Nathan Strang

The Objects of our Desire [Gay Geeks]

Filed By Nathan Strang | November 08, 2009 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Gay Geeks, Living
Tags: Android, gay geeks, iMac, iPhone, iPod, Jonathan Ive, Macbook

Hulla! Things, we really love our things. Gay or straight, at some point in time, you've let a gadget influence your decision. Whether buying a car that will sync with your iPod, dumping your boyfriend for being glued to his computer playing WoW all day, or simply finding the way to Daddy's house; the technology we use influences our lives. Inside this week's post is a bit on Jonathan Ive, the mind behind the design at Apple; an interesting results from a survey of iPhone users; and why my boyfriend switched from an iPhone to an Android...

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Jonathan Ive


He's the Chief Designer at Apple; if you own a MacBook, iPod, or iMac, you owe him your devotion. And he's really hot. In a recent documentary about the design behind everyday objects we use in life, Ive was interviewed on his unique approach of "getting design out of the way." The documentary is called "Objectified," from Gary Hustwit (who also made Helvetica).


(via Gizmodo)

iPhone users are fickle lovers.

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The iPhone went the way of the Vespa: if you own one, it automatically gives you an assumed license to be a prick. However, a Vespa is hard to come by, and you can by an iPhone at Walmart. Geeks are demographed by the tools they use: Apple Fanboys, Android Lovers, Linux geeks, Windoze Users... and we act a certain way. When it comes to relationships and dating a geek, it helps to know where their alliances are. According to a recent survey from Retrevo, it seems that iPhone users are quite the picky bunch.

  • One in three iPhone owners has texted or emailed their significant other to break up.
  • One in three iPhone owners say that, if their partner had out-of-date gadgets, it would be a turnoff.
  • One in four iPhone users has broken up with their partner because that person spent too much time on their mobile device.
  • Compared with other cell phone users, iPhone owners are more likely to see themselves as media buffs, extroverts, and intellectuals.

While this survey seems to paint a shallow picture of iPhone users, I'm sure that if the same questions were asked of Android users, you'd see the same results.(via - Retrevo)

Speaking of Android...

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My boyfriend just switched from an iPhone to the new Verizon Droid. I could be taking this opportunity to say "Suck it Jerame! Score one for teh Android."* No. I could be taking the opportunity to say, "If my boyfriend would switch fer the Droid, then Apple needs to listen up!" No. I could gloat and glee, but then I wouldn't do service to what Android really is.

The iPhone and Android are two different beasts, and Android will never match iPhone in its beauty, multimedia skills, and charisma. Android is not a Multimedia Beauty Queen, Android is a Phone that Works. People who switch to the Motorola Droid aren't switching for the music player, keyboard, or Android's killer category of 3D Games (we don't have one anyway, sorry), they are switching because they need a phone for making calls, managing email, contacts, and social relations. They need to be able to run apps that they need (like Google Voice), while running other apps at the same time. They don't want to pay $100/yr for a syncing service and they want the ability to change the phone how they see fit.

The latest Android powered phone will always be compared to the iPhone to see if it can knock Apple off its throne. That isn't going to happen, but very soon there will be over 50 devices running Android, and iPhone is going to take heed and make some changes for the better. So suck it Apple Fanboys, yer gonna have to thank us later.

*If you aren't aware, Jerame, our webmaster, is an avid iPhone user. I, a lowly Bilerico Gay Geeks contributor, am an Android user. We've been engaged in a friendly Android/iPhone battle of late, and Jerame seems faithful to retort my posts in the comments, so look for them.


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David Castillo David Castillo | November 9, 2009 1:37 AM

I wonder where Sprint owners are on the spectrum. I can only imagine. We've been driven to consider gadgets when making major life decisions. How modern of us!

Interesting stuff. However, as an Apple 'fanboy' you need to correct one item. "They don't want to pay $100/yr for a syncing service" is an incorrect statement. The iPhone syncs with Outlook (which I've been using since the dark days of Windows CE) right out of the box, on XP, Vista, or 7; I actually prefer syncing with a real-live PC than the cloud, since I can access my contacts, calendar, etc, even when I'm not on the grid.

I guess I'll have to swing by the Verizon store and check the Droid out, though, just for kicks and giggles.

The iPhone syncs Google email, contacts, and calendar, all for free. There are many (highly customizable) ways of getting the cloud computing advantages of MobileMe without paying a dime.

