Trench warfare is becoming a bad tactic.
It works well when it’s “Us versus Them.” It works poorly when “Us” starts getting split up. Now “Us” is really “Us sub-set n=[1,2,3…]” as limit n approaches infinity.
I hate when Steve Jobs is right. He recently made the reversal argument that “open versus closed” was more aptly defined as “fragmented versus integrated.” I’m believing him more and more daily. To be as clear as I can before I continue, I disagree with Apple’s strict business model and strategy, but this post is not about that. It’s the other side of the coin that spawned this one. Android fanboys.
I am one. I’m definitely passionate about Android. However, I feel like the “community” is moving away from what I originally loved about it. The platform, the devices, the carriers: they’re all wonderful. I’m on board with everything that is happening on the professional side of creating, supporting and saturating-the-market-with Android. My issues are growing faster than (or equivocally to, as it seems) the speed at which new devices and platforms are launching. Each new set breeds a cult-ish crew of followers. That group hating another more than Bram Stoker hates Stephanie Meyer. On top of that, the groups think it’s galvanizing to see factions created within the “community.” Seriously, the paradox breaks wide open at this point. Just re-read that asinine statement. “On top of that, the groups think it’s galvanizing to see factions created within the ‘community’.” Half of those words don’t even know each other. I’ll explain.
Sense. TouchWiz. Vanilla. MotoBlur. (Okay, well not really MotoBlur.) Three (or four) isn’t so bad, right? Okay, well, then we delve into the bowels of each of these ridiculous allegiances. Take Sense from the manufacturer HTC for an example. Regular Sense UI (Soon to be deemed Sense Lite/Light), “Espresso” (of which I disagree with the moniker itself. Espresso was the name of ONE device during pre-release testing. It was in no way tied to a software overlay.), and the quickly approaching, all-inclusive, full-bodied Sense (sans the “UI”). HTC integrates many heavily used, convenient features in their Sense-flavoured offerings. You may sync all of your friends’ pictures linked to their contacts pulling from Facebook just with a simple login. If you open the native Dialer application, you can jump to any contact in the address book with a quick hammering, T9 style across the numerics. Need a quick, powerful calendar? The Sense-driven calendar widget pulls your agenda from Facebook, Gmail, Google Apps, Microsoft Exchange, and just about anything else you could synchronize with a working calendar function. Despite all of this, if you like Sense, you are the ugliest devil from the deepest bowel of the most torturous prison-Hell you can imagine because oft-hated “bloatware” like HTC Peep rides the coattails into your pocket. How dare HTC do anything! Damn them! Curses!! Oh, wait. There are so many other great things they are offering.
HTC software haters aren’t the only guilty parties. TouchWiz (semi-affectionately donned “Twiz”) gets its fair share of condescension. Why? TouchWiz really doesn’t add anything, but it also doesn’t take much away. So, what gives? Why all the malcontent? Oh, right! I remember! Because mistakes are unforgivable and you will be reminded of them for all eternity, Samsung. Scratch that. Not reminded of. Persecuted for. Because the Samsung Behold II (inversely second only to the Motorola Backflip in Android popularity) was not updated, Samsung will always be scarred. Samsung came out stating that the Behold II would get a boost to a more advanced Android version, but they later discovered something: that would be a waste of pretty much any resource you could imagine. The device was poorly received and underpowered. It didn’t have a user base worth appeasing fiscally, and the Behold II lacked most of the hardware to get any real results from an improved operating system. Samsung thus scrapped Operation OTA and ever since has been a wireless pariah. Sadly, what’s worse is that’s not even the atrocity! Samsung Behold II owners have the right as consumers to be upset about miscommunication from their chosen supplier! They truly do. If they desire to stick with Samsung after these events is definitely a point of ponder, but it really wasn’t that group that gave Samsung-entity that much guff. Pretty much any other pundit in the Android core found for themselves that it was their right as “open source proponents” to furiously mash their keyboards in unison. “HATE. HATE, SHAMSHUNG! YOU FAIL!” What gives you the right? Your super-best-friend once thought about upgrading to a Samsung Behold II? Nice try. So, now that you have this uber-hate for Samsung completely disregard anything they do. 4″ Super-AMOLED with a 1GHz Hummingbird processor running Twiz-bolstered Android Open-Source Project (AOSP) 2.1 with a ridiculously nice camera and undeniably gorgeous chassis? Or, if the Galaxy S isn’t your speed, maybe you’d prefer to try the Tab? The first major tablet release since the Apple iPad. A unique, good-on-the-GO 7″ display. A familiar, attractive body type lined with all the fun specs you’d expect from a 2010 tablet device. However, all for naught. Trash. Trash because of their disregard for the Behold II.
