Alright that is probably exaggerating a bit, but now that all the rage and debate on Batman vs Superman is seeming to settle in, here’s another iOS vs Android match up yet again. If you’re new to this debate you’re very welcome but most of us have already seen so many people talk and write about it before and if they’re trying to be or act non-biased, it ultimately reaches the same conclusion. But I’ll go ahead and outright admit I love android. The thought of being stuck with the same interface on my phone for the rest of eternity, or a year, or actually just a month and sometimes even a week, is like hell on earth for me now that i have used Android. That said, let’s dive in fanboys.
Back when smart phone was as popular a term as Virtual Reality is now, Apple Inc on July 29, 2007 came out with the first full touchscreen phone centred around a diverse collection of apps and services and an ecosystem built within. It has been all the rage since then even today amidst the dominance of its rival, and the now most popular Operating system on the planet, Android.
On September 23, 2008 Google confirmed the rumours of it looking towards the mobile industry when it released the first ever version of Android. Although, compared to iOS, Android did as termed by a lot of apple fans looked and felt like “crap” compared to its premium counterpart the iOS. This difference was also similarly reflected on the hardware side of things with the iPhones looking sleek and stylish and the Androids being cheap plastic gadgets that people today probably would gift their 8 year old. And since then that adjective has stuck to android, first impression is the last impression as they say.
The folks at Apple though may have not seen this coming, and nobody probably back then thought Android would grow at the rate it did and take over iOS in no time and not only that, but capture about 80% of the global market. Android today is a very mature looking, beautifully crafted piece of sophisticated software that in no way can be called ugly or crap.
Winner : iOS
It does have a more glorious past than android and it cannot be denied.
The design language of iOS has hardly changed in 9 years of its existence and it didn’t probably need to since iOS was very polished and nice to look at with fancy animations and well designed apps right since 2007. The only minor changes were a flatter and simpler look introduced in iOS 7. Even today many android users try to make their androids look like iOS and i myself am a big fan of the beautiful and smooth zoom in and zoom out of apps and folders animations. iOS uses a lot of blur effects as well to highlight the current task and let everything else fade away. All in all, apart from a lot of hardcore android fanboys, many will agree iOS does look beautiful.
If there’s anything more popular than the fact that iOS looks pretty, it’s the fact that android looks cheap and ugly compared to it. While that may have been the case before, android has undergone some huge design changes and has taken a totally different approach. With Android 4.0 Icecream Sandwich Google introduced the much popular holo design on android. A smooth shade of black and grey background with a bluish or white foreground that even till today looks amazing and quite a lot of people prefer it over the new material design.
“The Material Design” did somebody feel a breeze of fresh air? The material design used by google on android is such a huge hit in the industry that not only android apps but a lot of other websites have adopted it. When everyone from Apple to Microsoft was going flat, Google took a different root and went for a flatter yes, but 3D look. While this is all good and nice, Android doesn not necessarily looks the same across all devices. Leaving alone the user’s will to customize, the different OEMs too customize android to look and function a certain way so it matches their own philosophy. For example, Samsung wants its phones to look like a Samsung and thus introduces touchwiz into it. Although the situation has improved with Android 6.0, with almost everybody adopting material design and thus all you have on androids today is just different flavours of the same design.
Notifications : Much has been said about the way iOS and Android handle the notifications.
While iOS provides badges over app icons Android has badges in the status bar which make for a better experience since you don’t have to be on a page where your ap icon is, instead a quick look to the top left corner of the screen and you know which app has a pending notification.
iOS has OS level quick reply to notifications while android depends on app developers to add interactivity to notifications. It has its advantages, for example, there are more options and different options depending on the app itself. You wouldn’t want a quick reply option on a facebook birthday notification. Similarly, you can reply, archive or forward a mail right from the notification, or reply to a whatsapp message. Overall, android notifications are still more interactive and better managed.
With Android N, notifications have now been redesigned. They are much easier to read, have minimalistic borders, occupy the width of the screen, have smaller fonts, and can be tacked together based on app. In other words, they resemble iOS notifications more. While on the iOS 9 side, the notifications are well surrounded by a card like visual style much like Android.
Widgets : No android vs iOS debate can ever be completed without talking about widgets. Originally an android thing, widgets made their way to iOS but the way they are handled is quite different. On android there are tons of different useful, useless, beautiful, crappy widgets that you can directly place on your home screen while on the iOS hand the widgets are snuggled into the drop down notification shade and while some may argue it’s not a bad implementation, it very much is owing to the fact that widgets didn’t get as popular on iOS as they would’ve had they been implemented better.
