Mobile deathmatch: Motorola Mobility Atrix 4G vs. Apple iPhone 4
Motorola's versatile new Android smartphone outshines the iPhone in some ways, but falls short overallFollow @MobileGalen
The native apps are comparable on the two devices, providing email, contacts, calendar, maps and navigation, browser, a music player, a YouTube player, and SMS messaging. One strange exception: the Atrix has no native notepad app, while iOS 4 does. That's a very odd omission for a smartphone. As noted previously, the Atrix doesn't support PDF viewing out of the box; you have to download the free Adobe Reader app from the Android Market to view PDF files.
But the Atrix includes the standard Android Navigation app, which speaks directions as you navigate, as well as provides an on-screen live map and written step-by-step directions. The iPhone's Maps app has comparable on-screen navigation capabilities but does not speak them as you drive. The Atrix comes with several apps the iPhone does not, including the Social Networking app that consolidates updates from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social services you configure it to monitor. And if Flash video display is important to you, you can download Flash Player from the Android Market; there is no Flash Player for the iPhone due to Apple's prohibition against it.
App stores and app installation. There are tens of thousands of apps for the iPhone's iOS, from games to scientific visualization tools. Sure, there's a lot of junk, but you'll find many really useful apps as well. Android doesn't have nearly the same library of apps as the iOS, but its portfolio is now in the thousands and growing, with many useful apps such as Quickoffice, for which the Atrix includes a basic version with limited creation and editing capabilities. I find that iOS apps are often more capable than their Android equivalents (such as the New York Times and Amazon.com Kindle apps) -- but not always (Angry Birds, for example).
Unlike Apple's App Store, the Android Market is not curated, which makes it easier for developers to get their apps listed but has also let cyber thieves create phishing apps that masquerade as banking or other apps and steal user information; Apple's App Store seems to be less at risk to such Trojans. The Android Market is also slower to load than the App Store and not as easy to navigate within the app details.
You don't have to use the Android Market to get Android apps on the Atrix. If you want to get down and dirty, you can configure the Android OS's application settings to install apps from other sources.
Installation of apps is similar: After selecting an app, you confirm your store account information and wait for the app to download and install.
Both mobile OSes let you know if you have app updates available. On the iPhone, the App Store app indicates the number of available updates. On the Atrix, available app updates are displayed in the notifications bar at the top of the home screen. However, many Android users have had difficulty receiving these notifications or find they get notifications for updates they've already installed. You might want to get the free App Update Notifier App from the Android Market and use it instead of the Android Market app's built-in notification.