Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider
Despite the dozens of different Android phones floating around out there, the core features are usually the same.All Android phones give you access to Google’s suite of services like Google Docs, Gmail, Calendar, and Google Maps. Plus you’ll always get access to all the apps in the Google Play store.
Google is likely hard at work on its next version of Android, codenamed “Jelly Bean.” We’re expecting to learn more about the new OS this summer at Google’s I/O developer conference.
Since we spend a lot of time using both Android and the iPhone’s iOS software, we came up with a quick list of iPhone features we’d like Google to use in the next version of Android.
Google now boasts hundreds of thousands of Android apps in the Google Play store. But Google's lax app approval process has allowed a lot of crappy apps to find their way into the store. And yes, that includes malicious apps that can do nasty things to your phone like steal your contacts' information.
It's getting better, but Google should adopt Apple's stricter limitations on what can make it into the Google Play store.
We hear it over and over again when talking about Android phones: the ecosystem is heavily fragmented. That's because Android is an open source operating system, meaning anyone can use it and modify it as they choose. But sometimes that means apps and software updates won't work on all Android phones.
If Google demanded specific hardware requirements before it let manufacturers use Android, this would help solve the problem. (Apple doesn't need to worry about this since it makes its own hardware and software.)
It took a few years, but the Google Play store finally gives you access to movie, TV show, music, and book downloads. Unfortunately, the selection is nowhere near as robust as what Apple offers through the iTunes store. Google needs to work extra hard to make sure Android phones have access to the best content just like the iPhone does.
Every year it feels like we go through the same thing: Google releases a brand new version of Android, but it takes manufacturers several months to finally upgrade their phones. This year, it took Google five full months to get its own flagship Nexus S 4G updated to the newest version of Android.
While Google has little control over its hardware partners, it should at least make sure its Nexus phones are all ready to upgrade to the newest version of Android as soon as it's available.
For the most part, we think the Gmail experience is much better on Android. (As a Google service, it should be.)
But there's one tiny thing we wish the Gmail app could do that the native email app does on the iPhone: allow for a unified inbox with all our email accounts.
It makes checking messages a lot easier. Plus, it shouldn't be too difficult for Google to implement, right?
Android does a great job at syncing all your contacts, calendars, etc. between your Google account and phone. But we're left wanting more.
We'd love a native cloud solution in Android similar to Apple's iCloud. While Android has some similar features, it's still difficult to get photos, music, apps, etc. to sync across your PC and all other Android devices.
Maybe this will be fixed if and when Google launches its rumoured Google Drive cloud service.
There's no such thing as a perfect touchscreen...yet.
But right now, iOS devices tend to do touch better, with less noticeable latency between the time you touch the screen and the action appears. There's a long, technical explanation for why that's so, but it boils down to the way the Android software was designed. Hopefully Google can find a way to improve the problem.
Like we said, Google has no control over its hardware partners right now. But it does have control over the hardware that goes into its line of Nexus phones.
We're hoping the next Nexus phone, which will likely launch late this fall, will have a high-res screen that matches the iPhone's brilliant Retina display. It's about time.
A lot of Android phones, especially those made by Samsung, tend to be made from cheap-feeling plastic. That's a shame, considering Samsung has made Google's last two Nexus devices.
We'd like to see Samsung step up its design with either a metal and glass or polycarbonate plastic body. Those materials are more durable and simply look better than the flimsy plastic used today.
The Galaxy Nexus has a decent camera right now. It shoots full 1080p HD video and 5 MP stills. But image quality still lags behind what the iPhone 4S camera can pull off.
It feels like Google punted on the camera last year. Let's hope it really wows us with the next Nexus.
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