662: iPhone or Droid

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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iPhone or Droid
It may be a fundamentally empty experience, but holy crap the Droid's 265 ppi screen is amazing.
Title text: It may be a fundamentally empty experience, but holy crap the Droid's 265 ppi screen is amazing.


The comic starts to set up a joke about the "phone wars" between the iPhone and phones that run the Android system (in this case the Motorola Droid), but instead just brings up a serious point criticizing the consumerism this "war" stems from. In the last line of panel 2, Cueball refers to the slogan "There's an app for that" from Apple's iPhone marketing.

Then the third panel makes a joke anyway, at Apple's expense: apparently, this "enlightenment app" was rejected from Apple's app store, which is the only supported way to put third-party software on an iPhone. Apple has become infamous for rejecting apps from their app store without adequately explaining why. (Users of iPhones can sideload third party software using jailbreaking or developer tools, but both are quite complicated.)

In the title text Cueball succumbs to the consumerism and marvels at the Motorola Droid's high (at the time) pixel density. Apple responded 9 months later by releasing the iPhone 4 with a 326 ppi Retina Display. (Higher pixel densities are now standard for smartphones.)

This comic was written at the start of the modern smartphone era, when first the iPhone and then Google's Android platform had popularized user-installable third-party apps for smartphones. Previously third-party smartphone apps had been much rarer as they were hard to develop and install, and smartphones themselves had been considered quite hard to use. iOS and Android, running on touchscreen smartphones with considerably more hardware resources than earlier smartphones, had encouraged the development of third-party apps and their sale on app stores, with Apple advertising "there's an app for that" to showcase the range of apps available for its phones.

Although the concept of an app that delivers "something more than the pale facsimile of fulfillment brought by a parade of ever-fancier toys" sounds ridiculous, mindfulness apps have since become reasonably popular.


[Megan sitting at her computer is talking to Cueball standing behind her.]
Megan: Well, it depends what you want. The iPhone wins on speed and polish, but the Droid has that gorgeous screen and physical keyboard.
Cueball: What if I want something more than the pale facsimile of fulfillment brought by a parade of ever-fancier toys? To spend my life restlessly producing instead of sedately consuming?
Cueball: Is there an app for that?
Megan: Yeah, on both.
Megan: Wait, no, looks like it was rejected from the iPhone store.
Cueball: Droid it is, then.

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The title text is outdated. 01:53, 29 April 2013 (UTC)

We'll get right on that for you. 11:32, 8 May 2013 (UTC)

L. O. L. 07:09, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

What is meant by the incomplete tag? I see no reference to Linux (although it is the platform that Droid is based off of, it does not seem relevant). Kyt (talk) 02:27, 4 January 2014 (UTC)

Cueball's response is vacuous New Age-speak. That's what makes the idea that there's an "app for that" so funny. Gmcgath (talk) 07:36, 6 November 2016 (UTC)

wow android used to have a physical keyboard User talk:Anonymous)

anyone found an app that actually works like described in the comic? Anonymouscript (talk) 18:58, 31 May 2022 (UTC)