3 Reasons Why Android Should not Copy Apple

It's time for Google to admit the truth. We all know it already: Android is a copy of Apple's iOS. It just happens to be open-source, and tied into Google's apps.

You don't believe me? Well, take a look at these before-and-after pictures, compiled by a blogger named Andrew Warner. Before the iPhone was announced, the prototype Android phone looked uncannily like one of RIM's BlackBerry smartphones. But the first Android phone released after the announcement, the T-Mobile G1, bore a close resemblance to the iPhone, and they've just gotten closer from there (aside from their monster-sized screens).

Apple's at the top of its game, though. Why shouldn't Android copy its designs? For three reasons, starting with:

It gets Android gadget makers in legal trouble

Samsung's smartphones and tablets especially look like Apple's, a fact which was illustrated (and lampooned) by these popular photos on Reddit. Maybe that's why Apple's been going after Samsung so aggressively, and trying to sue its gadgets out of existence. Every other day, it seems, Apple wins an injunction against Samsung in one country or another.

Perhaps this shouldn't be so surprising; Apple's late CEO Steve Jobs vowed to destroy Android for being a copycat, and spent awhile before his death either ranting about it or trying to take it down. Whether you think the patent system is a good or bad thing overall, it can't have helped that Android gadgets were, in fact, copycats.

It makes Android second-best by definition

As Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web notes in his review of the Nokia Lumia 800, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 operating system is "fresh and accessible," while Android is more like "an uglier and slower version of iOS."

How is that possible? Because while Microsoft started from the ground up with Windows Phone 7's Metro interface, Android compares so closely to iOS that it falls into the Uncanny Valley, where its differences -- such as terrible battery life -- stand out. It has few advantages over iOS, at least from a high-end phone shopper's standpoint, and huge disadvantages. Perhaps that's why ...

It makes people unhappy

Granted, many won't notice the difference, especially if they've never used an iPhone before. But anyone who does take the time to compare them often finds Android phones wanting, because there's so little to set Android apart in a good way.

There are people who like Android phones even compared with the iPhone, but they're often the ones who are excited about the few features Android has that the iPhone doesn't; like its open-source code, or the depth of its customizability.

The Upshot

Android's head of user experience, Matias Duarte, explained in an interview with Joshua Topolsky of The Verge how Google is trying to give Android a soul, so to speak. To create a more unique experience, and one that shines in its own right.

As he described the process, though, it's sluggish, "like driving an aircraft carrier." And with Android phones already slow to receive updates, with millions still stuck on older versions, it may be awhile before you can be enchanted by Ice Cream Sandwich.