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Have you ever discovered that something you believed was just a myth? Myths are particularly dangerous because they can erroneously shape our thoughts on something to a negative perspective.
Android is, unfortunately, the victim of many myths that have persisted for years. Let’s break down the most common ones and see what’s simply not true.
Myth 1: Android Is a Wild West of Malware
One of the most common lies detractors shout about Android is that it has malware waiting at every corner. “Our iPhones are impenetrable,” they say, “but Android can get viruses easily!” While it’s true that Android has more potential for picking up an infection (though iOS isn’t immune), the average user of either platform won’t ever see malware.
Google takes a more hands-off approach with the Play Store than Apple does with the App Store, so it’s easier to get an app listed. But Android still has several security measures in place to ensure apps are free of malware.
First is the newly revamped Google Play Protect. This service scans both apps on the Play Store and your device to ensure they’re free of infections. If it detects a problem, Play Protect will alert you to take action.
Further, apps on the Play Store are 99 percent safe. While there have been apps that contained malicious code or simply rip their users off, this is rare. Having some basic sense when downloading, like not downloading sketchy apps and checking reviews before you install, will keep you safe from infection. Taking care to not grant unnecessary permissions is important too.
Most Android malware occurs when users download apps from third-party sources and/or root their phones. Mobile malware is easier to sneak into an Android app downloaded from a random website than it is on the Play Store. And rooting your device opens you up to new threats if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Bottom Line: Android does have more potential for security risks than iOS, especially when installing apps outside the Play Store. But the average user is protected by Google’s controls and won’t come across malware through normal use.
Myth 2: Specs Tell You Everything About a Phone
In Android’s infancy, phone specs were far more important than they are now. When Android wasn’t well-optimized, every new phone promised just a bit more power to help with stability. Those days are far behind us, though. Now, specs like processor speed, RAM, and camera megapixels give a good idea of how a phone will perform, but they’re far from the most important aspect.
What’s most important about a phone is how it feels to you and whether it meets your specific needs.
Do you think anyone using an iPhone cares about how much RAM is in their device? No, they care about smooth performance and Apple’s approach to design. The same is true of Android, except you have tons more choices.
To follow up: those factors can be important, but it’s the actual experience of a phone that matters, not superficial specs.
— Jon Fingas (@jonfingas) March 23, 2016
You can buy a cheap phone if you just need the basics or an expensive phone if you have money to spare. Maybe you need a waterproof phone, or want one with a new USB-C port, or prefer your fingerprint scanner on the front of your device. Specs have nothing to do with these details that make each phone unique.
Bottom Line: While specs give a basic idea of phone performance, they’re not everything. Extra features and how the device feels are much more important in setting it apart.
Myth 3: Every Android Device Is Equal
You’ll often hear from people who had a bad experience with one phone manufacturer’s Android device, then swore off the entire operating system. This shows an ignorance about Android’s distribution.
We’ve talked before about how hardware manufacturers customize Android. This is why an HTC phone looks and acts differently from an LG device, which in turn is totally different from the latest Samsung phone. Many elements, from icons to names of items in the Settings menu, differ greatly on various devices.
Android fragmentation is so bad: The 45 app ratings I’ve received so far for In-Flight Assistant were from 37(!) different device models. pic.twitter.com/4qPLURL58q
— John Goering ? (@epaga) October 9, 2017
Contrast this to iOS, which is more or less the same on every device aside from minor differences like 3D Touch. If you didn’t like iOS on an iPhone 5, chances are you still won’t like it now. But just because you didn’t like Samsung’s flavor of Android doesn’t mean that you won’t love stock Android.
Further fragmenting the OS are delayed software updates for devices not running stock Android. Mobile carriers can delay these by several months or more. Unfortunately, these differences make it almost impossible to talk about Android as a singular entity.
Bottom Line: Between hardware manufacturer differences and software update delays, no two Android phones are the same.
Myth 4: Android Task Killers Are Vital
One of the biggest misconceptions that still plagues Android users is that they must use a task killer. These apps were wildly popular in Android’s early years but we now know better. Task killers aren’t just useless, they’re bad news.
Android does a fine job of managing processes on its own. Killing them constantly using a task killer app only wastes resources when they stop and start again. If you identify a misbehaving app using a lot of battery, you can uninstall or disable it to fix the issue.
Don't need to use task killer in android or clear apps manually in iOs. Because the OS will do it for you.
— bameng (@raheemmi) May 20, 2013
In the same vein, lots of Android (and iPhone) users regularly open the “recent apps” menu and swipe away every app to “close” them. This, like using a task killer, is a waste of time.
The recent apps menu is a shortcut for easy navigation. While you can swipe away an app to remove it from the menu and close it, doing so obsessively is counter-productive. Clearing all apps from this menu every time you lock your device is akin to closing and re-opening your desktop browser every time you want to go to a new website.
Bottom Line: Android manages memory fine without you using a task killer, so you should never use one. Don’t swipe away recent apps all the time. Android will close background processes when it needs to, and you can use that menu for quick switches.
Myth 5: Android Is Too Complicated for the Average User
Like the security myth, Android’s haters love to paint it as a complicated mess that only computer experts can use. Just like the misconceptions about Linux’s ease of use, this argument isn’t true of Android either.
New versions of Android include a guided setup process to walk you through getting your device online and adding your accounts. From there, doing what most normal users want to do with their phones (e.g. calling, texting, browsing social media, taking pictures) is easy.
Installing a new app is as simple as searching for it on the Play Store. The camera app is point-and-shoot. Open the Phone, Messages, and Contacts apps to do what you would do on any other phone .
The Settings menu, while perhaps a bit overwhelming at first, is no more confusing than that of iOS. For people used to another mobile operating system or inexperienced with technology in general, Android may be confusing. But it’s not a special case. Someone who’s never used a smartphone before wouldn’t magically know how to use iOS right away, either.
Bottom Line: Android is no more confusing for basic use than iOS. Installing and launching apps is straightforward and the interface of most current apps is consistent. It only poses an issue for someone completely unfamiliar with technology or ingrained in another operating system, which is a problem with any platform.
Android Myths, Busted
We’ve covered five big myths that people still believe about Android. Whether these originate from the platform’s early years or just come from ignorant detractors, they’re simply not true. While nobody would argue that Android is free of problems, perpetuating lies isn’t useful for anyone.
Let’s quickly review the five truths we’ve uncovered after busting these myths:
- Android malware is only a problem when you go outside Google’s protective measures.
- Specs are a poor determinant of an Android phone’s performance and feel.
- Android experiences differ wildly between devices.
- Task killers and obsessively swiping away recent apps harm Android’s performance.
- Android is no more complicated for normal use than any other platform.
For more mythbusting, check out these big smartphone myths that also aren’t true.
What Android myths do you still hear people repeat? Did you think any of these were true? Share your knowledge with us, and tell us what you learned, down in the comments!
Image Credit: flytosky11/Depositphotos