The two main competing operating systems on smartphones today are iOS vs Android. This is a duopoly that has held sway for a while now. No other operating system (both past and present), has come close to unseating these two giants.
iOS was released first on the 29th of July, 2007 with the iPhone. Android came later, more than a year later in September of 2008. Together, they both hold a majority share of all smartphone users and have also divided them.
The iOS vs Android debate may have simmered down a bit, but it is by no means put to rest. Most people have firmly pitched their tents in either of both camps. Once in a while, some people tend to cross over from one side to the other but the majority usually stays put.
Whenever the question of which OS is better shows up, especially online, virtual battle lines are instantly drawn.
This author, however feels that there does not have to be an iOS vs Android debate all the time. Both OS have their strong points and their failings. So in this episode (lol), we are going to look where both OS excels at and falters in.
Read: The history of iOS
iOS vs Android
iOS is closed sourced and produced in-house but it uses open sourced components. Its source codes are not available to the public.
Android, on the other hand, is completely open-sourced and its source codes can actually be downloaded online.
iOS has excellent hardware integration with iPhones. Both the hardware and the software are made by the same manufacturer. This makes it all the more easier for both to play well with each other.
On the other hand, Android is a mix of software from Google and a total mish-mash of hardware from different manufacturers.
On a typical android phone, you could have an SoC from Mediatek/Qualcomm/Exynos, RAM and display from Samsung, cameras from Sony etc. This usually leads to some little hiccups down the line as these different components may have some slight compatibility issues. iPhones do not suffer from this problem one bit as everything is made by one OEM.
Many software developers prefer making apps for iOS because of its optimization and seamless hardware integration with iPhones. This is also coupled with the fact that it is easier and more financially incentive to make apps for the platform.
Android is not easy to make apps for. There is no one shoe size that fits all (like in the case of iOS). When coding apps for android, one has to worry about the different kinds of hardware as well as the different versions of android.
Read: The history of Android
Bloatware refers to system apps that come pre-installed on the OS. Both iOS and Android come with all of Apple’s and Google’s family of apps pre-installed. But in Android’s case, the respective manufacturers will also pre-install their own family of apps in addition to Google’s apps.
This leads to a large amount of bloatware being present on Android phones and the worst part is that you cannot delete them (in many cases). On iOS however, bloatware can be deleted even though Apple frowns at it.
Both Apple and Google have now made it a tradition to update/upgrade their software yearly. As soon as an iOS update is released or made available, all eligible iPhones immediately receive prompts to update. iPhone 6S from 2015 is running the latest iOS 14 but Android phones from that era are dead.
On android however, it is entirely dependent on the manufacturer of your device. Google Pixel phones are usually the first to receive updates, other devices from other companies get theirs later. Some do not even get any at all.
Most manufacturers on android actually care more about their own software running on android than they care about Google’s version. The android discussion is usually dominated by MIUI vs One UI vs Oxygen OS etc.
In order to use any of these software, you would need to buy a phone (emulators on PC do not count lol). To use iOS, you will have to buy an iPhone. They do not come cheap except you are looking to buy a fairly used one and even the fairly used products are quite pricy.
Android on the other hand is available at all price points, be it at the cheap entry level or at the outrageously expensive flagship level.
Everyone has different individual tastes. We decorate our rooms and by extension our houses differently. We dress and decorate our bodies, our cars, our offices etc. differently and our phones are no exception.
In this area, android has long held sway, giving users complete freedom to customize their home screen and phones as they please. iOS is only just beginning to catch up to android in this department. At least iOS users can now switch wallpapers and use widgets.
Ease of use
iOS is very easy to use but sometimes, it can feel like Apple is holding your hand every step of the way like a helicopter parent. The experience, despite being fluid, convenient and easy feels overly streamlined and the user is restricted to a list of actions.
Android on the other hand may take a short while to get used to, but after that, you are only limited by your imagination. Android offers a lot more choices with what to do with your device.
Apps and App store
Whilst there are a lot of advantages that come with being closed sourced, there are also some disadvantages. iOS users are restricted to the App Store. iPhone users cannot download apps from anywhere else.
Android users on the other hand can download and install apps, not just from Play Store alone but from a plethora of 3rd party app stores. In addition to these, android users can also side-load apps as well by downloading app files and directly installing them.
Third party apps also sometimes tends to do better on android than on iOS.
File management and transfer
The file app on iOS is limited in functionality with only certain actions allowed. Androids on the other hand have unrestricted file management. That being said, Google is looking to restrict user access to the Android folder, especially with the Android 11 update. But notwithstanding, that restriction can easily be bypassed by using a third party file manager.
iOS users also have limited options when transferring files especially to Androids or a Windows PC but Android users have no such problems. They can transfer via WiFi, Bluetooth, USB to all and sundry.
Compatibility with PCs
iOS users are mostly confined within the Apple ecosystem. While they enjoy smooth integration with Macs and iPads, they struggle horribly when it comes to a Windows PC. iOS users can only transfer photos to PCs, everything else is locked away.
Androids on the other hand enjoy full PC compatibility.
All smartphones running both OS today are either managed by Apple or Google. Along with your manufacturer, they usually dictate what you can or cannot do with your device.
Some users may not like being confined by these companies so they remove these restrictions. The process of doing so is known as rooting (android) or jailbreaking (iOS).
iOS is a closed sourced software and as such, Apple seriously frowns at people who jailbreak it. Every year, the company spend millions of dollars trying to make iOS jailbreak-proof but have always failed (lol).
Android, unlike iOS is open sourced and in the not so distant past actually encouraged it. There used to be so many communities of software enthusiasts creating their own modified versions of Android (custom roms). Custom roms used to have so many features not present on the official android versions.
These days however, they are starting to die out as Google either copies their features, buys out developers or encourage manufacturers to restrict bootloader access (Samsung, I’m looking at you).
Support for new hardware functions
iOS used to be the more innovative software but in recent years, they have seriously lagged behind in new innovations.
Android started the slower of the two but in the last few years, have overtaken iOS in terms of new innovations. New stuff like NFC, 4G, 5G, OLED displays, in screen fingerprint readers, water resistance, under display cameras, multi lens cameras, fast charge etc. all came to android first.
Moving from an older iPhone to a newer one is easier on iOS than on Android although Androids are starting to catch up.
Also, as long as one remains with Apple’s ecosystem of devices, the integration between all of them is better than anything you can find on Android currently. But as earlier said, Android manufacturers especially Google and Xiaomi (Mi Smart home) are already building formidable ecosystems of their own.
iOS is the more secure OS software wise and as a result, iOS tends to get less security updates. It usually gets more of bug fixes.
Android is the less secure OS and instead focuses more on hardware security. Android users also tend to exhibit more risky behaviour like side-loading apps from unknown sources. As a result, Google tends to send monthly security updates to Androids.
Both software have their fair share of bugs but Android is the more buggy software of the two.
So after this iOS vs Android comparison, which OS is your favorite, and why?
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