Tech Wars - iOS vs Android

The big players in mobile operating systems (OS) – Android, iOS, RIM, and Windows – continue to fight it out for market share, with Android currently leading the way. Although RIM still has a considerable presence, its market share has been plunging, and its developer support has been anemic, with an estimated 20,000 apps available even though it's been around for far longer than the iPhone and Android platforms. Windows OS has also not been able to give iOS and Android the expected competition with not many consumers choosing phones based on Windows.

While RIM, iOS and Android are the most widely purchased OS today, the most intense battle is set between Android and iOS. It looks like it's pretty hard to declare a winner at this point; both platforms are pushing ahead in different areas. Here's a brief comparison over key parameters of each the Android and iOS based phones.

User interface

  • Android - Android is app-centric, and features available apps really well. The home screen is simple and icons for all apps can be added or deleted except for some unmovable icons. The clean and straightforward interface is easy to navigate and allows the user to customize it as per needs. However, according to tech experts the Android interface design appears unfinished and a little rough around the edges. For example, there are inconsistencies in the way Android performs familiar tasks.
  • iOS – This is perhaps the most elegant interface and the best-integrated marriage of hardware and software. Like the Android, iOS is also simple and easy to use. As you're aware, iOS launched the smart phone revolution and perhaps still rules over other phones in terms of style and ease of use. Apple's iOS interface is the iconic design that people have come to associate with smart phones, that is a clean screen with app icons arranged in a clean grid, a single hard button at the bottom of the phone to take you back to the main screen, and notification icons across the top highlighting programs in use.

Apps Development

  • Android - There are a variety of ways to find and download Android apps. The primary one is the searchable Android Market, available both on Android devices and the Web (which allows users to download apps onto a PC and then transfer them to the phone). The Android Market is wide open and does not have the same restrictive policies as Apple's App Store. For example, apps are not banned based on their content the way that Apple does. Android also doesn't have restrictive policies about development tools used to create apps for it. Android also allows the use of Adobe Flash on its devices. However, this openness has its drawbacks, such as no single authority checks the quality of the apps available for download, and users have to rely on reviews posted by other users and professional reviewers.
  • iOS – Apps for iOS can be downloaded only at the Apple App Store. It's simple to browse, search and install apps. Unlike Android, Apple has chosen to be a gatekeeper for iOS apps. Developers have to follow a variety of rules about content, development tools and family-friendliness if they want apps to be available. This ensures that users get higher-quality apps than they would get with Android. However, Apple fails to imply these rules uniformly.

Features and data integration

  • Android - Android automatically integrates and syncs with various Google services, notably Gmail, the user's Google contacts and Google Calendar, since it's mostly Google centric. This makes it easy to manage data on the device. But if the user is not Google-centric, then it is a problem for data usage. For instance, if the user has the client version of Outlook, there is no direct way to synchronize calendar and contacts with an Android device.
  • iOS – iOS offers tight integration with a variety of Apple software products and services, such as iTunes, Mail and Apple TV, and can be easily integrated with a Mac system. Unlike Android, it can sync contacts and calendar information with Outlook 2003 and later versions.

Customization

  • Android – This OS is ideal if the user needs a phone that's as customizable and open as possible. Android's customizability is evident throughout the phone. The most important customization is the Menu button that allows the user to press it in the middle of any app, and it takes the user to a host of settings for that particular app.
  • iOS – iOS is not designed for customization. Unlike with Android, for example, the iPhone doesn't even include a Menu button to allow customization of the way apps work. Yet, iOS allows up to 11 home screens with their own apps and folders. In addition, the iOS Settings app gives control over all of basic features, including sounds, brightness level, Wi-Fi use, how notifications are handled, etc.

Conclusion

Between iOS and Android there is no clear winner. Features of each OS have their own pluses and minuses. For its features, customization options and openness, Android has no peer, but it lacks finish and smoothness, and the exact feature set and implementation delivered are subject to the control of device manufacturers and service providers. iOS is the ideal choice if the user needs a simple device with the best integration of hardware and software and perhaps the largest number of apps to choose from. However, the user doesn't have the freedom to customize the phone and its apps. Apple controls what is allowed to run on the phone.

One thing is clear - we live in a golden age of smart phones, and any one of these platforms will serve the user well. Each if these is a boon for those who love technology, because competition can be expected to improve them even more for the next generation.

 

 

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