Phone that Works? The iPhone is a phone that works--effortlessly making calls, managing email, contacts, and social relations--AND in addition it's a "multimedia beauty queen." The "phone that works" argument concedes that Android phones can only do half of what an iPhone can.

Multitasking and control of esoteric phone functions are toss-up elements. Yes, Android users might have more control of their devices, but with that comes increased processor loads and decreased performance, along with the reliability issues inherent in more open platforms. For instance, without an application approval process, how much more vulnerable to viruses will Android phones be? The vast majority of users benefit from Apple's approach.

I suspect that some people will always choose the fringe element purely for romantic reasons. I understand that urge. We queers are used to being the minority, after all, the freaks in the room. However, it's unfair to apply this romantic irrationality to tech devices. If you like, choose Android for subjective reasons and be happy with that. No Android phone can yet compete objectively with the iPhone.

Thank you for your comment Christian, and allow me to reply. A caveat of multi-tasking and control over your device means that the burden of performance is on the user. You add what you want, take away what you don't, being mindful that what you do can affect performance.

On my MacBook Pro, I can add what I want, take away what I don't, and I'm mindful that if I have too many things running it can affect my performance. Apple doesn't watch over me making keeping me from adding a preference pane, Apple won't block me from installing an application simply because they don't think its up to par.

This is the user experience I enjoy on my devices. Apple iPhones are controlled from the ground up; one OS, one method to get applications, one app approval process, one device, one user interface, one app at a time. I'm not saying that these are bad things. I think Apple is extremely smart at creating an intuitive, easy to use device that works almost flawlessly. Anyone can use an iPhone and learn to be a pro. But that comes at a cost of freedom.

I've used both an iPhone (well iPod touch, and the BF had an iphone 3G) and an Android device. I'm well aware of both devices capabilities and flaws. For me, the user experience I enjoy is Android.

The biggest benefit I've found in Android is the ability to share data between applications, augment other applications, or replace system features entirely (like the homescreen or keyboard).

If you haven't had a lot of use with an Android device, you probably won't see its incredible potential and current capabilities that you will never see on an iPhone unless Apple changes their vertical policy.

I do not hate the iPhone, it isn't the device I choose. I'm not panning the iPhone, but for the particular user demographic I belong in, Android is leading the way, and iPhone is far too limiting.

Regardless of the Android/iPhone comparison argument, I see them as two different entities; their paths will never cross, so I don't see why we can't all get along.

But alas, Apple Fanboys are very dismissive of anything without an Apple logo. I know this because I am one as well, just I pulled my head out of Steve Job's lucite ass.

See, for me it has to do with instruments. If a guy or a girl played a Fender Guitar it would be a big turn off. Fender amps the same way. A Yamaha horn the same.
Gibson guitars and some specialty guitars definitely turn ons. A Hanes flute or Martin guitar big turn ons.
I remember in school a question was "What culture changing device was based on the vacume tube?" I answered Marshal Amplifier.
I don't usually have my cell phone on me because qwhen it rings it makes my guitar squeal.

Love Jony Ive. That segment of him is pretty awesome. I think he's rather hot too.

As for Android, again, time will tell, but the one limitation Android users will stumble against is the ridiculous constraints put upon owners. A great example of this is that, even with the MOTO Droid, you only get 256MB of space to install apps. WTF?!?!

Android doesn't support installing apps on SD cards. And on that note, SD cards? I pay about the same for a Droid as an iPhone and then I have to go buy some stupid SD cards too?

These kinds of ridiculous decisions are exactly why Android won't be more than second place. My iPhone has 32GB of built-in storage. I can use all of that for apps if I wanted. Hell, some of the best games on the iPhone weigh in at nearly the same size as Android gives for total app storage space.

So, don't look for games like Need for Speed Underground on your Android device. If it does come, it'll have inferior graphics or a reduced gaming experience to reduce the size.

So, let's recap the deficiencies of the Droid and its Android OS:

1. Limited App storage space
2. Wicked battery suckage if you don't manage your background apps
3. Inferior camera software
4. Shitty physical keyboard that many are dumping for the virtual keyboard.
5. Shitty virtual keyboard because it doesn't use multi-touch
6. None of the Google built-in apps take advantage of multi-touch either
7. The need to buy SD cards to store your files
8. No iTunes syncing (iTunes sells more online music than all the other online outlets combined.)
9. A small selection of apps vs. over 100,000 for the iPhone.
10. The OS is made by folks who have never made an OS before, are using a modified version of Linux, which means users are dependent on people who have about 2 years experience with operating systems instead of 30 years experience.

