Replicating My Key Android App Features on iOS

PwnTunes-IconPwnTunes (€10) == Android Mass Storage USB Device

Android is mostly cloud-focused. You don’t sync it with a PIM or iTunes. If you want to put music on the Nexus One or get your pictures off you can just plug it into a computer. Android presents itself as a USB drive.  You can simply copy files back and forth between the device and the computer. Incidentally, this is exactly how the Kindle and my Nikon D200 work as well.

PwnTunes is a Cydia app which requires that your iPhone is jailbroken but it pretty much replicates the Android behavior. I was willing to pay €10 for this convenience because I’m an iTunes rebel. I buy my music from Amazon’s MP3 store and I don’t even have iTunes installed on my Windows partition where I spend the vast majority of my time.

PwnTunes Update

PwnTunes is horrible. It does not work well at all. Unfortunately, there is no substitute for iTunes for i-devices.

bria-iconBria iPhone App ($8) == SipDroid

I have a SIP account on Callcentric which allows me to make calls in the US without any international phone charges when I’m abroad. My SIP account is also tied to my Google Voice number so when I get a call on my main USA number it rings through to me anywhere in the world provided that my phone has data service. Bria is working really well for me so far. I’d say that the background service and notification features of Android  is more favorable to this sort of thing. It does seem that iOS will occasionally decide to kill Bria, I think. It’s hard to tell.

gvoice-iconGoogle Voice == Google Voice

Apple has approved the Google Voice app for iOS so it is now available on the iPhone. Incidentally, the iTunes store on iOS makes this much easier to install than the Android Market because if your SIM is not on one of the whitelisted carriers in Google Market, Google Voice doesn’t appear. The iTunes store has no such issue.

Podcaster ($2) == Google Listenpodcaster-icon

Google Listen is a podcatcher which downloads and caches podcasts over the air. It’s a little flaky but it mostly works. It’s another one of the apps that is hidden in Google Market for some carriers. Podcaster does the same thing for iOS and has a much nicer user interface than Google Listen. I really like Podcaster but my main complaint is that the scheduled polling of podcasts doesn’t seem to be reliable when Podcaster is running in the background.

kindle-iconKindle == Kindle

On the one hand this is essentially the same reading experience as the Android version. On the other hand, the Android version is more feature-ful because of the subscription content struggle between Amazon and Apple. The iOS version of Kindle cannot receive periodical subscriptions.

 

nytimes-iconNY Times == NY Times

Nothing to see here. The Android and iOS versions are nearly identical if you allow for the differences in standard interface widgets on the platforms.

 

gtranslate-icon

Google Translate == Google Translate

Again this is the same app on iOS as on Android. It’s very cool if a bit Eurocentric. Don’t expect it to hear and speak Arabic or Asanti Twi. On the other hand it is great at hearing and speaking French, Spanish, German and Dutch. It speaks Danish but can’t hear Danish and it hears Afrikaans but can’t speak it. Something interesting is going on there.

Bonus: Flickrflickr-icon

iOS has a cool Flickr app that will background upload photos to your Flickr stream and can also edit tags and sets in Flickr as well as browse your friends Flickr streams. Nicely done.

 

Bonus: OneNote

onenote-icon

I have OneNote and use it off and on. OneNote 2010 syncs with Microsoft’s cloud storage and this cool little iOS app also syncs with Microsoft’s cloud storage. If you take notes on an iDevice they show up in OneNote on Windows and vice-versa. My main complaint is that syncing a notebook for the first time is pretty slow over 3g. Jury is still out on this one but I’m giving it a whirl.

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Annoyance: Android Market Regional App Availability

The Android Market Place has regional app availability which means that if you live or travel outside of North America and the EU, you don’t have access to some of the best apps like Google Voice, Google Listen, GMail App updates, Amazon Kindle App and Skype to name a few.

It turns out that the regional restriction is by carrier but Google isn’t looking at where your data is coming from. They are looking at the carrier identifier on the SIM. The restrictions aren’t technically regional, they are by carrier.

If I put my AT&T SIM in my phone in Accra, I see the USA-only apps and can download them over WiFi. Unfortunately, even once they are installed apps that I have to install using my AT&T SIM don’t seem receive updates when I am using my Zain SIM. It seems that I have to periodically switch SIMs and check for updates.

It’s possible to spoof the carrier id and fool the Android Market  if you root your phone but I really don’t want to spend that kind of time and energy beating on my phone. I’d like it to just work, please.

The user experience for this is really bad. It feels like a bug with the phone because Android Market just says that the software was not found when you follow a link or QR code for a restricted app. Couldn’t it at least say something like “We’re sorry. The publisher of this software has not made it available for your carrier. Click here to request it to be made available.” This is the Amazon approach when a book is not available for Kindle. At least that is mildly cathartic that you get to complain to someone.

Is this carrier whitelisting of apps really necessary for the Android Market? Really?

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