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Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

Posted October 01, 2012 4:28 PM by yamdankee

The mobile communication marketplace has been experiencing constant fluctuation. Over the years, though, Apple's iOS has ultimately been most associated with terms such as polish, usability, low learning curve, consistency, and over-all good user experience; but little to no customization or 'freedom'. Operating systems such as the Linux based Android, on the other hand, are often associated with terms such as fragmented, inconsistent, and buggy; but provide the users almost complete control over the look, feel, and even operation of the OS. Polished but Closed competing with Fragmented but Open. Walled Garden vs Open Sewer.

Example of Android handset fragmentation --->

For Apple, producing the most polished OS came with the cost of basically locking out all iOS users, by default, by making under-the-hood changes and tweaks to their iPhone or iPad. More than being unable to upgrade your launcher to anything other than a mere list of your installed apps, iOS is an all-around tightly controlled ecosystem. For instance - don't like the keyboard on your iPhone? Too bad, Apple has had its keyboard APIs locked since the first iPhone and has no plans to change that. Android users, though, have many software keyboards to choose from. Side-loading an app is also impossible on iOS without jailbreaking, but for most Android devices it comes standard without any hacking. Side-loading is installing an application from a source other than the official Apple App Store or Google Play.

Another example of Android fragmentation, OS distribution. ->

Here's where the problem surfaces. Many Android users boast about the openness and freedom that their OS affords them, while on their device they run anti-virus apps like Lookout constantly in the background eating up their RAM and battery. Mobile exploits can and will likely become a problem, but an app that really amounts to nothing more than a virus scanner on a cellphone is hardly the solution. Think about that again - a virus scanner, on your cellphone. Do we want to go down this road? It seems like the solution would be keeping the ecosystem clean at the highest level to begin with, and things like this wouldn't need to be on your mind.

Another thing Android users are proud of is the ability to load custom ROMs on their handsets. The uneasy reaction that naturally results from the notion of hacking your phone and overwriting the factory software to replace it with untested software of which you do not know the real source is often overcome by the promise of improved battery life, faster operation, or even sometimes resolving bugs/glitches in the stock software that are yet unaddressed by the manufacturer. This seems promising, but it is not uncommon for these custom ROMs to be riddled with other problems including the GPS not functioning, Bluetooth being broken, camera won't open, etc. It seems like a dangerous, unreliable, and time intensive trade-off. You can begin to imagine how a, granted, less malleable OS is still favored over an open one that seems to break all the time.

So where would you rather reside, engineers, a walled garden or an open sewer?

(Image credit from top to bottom: mashable.com, androidpolice.com)

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#1

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/02/2012 7:12 AM

I think the analogy given, "sewer versus garden", is unnecessarily harsh to those of us who like, and understand, open source and its dangers.

I rather prefer the analogy "organization of a city, versus seeming chaos of the country", in that cities have such things as HOAs and other small governments supporting the overall city municipal and government system, which a more rural setting decidedly lacks.

As such, in the city, more of life's regimentation is documented, and requires no great understanding (or "savvy") to understand and live within. The rural setting leaves it to social convention and more trust among the practitioners to make the same limits work. The city also provides, by its nature, more robust and direct enforcement of the limits and strictures. The rural setting, because it enforces its limits and strictures in a slower, less direct, and less "pressurizing" manner, requires more patience on the part of those who would seek enforcement, and in fact, may require more diplomacy/carefulness on the part of the "common man".

Both CAN get the job of securing the environment done, but neither allows for the perpetuation of the outright filth of an open sewer.

The city analogy puts the miscreant in jail. The rural analogy may starve the miscreant (people won't trade with/sell to/do business with the untrustworthy/undesirable) or just eliminate the problem ("unfortunate accidents" do still happen in very rural areas, just coincidentally solving "social" problems at the same time).

