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Google's Android is the future of smartphones. At least, it's one of the possible futures. Alongside the iPhone, it's the OS I'm most intrigued by, and that the two companies have chosen such different strategies in tackling the future only makes it ever so much more exciting.
The iPhone is an ordered, iconic device made entirely by Apple, with all the integration and fit and finish -- and frustratingly capricious omissions -- that only a single guiding mind can achieve. Android, by contrast, is chaotic and communal, designed by Google to free developers and fit a multitude of tastes and form-factors -- with all the possible confusion and derivation open source has to offer.
Which one is "better" is a ridiculously impossible question to answer -- each platform has its strengths and weaknesses and each user their own unique needs and preferences. Frankly, we're fortunate to live in a time where there are so many truly awesome devices from which to choose. (Even a few years ago -- and yes, I'll say it, pre-iPhone shockwave -- things were far, far more bleak.)
For my part, all I can really do is tell you how I use a smartphone, and how well the Android G1 fits that usage bill.
I really need to point out, up front, that the G1 is a beta device. There, I said it. Unlike Windows Mobile or Blackberry OS, which have been on the market for years and years, and the iPhone OS which is already on 2.x, Android has just hit the market with all the promise and problems that inevitably go with that. The Android device I experienced this week will absolutely and without question be blown away by whatever Android device(s) hit the market next year. So, it's not a fair comparison for Android from the get go, and I beg everyone to remember that when I lay... er... get into it below the fold.