Android: Is It Too Hard To Use?

By | November 27, 2012

In just three years, Android has done nicely killing the smartphone competition.  But if Android is this dominant with respect to market share, why did Apple’s iOS powered devices destroy Android when it came to Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping?

Some try to lay the blame on the users themselves, by suggesting that iOS users have more cash to spare, or that they are more apt to spend money on their smartphone or tablet toys because there are fewer free apps in the Apple App Store than in the Google Play store.  These are all valid points.

The primary difference however is that Apple’s iOS is easier to use than Android, at least according to my wife and daughter.  So, can the reason for this be that Apple has such tight control over the user experience?  Maybe.   Also, is Google’s Android just too hard for the average user to figure out aside from using it as a phone and texting toy?  This may also be the case for a large percentage of users.

Let’s face it, from the outside there’s little to separate one black rectangle from another other than screen size when in the hands of an experienced user.  What separates them from each other is not how they look, but how they work, and even if more people are buying Android devices than iOS devices, more Apple iOS users are using them to do actual things like shopping, using Facebook, paying bills, etc.

This would tend to suggest that the core difference between iOS and Android is that owners are more inclined to look at an iOS device, whether it be an iPhone or an iPad as a tool to get things done. Android users aren’t getting as far as clicking on the browser, because if they did, the experience from that point onward is not that different to the iOS experience.

This would suggest that Google is facing a problem. People are buying Android-powered smartphones and tablets, but there are barriers or obstacles that gets in the way of engagement that aren’t present in Apple’s iOS platform.

Most of this is undoubtedly down to end-user education. Apple has spent a lot of time and money creating commercials that show its products being used to solve real-world problems. As short and as simple as these ads may be, they give owners, and potential owners an idea of what the iPhone or iPad can do. That might seem quite basic, but it gets people to explore the potential of their Apple devices.

Compare this to ads for Android hardware,  such as those by Samsung which seem to dwell on the device itself rather that what it can do for the user.

In conclusion, when a new user charges up their new iPhone, within an hour or so they’re fairly comfortable with it and are already performing advanced functions.  With Android, it normally takes days to get accustomed to the phone and many times that’s where it stops.

Although this short article seems to be pro-Apple iOS, I personally prefer the Android as I tend to like to customize the user experience to a level not possible with iOS and also enjoy the larger screen on my Galaxy Nexus and its excellent hot spot integration with other devices such as my wifi only iPad.

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