I love Google. I'm an admitted Apple fanboy, but I can also recognize a quality gadget. Android has a long way to go before it's up to the quality and polish that iPhone has. Period. It's not about Apple - I've had a multitude of phones in my days and I'd switch in a heartbeat if there were something better out there.

Does Android have some advantages? Sure. It's an open development platform (big deal - how many average users care? They want to BUY apps, not create them.) You can get software from sources other than a single App store (I suspect Apple will eventually change this policy.) And you can run background apps (this is the ONLY thing that makes me jealous about Android, but again - Apple will eventually change this policy.)

Maybe, just maybe, Apple will fuck up and let Google catch up. I'm doubtful. The truth is, no one will ever be able to beat the iPhone experience because Google won't ever make phone hardware and that means there can't be the kind of solid, seamless user experience you get from Apple.

Apple is 3 years ahead of Google in phone development. They will always be 3 years ahead, if not more. iPhone is a cash cow. They have just as much money as Google and this IS Apple's core competency, not Google's. Google does search, not OSes or phones.

Sure, hardware manufacturers can (and do) modify Android for their own hardware, but can you tell me one phone maker out there who knows how to make a great user experience? Motorola Rokr anyone? Have you used a Nokia or Sony phone lately?

Phone makers are hardware people. The user experience is the last consideration, not the first. And until they fix that problem (like, hiring some former Apple software engineers) there is no hope for them.

Nokia - losing money
Motorola - losing money
Palm - bleeding money
HTC - barely profitable
Sony-Ericsson - a joke

Love you, Nate, but your blind Google fanboydom is getting in the way of objective analysis here.

Objective analysis? when did "shitty" become a qualified objective term? And in your dismissal of Android, you also dismiss the GROWING user base that is making Android successful. If Android was as shitty as you (and the other iPhone Worshippers) make it out to be, then how come Motorola put their entire company's fate into the hands of the Droid?

Once again, you are comparing apples and oranges (or droids). The Verizon commercials aren't helping the cause but the Android Platform was never meant to compete with the iPhone platform. There are too many fundamental differences between the two:

iPhone is a single device fractured only by its generational upgrades, running a closed OS. The first of its kind to run a user experience closest to its bigger brother OSX. (we exclude Windows Mobile until Steve Balmer promises to stop throwing chairs)

Android is an open source OS, the first successful open mobile platform of its kind, and the first Mobile OS created by people who should have had no business creating their own OS (besides RIM, which was made by math nerds). Android runs on a wide range of devices, in a wide range of intended uses (military, mobile, ebook reader, settop boxes).

iPhone specifically tailored their development roadmap for certain features like Multimedia, intuitive use, and recently gaming. Features are added or modified based on how they will affect the "flawless" nature of the iPhone. Apple is the leader in intuitive user experiences, and because of that controls every aspect of the UI, hardware, and application approval.

Android has a paced and humble roadmap, focusing on nurturing a fledgling OS while maintaining its acceptability and desire to be used by the public. Android 1.0-1.6 were baby steps, and 2.0 marks the first time the true capabilities of Android shine. Google maintains a core branch of the code, while individual companies branch off to create their own user experiences and extra features. Because of this, Android really only needs to compete with itself, and other manufacturers/carriers. This is similar to Windows Mobile with their custom overlays by HTC.

The current gen iPhone 3GS holds 32GB of storage, but is priced at $299 with a 2/yr contract. the 16GB iPhone 3GS is priced at $199.

The current gen Android device, Droid, has a 16GB MicroSDHC card, and is priced at $199 with a 2/yr contract. A 32GB SDHC card costs ~$75-$100.

With regards to cellphone manufacturers, in the last year, we have seen companies realize that they need to make a solid device that will run on a stable and reliable OS, while still maintaining their brand. Motorola has announce Motoblur, a widget based UI that connects your contacts to the social world. Sony Erricson launched TimeScape, a custom UI that is extremely visual and smooth flowing with the first multimedia player on Android that works beautifully. The Sony Erricson Xperia X10 is incredibly well spec'd, and I expect it to be on AT&T or T-Mobile by early 2010 (January-ish). HTC is chugging along, despite its wild success with Android devices, and is still losing money due to it's previous stance with Windows Mobile.

