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The iPhone’s Cool, but Android 2.0’s Convenience May Blow It Away

Everyone loves the iPhone–today. It does two things extremely well: calling and email. To date, no other device can top it. But by this time next year, that may not be enough. And Android will be waiting in the wings.

Everyone loves the iPhone–today. It does two things extremely well: calling and email. To date, no other device can top it. But by this time next year, that may not be enough. And Android will be waiting in the wings.

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Google and Microsoft are both deeply interested in status updates from Twitter and Facebook, because their users are increasingly reliant on social networking accounts. More and more people are also getting VOIP numbers like 3Jam and Google Voice; even more are excited about getting on the Google Wave bandwagon. Some people have gone ahead and auto-registered themselves for every social network available by using automatic-registration tools. We’re drowning in connections and sharing.

That means every person in your address book now conceivably has a half dozen or more profiles, numbers, addresses, and handles. The iPhone can barely handle the onslaught; even if you have MobileMe, as I do, contacts frequently get doubled up in the iPhone, or aren’t correctly overwritten (the “my contact” feature seems especially error prone; it keeps trying to update my personal v-card to say “Me Dannen” instead of just “Me.)

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To make matters worse, the iPhone OS doesn’t auto-update from any of the new services below–I have to manually enter every new Google Wave address, for example, into my contacts.

Android manages all this chaos with aplomb in its “Eclair” 2.0 version, which is replete with smart ways to centrally manage accounts and contacts and make them available to all apps, OS-wide. If the iPhone doesn’t hurry up and follow suit, Apple might lose its most Rolodex-reliant customers: business people who are defecting from Blackberry or Windows Mobile.

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Android will also have an edge when it comes to searching content made by the people you know. On the iPhone, there’s no native Web search that could coalesce contacts’ content and Web content; you have to go to Safari to search. Even with aggregator apps, it’s still hard to get a handle on the
trends or topics in your social graph. Google, by contrast, lets
Android search system- and Web-wide, which means it can include its new
social search feature.

Android’s Eclair version was opened to developers today, and should be available for download soon.

About the author

I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs.

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