that "feature parity" doesn't have much to do with phone selection. I don't like those devices at all, and I think they are years behind the rest of the smart-phone market. However, that's just my opinion. Perhaps it's just brand recognition.

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Z

I totally agree with Brian Boley.

See Nokia as an example - they are the #1 phone producer in the World - not as popular in U.S. but they have a big chunk of the market anywhere else. And if you look at the specs of their Linux based smart phone (N900) - you will see a nice platform (hardware) but very limited number of commercially available software. It is a good phone for some Linux lovers - but is it for everyone today ? But Nokia is also trying to stay in the top phone producers list by promoting MeeGo (with Intel) now. They are also trying to build a marketplace similar to Apple and Android. How successful they will be - only time will tell.

I use a Ubuntu laptop running on a Dell at home - wanted an Apple laptop but it was too expensive. I am running Virtual Box with MS Windows XP to be able to watch movies streamed from Netflix. Using a Nokia E71 - wanted to buy an iphone 4 - didn't want to sucked in to a 2 years contract besides using Fring video calls for almost a year now. And I work in a shop that uses different flavors of Linux and Open Solaris.

My point is even if we are familiar and like to use OSS for our work and at home - sometimes it purely boils down requirements and cost effectiveness.

Best regards
Z

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Sortova
Open Minded

As someone who has spent the last decade working in open source, I still really like Apple gear. In fact, I just took delivery on a new iPhone 4 and so far it's been excellent.

I don't do development on my iPhone, so to me it is just another appliance, like a microwave. The reason I got hooked on Apple gear in the first place is that with OS X I got a unix-like base that also had a convenient and well designed GUI. The moment Apple locks down the Mac like they do the iPhone is the moment I leave.

Where do you draw the line? Obviously, iPhone == bad but what about Twitter? On this very page is a link to both Twitter and Identi.ca, but one is much more open source than the other. It seems that for some reason Twitter is okay even though it is closed, but the iPhone crosses some sort of line.

Given a choice between two comparable products, I'll always choose the open one. But for now Android doesn't deliver the same experience as my iPhone does, but it might in 18 months when my contract is up. If so, I'm there, but until then I'll be happy to play with my iPhone but work on Linux.

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sheffus

I bought my first iPhone before there was an open source option. I still don't really like the Android phones, they just aren't there yet.

Do I have to be a total open source zealot to be an open source fan?

Heck,
No matter how many times I have asked, KFC won't open source their secret recipe... Does that mean I can't eat there either?

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JP

While geeks as a group pride themselves on being super smart free-thinkers, we're not especially good at thinking critically about advertising / marketing, particularly when it's done as well as AAPL does it. This, combined with the several things their products are legitimately, objectively good at, means that many give in to the temptation of the new and shiny. You have to value your ideals quite a lot to choose an open alternative that can't do everything the closed market leader can do - even if some open products are clearly more capable in other ways.

I tend to think of it like vegetarianism... I'm not one myself, but I know several people who are and respect their views, and I really appreciate that most of them aren't high-and-mighty jerks about it, even if they do privately hope that someday humans as a whole will move to the moral high ground.

Likewise, as someone who is idealistic about software, I try doubly hard to avoid being a sanctimonious jerk about it. Sometimes it's hard though, when companies like AAPL behave badly.

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glashoppah

Having worked in IT since the 1970s in every facet of the space, from consulting to small, medium and big business, from development to networking to security, hardware to software, and having known tens of thousands of geeks, I can say without reservation that in my experience geeks are some of the most closed-minded and bigoted of people. There's no religion like technology religion.

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quaid
Open Minded

Travis, I enjoy reading your articles. You write with a clear, impassioned voice about really important matters.

However, I confess that I cringed in the first paragraph of this article, even though I think you tried valiantly to work around such reactions. So, a bit of unsolicited advice from one open community writer to another, there is no need to dance around gender word choices ("business person" works fine) nor user-capability stereotypes - just edit them out before you take it public. :) No matter who we are, it's worth a diversity check before publishing when your goal is to reach the widest audience.

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Adam Drew

I must confess I am a bit confused about the reactions to this article. As I see it Travis is asking "Hey you open source fan! I am interested to know why you choose to use a closed source locked down portable computer in the face of more open alternatives. Lets have a discussion about this." This is a pretty simple question and it is aimed squarely at people who consider open source software a passion or hobby but who still carry a closed source portable computer.

