I need a beer, and I’m sure many of you need a drink as well. If this was five years ago, I’d be by my second pack of cigarettes, and it has to do with how furious I am right now. Let me explain why:
For starters, I wish I could express in words how long it took me to love Android. My first device was a Google Nexus One, and man, even though I started off at the right foot, it rarely ever felt that way. What a gorgeous phone and what a great experience overall, as long as I didn’t turn it on. Froyo and Gingerbread were just stale and cartoony no matter how much I tried to love the device. Then came Ice Cream Sandwich, and Google slapped my investment in the face by telling my Nexus One that I couldn’t get an upgrade (legally). I kept my faith, and decided to get a Galaxy Nexus just because the device was gorgeous again, and because ICS looked cool all around. Still, I’ll admit that what I had was faith, and not really love for Android. I saw so much potential in it, and as much as I hated most of it, I loved that I wasn’t forced to put up with things like the keyboard with alternatives like SwiftKey, so I was ok.
Then came Jelly Bean. Oh man, do you guys remember that launch of Jelly Bean and of the Nexus 7? Even if my Galaxy Nexus was upgradable, what I saw in that presentation that day made me loose sleep over pre-ordering the Nexus 7, and over rooting my Galaxy Nexus in order to get the early build. What changed? Google Now.
Google Now is solely responsible for making me love Android. Whether it’s the fact that it keeps me up-to-date with my favorite soccer team in the world – Barcelona, or the fact that all I have to do is move from one place to the next for it to give me tips on where to go, or the fact that it tracks my packages, my plane tickets, regardless of what it is, I love Android because of Google Now.
Just think about it – On one hand we have one smartphone company telling you that one size fits all, and on the other we have another company that still wants you to love the live tiles. While they focused on aesthetics and speed, Google decided to really put the word “Smart” together with the word “Phone”. Can you really call a phone smart just because it can run more apps, or because it can integrate more services together? I’m sure some of you would be happy with that, but to have a phone offer me the information I want before I have to search for it is simply Genius.
Yes, there was a price to pay for Google Now, since well, you either needed to wait to be lucky or get a new phone. In a way I understood Google for not porting Google Now to Ice Cream Sandwich or Gingerbread. Companies need to sell phones, and just like Apple blocks Siri for anything prior to the iPhone 4S in order to sell it as a differentiation factor, it made sense for Jelly Bean to have Google Now differentiate it, right? Well, with today’s news of Google Now reaching iOS, my immediate response to the news was to scream: “What??”
Google, how could you? Lot’s of us bought new phones or tablets just to get your new service! How can it be that the people who bought an HTC Sensation, or some carrier variants of the Galaxy S II just two years ago won’t be able to run your crowned jewel on ICS or Gingerbread, but people that bought an iPhone 3GS four years ago will be able to use it? What’s wrong with this picture?
I feel the results are more deterring than Google thinks, and here’s why:
From a new user’s perspective, Android is a tough choice already
You and I are power users. That’s the main reason you visit Pocketnow. Sadly, we only make a small portion of the market. If we look at this from a newbie’s perspective, Android just got tough. See, Android’s success doesn’t lie in the ability to cook ROMs, or for rooting purposes. How many newbie friends have you ever seen at a store choosing Android over that? New users want hot phones with smarter features, and Google Now was simply a no-brainer. Google Now was the perfect selling point for Android, and well, it’s no longer exclusive to Android.
From a power user’s perspective, can we trust Android?
Obviously we power users won’t move away from Android just because of this, and especially not for iOS. Sadly the driving force of success for Android is change, and if Google doesn’t figure out ways to differentiate Android with more than just Ferrari spec-sheets and bigger displays, things could stagnate at some point. Whether we want to admit it or not, the fact that a smartphone is customizable is no longer a selling point. Customizable had never meant it was better until Jelly Bean came to town, and that’s not necessarily a good thing if you consider how many versions of Android existed before it. Google hasn’t necessarily been the best at driving change until five years later, and the last thing we need is for the company to take another five years to come-up with a better idea.
Not all of us can get Nexus devices, and it just complicates our choice for our next purchase of an Android phone if we can’t guarantee that updates will be available for those next differentiating factors to come to be available for us, and especially after we coughed money for them. I’m not trying to compare Android to iOS here, but that’s precisely what’s most infuriating about this. How can it be that an iPhone 3GS will have better software than its more-powerful Nexus One counterpart is just beyond me.
The bottom line
Your move Google. Android 5.0 has to be the hottest thing I’ve ever seen on the planet. It has to be so cool that it glues me to the couch one more time on midnight hitting the refresh button to pre-order your next Nexus product. It has to show me that Google Now was just the tip of the Ice Berg.
Now seriously, I don’t consider Google dumb, so I’m struck with so many questions about Android 5.0 as of today. What could it bring to the table that is so hot that it was simply ok to port Google Now to iOS? Could it be that we’ve just seen the beginning? Regardless, it’ll be great for new users, but what happened today is really a sad truth for legacy Android customers, and trust me, this editorial is to tell you that we all feel your pain.
Be sure to leave your thoughts on what you’d like to see on Android 5.0, or your thoughts on being left-off Google Now in the comments down bellow.