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I know this is too early, but...
My current 2-year commitment with AT&T comes up in a year, and I've already decided that I'm going to go the Android route for my next phone.[1]

I've basically been ignoring a lot of the details about Android since I've been using an iDevice longer than Android has been a market force (the initial release of Android was in October 2008, I bought my 3G in December 2008). So I don't know much about it.

So, for all the Android users... What should I be looking for in an Android phone? Given that my time frame is about a year, is progress so fast that I shouldn't worry about it now?

[1] The major issues with the iPhone are (1) Apple's app-store policies regarding purchasing 3rd-party content, even if they don't directly effect me because I don't subscribe to stuff through the phone, are annoying, (2) I can't run iTunes on my home Linux box, and I'd like to move my syncing off of my work computer, (3) Google is the Mother, Google is the Father, (4) My understanding is that the competition between manufactures is leading to a much faster development cycle for Android than iOS devices.

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Considering that my phone (Droid Pro) which I absolutely love came out about a week and a half before my contract was up - I think it's about fifty weeks to early to be thinking about this.

I know it's too early to chuse a handset, but I don't even know what questions to ask to chuse a handset.

Besides, I have options which would allow me, if the situation with Apple gets bad enough, to jump to Android sooner.

Is the iPhone really that bad?

No, and yes.

For the most part, I'm satisfied with the iPhone. Otherwise I'd switch immediately. It's a nice piece of kit.

But there are issues, some philosophical, some more concrete.

Concretely, I have the whole "can only sync at work" issue, which may run into problems with the "new security policy says bad things about connecting non-company devices to work equipment" issue. That alone may force a quick switch away from my iPhone.

In addition, Google tried for a while to put a turn-by-turn-directions app on the iPhone, but Apple said no. Now that Google is backing the Android and ships Android with their navigation app, Google is not interested in putting it on the iPhone, despite an apparent change in Apple's policy. This, too, is a practical concern encouraging a switch.

But the philosophical comes in two parts: control and competition. Apple has no competition on the iDevice. If you want to play with iOS, you go through Apple's hardware and software. You play by their rules, and enjoy advances on their schedule. If you work around their rules, Apple closes loopholes. This leads to: Apple demanding that apps be sold through them and only them; Apple applying arbitrary criteria to which apps they will sell; Apple demanding a 30% cut for all media sold through the device; etc. Jobs famously said, in response to criticism about adult-oriented apps being rejected "If you want porn, get an Android". I don't really want porn via my phone, but I also don't want to be told I can't get it.

The early market presence of the iPhone, plus the cachet of the iPhone, gives Apple a tremendous head-start in market share and profits. Apple is in a category by themselves -- people compare market share of iOS (Apple), Android (lots of vendors), Windows 7 Phone (lots of vendors), etc. Without competition in their category, they have slowed their innovation. Apple works with a 1-year release cycle on their phones. No really new features have been released since the iPhone 4, 8 months ago. Android manufacturers are in competition with each other to turn out new and better phones all the time.

So, there's nothing immediately bad about the iPhone that I can't live through, but it's not a platform I want to stay on for my next phone.

friendsfriends surfed here:

Secondly, I just asked on xda developers webpage (people who tear smartphone OSs apart, put them back together again in more efficient, less bloatwared fould ways) about the HTC Inspire 4G, and gave a time frame of end of this august.

I was told to wait before even looking.
I'd say "don't worry about it now!" When you get back in 6 months, it's going to be a different ballgame. I'd suspect that the next gen of Tegra based phones will be starting to appear by then and you'll be like "Inspire what?"

Edited at 2011-02-24 07:01 pm (UTC)

Hon, I would say simply put yourself more in the loop regarding the Android environment right now (http://www.talkandroid.com/), but do not try to deal with any sort of specific handsets now. By the time you're ready its quite possible that the Version-of-AndroidOS-that-Google-hasn't-even-named-yet will be out (its nickname will start with "J") and the entire handset environment (to say NOTHING about the tablet environment) will have changed significantly.

Welcome to the AndroidOS side. We have desert, and a cute Robotic Overlord mascot. :-)

Something else to think about, although it would require more coordination: what's your opinion of switching carriers?

I see parallels to the 80s when the Macintosh first came out. Apple innovates with a brilliant new idea that is way beyond what the rest of the industry is doing, and enjoys its justly earned kudos for a while. The rest of the industry takes a while to catch up ... eventually offering similar functionality but on open-source hardware (and sometimes software).

The first computer I ever bought was a Mac IIcx, and I endured a lot of ribbing from my classmates at MIT, who said basically "The only reason to get a Mac is because it's cute!" My response was, "It's the best thing out there." It was substantially more expensive than the other options, but worth it.

I now have a MacBook and iPod, and the iPod syncs just fine with my desktop Ubuntu Linux (and I like using Rhythmbox a lot more than iTunes). Windows, of course, refuses to have anything to do with either of them.

Never got an iPhone because I didn't like the exclusivity (carrier, software, media content, you name it). Like you, I'm thinking about an Android, but haven't decided yet.

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