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Engineers: iPhone or Android?

Posted July 24, 2012 12:30 PM by yamdankee
Pathfinder Tags: Android Engineering Tools iphone

One of the most important skills an engineer must have is being able to take advantage of any and all tools available to them. Projects, collaboration, research, calculations - engineers juggle a lot of different responsibilities. One tool that many engineers have found valuable is their smartphone. Years of development for applications and tools can be taken advantage of to make complex calculations, communicate efficiently, and help an engineer do his or her job.

(Image: minilistings.com)------------------>

Of the many options, iPhone and Android phones as well as iPads and Android tablets, are at the top in terms of variety and availability of applications. In terms of usability and learning curve, many prefer Apple's approach with a clean, standardized, consistent, and easy to learn interface. Many, on the other hand, prefer the malleability of the Android interface despite some inconsistencies and a bit less polish. Other options include Windows Phone and Blackberry, but the app development for these operating systems do not receive as much attention.

(iPhone App: Formulator) (Android App: Civil Calculator)

Outside of engineering, there are other things to consider. How invested are you in the Apple ecosystem already? Or Google Apps? How willing are you to explore the technology and features on your own? iOS is found only on a handful of devices, and most of them are running close to the same version. Android is very fragmented with hundreds of devices running many different versions of Android, some even one or two iterations behind. Google doesn't filter the apps that are put on the app store nearly as rigorously as Apple, so your app selection is also affected.

What do you prefer? As an engineer, your time is valuable and you're focused on getting the job done. You expect any tools you use to function and help expedite your problem solving, not create problems. In your experience, which mobile interface have you found to be most helpful in this regard?

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#1

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/24/2012 1:26 PM

I have recently got an iPhone, for (2), (3), (4) reasons

  1. because at the company Christmas pasrty I won a iPad at the employee raffle.
  2. My girlfriends youngest girl has an iPhone
  3. I have yet to hear anything bad about it. (I had a Palm Pre....aka HP .......aka no more... This has locked up on me, and was mediocre at best.)
  4. The amount of apps for the iPhones are quite extensive, but for engineering apps it's is weak but improving.

Some of the apps on my iphone is:

  • Camera (both picure and video, indispensable tool)
  • Verizon Navigator, GPS, I had this for years and am very satisfing, thou when I had it on my Palm Pre, it tended to lock up.
  • Digital Level
  • Piping Database Extreme
  • Stopwatch
  • CAMCard, (business card reader)
  • Autodesk products (I would use these more on my iPad)

Other apps, I have on my iPad.

A drawback on the iPhone is the interface to the windows.

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#2

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/24/2012 2:39 PM

I just got an iPhone after months of urging by my son to replace the old, basic flip phone I've had for 6 years. He suggested the iPhone 4 for me. He is a computer security expert and says the OS for the iPhone is way more stable than the OS for Androids.

I've only had the phone for a few days, and I'm very happy with the choice. It's much easier to use than I expected. I've found a number of apps that I like and have downloaded and used them effortlessly. It found my home wifi, asked my to type in the password, and linked to to immediately. It's easier to read my email on it than I expected. The touch-type screen is also a lot easier to use than I expected.

My near vision has deteriorated a bit over the past few years, but I can just hold the phone up and read the screen over the top of my glasses - can't really do that very easily with my Kindle. It's actually easier to read the phone that way than through the 'reading' zone at the bottom of my progressive-lens glasses.

This, by the way, is the first Apple product I've ever owned.

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#3

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/24/2012 11:57 PM

My preferred telephone. It has served me well for more than seven years, and I don't see any reason to upgrade to a smarter phone that can do everything but place phone calls...I also carry a Palm Tungsten E2, which has a few engineering apps I use occasionally, and a digital camera, which takes better pictures than most smart phones I have encountered...

A tool should do one thing, and one thing well, rather than trying to be all things for everyone.

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#4
In reply to #3

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 12:24 AM

I'm with you on that count.