But one thing is absolutely certain, and that is that in the Open Source environment, blind trust is a very dangerous thing, and the Open Source environment by it's very nature does, unmistakably, invite miscreants to practice their evil arts on the unsuspecting. And without establishing some kind of "governing body" to determine who is qualified to run Open Source environments, and who is able to administer them (see, there is that City style regimentation again, which Open Source proponents, "jail-breakers", "hackers" don't want to see occurring) the Open Source environment tends, in an act of Darwinian operation, to clear out its own unqualified operators.

Sewer? NO. But requirement for qualified and justified caution? You bet!

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#2

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/02/2012 9:22 AM

This is a timely subject for me. My current smart phone is an Android. I love it but it's a little old and slow and doesn't have much storage capacity. This has been my phone for 3-4 years. I usually can wait forever to upgrade but the storage thing is starting to get to me.

Time for a new phone! I'm going to try the iPhone this time. I initially chose Android because my carrier didn't offer the iPhone at the time so that was my option. The idea of customization sounds good in theory but over the past several years I have not made any changes to the phone other than downloading apps or rearranging them on the screen.

How much customization and control does the average user really need? I chose an iPad over another tablet for the same reason. I just want to use the thing without hacking around every issue I come across. I just don't have the time or patience for that stuff these days. (Must be getting older!) Sure, there are a few annoying things I'd like to change, but I can live with them.

There is no device that will work perfectly for every person. I think it's great that Android gives users the option of customization but I don't think it should be such a key factor in device selection when most people won't need to use it.

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#3

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/02/2012 10:35 AM

I remember playing around with open source OS on my old mp3 player. By going this route, I definitely unlocked more of the device's potential and simultaneously opened up a can of worms (or rather bugs). As much as I loved the customized look and enhanced functions, there wasn't much I could do in terms of fixing the problems, and support for the mod was virtually non-existent. So I did a factory reset and started over, and learned to love the default OS.

As much as I love tinkering with and customizing computers, with most other electronics I prefer to follow the KISS principle 'keep it simple stupid'. Sometimes it's just easier that way.

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#4

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/02/2012 10:42 AM

While I agree, Google offers much greater freedom, and type of apps, I have to disagree with some points. Apple is not more user friendly or has a smaller learning curve when it comes to iPad vs Zoom anyway. Of course you can bost the Apple is less buggy, when it's functionality is so limited, other are not many features to get buggy. Apple to crowd on buggy is like stating my bicycle is much more dependable than my car. Of course it is, less functioning parts to go wrong. Apple with only apps they think are valuable to you, instead of all apps and let you decide. Apple with no back button on browser' no multiple open windows. My iPad is like the Apple bicycle with no wheels. I just use my zoom car all the time so Google gives me the freedom to easily go where ever I want to go.

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#5
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Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/02/2012 11:37 AM

"Apple to crowd on buggy is like stating my bicycle is much more dependable than my car."

If you're saying iOS:Android::bicycle:vehicle, that's quite a huge leap in performance and features. What kind of features or performance would you say are lacking in iOS that are comparable to the deficiencies between a bicycle and a car?

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#9
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Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/04/2012 8:29 AM

RE "If you're saying iOS:Android::bicycle:vehicle, that's quite a huge leap in performance and features."

It too, was an exaggeration, like the original using 'Sewer' for Android is an extreme exaggeration. I think a more accurate example would have been a iOS is like a private garden where you have limited access and control over content; where as the Android OS is like your own and a public garden where you have much more freedom, easier to do what you want, and if imagine it, chances are someone created it and placed it in the public garden. I think private garden:public garden is much more accurate and fair comparison than walled garden:open sewer

Remember both need shit (fertilizer) to grow, Android just has more and more fertile. Also in my comparison you'll know how your public access garden is laid out and works, where the privet garden works only apple's way, not the way the public is used to doing everything and the public visiting Apple's private garden needs permission for every little thing, know apple will say no much of the time.

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/06/2012 11:24 PM

Much better analogy, IMHO. For that, a GA from me. It brings much greater clarity, without the egregiously inflammatory language of the "Open Sewer".