A lot of the people responding here seem the read this as "Why would anyone use an iPhone" instead of the simple "Why do you, open source fan, use an iPhone." If the answer is "I am not really that into open source i just use what works." Then cool. No one is going to judge you. If the answer is "I prefer the UI and I like iTunes." Then that's fine too. It's not a judgement, it's a question.

I think this is an interesting question, one I asked myself before I ditched the iPhone for a Droid. I hope that others reading this article will take it more like an invitation to discuss why they like their iPhone, or why Open Source on a mobile isn't a priority to them, rather than a snapping into a defensive mode and acting like this is an attack.

Thanks all!

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Rebecca
Open Source Champion

that strike a nerve.

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sfn

You say "No one is going to judge you", but this

With that in mind, as a fan of open source, how can you give your money to a company that actively prevents open source code from even being uploaded to their App Store? Why in the world do I know so many open source enthusiasts still lining up at each iPhone release? Why are those same people still preordering and pining for the next gadget from Cupertino? It's nothing short of mind-boggling.

says otherwise.

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qnetter
Newbie

And not be an "open source adherent." (I change that from "religionist" because it was a bit incendiary, but that's the general point.) I didn't see any way in which the question was not directed to me as a user of this site.

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Anonymous Corward

When this discussion arises I am always astonished by the absence of this one point: The Android platform may be free, but some may not want to embrace having every possible facet of their communication data mined by "Do No Evil" Google. Does Apple data mine similarly? I may be mistaken but not according to their TOS. Perhaps we can't trust that, but its something that can be addressed in court as opposed to signing away any right to privacy?

In short, I'd like an open handset that doesn't neccesitate tying into anyone else's infrastructure beyond what is absolutely neccesary.

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Brian Boley

You make an excellent point.

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Brian Boley

You make an excellent point.

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Adam Drew

Hello,

Are you aware that using Google's services is optional on Android? You can use an Android phone without using (or even having a Google account.) You can turn off location services so Google never provides location triangulation, and thus, never gathers location data. You can use a third party navigation application if desired and not use Google Maps Navigation. You can use pop, IMAP, or exchange mail and never touch Gmail, Google Contacts, etc.

Furthermore none of this is "hidden" from the user. When you turn on Android phone for the first time (or a phone that has been reset) it walks you through a setup assistant. In the setup assistant it asks you if you'd like to use a Google Account. You can decline. It will ask you if you want to use location services. On that same screen it will inform you that if you use location services Google will gather anonymous data. You can then elect to turn it off (on that same screen.)

The idea that Android is "tied" to Google services is FUD. Does it integrate with Google services? Yes. Are they required or do they use a complex "opt out" system? No. You can use your Android device off-the-shelf while providing no data to Google.

Hopefully this clears a few things up for you.

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Anonymous Corward

I believe this has changed, or I may have been given FUD all along. When I had originally looked into a G1 when they were new my understanding was that the device could not be used without Google services. You needed a gmail account to activate the device. If I was mistaken, or if that has changed that is great news and I will be excited at checking out a Android device very soon! Any suggestions to get me started?

Conversely, in my experience, as limited as it may be, non-technical people are often not aware of the existence of things like location services being tied to a g-mail account or appreciate the potential implications. Even if it is trivial to opt out of such services, are people being educated about such decisions?

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Adam Drew

It may have changed post 1.0. My first Android device is/was a Droid and it shipped with 2.0. My experience is limited to 2.0/2.1/2.2.

Using the phone without the Google services would definitely not be a use case for a non-technical person. The Android Market is linked to a Google account so you'd have to install all of your apps by getting the apk files (like rpms) from the Web. Nowhere along the way will it stop you but you'd have to decide "I want to use this device without any involvement from Google." Choice is good even if the "advanced use cases" are more difficult. Compare this to iOS where there is no way to get software onto the device without an iTunes account. (jailbreaking doesn't count as it requires cracking the device while using an Android device without a Google account requires no modification to the OS.)