Don't really need a MacGyver phone.

I do like my Leatherman though...but that's not a Swiss Army pocket toy.

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#7
In reply to #3

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 8:56 AM

I bought the Palm Tungsten when the Palm Tungsten E2 just came out, If I recall, they were very pricey.....What I didn't care about the Palm Tungsten is when the battery ran down, I lost data. the Palm Tungsten E2 took care of this.

I believe we talked about this on another thread. but Palm was ahead in the game, they just needed to have had the leadership that had the foresight to push their PDA to a smartphone.

Now, it seems, phones are only a secondary selling point of smartphones, it really should be called SmartPDA's

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#11
In reply to #7

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 3:16 PM

Remember when Motorola dominated the mobile phone market? Same story as Palm- you can't rest on your laurels. Looks like Blackberry, once the code word for smart phone, is on the same road to oblivion...

My personal problem is that it seems, whenever I encounter a technology that seems really helpful, it quickly moves into oblivion...

And yes, we have had the Palm discussion before. But, do you think HP is going to pay any attention to the happy users?

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#13
In reply to #11

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 3:20 PM

But, do you think HP is going to pay any attention to the happy users?

Right now, HP is a ship without a decent helmsmen.

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#14
In reply to #13

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 3:42 PM

Meg is not going to like that

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 3:56 PM

No, she's not totally to blame, ........ oh yes, now she is.

.... Release tablet, no kill it.

stop making, no, yes, make smart phone, Buy Palm...... push to gain market share, no kill it...... Release tablet, no wait, yes, kill it, than release it....

where are we...., what do we have???? wait... yes,,, ah maybe.... I'll get back to you.

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#5

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 12:57 AM

Apple....

Android....

What you needed...

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#17
In reply to #5

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/26/2012 3:39 PM

Interesting. I would switch the images between Android and Apple. When I think of a giant tool with just about every gadget possible I think of Android. Unfortunately many of those tools, or the handset itself, are poorly executed or flat out broken on a lot of Android devices, even the flagship phones. iOS has a much smaller learning curve than Android.

In regard to the "what you really needed" image: Do these features really get in the way? What drawbacks result from a device, such as the iPhone, that serve as a phone and a full TI-83 calculator, for example? I completely understand that tools should be simple and should not get in their own way, but if I had the option of carrying a feature phone and a TI-83, or both in one device (a device that can also email, browse the web, navigate with GPS, etc) I would choose the single device. No smartphone is going to replace all devices, but it's nice to carry less tools around when you can.

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#18
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Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/26/2012 5:27 PM

But the first rule of the game is that he who has the most toys when he dies, wins...

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#6

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 1:12 AM

I am personally, more inclined for android, i use it at work (pad/phones) programming is definitely more easy on Android than on an Iphone, have not bought current generation phone yet, because i use a phone to do phone conversations (the horror!) and the phone i have now has all these extra function even do it isn't an iPhone or an android (the cost for online connections are pretty steep here in Japan).

Anyway most functions that Apple put on their Iphone where allready availlable on lots of Japanese phones before that.

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#12
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Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 3:20 PM

I remember back in the days when GPS was a new concept, and pretty much limited to military applications in the US, I went to Akihabra and purchased a Sony portable (read slightly larger than an iPhone) GPS unit on one of my trips to Japan. Back then, there weren't enough satellites flying to get a reliable signal 24/7- the US government published "hours of availability" data for most of the world. I think is was 3 or 4 years before similar products started showing up in the US.

Interestingly, Sony, although a Japanese company, actually was pretty much build in the US...

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#8

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 10:55 AM

I go Android, phone and tablet, primarily because of an app called HanDBase, among other engineering apps. It's a database app that makes it exceedingly easy to build custom databases for collecting engineering data in places (aircraft) where paper and pencil are inconvenient. Even the audio input on the 'droids is helpful for populating d'bases in many cases. And transferring the data to other databases or spreadsheets is easy.

It even has a Windows component available which can make the database design and modification easier.

