When even the co-founder of Apple admits he’s a fan of Android, Google knows it’s doing something right.
Steve Wozniak is ‘the other Steve’, the one who happily faded into the background while Steve Jobs did his thing. And while Jobs was Apple to the core, Woz is a little more open-minded about these things. As he demonstrated recently in an interview with Dan Lyons about the state of the smartphone market.
My primary phone is the iPhone. I love the beauty of it. But I wish it did all the things my Android does, I really do. If you’re willing to do the work to understand it a little bit, well I hate to say it, but there’s more available in some ways. There’s not as big a difference [between iOS and Android] as there was between Mac and Windows.
That implies that although the iPhone is visually superior, something which even the most die-hard Android phone would admit, it’s technically inferior to his Android handset. Which is, I assume, the Galaxy Nexus he received from Google recently. Furthermore, Woz doesn’t feel this is as much of a David and Goliath battle as Mac vs. Windows was.
Woz’s main bugbear about the current iPhone is Siri, which, lest we forget, is the major selling point of the 4S. He said:
I used to ask Siri, ‘What are the five biggest lakes in California?’ and it would come back with the answer. Now it just misses. It gives me real estate listings. I used to ask, ‘What are the prime numbers greater than 87?’ and it would answer. Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate.
Worse, a lot of the time Siri says it can’t make a connection to the back-end servers that power the system. With the iPhone 4 I could press a button and call my wife. Now on the 4S I can only do that when Siri can connect over the Internet. But many times it can’t connect. I’ve never had Android come back and say, ‘I can’t connect over the Internet.’
I have a lower success rate with Siri than I do with the voice built into the Android, and that bothers me. I’ll be saying, over and over again in my car, ‘Call the Lark Creek Steak House,’ and I can’t get it done. Then I pick up my Android, say the same thing, and it’s done. Plus I get navigation. Android is way ahead on that.
Again, this implies Apple has it locked down when adding a nice user interface and visual appeal, but that Android actually trumps the iPhone when it comes down to the nitty gritty.
Apple fanboys will be relieved to hear Woz concludes by maintaining the iPhone is still his first choice, and handset he recommends to anyone who asks, saying:
The people I recommend the iPhone 4S for are the ones who are already in the Mac world, because it’s so compatible, and people who are just scared of computers altogether and don’t want to use them. The iPhone is the least frightening thing. For that kind of person who is scared of complexity, well, here’s a phone that is simple to use and does what you need it to do.
In other words, iPhones are for idiots. Fair enough.
None of this actually surprises me. I’m currently reading the Steve Jobs biography, which is an amazing read for anyone who loves technology, Apple or otherwise. Throughout the book Woz comes across as a passionate engineer who loves to see technology work well, whether it originates from Apple, Google, Microsoft, or anyone else.
He may have helped found Apple 35 years ago, but he’s more of a geek than a fanboy at heart.