What OS would you choose if you had to give up Android?

November 8, 2013
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Friday Debate aa (1)

In this edition of the Friday Debate, we discuss the unthinkable: what would happen if there were no Android? We’d all have to adopt other mobile platforms, like it or not. So, what would that competing operating system be in your case? iOS, BB10, WP, Ubuntu Touch, Firefox OS. Something else?

If you had to give up Android today, what device would you buy and why? Is there a feature on a non-Android device that you secretly crave?

Join us in the discussion, vote in our poll, and sound off in the comments!

Adam Koueider

We quickly forget that the mobile market is a two horse race right now. Android is taking the role that Windows has on the desktop and iOS is filling its niche. BB10 is a sinking ship and despite Microsoft’s relatively futile attempts at making Windows Phone relevant, the operating system has yet to make a serious dent in the market.

In the extremely unlikely event that I had to leave Android (at least extremely unlikely on a phone, tablets are a whole new ball game), I’d probably move to iOS. There are a few very good reasons for the move to iOS over Windows Phone. My first reason is that it simply has more apps over Windows Phone and better games when compared to Android (but I’m not too big of a mobile gamer so it’s not enough to sway me from Android without being forced to leave).

The second and biggest reason I’d choose iOS over Windows Phone is that I am a very big Google services user. While Android is still slightly above iOS when it comes to Google services, iOS is head and shoulders above Windows Phone. As a user of Google Drive, Gmail, Play Music, Google Plus, Chrome and a Chromebook as my Primary laptop just to name a few, going to Windows Phone would be disastrous for me.

That being said, if there were to be one phone that would pull me away from Android, it would ironically be a Windows Phone. The Nokia Lumia 1020, as I’ve said before, gives me a reason to put up with the overly simplistic, live tile UI. Its camera is simply stunning, and no other smartphone camera comes close. As far as features are concerned, there aren’t very many that I crave.

Android, in its robust feature set and customizability, can give me almost all that I’d ever desire, but if there was one feature that I’d like on Android, it’s the four finger swipe to swap between apps/five finger pinch to close app on the iPad. It’s a great feature which works very well and is intuitive and easy to use, meaning it has all of the qualities of a great feature.

The last one I’d like on Android, is the finger/palm rejection, again found on iOS. This would seriously help OEMs reduce bezels without making the user experience worse thanks to accidental screen presses.

All things taken into consideration, as much as I dislike iOS on a phone, and on a 7-inch tablet, I actually prefer it on a 10-inch tablet (pre-iOS 7 over iOS 7 of course). That being said, I don’t like 10-inch tablets that much either, so I’d probably pass on that as well.

Andrew Grush

Honestly this is a pretty tough question. When it comes to computerized devices I like options, the ability to do what I want.

It’s why I still custom build my PC and dual-boot between Ubuntu and Windows 8.1. It’s also why I choose Android. With Android I can choose the hardware that I feel works best for me, and I can also make changes to the software via launchers, custom ROMs and so forth.

As it stands, no mobile OS fits the bill for me outside of Android.

In a world where Android didn’t exist, I suppose that other platforms would have risen up or perhaps HP’s (or really Palm’s) WebOS would still be going strong.

As it stands now? If something forced me out of Android for whatever reason, I would probably keep a close eye out for what’s going on with Ubuntu on mobile, though it’s far from ready for primetime.

In the meantime, I think I’d have to settle for a Windows Phone device. With WP8, at least I still have a few hardware options, as opposed to Apple’s two-sizes-fits-all approach with the iPhone 5S and 5C. I also am a big fan of Nokia’s designs, even if I’m not so keen on the idea of Microsoft getting their hands all over the company’s phone division.

On the downside, I’d also have to go through various hoops to get any Google services up and running, and some won’t work at all. As far as the lack of other apps, I play a few games and use a few productivity apps, but I think I could still get by with Microsoft’s much more limited selection.

Ultimately, I will not be leaving Android unless something equal to it arises.

To be “equal” in my mind, it has to be an easily customizable platform with multiple device choices. Additionally, there has to be at least enough apps to cover my basic needs when it comes to light gaming, social networking, productivity and the like.