As far as the location services, right after the Google Account screen in the setup assistant it brings you to a dedicated "Do you want to turn location services off?" screen. This isn't hidden in a menu, it is step 2 or 3 in the setup assistant. On that screen it plainly states that Google gathers location data to provide triangulation services and search results for locations near by (restaurants, etc). Then there's 2 check boxes and a "Next" button.

I decided to do you a favor to make sure I was being accurate I restored my phone to see if proceeding past the setup assistant without a Google Account would work as described. It worked without issue. Had I decided to proceed on this way I would have imported contacts from a csv on my sd card and downloaded apks of some needed third party apps. My phone is "google free" at the moment.

Hope this helps and hope you'll pay the correct information forward if you hear anyone make similar comments. There's a lot of Android FUD floating around right now and that's a big one.

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thor

Nice factual statement ... but I have lot of Apps on my iPhone that are loaded through the iTunes application, but don't require an account on the iTunes store. So that comparison is, well, just FUD.

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Stephen

Try using the Droid without Google. You do release that Marketplace is tied to a google email and checkout account?

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Percival

While there is the choice with the Android phones, there isn't the choice with the iPhone, nor, is there a choice, if Apple decides an app is "not family appropriate" for you to keep the app you paid for, nor do you get your money back for said app. It just disappears from your phone, no warning, no involvement by you, no notice afterward, or anything. If they can do that to the data on your phone, what else are they tracking? What else are they looking at? What else might they control? Remember the huge amount of (negative) press that the Kindle got, when they removed books? Well ... it happens on the iPhone. Just so you folks are aware.

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Stephen

That is not true. Once you buy an app it stays in iTunes until you remove it. You can save it elsewhere on the drive too, or back it up.

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Jim Frost

You're misinformed, once you buy an app it's yours. Apple might remove it from the store, but they don't remove things from your device. It's also your responsibility to back it up -- you can't download it again for free from the store.

I find that a little bit annoying (I can re-download any book I bought on my Kindle for comparison and that is occasionally convenient) but it's not any different from other software markets.

jim frost
jimf@frostbytes.com

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qnetter
Newbie

You can't re-download media -- but you definitely can re-download apps.

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SE

You can't re-download media -- but you definitely can re-download apps

Indeed. I always took that to be because apple requests record companies for content, whereas devs as apple to sell their products.

Since my earlier post, I've spent some time on the android market. So much more good stuff available now. My comment about apple's proposition being compelling thanks to independent devs may have lost some weight.

Going back to the point about media, I'm thinking the app store is a bit like a music chain store, HMV or whatever... It sells what the majority of the public want, most of the time. The android market (and, I guess the platform too, though I'm really pleased with the htc) is like an independent music shop. Maybe a little less polished, a bit more diverse, but in addition to the mainstream "industry standard" output, it also has more diverse, edgy stuff. Sometimes that's rubbish, sometimes its brilliant.

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Colin Asquith

I don't think this argument makes sense. The Apple App store has 200,000 apps, which is a lot more than any other platform (just now), so it includes mainstream/small/big/diverse apps, it includes the weirdest software you've seen, they just have a quality level you have you meet to get in.

The whole reason the Apple platform works is you don't really get "unpolished" apps, you get Apps that work and are understandable, this has always been the problem with Windows, only the big software companies seem to be able to make quality software that also looks good.

Also- Android added the ability to remotely wipe applications from Google itself, I don't know why everyone thinks it is only Apple who could do this. The idea being if some software ends up with *BAD* features (virus/deletes info/tracks you etc.) then someone could step in. Not sure it will ever be used... but... it is there.

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Jim Frost

I stand corrected, then, I must have been thinking about media. I've never had to try to re-download an app, although I have shared them amongst devices by synching them all against the same iTunes.

jim frost
jimf@frostbytes.com

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badtux

"Making a statement" is for people with time and money to waste, and I don't. Right now it's practically toss a coin as to which benefits of which platform are worth more to me, and I have to make my decision based on how I use my phone, not based on vague intellectual property theories that have nothing to do with how I use a phone. In the end, it's a *phone*, not a intellectual property manifesto, and if it doesn't do the job I need, the licensing of the OS is irrelevant.

So the question is, which of Android 2.1 and IOs 4.0 will best handle the tasks that I want my phone to handle? That's a technical question, not an intellectual property question. I don't even consider whether it's Open Source or not, and never have, even though I've made my living with Linux for years. I use Linux for special-purpose servers because it's the best for the job, not because it has special open source unicorn sparkles or somethin'...

