Last week's Google I/O conference inspired me to dust off my Android phone and I've been using it a little more than normal lately. I've been testing Google Play Music All Access to see how it compares with Spotify (and with Apple's rumored iRadio) but I've also got my eye on the unlocked Galaxy S4 that Google starts selling on June 26.
Anticipating a new Android phone in my future, I've been doing some house cleaning and deleting a bunch of Android apps that I rarely use. When my Droid ran out of power, I was re-acquainted with an extremely useful Android feature not available on iOS: web-based administration.
With Android devices you can easily add/update and delete apps on your devices(s) by the using the web-based Google Play tool. It's a simple and convenient feature that Apple doesn't offer.
The only way to administer an iPhone or iPad is on the device itself or via the atrocious bloatware known as iTunes. While editing apps on the iPhone is novel for a while, it's extremely time consuming, especially if you need to drag apps across multiple pages. Editing apps in iTunes is slightly better, but not by much. iTunes is slow and clunky and has trouble getting out of its own way sometimes. iTunes is further limited by being tied to a single computer, iTunes Match notwithstanding.
A web-based interface is a faster and easier way to edit apps, music and media. Using the Google Play web interface, I was able to add, update and delete dozens of Android apps in minutes and my changes were synchronized with my Droid as soon as it came back online. In addition to apps, the Google Play Store also allows me to organize (and play!) my music and movies and read my books and magazines in a web browser, features noticeably absent from Apple.
The closest thing to web integration that Apple offers is a hokey "App page" that forces you to "View in iTunes" to download the app. Apple needs to give users options other than iTunes when it comes to managing their app and media purchases if it's going to be competitive with Android.
Apple would tell you that using iTunes is "a feature, not a bug." Apple engineers have told me that it prefers that all iTunes account administration is done via iTunes to add security to your account, presumably to prevent hackers from brute-forcing a web interface with a script. But that defense doesn't hold water any more, especially now that. And if the web is such a security hole, hole is Google doing it?