The Vanilliacs are the worst. In fact, the Vanilla fans tend to make up for the heavy-handed majority of both the anti-Sense and die-Samsung-die platform. “Vanilla” is pretty much the tweet-street slang for the unadulterated, Google-stamp-of-approval-bearing release of Android on any device. In the Vanilla-lovers’ eyes, if it didn’t crawl directly into this world from Mountain View and Mountain View only, it’s a demon-spawn and might as well be wearing a black turtleneck and whining about Flash. These are the same kids who despise cover songs and insist that the book is better than the movie. No, that other band didn’t work hard to add their own flavour. That director and cast defiled all that was good in the book to put out their own depiction of a story that they loved just as much as (probably more than) you. Hence their long-term, very costly investment into the “travesty” project. So, by all means, please complain about “bloatware” and superfluous add-ons from other manufacturers. Meanwhile, let me ask you. How often do you use Google Shopper, Translate, Earth, Maps, Sky Map, Gmail, Voice, Listen, Search, Voice Search, Goggles, Talk, blah blah blah? You use some of them, right? Yeah, so do I. Do I use all of them? Not a chance. Do you? Not a chance. But, it’s not “bloatware” because it can be un-installed. That’s the rule! Oh, and in case you were unaware, we make all the rules because we pay our hard-earned cash for this Android greatness! Oh…you do, too? You do? But, surely Sense and Twiz devices are without cost…! They aren’t? You get to have your own opinion? Nuh-uh! Google didn’t release a beta saying you get an opinion so know your place and keep quiet!
This is the paragraph where I have to be fair. If I’m going to go to bat for TouchWiz and Sense users, I suppose I should pose a fair argument against those who can’t stand Vanilla. To be honest, there aren’t many who really proclaim that they can’t stand Vanilla. Because it’s perfect? Hardly. It does half of the basic operative things that Sense and TouchWiz devices offer out of the box the majority of the time. Because Sense/TouchWiz users were almost always stock Android first. We love the projects, and we want them to grow. Stock Android brings wonderful things to the table! It oftentimes has features that are brand new, and it has a track record of receiving great updates in a far more timely manner! Papa Google supports stock more directly than anything else, but if it wasn’t part of the grand plan for manufacturers to add their spins then it wouldn’t be open! That’s a very, very large point of the entire project! Why do we have to aggressively attack every other Android user that doesn’t fall into the same sub-set as we do? Seriously. Take a pill labeled “chill” and relax. Variety is the spice of life, so stop being so crazy narrow-minded. You can buy what you want to buy, however so can everyone else! If you’re asked for your opinion, then that’s a great opportunity to come out and give it. On the other hand, when someone says “Oh, man, I just got my hands on this #GalaxyS! I really love it!” Or, maybe they update their status to “…is posting from Facebook for Android with her new myTouch4G! It’s amazing! So, so fast!” For the geeks: “Tweeting from terminal on my Nexus. KING OF PHONES! #android” You. Are. NOT. ENEMIES. Why would you reply with something like “ugh so ugly I hateeeeeee it” to them? On a very basic, human level that’s awful. It’s rude and quite honestly without redeeming value. You are truly taking away from the amazing grounds we’ve all worked to build.
Android is number one. Android has the largest market share. Android has the most satisfied users. Android has the cheapest plans, the fastest speeds, the most expansive coverage. Android tethers. Android broadcasts. Android chats. Android devs. Android torrents. Android plays well with Flash. Android tweets. Android updates. Android is open. And, Android is powerful because it accepts all-comers. Manufacturers, developers, users, carriers. If you will have Android, it will have you. Stop tearing it apart because you’re an elitist douche.
If there was one thing I wish Android didn’t do, it would be this. Android does nearly everything, but Android doesn’t need friendly-fire.