When the argument of "it drains your battery when you run background apps" comes up, I am amazed that educated technology professionals see this as a terrible failure for multitasking phones. Android does a pretty good job at multitasking, but it is up to the individual applications to be data/battery efficient. Free applications have been created to better manage the less frugal apps, and you are able to turn off background usage systemwide if you so choose. You can not have multitasking phones without affecting battery life. Several journalists agree that when using their devices for mobile productivity, it helps to keep an extra battery around, and a physical keyboard is extremely important.

I don't ask that Android get an equal standup against iPhone. I only ask that Android be treated as its own platform. And to be fair to that, such harsh comparisons to the iPhone are like pitting an Apple against an Orange. Sure, apples and oranges are fruits, but they have different qualities that can't be compared. Think about it.

Love you too Jerame.

One more thing. You can't fault Android for not being able to sync with iTunes. Its not a deficiency, its just a fact of life thanks to Apple protecting their own. I don't see anything wrong with that. Sure, I'd love iTunes to sync with Android, but that won't happen out of the box. There are however, ways to make that work, but ACC+ DRM'd music will never work, and that's the fault of Apple/Music Labels.

And seriously, 256MB is more than enough to run all the apps you need on Android. The apps on iPhone that take up so much space are games. Android isn't about gaming, but applications have the ability to store data (the big storage hog) on the SD card, so the space issue isn't as much.

Multitouch IS supported, but the US devices do not support it. There is a lot of legal mumbojumbo about why its so gosh darn hard to get Multitouch on Android in the US. Its not for them not trying. I believe this will be rectified in 2010.

Lastly you do not own an Android device, instead your accusations and dismissals are more subjective than mine. I have owned both Android and iPhone, and have a deep understanding of both, so I am able to make educated comparisons about the two, based on first hand experience.

Nate, honey - a great number of companies have "bet the farm" on bad products. That's nothing new. And while the Droid may be an OK product in general, it is being touted as the iPhone killer by the marketing being put behind it. Besides, when you enter a market dominated by a very successful product, everything thereafter will be compared to that product AND the question of whether or not it is that product's "killer" comes up. That's how geeks roll.

I never said the Droid was shitty - just inferior. There are shitty aspects - like the keyboard, which is what I described as shitty. Please don't hang on verbiage as a way to get around having to argue on the merits.

I don't understand the need for a history/pricing/features recap in the conversation here, but you prove my point about why Apple is winning this battle - they spend their time and efforts putting together a great experience and don't compromise on that effort for the sake of openness or market "conventional wisdom".

I'm not amazed when talking about draining battery life, Nate. It's a big issue. To have a phone and phone OS/platform be successful, it needs to appeal to the average user. The average user isn't interested in constantly managing their apps or having to download extra software to manage their apps for them. They just want their phone to work and not eat their battery.

Look at Palm OS (not Web OS, but the old Palm OS) that allowed for apps to run in the background. I used to support these devices and I can tell you that every time I touched one of these devices, the person had left every app they owned running in the background without regard to how much resources or battery that consumed. They just wanted to switch back and forth between apps, not have to find some menu item to quit or go to some other place in the system to force quite the apps.

The point is that the average user isn't going to realize that leaving all those apps running will drain their battery. They're just going to notice that their Droid gets far less mileage than their iPhone did.

I'm not digging at background apps per se. Trust me - I want background apps on the iPhone. I hate it that I can't listen to my NPR streaming app AND check my email at the same time. I think that's fucking stupid...But I'm also savvy enough to know that IF it did, it would eat up more of my battery and use more of the limited memory.

And I'm sorry, Nate, but you're being disingenuous when you say you don't want Android compared to iPhone and that all you're asking is that it be given its own chance. I'm calling bullshit. You pick on iPhone users, you pick on the iPhone itself, but as soon as someone finds a flaw in your precious Android, you want us to stop picking back? Sorry, Charlie. It doesn't work that way.

Saying it's Apples and Oranges is a red herring too. They are in the same class of phone. They are directly competing technologies. That's like saying you can't compare a Cadillac to a Lexus - they're both luxury cars, but one is owned by a Japanese company while the other is American. Big shit. You compare them because they are competition, not because they are exactly the same. It's more like comparing a Granny Smith apple to a Fuii apple - not apples to oranges.

Now, on to that second comment...

