The fact that my new Nike sneakers work with my iPhone, but not my Android devices is the latest example of why the iPhone is still my primary mobile device. I like a lot of things about my Android devices, especially my unlocked Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 7 with Jelly Bean, but waiting around for apps to connect to products and services is getting old.
Android’s come a long way over the past couple of years, but it still lags behind the iPhone in one very important way: App Availability. There’s no question that Android bests iOS in a number of ways, but developers go where the money is. Developers repeatedly tell us that their iOS apps make far more than Android apps, with some developers painting Android users as cheap. It’s also easier for Android users to bootleg apps and games, forcing at least one developer to turn a popular paid iOS game into a free one on the Play Store due to piracy. The result is that brands big and small put Apple customers first. Companies tend to like customers that will actually pay for stuff.
A lot of the apps that matter to me seem to launch on the iOS platform first, coupled with an asterisk and a note that an Android version is ‘coming soon.’ Android users end up getting treated like second-class citizens.
Nike’s Lunar TR1+ training shoes have wireless sensors baked into their soles that communicate information back to a training app that logs speed, height and intensity. The app has interactive workouts, starring famous athletes like Manny Pacquiao and Allyson Felix. The app and the shoes aren’t going to turn me into an olympic athlete, but they will help get me into reasonable share as part of my workout plan.
Here is a video overview of the Nile+ Training App. It’s pretty slick and built specifically for the iPhone 4S. Older iPhones require an included Nike+ adapter, which isn’t a very elegant solution. My guess is that Android fragmentation is just one of the reasons why Nike couldn’t or wouldn’t launch an equivalent Android app alongside the iPhone version.
Today it doesn’t matter that my Verizon Galaxy Nexus has 4G LTE and my unlocked Nexus has Jelly Bean. It doesn’t matter that they have bigger displays and better integration with Google services. As I get ready to go for my afternoon workout there’s only one phone that works with my Nikes and that’s my iPhone 4S. Guess which one I’m going to carry today?
I bought my HTC Thunderbolt about 16 months ago to see what all the fuss about Android was first hand and to see if a Google-powered device could get me to give up my iPhone. Since then I’ve upgraded to the Droid Bionic, then the Galaxy Nexus and tried several others. The unlocked Nexus with Jelly Bean is my favorite Android device so far, but I still can’t leave home without my iPhone. That may change in the future, but not until an Android phone can work with the stuff that matters to me.