Sunday, September 1, 2013

Accessories and Android - A terrible relationship

Unfortunately, I don't have any products to review at the moment. Times are tough and money is down. Even worse though, there's really nothing to review. Android has always been treated like a red-headed stepchild when it comes to accessory support. Some of the things I have managed to purchase like my Philips charging dock are really one offs. Seriously, go look in store for some docks with audio capability for Android. Find any? Yeah, didn't think so.

I've found a few things here and there, mostly online. There's a Rock Dock from T-Mobile that I didn't know about, but it's pretty bare bones. Of course, the now discontinued Philips Fidelio line of docks are available on eBay for cheapish now. There are quite a few docks that actually exist, but unless you're familiar with eBay and some Google research, you may be getting something good or something horrible. More to the point, in store shopping is what I'm really getting at. There are occasions where I can only find something online, like a discontinued item or import item, but I typically like to do my shopping in store to ensure I'm getting something good.

Now, do the same thing with Apple. You'll find at least a dozen docks in store from an equal amount of manufacturers. It's depressing to say the least. Apple does do something right and that's create a consistent product across generations. Aside from the 30-pin to lightning port change, one dock will work for just about any Apple product from the iPhone to the iPad to the iPod.

But why shouldn't it for Android? Although Android doesn't have audio out through the charging ports like Apple, you figure there would be some market for these type of things. 99.9% of Android phones use micro USB and everyone charges their phones right? They all have Bluetooth. So why aren't we seeing more of these things? Surely, the dreaded fragmentation word isn't in play considering Apple is just as fragmented these days.

Another example: I really like Citizen watches. They have something called Eco Drive which allows them to be powered by light. They never need a battery. It's a wonderfully amazing product line. Recently, they came out with a watch called Proximity. It uses Bluetooth 4.0 LE and is basically a low-end smartwatch with notifications and out-of-range function for your smartphone. However, read their site and Citizen states they have no Android version of their control program in the works. Really? In fact, you can't even find the watch on the official site anymore.

Another cool smartwatch that I really want is the Cookoo smartwatch. Similar to the Citizen one, albeit much cheaper and requiring basic watch batteries, Cookoo doesn't appear to have anything in the pipeline for Android. There was a beta version that works for exactly one phone: the Samsung Galaxy S4. So, if you don't have that phone, you've got a basic watch that would only cost a fraction of the $130 asking price. This is even after Android 4.3 brought Bluetooth 4.0 support a month ago and their app was just updated two days ago so certainly someone is working on something.

With about a billion devices out there, every one in seven people have an Android device. Yet, companies seemingly refuse to give the platform any accessory support. It's a sad notion indeed that even with raw market dominance across the world, manufacturers aren't willing to get behind Android for anything that isn't a case (and even that can be iffy, just try to find quality cases for the Nexus 4 among other phones). I can only hope as Android grows more unified and less fragmented (as it has been doing so lately very rapidly) manufacturers will start to embrace the platform and really give it some good accessories. I certainly hope so anyway because I'm damn sure not switching to Apple.

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