Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Switching from iOS or Android, to Firefox OS has never been cheaper!

With the iOS 7 update, the iPhone and iPad have adopted a look and feel much more in line with the Android OS. If you were afraid of the learning curve leaving the iPhone and haven't yet updated to iOS 7 you might just consider an switch to an Android device instead. If you're already using iOS 7 then congratulations you will already be familiar with the Android interface. The main difference between Android and iOS is that with Android you can get a lot deeper into the OS and customizing your experience with the phone on Android. If that sort of thing scares you then stick with Apple's highly predictable products that make it easy for me to hand an iPad over to my grandma or a 4 year old and have them downloading apps or shopping online in no time. I enjoy my iPhone for the simple reason it requires no intelligence or technology background to operate the phone and get as much out of it as can possibly be done.

I've tried several Android devices and OS releases over the years and while they had some perks I liked, I found myself fiddling with the phone a lot more than I ever do on the iPhone. Fortunately for me Google has been releasing apps for the iPhone and finally just gave us the Google Music app which allows me to connect to and download or stream my entire music collection that is now stored on Google Play. Before I had to use a third party app that worked most of the time but had frequent issues whenever Google or Apple changed something. When Google Maps got booted out of Apple in favor of their awful (but beautiful) maps I switched to Android. When Google Maps came back to Apple I switched back to the iPhone. Basically the Google products and services beat anything on iTunes, iWork, iBook hands down.

Take the music collection for instance, 12,000 songs I uploaded to the Google Play site and it got the Album, Artist, Song Title info correct along with the album artwork and all they got from me was the mp3 file. I'm still trying to get my iTunes cleaned up, and when using their new streaming option I've found numerous errors in the file names, artwork, album titles and even the artist info wrong in my iTunes. Why is it Google can get this right so much easier than Apple and they just got into the Music scene relatively recently in comparison to Apple? Bottom line I hate iTunes, I hate that I have to use iTunes to get content on and off my phone (or I can delete one track at a time from the phone), and I've found ways to work around Apple and use Google services on my iPhone. Those services run better on an Android device and so I'll probably switch someday, but as this article points out (thanks to Trevor for sharing this article) there are a couple issues with that move. Only two of slides here are even valid or legitimate arguments against switching but they are good concerns to raise. Slide 9 raises the issue of apps you may have on your iPhone for which you'll have to find either the same app or a replacement app on the Android market. Slide 10 raises the issue of malware in the Android market and the plethora of anti-virus and malware apps you can get on the marketplace is at least a testament to the concern being somewhat founded. I've certainly never seen an anti-malware app on the Apple marketplace.

One thing the article doesn't really get into is battery life, data usage and other things that on an Android you can really dig into and see where your battery life is going (what apps are eating it up) and where your data usage is heaviest (what apps are using the most data) which can be an interesting thing to review. On an iPhone the closest you get to anything like that is just how much space on your phone an app and it's data is taking up, beyond that you just have to experiment with shutting things off or uninstalling them from your phone to see if that improves battery life or reduces data usage.  All this to say that with these two competing markets with their devices and services are fairly similar and have pros and cons on either side. The argument continues and I don't think either is a clear winner at the point of this writing.

Enter a new and unlikely challenger... the non-profit Mozilla Foundation!

Firefox has entered the game and strangely enough they are largely funded by Google, and before that AOL (through Netscape as a subsidiary of AOL). Firefox now has their own marketplace with apps and everything else you find in Apple or Google devices. They have their own admittedly lower end device, but it comes free of any bloatware or contract or carrier. All the apps are basically web based so they take up very little space on the phone itself if any. The phone supports up to a 32GB MicroSD card and a standard MicroUSB charging port so it can be plugged in just about anywhere and you probably have a few MicroUSB cables around the house already. For a more thorough review of the Firefox ZTE Open phone and Firefox OS reviews you can check out this article or Google around. It's definitely not an iPhone or Android device and it has a lot of catching up to do but for a phone you can build your own apps for and has a 3-4 day battery life it is a good start for Firefox. Add to that the $80 price tag out the door with no contracts and the ability to select any carrier you desire also makes it a good entry level smartphone for anyone wanting to test out different carriers without making any commitments.

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