The mainstream has had little reason to care that Android gives developers much more customization freedom than iOS. But if Facebook’s fabled Android homescreen is a hit, the stubbornness of Apple’s closed mobile platform could be framed as a drawback after years of its cohesive design and ease being seen as assets.
Cheapness and handset/carrier choice are two of the biggest factors convincing people to pick up Android phones today. There’s its premier integration of Google’s app suite and the “rebel without an iPhone” attitude too. But Android’s flexibility for app developers has been more of a selling point for geeks and early adopters than for the average Joe.
Meanwhile, the straight forward “it just works” aspect of iOS that leans on its rigidity has made it a popular introduction to smartphones for hundreds of millions of people. There just hasn’t been a killer brand name app to grab the mainstream’s attention that depends on Android’s cooperative architecture and that iOS won’t support. No one has forced the issue of open vs closed on the common man.
But six years after the iPhone’s debut, the average mobile consumer has matured. They crave more personalization through homescreen widgets and custom launchers. They want to make their phone truly theirs. The mobile world may finally have reached the turning point where the benefits of Android’s customization outweigh the benefits of iOS’ simplicity. And it’s Facebook homescreen for Android that could crystallize this moment.