For the record I have no interest in the app other than being a happy customer. Oh, and there is a version available for the Apple fanatics.

Hooker

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#9
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Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 11:09 AM

I had checked out HanDBase for iPad, it was an app I was looking for. Thanks

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Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/25/2012 11:37 AM

At the time I got my droid tablet and handbase I had no choice but to go with droid. Way back then (late last year!) all data collected on an iPad had to go through the cloud to get to a local computer.

I work with "sensitive" info so with the droid machines I could (and still can) transfer data directly to my desktop through usb or our internal wifi system. Going through the cloud was/is an absolute no-no.

I understand that fairly recently iPads can hookup to a desktop with an add-on cable or something or other.

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#16

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/26/2012 8:01 AM

Proposal.

Issue, at no cost to me, 6 each for one year. As an independent smart phone engineering research firm, I will run comparisons in the following categories.

  • Ease of use
  • voice quality/dropped calls
  • data speed tests

A family of 6 independent users will be hired to make these assessments.

This study will be provided at the low low cost of $56,000.

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#19

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/30/2012 5:13 AM

Blackberry as phone, Windows 7 on the work Laptop: not pleased, slow and buggy. (I blame the security addons applied)

Private: Android tablet (Asus Transformer) and Ubuntu on laptop: strangely you can't couple them, so I have to use the memory card to transfer data (or mail it to myself)

No experience on iOS.

I prefer the Android over the Blackberry.

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#20

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/30/2012 9:54 AM

I really believe this is the same question that could be asked of the people who choose Honda versus Toyota or Ford etc. For the majority of people, the phone choice can be predetermined - gf has one, work option, I like Apple, I don't like Apple etc.

I have a Samsung Droid Tablet because I have had Droid phones for a few years now. All this stems from the fact that the iPhone wasn't an option when I needed a new phone (I was and am still with T-Mobile). I didn't like that when a visitor went to charge his iPhone on my PC, Apple prompted him to install iTunes, or Safari, or change his playlists etc. I am sure this is all fun but at the end of the day your phones/tablets come from three evils, Microsoft, Google or Apple. Choose your poison wisely.

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#21
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Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

07/30/2012 10:46 AM

I was trained on apple, career worked on MS 25 years, (I was always impressed from the apple feedback quality, while on MS) ,

I only started back on the apple due to winning a iPad it at a raffle, of which I then bought a iPhone. Very happy with the seamless operation, compared to my other smart phone such as my last which was a palm-pre.

but I understand your comparison of judgement.

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#22
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Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

08/13/2012 5:39 PM

"I really believe this is the same question that could be asked of the people who choose Honda versus Toyota or Ford etc. For the majority of people, the phone choice can be predetermined - gf has one, work option, I like Apple, I don't like Apple etc."

Yeah, that's anecdotal reasoning and exactly what motivated me to write the blog entry. I wanted to see real reasons from engineers, people who can easily see through hype and judge based on usability, function over form. People who often depend on a device working the way it's supposed to.

It looks like Apple is favored among most of you. Consistency, always working when you need it to, reliability, ease of use. I think these are things Apple products have had over Android for years. I'm not a fanboy either way, I've blogged about Android and rooting, etc. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. But from purely functional point of view, iPhones and iPads seem to come out stronger.

Here's a question for anyone with tablets: Did you think you needed a tablet before you got one? Or did you get one first (bought, won, given as gift, etc) before you realized how many use cases you could come up with. Are you still using your tablet months after getting one? Which do you think wins in the tablet world - iPad, the nebulous Android tablet world, the Playbook (lol)? Will the MS Surface compete?

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#23

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

09/19/2012 4:48 AM

My cell phone bill is $35.00 USD a month.

What's yours?

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#24
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Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

09/19/2012 4:55 AM

<USD20/mth

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#25

Re: Engineers: iPhone or Android?

09/19/2012 5:25 AM

I like them both with equal loathing. They're both Solutions in Search of a Problem.

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