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#6

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/03/2012 3:35 PM

Have seen many walled gardens in the city. But a sewer in the rural country?

Either way there are some that need that walled garden. Then there are those that wish to venture into that so called sewer. Apple's iOS is Linux based. Some of those that have ventured into that sewer and created apps now have some of those apps behind the walled garden.

So we need both!

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#7
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Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/03/2012 3:53 PM

"Apple's iOS is Linux based."

Unix based.

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Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/04/2012 7:43 AM

I had a brain freeze.

The just of it is that there are open systems where one can create. I understand there are some that can create bad stuff making it the sewer that it becomes. Then there are others that create some good stuff.

Everyone is not in a position to have a door to the garden so they can go in as they please. The sewer may get them noticed so they can be invited in.

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Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/04/2012 8:01 PM
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#12

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/08/2012 4:24 PM

Here are a few of the missing features that make owning an iPhone a dealbreaker for me:

Alternate Keyboards - Apple makes you stick with their standard keyboard when alternate keyboards such as Swiftkey or Swipe have proven to be much more efficient.

Automation - Examples: Set phone to vibrate when you're at work and volume on after work, this can be done by time or via GPS location. Phone is set into car dock = turn GPS on (saves battery when off). Headphones are plugged in = launch Shoutcast, Pandora or your favorite music app. Automation options are almost limitless on Android.

App integration - With android you can route all calls through google voice, set your browser to be any browser you want, use a different SMS app and they are all integrated completely. Apple does not allow this at all.

Alternate app stores - Apple forces you to use their app store and is very strict about what apps they allow. Android however has alternate stores such as the Amazon Store which offers a different free app every day.

Also, I hate the fact that Apple can remove apps you already have installed (Google Maps?). Imagine if Microsoft decided to uninstall Firefox and Chrome on your PC so you would use IE…

Although Apple was first out of the gate, the past 2 years they have definitely been playing catch up with Google and sales have shown that.

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#13
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Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/09/2012 11:38 AM

Alternate keyboards - I made it clear in the blog that this is disappointing and frustrating. I really wish Apple would open up at least their keyboard APIs. I really don't understand why they can't let Swype exist on the iPhone. It doesn't have to come preinstalled like some Android phones, but at least the option can be there.

Automation - Battery life for iPhones seems to be good enough that worrying about toggling things like Bluetooth really is not an issue for most people. And, actually, you do not need to turn GPS on and off on Android, as it only becomes active when a program calls for it (like when you open Maps). GPS can still be 'toggled' on but it is not being used once you close Maps. So this isn't a huge deal breaker for me, though it's definitely nice to have. I think Android has trained people that you have to obsess over your toggles to get better battery life on your cellphone. It's a cellphone, I don't think you should have to bother with toggles.

App integration - You can't route calls through Google voice on the iPhone? As far as I knew the Google Voice app was as fully functional on the iPhone as it is on Android. You can use GV as your SMS app, too. You can, too, install alternate browsers. Were you making a different point here that I'm missing?

Alternate app stores - This was my biggest point, I prefer the strictly controlled ecosystem. It allows for a clean, standardized, go to spot that you can trust. Maybe if Google Play didn't suck so much we wouldn't have to look for alternate sources. Amazon app store is hardly a better alternative besides the free app every day.

Your second-to-last point is absolutely true. I think that's a wrong thing to do and it's a step in the wrong direction for Apple. Uninstalling your favorite map application and replacing it, with an inferior one or not, is just not cool.

I was honestly expecting a bit more from the iPhone 5. But I don't think you can equate sales numbers with quality of the product.

Here's a thing:

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#14

Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/09/2012 6:16 PM

This info graphic should clear a few things up...

http://pinterest.com/pin/78461218479406712/

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Re: Your Mobile OS - Walled Garden or Open Sewer?

10/10/2012 12:00 PM

Market Share != Quality

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