As we know all know — no other major OS currently fits that description.

Simon Hill

There are things I don’t like about it, but if I had to give up Android then I’d definitely go for iOS and an iPhone 5S, for much the same reasons as Adam. iOS is the next best platform for the Google services I use daily, and it has a much better selection of apps and games than either BB10 or Windows Phone. Most of the apps and games on iOS are much more polished and they tend to be properly optimized for the platform, so the user experience is undeniably good. I like the fingerprint scanner on the 5S and it’s a nice phone to use, although I’d definitely miss the bigger screens I’ve grown used to.

In terms of devices, I’ve been using a BB Z30 recently for a review and it’s actually a really nice piece of hardware. It has a good, big screen and a premium feel. I also quite like BB10 as a platform, I think it’s better than Windows Phone, it’s just let down by the lack of apps and the poor quality of what is there, which is ultimately a deal breaker for me.

As it stands Android and iOS are still streets ahead of the competition, especially if you use a lot of apps and like to play a good selection of new and classic games.

Darcy LaCouvee

This is an incredibly tough question.

I’ve been pondering this for quite some time, and I’ve yet to fully decide. From my time with both Ubuntu and Firefox OS, I’d have to say that I’d opt for either over iOS or BB.

Increasingly, everything I do is via either Chrome or Boat with flash enabled (Yes, I need to be able to use a full desktop browser with flash for many of the things we do here at AA)

And, let’s face it — mobile devices aren’t really geared for ‘power users’ yet, and likely will never be. Mobile technology is designed to facilitate convenience and the notion that we are connected. It can definitely augment a professionals ability to work and stay connected while they are on the move. But for those among us that write, create, synthesize, analyze, etc., there is nothing that can replace a full PC/Mac.

If I gave up Android, I don’t think I could ever make the switch to iOS, unless compelled at gunpoint or for the right price. Ok, I kid.

But, in all seriousness, Blackberry looks great for email aficionados, but that’s about it. So where does that leave us? Ubuntu, and Firefox OS. Neither are popular, and likely never will be to the same magnitude that Android has achieved, but at least they continue to push the envelope of what HTML5 can do, and honor the principles of FOSS. Google continues to obfuscate their true adherence to FOSS (Chromecast, Qualcomm issues, Android 4.4 changes, etc) as they pursue further control of Android, and the monetization potential it carries for them. This is a for profit company that loves money. And they need to respect their partners, both in the hardware and content delivery to do this.

That being said, the alternatives don’t quite look very attractive. I’d likely go for Ubuntu, Firefox OS, or Sailfish OS. Windows Phone is a joke, iOS is iOS, and BB is a burning platform. 

Joe Hindy

Without a shadow of a doubt it’d be Windows Phone for me. In the mobile space, all my devices are Android but in the PC space, I’m all Windows. Sometimes people are quick to dismiss WP and that’s okay. They’re numbers are still really low. However, the numbers show that WP users are up from 2% to 4% this year, meaning the number of WP users have literally doubled. Considering that Microsoft is buying Nokia and is going to produce their own hardware, I expect these numbers to continue to increase and, possibly, bring a third big competitor to the mobile space. With Microsoft’s vast wealth and healthy PC ecosystem, it’s unreasonable to believe that their app offerings won’t eventually at least catch up to a point where the important tasks are covered.

But it is more than just the latest trends. WP products sync and work well with Windows products which I use every day. With things like Skydrive gaining momentum and other MS products like Xbox SmartGlass, Xbox Music, and Office having native support, it’s conceivable that in the future WP owners will be able to replace pretty much every Google product with a Microsoft product. If you also take into account that Google’s products are cross platform (i.e. Google Maps), then you can still get a good deal of Google content on a Microsoft device. This will be especially true once the YouTube issue has been worked out.

That’s really it. I am an Xbox Live subscriber and I own Windows PCs and if I didn’t have Android, I would look to find a device that could integrate with what I have as much as possible.

What do YOU think?

Join us in the comments and vote in our poll.

[poll id=”414″]

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