Here we are in 2014 – and the mobile operating system debate is still not settled. Once Apple stomped onto the mobile scene in 2007 and gained a dominant cult following, competition with the hip giant seemed a daunting challenge.
But then along came Android, much to the delight of open source fans and those seeking other options. This famously angered Steve Jobs, who according to the 2011 biography lamented, “I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will spend every penny of Apple’s $40 billion in the bank to right this wrong. I’m going to destroy Android, because it’s a stolen product.”
Yet destroyed Android isn’t, and is instead a leader viable player in the mobile operating system debate. Some even suggest this isn’t even a debate anymore, as the two have their own faithful following. Perhaps there is enough room in mobile space for everyone?
Personally, ever since I pitched my antique Nokia what feels like ages ago, I began my journey with Apple and only occasionally look anywhere else. It’s like a familiar friend, as with each new phone or update the changes are minimal but ostensibly powerful. I like that I know when the other person I’m texting is an Apple user, given away by our matching blue text messages – ahem – I mean matching iMessages.
And that’s what pisses off so many Android users. The lockdown of Apple’s customization pales in comparison to the open source availability of Android. More and more frequently I am finding that colleagues are switching to Android for this very reason. So then, it all comes down to the type of user – right?
Maybe, maybe not. With the announcements of changes coming in iOS 8 and Android’s L this autumn, here is a list of some of the differences which may help you decide for yourself:
1) Widgets Anywhere
Both systems have apps, both systems have similar basic functionality. Until now, only Android offered widgets to be placed directly on the home screen, allowing users to with a glance know information such as sport scores, weather, even the latest Reddit stories.
Apple just announced they too will include widgets as part of the iOS 8 update. They however will only be available in the notification center, which requires the user to swipe the phone and thus adding a step Android doesn’t require.
2) Adjustable Icons
I’m not the youngest person in the world, so I naturally can’t see tiny things perfectly. Not as bad as a friend whose text message font is the size of the Times Square NASDAQ scroll, but it’s pretty bad. Therefore both of us as well as other mobile users prefer the ability to increase the size of fonts and features to help our ailing eyes.
With Android, a user is able to increase the size of apps and widgets. Yet with iOS the apps are all the same size, regardless if your vision likens that of a bat.
Given that Apple released some of its more dramatic design upgrades with iOS 7, it’s no surprise that iOS 8 doesn’t come with any major design changes. It maintains the simplicity Apple is known for with a “flat” design, with the ideal outcome that a baby can figure out how it works.
Android on the other hand is attempting a massive shift in the design paradigm with “Material Design,” a comprehensive suite for managing the Android experience. The update includes all kinds of customization such as the ability to create animations, choose themes, and supports drawable tinting. Not to mention Android L overall brings more depth to the design with shadows and brighter, lighter colors.
Apple has the touch ID fingerprint sensor, allowing users to simply press on the home button to unlock the device. Yet this feature will be expanded in iOS 8 to not only unlock the phone but also to open password protected features like banking or social media apps.
When it comes down to it, both mobile operating systems are competitive with features and functionality – and become more so with every update including this one. For example iOS 8’s new “HealthKit” app, poised to both replace some peripheral health and fitness devices, while making others much better by seamlessly integrating with them. Then Android similarly has added more apps to improve TV, gaming, camera, device integration and more. What’s great about this for consumers is that the two giants will continue to critically observe the other’s upgrades – and fight to stay one step ahead.
Care to weigh in? What do you think of the updates? Let us know in the comments below.