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The Tech-pert: Did Steve Wozniak Really Say Android is 'Better Than iPhone'? Um, no.

By Guest Blogger(view all posts by Rick.Broida)
at 1:05PM Thursday January 19, 2012
under Product Review

Of all the dumb headlines I've read lately, this one from today's The Daily Beast takes the cake:

"Even Woz Thinks Android Bests the iPhone." (http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/01/14/even-woz-thinks-the-android-bests-the-iphone.html)

Did you catch the dumb part? "Even Woz" presumes that just about everyone else thinks Android is better than iPhone as well, and now the Apple co-founder is finally conceding this widely held "truth."
I could see a headline like this on a gushy Android-fanboy site, but The Daily Beast is the online home of Newsweek—ostensibly still a news organization.

What's more, no further than two paragraphs into the story, writer Dan Lyons reveals that Wozniak "still thinks Apple's iPhone is the best overall smartphone." Android has merely exceeded it in a few areas.

Has it? Let's take a closer look at some of Woz's comments, starting with Siri—the much-ballyhooed voice-command system built into the iPhone 4S.

It doesn't work as well as it used to, he notes, often returning flawed answers to seemingly simple questions:

"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," Woz says.

I'm the first to admit that Siri has her flaws, but people frequently make the mistake of assuming she knows everything about everything. Siri works best—and almost flawlessly—with personal requests, like sending a text to your spouse or scheduling a reminder.

By the way, Steve, I prefaced your California-lakes question with "Google search" and got plenty of spot-on results. As for the prime-number thing, I agree it's weird that Wolfram Alpha didn't kick in for that. But ask for the square root of, say, 144, and Wolfram spits out exactly the data you'd expect.

Do Android phones do a better job overall with voice commands? For some things, yes, but Android doesn't come close to matching Siri for the aforementioned personal tasks, like showing your upcoming appointments and reminding you to buy milk when you drive near the grocery store.

Also, let's remember: Siri is still in beta.

Woz next criticizes his iPhone 4S battery life, which is a joke considering how notoriously rotten Android phones (and tablets) are at power management. True, I had some initial battery issues with my 4S as well, but a quick Google search revealed steps to correct the problem (http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-20128109-285/how-to-give-your-iphones-battery-life-a-serious-boost/).

Android also has better built-in GPS navigation? That's true, it does—but there are about a million GPS apps for the iPhone, many of which are vastly superior to what Google bakes into Android. So what if turn-by-turn navigation isn't built in? Add an app and the playing field levels.

I'm not saying Woz doesn't make some valid observations, nor that Android phones aren't better than iPhones in some areas. I just want to make sure you don't see misleading headlines like this one (and those that will inevitably follow in other media outlets) and think, "Oh, well, if Woz likes Android better now, I'd better steer clear of the iPhone."

Rather, what Woz actually said was this:

"My primary phone is the iPhone," Woz says. "I love the beauty of it. But I wish it did all the things my Android does, I really do."

He also said he thinks iPhones are better for less tech-savvy users, who may be "intimidated by Android's complexity." I definitely second that.

As with Windows vs. Mac, Coke vs. Pepsi, and chocolate vs. vanilla, "better" is often in the eye of the beholder.

Oh, what am I saying, vanilla can't hold a candle to chocolate.

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