Winner : Android
Leaving aside personal preference and android’s main selling point, the tons of customization options in android, we still have to give this to Google’s android just because while iOS does hold its base and looks very pretty (for a while anyways but that’s me), it doesn’t follow any clear design lanuage while Material Design is a well crafted and very well documented design language which has been a major hit and it’s not just about popularity. With so many choices from heavily themed Samsung and LG to almost stock like Sony and HTC to an iOS feel in Xiaomi or Huawei to the actual stock look in the Nexus and Motorola, android users just have too many choices and it can be a bad thing but at least one wouldn’t be left wanting more. I have taken into consideration the stock android made by google. More interactive notifications, granular control over them, easily accessible and useful widgets, the list goes on.
With a lot of desktop and almost all mobile sites following design cues from the android side it makes for a more seamless experience while surfing the web or switching between native apps and web apps. Hamburger menu anyone?
Many will argue that iOS is more seamless within the Apple ecosystem and simpler and that nobody uses widgets but those depend on the person and not everyone may want to live within that ecosystem. There’s a huge large world outside, so for this post we must leave them aside since opinion points can be made from both sides.
Audio Latency? You ask? This is probably one area almost every android side tries to avoid in such debates if they know about it. Audio latency is defined as the time delay that a signal experiences as it passes through a system. On a mobile device, this is deeply related to how long it takes between tapping on a screen and receiving audio feedback.
Besides making the whole OS feel laggier and slower to respond, the audio latency was also prohibitively high for many companies to invest the money and effort into bringing any kind of music creation app to Android. It unquestionably required more time to code in lots of low-level functionalities that were simply missing from Android’s Software Development Kit — and even after all that work, the end result was still far from ideal and considerably worse than the experience on other platforms.
On the other hand, iOS had all the requirements for a thriving music creation ecosystem. While the success of the iPad was arguably a large contributing factor (since composing music on a tablet is an incomparably better experience than on a small phone screen), it simply would not have been possible for iOS to reach the popularity it has today within the music industry if it hadn’t solved the issue of audio latency first.
iOS has always been way ahead of Android in terms of audio latency. Even iOS devices as old as the iPhone 4S (and much older) have average latency levels of about 7 ms. That’s fifty times less than the average latency for Android devices in 2011. That much of a difference can easily translate to a comparatively horrible experience on Android, to the point where it simply became comically bad.
To their credit, Google haven’t been slacking off either. Things have improved progressively over the years, and the jump to Lollipop alone was responsible for slashing latency by up to two-thirds. A Nexus 4 running Android 4.2.2 had an estimated audio latency of about 195 ms, and the upgrade to version 5.1 brought that down to just 58 ms. After having achieved promising results with the release of Lollipop, Google has managed to significantly cut down on latency again on Marshmallow. The Nexus 9 saw the largest gains, dropping from 32 ms in Android 5.1.1 down to just 15 ms in 6.0. The Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P both have very acceptable levels of 18 ms.
Winner : iOS
While Android is likely just about to hit the ideal goal of 10 ms latency, which is the standard for professional audio equipment, iOS has always been and is still ahead in this department thanks to the “Core Audio” infrastructure Apple had developed for macs before the iPhones came out.
Every mobile platform now ships with its very own virtual assistant, and while they all offer a similar set of basic features, Google Now and Siri are way ahead of their rivals. Google Now knows what you want and when you want it, but Siri has sass and personality.
What I really love about Google Now is that it “just works” — as you would expect an Apple product to. Once it is set up, it’s always working in the background and ready when you need it. With just one swipe or tap Google Now is there with an abundance of useful, timely information. Do not get me started on “Now on tap” it is creepy but is so useful specially for showing off to friends with an iPhone or those who did not get the marshmallow update. Sorry, didn’t mean to hurt you guys that haven’t got it.
Whether you need details on an upcoming flight, travel information for your next meeting, the closest coffee shop, or just last night’s sports scores, Google Now has it all. And most of the time, you don’t even need to ask for it; it’s just there, waiting for you.
Siri can find you a coffee shop and fetch sports scores, too, of course — but only if you ask for it. And who really wants to do that in public?
Siri came first, honestly and that is probably the only thing going for it besides its funny and loveable personality that Google now lacks. From slightly faster and slightly more accurate voice recognition to learning about your likes and interests Google knows it all and it uses that knowledge in Google Now. That’s creepy you say? Siri is soon going to do the exact same things by next year so..
