We're starting a new feature here at Android Central and it involves you guys, the readers. Do you have a question regarding Android? Need to know anything about Android? Send it over to us and we'll do our best to explain, as in depth and head on as we can, and hopefully provide you with an answer!
To kick off the very first Ask Android Central,
Derek asks do you know if there is an Android OS for the iPhone? If not, why not? Any idea if it will ever be possible to get Android on the iPhone? Your thoughts are appreciated!
Android Central tackles this question after the break!
Ah, the ol' iPhone is linked to our beloved Android once again. We totally understand: you like the iPhone but may be a little bit wary of joining the closed Apple ecosystem where seemingly Steve Jobs' fleeting emotions are the only say in deciding which app gets passed and which app gets banned. Trust us, we've been there.
And you see Android. The shiniest of new toys, undoubtedly the one with the most potential and perhaps the most anti-Apple of them all, and you think, why not combine my two interests? You get the great iPhone hardware with the great Android software. PERFECT, right?
Not so much. A brief trip down memory lane might serve us good. I know it's a bit hard to imagine these days but Apple is first and foremost, a software company. Not a smartphone company. Not a music company. Not a computer company. A software company (and okay, maybe a computer company). The Mac OS is the backbone of all things Apple and even though their recent hits might suggest hardware (iPhone, iPod, Macbook)—they still do software best (think iTunes, iLife, OS X, etc).
Step back and think about it for a second, every Apple product runs their own specific Apple software. You may get a bit more leniency with the Mac because you can load Windows onto it but that's probably the length of freedom you're officially allowed. So to imagine an Apple product without Apple software? To the legions of Apple fanboys, that would almost be blasphemous. To the boys in Cupertino, that would probably be illegal. So to answer your question, in short, at least: No, there won't ever be an official iPhone Android.
The longer answer would be, yeah, sooner or later you'd probably be able to hack Android onto the iPhone because well, that's what hacking is here for. The technology behind the iPhone and Android makes it at least theoretically possible and the awareness of the two platforms make it entertaining. Because Android can be ported onto any device without any licensing fees, a very astute homebrew iPhone hacker might one day be able to get Android on the iPhone.
So obviously, it wouldn't the most official way—but with the flexibility of the Android OS and the genius of the iPhone dev team—well I wouldn't bet against it happening, unofficially of course. And they are probably already well on their way, here's a video of the iPhone running Linux and with Android being based on the Linux kernel, it can be assumed that Android would be the logical next step.
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But I guess the bigger question would then be, would we want Android on the iPhone? And after some serious thought (confession: we were once iPhone users) we at Android Central actually think it's a bad idea.
The benefits of having Android on the iPhone, cool hacking factor aside, just isn't worth it. Stripping the iPhone OS away from the iPhone really takes a lot of the shine off the iPhone. What you're left with is simply a shell—a form factor that only support one button, doesn't have Stereo Bluetooth (though Android doesn't have that just yet), and has middling call quality. Also, Android doesn't yet support a soft keyboard so there won't be any headway on this hack until Android gets that feature.
Just comparatively speaking, the iPhone's hardware isn't miles ahead of the competition. Let's be honest and take a look. The iPhone's killer feature? It's large and expansive touchscreen. It's great to be sure, but it also has remain unchanged since the original iPhone. That's almost 2-year-old technology. And that goes towards the rest of the iPhone—aside from quickly evolving its software—the iPhone is still relatively the same phone hardware-wise it was 2 years ago.
If we were to look at current phones to port Android to, I'd much rather prefer an HTC Touch HD or a Blackberry Bold to run Android. Something to take advantage of today's offerings and give us an amazingly gorgeous screen to play with. But then again, those phones weren't designed or specified to run Android, so it obviously won't offer the best user experience.
So it'll be definitely more exciting to look forward to what's next in terms of smartphone hardware designed for Android. Android allows a certain amount of flexibility that running it on the iPhone would strip away. There's no need to limit the OS onto the iPhone's self-imposed limitations. I mean, if we got Android ported onto the iPhone, what would be the difference of having, let's say, Android on the Touch Diamond? Stripping the iPhone OS away from the iPhone really makes it nothing more than ordinary.
The iPhone limits itself in ways that Android has no intention. The fewest buttons possible on the iPhone is a design choice that Apple has to live with, not us Android users. The iPhone is the iPhone because of its OS, not its hardware. So no, there won't ever be an official way to get Android on the iPhone. But yeah, there'll probably be some enterprising genius who manages to do so. And yeah, the interweb will probably go crazy for it. And heck, we will too. But after we come to our senses and realize its issues—we would pass.
So don't worry Derek, if Android ever gets on the iPhone, just check Android Central to find out! In the mean time, look forward to using some better hardware with the same great Android OS in the near future!
Did we get anything wrong? Tell us so in the comments! And if you have a question to ask Android Central, feel free to contact us via our Contacts Form and your question just might be featured in the next Ask Android Central!