The Woz: Android Has Some Advantages Over iPhone

Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak has set off a few shock waves in the tech blogosphere by saying that the iPhone may be the best smartphone for some users, but that Android has some advantages over his alma mater’s smartphone platform. In an interview with The Daily Beast, The Woz said that he still recommends the iPhone for many users, but that there are some things Android simply does better.

Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak

Many headlines on the Internet—including The Daily Beast’s own—have spun the interview as one in which Mr. Wozniak said Android is better, but the reality is that he praised both platforms and said that each has advantages over the other. According to him, the iPhone is elegant and beautiful, simple and easy to use, while Android has better voice controls and navigation.

“My primary phone is the iPhone,” Mr. Wozniak said. “I love the beauty of it. But I wish it did all the things my Android does, I really do.”

He also listed some specific complaints about the iPhone, including its battery life. He said that with Apple’s upgrade to iOS 5, his iPhone, “started running through the battery so fast.” This is a complaint that many iPhone users have lodged and that Apple said it was trying to correct. Recent updates have helped some users, but not all.

His biggest complaint, ironically, was leveled towards the iPhone 4S’s most popular feature, Siri. Mr. Wozniak said that Siri was better when it was just a standalone app, before Apple launched it as a (beta) service integrated into iOS 5 itself.

He said, “I used to ask Siri, ‘What are the five biggest lakes in California?’ and it would come back with the answer. Now it just misses. It gives me real estate listings. I used to ask, ‘What are the prime numbers greater than 87?’ and it would answer. Now instead of getting prime numbers, I get listings for prime rib, or prime real estate.”

For what it’s worth, we found that Siri could provide a list of lakes when asked about the five biggest lakes in California, but the question about prime numbers greater than 87 returned a list of Bay Area businesses with “Greater” in their names, a useless answer similar to what Mr. Wozniak described.

He also noted that when Apple moved all voice commands to Siri, his iPhone then required a connection to the Internet for voice commands like calling his wife—no data connection, no voice controls. He said that in this regard, Android was better than iPhone.

“With the iPhone 4 I could press a button and call my wife,” Mr. Wozniak said. “Now on the 4S I can only do that when Siri can connect over the Internet. But many times it can’t connect. I’ve never had Android come back and say, ‘I can’t connect over the Internet.’”

He added, “I have a lower success rate with Siri than I do with the voice built into the Android, and that bothers me,” Woz says. “I’ll be saying, over and over again in my car, ‘Call the Lark Creek Steak House,’ and I can’t get it done. Then I pick up my Android, say the same thing, and it’s done. Plus I get navigation. Android is way ahead on that.”

All in all, he said that he tends to recommend the iPhone 4S for people who are already in Apple’s ecosystem and for people who are, “scared of computers altogether and don’t want to use them.” He added he believes the iPhone isn’t frightening, and that it’s simplicity makes it a great device for those who might be daunted by the complexity of other devices.