Winner : Android
Even if you’re an Apple fanboy you probably saw this coming. There are numerous articles and videos on the internet that compare Google Now to Siri if you don’t believe me. And I’ll also go ahead and say if there is a company that can make a virtual assistant that at times creeps you out and knows what you need, when you need, and be the best at it, it is google.
The overall rating of user experience of mobile operating systems, Pfeiffer Report
Clearly, even if you’re an android fanboy, you must’ve seen it coming.
Winner : iOS
iOS is centered around ease of use and a better user experience. It is based on the philosophy that anyone that picks up the phone must be able to navigate through it and operate it with ease. And while tech enthusiasts may argue stock android is just as simple to operate that simply is not true unless you’re familiar with androids. It does not in any way means android is complicated, it’s just not as fluid and seamless within itself as iOS.
Appstore vs Playstore
Appstore simply has more apps, better polished apps, more apps optimized for tablets and that is after Apple charges more from the developers and it is not as easy to get your app published on the appstore than it is on the playstore and that just about seals it up.
It’s been talked about before and even though most of the popular apps from any fields are available both on android and iOS, Apple’s mobile OS is still the goto choice for new or indie developers since it brings them more money even with a fewer number of downloads than the playstore. If a hit on the appstore, games and apps do make their way to the playstore, though the fact remains that the iOS store gets it first. The apps are more optimized to the hardware as well thus improving the gaming performance in games.
Winner : iOS
File transfer on android : Plug it in and go
File transfer on iOS : icloud, itunes, wireless file transfer apps and a bunch of other mess.
I guess you can already see where this is going to go. File transfers on androids are a breeze compared to iOS even with but especially if you don’t own a Mac. With android you just need to plug a USB in and it’s a flash drive you can store things in temporarily or just transfer your media or documents just about anything. Even windows executable files like i sometimes do when i don’t have a pendrive nearby.
Winner : Android
Stability and Crashes
Contrary to popular belief thanks to Apple’s marketing and Android’s “crashy” start, apparently, iOS 8+ crashes slightly more often than Lollipop, having a 2.2% crash rate compared to Android 5’s 2.0% rate. iOS 8 also loses when compared to the previous release (iOS 7 had a 1.9% crash rate).
While Marshmallow beats Lollipop, iOS 9 beats the 6th iteration of android.
Winner : iOS
Of course, can’t leave Android’s trump card out can we? iOS users like to believe iOS can do everything androids can do but that is simply not the case. One of the reasons Apple’s 3D touch hasn’t seen as much of a success as the finger print scanner is because Androids do not have a need for it. It can be much more personalised to a user’s needs
You can set it to work any certain way upon a certain swipe or gesture the way you want, not the way a certain group of people want. I believe there is not much to say here that wouldn’t annoy an iOS user or an android user doesn’t already know.
Winner : Android
On the connectivity front both iOS and Android support bluetooth and iOS now has NFC as well but you can’t transfer files via bluetooth or NFC nor can you pair your bluetooth headset with one touch on iOS. All of that is possible on android. Apple fanboys will argue nobody uses bluetooth to transfer files but really? Ask people who can use it to know if anyone uses it. If you ask fellow iOS users of course they’re going to say they don’t use it.
Talking of sharing, the connectivity between apps installed on your phone is so much better on android. For example, try sharing a picture from your Gallery app directly to telegram, hike, or whatsapp on iOS. On android, you can pretty much share anything from within any app to any other app on your phone and it is so much better than having to go back and open the app and select the pictures or videos or anything.
Winner : Android
Imagine showing off a wallpaper to your friend and he asks for it and you just touch the phones, tap the image and gone. As someone who is used to one touch connectivity and one touch file transfers this is a very annoying restriction on iOS for me personally.
So, finally, which is better? If you count the number of wins for both, it’s unintentionally come to an equal and even if it didn’t, it would be too close a matchup to outright declare one of the two as the better. So does it all comes down to personal preference? Everything comes down to that not just iOS vs Android. To a person that likes windows 7, the advantages of Windows 10 cannot be rationalized.
iOS is a little too simplistic and very restrictive in the name of security while Android is an open source software and gives power to its users. But with great power comes great responsibility. If you’re a very casual user who just needs a smart phone that “just works” and does all the basic things, apart from easy file transfers and connections, iOS is for you.
If you’re like me and like to change things and wouldn’t settle for the default gallery app when you are getting something better from a third-party, Android is for you. By the way, can’t even change default apps on iOS oh gawd.