The Woz nearly forsakes iOS and the iPhone with latest comments praising Android.
The Woz has nearly forsaken Apple’s own mobile operating system – the iOS platform – and its very own smartphone – the iPhone – with his latest comments professing his high regard for the mobile operating system backed by Google – the Android OS. However, this comes as no surprise for me because of the man Steve Wozniak is and the values I think he holds most dear.
But before we go ahead and discuss why this comes as no surprise from the Woz, let’s see what The Woz told the Daily Beast’s Dan Lyons which started waves in the tech sphere.
The comments made by Woz basically said that Android is superior to iOS on the iPhone in some aspects.
First, he said that he’s disappointed with Siri saying that it was better when it was still an independent app made for the iPhone.
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.”
He also pointed out that Siri can’t connect to the internet a lot of times and this causes problems. The Woz said: “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.’”
Furthermore, he said that he has “a lower success rate with Siri than I do with the voice built into 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.”
There’s still more. The Woz also pointed out battery life issues with the recently-released iOS 5. He said: “With the iPhone, something happened with the new OS or the new phone, and it just started running through the battery so fast. I’ve had a lot of issues with things I have to turn off just to save the battery life.”
The Woz also doesn’t like the strict app approval process for iOS apps. He said that it takes longer to develop for iOS and make tweaks and updates to apps because of this.
With that comment, we’re getting closer to why Woz admires Android and admits it is superior to iOS in some aspects is not at all that surprising.
We’re talking about the Woz here, the Apple co-founder who thought it fun to design computers with as few components as possible when he was still in high school. He passed his time this way and he could not afford to buy parts to build a real computer at the time. He continued to design things even when he was out of high school, challenging himself to reduce the number of parts and simplify the working of his designs every time. While doing this, he wanted to give the designs away for free so that people could build on it. It was Steve Jobs who convinced the Woz to build a business out of the designs he had.
In the book Founders At Work by Y Combinator founding partner Jessica Livingston, the Woz is depicted as a man who believes in working things out from skills and ingenuity. This very same quality has also been repeatedly described by Walter Isaacson in his biography of Steve Jobs.
The Woz does not really give that much importance to money (that is if he gave importance to it at all), he cares about building devices which have never been built. This is evident in the way he operated during the early days of his friendship with Jobs.
He designed stuff, and he’d let people at the Homebrew Computer Club see his schematics to see how his device worked and to discuss how it can be improved. He was giving away his designs until Apple was formed and the design became proprietary. If Steve Jobs was the proponent of the walled garden, Steve Wozniak believed in the opposite. Isaacson also described, for example, instances where The Woz would disagree with Jobs over how many ports they should put in a computer. The Woz argued they should include more to not limit what people can do with their computers. Jobs disagreed.
So naturally, I assume that The Woz would prefer an open system like Android where people could see the source of the platform and do all kinds of stuff with the OS. He is a hacker at heart and hacking is just his life. The interview does not exactly say he has customized his Android, but the fact that he could if he wanted to could be why it appeals to him more.
Nonetheless, The Woz said that “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.”
Of course, The Woz would say that he recommends the iPhone. Even then, he said that it’s for people who are “just scared of computers” because it’s “the least frightening thing”. Of course he will recommend the product of the company he co-founded. You can’t expect him to just abandon his child, or the grandchild or great grandchild of his child.
Given his predisposition towards figuring things out for himself, designing things and improving on previously-established technologies, the customizability and openness of Android suits his hacker self which I think he still hasn’t lost and will never lose. That’s the reason why, I think, The Woz admires Android and that we should not be surprised by this.