You're just plain wrong when you say that Apple has DRM'ed music. When was the last time you opened the iTunes store, Nate? Apple's music has been 100% DRM free since January of this year. Not being able to sync with iTunes is NOT because of DRM. Period.

There is a solution, however. Google and Apple are still pretty cozy. There is no real technical reason iTunes syncing couldn't work. If Apple can include Google apps on iPhone out of the box, there's no reason Google couldn't come up with a deal with Apple that allows Android devices to sync. The only reason is 1. they don't want to 2. Apple won't go for it or 3. they can't figure out how to make it work. I'm guessing 1 or 2 are the most likely.

256MB may be enough for you - we'll see once there are 100K apps for Android (if that ever happens) and you've run out of space. You're dangerously close to sounding like Bill Gates when he famously declared that no one would ever need more than 16 K of RAM in a computer. You may not want to play games, but when you look at the iPhone app store the top 10 grossing apps of all time 8 of them are games.

You know what tells me? People like to play games on their phone and are willing to pay for quality games.

Which brings me to my next point about developers. No platform can survive without great developers. Developers have a number of hurdles to overcome with Android that isn't the case with Apple. This 256MB limit is just one of those hurdles. The other is that Apple has a far, FAR superior development environment. This is held up by myriad blog posts talking about how easy it is to develop an iPhone app. It's also proven by Google's recent release of its own programming language, which has gotten mixed reviews at best.

As for multi-touch, this is a losing argument for you right now. Yes, they will fix it, but that doesn't matter right now, does it? The fact that I can pinch zoom my Google maps app on my iPhone but can't do the same on Android is just bizarre. Yes, there are some patent issues, but again - Apple and Google are friendly and multi-touch is licensable. There is no real reason for multi-touch to not be enabled on the built-in apps other than they likely haven't gotten the user experience up to snuff yet.

Programming for multiple touch events is hard. Android is not a huge money-maker for Google. It's certainly not their #1 revenue stream, like iPhone OS is for Apple.

They also don't have a lot of incentive to polish it and fine tune it since most manufacturers are gonna modify it anyway. So, again, you're having multiple parties come up with multiples ideas of what a good user experience is and they're ALL being called Android devices. That kind of brand confusion will not help Android be a success.

Sure, developers can enable multi-touch in their own apps. I believe I mentioned that before...But the Google built-in apps can't be modified. So it's up to Google to do that. So, it's especially confusing to have some apps have multi-touch while others don't.

It's not about what's possible - it's about what exists right now. What exists right now is an inferior product compared to the dominant smart phone platform of the day.

Android has merits, like I said. It has a purpose, like I said...But unless it overcomes these very obvious deficiencies, it will never be in first place and could still be eclipsed by something else.

iPhone has deficiencies too, but they aren't game-changers. Many of Android's deficiencies are game-changers. App storage limits is definitely a game-changing deficiency. Lack of consistent user experience is a definite game-changing deficiency. Poor battery life (for whatever reason) is a game-changing deficiency. A dearth of available, useful apps is a game-changing deficiency.

None of them are insurmountable...But they exist and must be acknowledged...I don't think you acknowledge any of them in your reviews, critiques and iPhone bashing.

Nate, dear...You haven't owned an iPhone either. Like me, you've used someone else's device and looked at reviews to make your judgements. Using an iPod touch is NOT the same as using an iPhone no matter how much you squint at the screen. You don't do yourself any favors by throwing that argument out there.

We're talking about a phone, not a music player that does apps. People use their phone every day all day. When something is your primary device, your usage patterns are vastly different than if it's your music player or you're using the device to check things out. This would be much closer to an apples and oranges comparison than your earlier one, though I think it's more like apples and crab apples, probably.

I'm not saying Android is a total failure. Like I said before, it deserves a comfortable second place in the lineup. It's superior to everything ELSE out there other than the iPhone. That's a big achievement for being a new OS and platform. It has a lot of support, but that support comes from handset manufacturers that have historically been tone deaf to what users want and need.

Google has said they will never make their own handset, so they're at the mercy of these nincompoops who've allowed themselves to get trounced by a company that never made a phone before (Apple) and are now trying to play catchup by adopting someone else's technology (Google's). I'm not sure that's a recipe for success. Rather, I think it's a desperate attempt to remain relevant.

As I said before...I love you dearly, my friend, but you're not gonna win this particular argument.

Jon Ivey for head Apple. Period. It's incredibly shallow of me but I want a hot President leading the country and a hot Apple talking head. Phew