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Adam Drew

Cool, but I am puzzled by your implied assertion that choosing to use an open source OS is a always someone "making a statement." I use Android not so that I can pull some geek card but because I like to customize my property and not be tied to desktop software that doesn't run on an OS I use. Do you believe that there are no pragmatic "everyday" reasons to prefer OSS? And, following from that, do you believe that the only reason one can prefer OSS is for philosophical or ethical reasons?

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badtux

If you are creating an embedded server to do some specific task, yes, the OSS nature of Linux makes a significant difference, because you have the source code to modify to your heart's desire. Need to do some special re-writing of IP packet headers as they move through the network stack? Need shuffle packets amongst various virtual network ports in order to make one 10Gbit port look like ten 1Gbit ports to feed to ten copies of a single-threaded network sniffer server that can only handle 1Gbit of traffic per port monitored? Just fire up /bin/vi and edit away!

But that's not what I'm doing with my phone. What I'm doing with my phone is: Making calls. Listening to music through my car or home stereo or bedside radio. Streaming music from last.fm or Pandora. Checking my email. Using the web browser to check whether my flight is delayed or on time. Taking a quicky photo of a plant that I encountered on a median that I think would look nice by my doorstep, so that I can take the photo to a nursery this weekend and get one. See what restaurants are around me so I can decide where I want to go for dinner. Check my grocery list in Evernote.

Does availability of source code help or hinder any of those? No. It's irrelevant. What's relevant is whether the platform is a) capable of those, and b) currently has software which does those. Right now Android on other carriers has some things I want to do with my phone that AT&T won't let me do, such as tether without jailbreak/rooting it (I rarely need to tether, but when I need it, I need it), and lacks other things like the ability to plug into an iPod-enabled car stereo and use the stereo's controls to advance to the next song (the stereo's controls are on my steering wheel, while the phone is mounted above my center mirror due to limited space on my dash). So which one should I get for my next phone, one of the new Android superphones, or an iPhone 4? That's a decision I have to make based on a lot of factors... but open source (or not) isn't one of them.

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jwoolson

I'm an iPhone owner who would love to try an Android phone (or a tablet), but until Android has a working, supported Cisco VPN stack, I can't go there.

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Unidentified

The Developer G1 and the Nexus One are two phones running Android that can use VPNC using the TUN module--I connect to a Cisco based VPN concentrator all the time with my G1 with no hacks--just the VPNC app from the Marketplace. Easy-peasy stuff!

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Nick Vellios

The iPhone operating system may not be open source, but you can still be a strong supporter of open source and not only use, but actively develop for the iPhone. In fact, I have a site dedicated to open source development on the iPhone. Apple is completely aware of the fact that my App Store app is open source, and they don't care one bit.

Android is plagued by the same problems Linux desktop is. Frequent updates breaking everything. Too many open programs that rely on too many other open programs that end up breaking 1,000 other open programs when they release an update. A mess of problems that only those who have actively developed for Linux have come to realize. Don't try and tell me you have no idea what I am talking about. Not to mention the kernel code is a patchy mess of code. Ask any company who has switched the operating system on their embedded devices from Linux to BSD.

Still, I plan on purchasing an Android device shortly. I use my iPhone devices only for development, my carrier is Verizon and I see some really nice Android phones out there. Who knows, I may end up developing for it in the future, but for now I am happy with my iPhone.

--
Nick Vellios
http://www.DwarfCamel.com - iPhone Open Source Resource

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Derek

"the same problems Linux desktop is. Frequent updates breaking everything. Too many open programs that rely on too many other open programs that end up breaking 1,000 other open programs when they release an update. A mess of problems that only those who have actively developed for Linux have come to realize. "

Sorry, but this is just more FUD.

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Travis Kepley is a Senior Instructor at Red Hat where he helps employees, partners and customers understand how Open Source Software can create a better IT and business infrastructure. Travis started at Red Hat in January of 2008 as a Technical Support Engineer before becoming a Solutions Architect prior to moving to his current role. Travis graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and now lives in Raleigh with his wife and dog. When not extolling the virtues of open