Comparing The Android And IPhone

Comparing The Android And IPhone

Comparing The Android And IPhone


There’s a lot of heated debate in the mobile operating system wars on the Internet.  The purpose of this article is to outline some of the features and compare them for their use and functionality.  Depending on your needs and personality, you may find that Android or Apple’s iOS4 caters more to your needs.  The article is designed to cut through the noise and help you understand key points before you making a purchase decision.

Android is the operating system platform that was developed and released by Google.  It is the brain behind Motorola Droid, HTC and a slew of other device manufacturers.  iOS4 is Apple’s newly branded operating system designed to support iPod Touch 2nd-generation (or 2nd-gen), iPhone 3GS/4 and iPad devices.  Both these operating systems were build from the ground up to complement the mobile device versus using half-baked existing code to support mobile devices.  In fact, at the 2010 D8 conference, Steve Jobs told the audience that iOS4 was built on the iPad first before it made its way to the iPhone.  Smart thinking on Apple’s part because that helps developers plan their app strategy better.

In the end, your choice depends on the elegance and functionality of Apple’s iOS4 versus Android/Google’s ‘open source’ model which enables “power users” to modify their handset.  You will find that this ideological battle has no end in sight and will be decided by the user.

There are key differences in the feature set between the platforms which we’ll note below.

  • App Eco-System: Apple has modeled their eco-system in a ‘walled garden’ fashion very similar to telecom providers of day’s past.  The difference is that Apple is doing far better at it than all the carriers combined.  Apple’s App store verifies and tests all apps submitted on a weekly basis and approves them on the basis of criteria which may or may not work to your favor.  Apple generally looks for functional use and quality in terms of good, reliable code (less crashes) and how well Apple guidelines were followed.  Of late, Apple’s approval process has been challenged for the confusion over approvals as their decisions have been inconsistent at times.  For example, Steve Jobs made it clear that porn would not be part of Apple’s eco-system even though he decided this a year into the AppStore’s success. However, some apps that could be deemed as soft-porn are still available.

Why the difference?

Nonetheless, Apple is looking for quality apps today which is a far cry from the old wild west days of the iFart app!  Apple’s struggles continue however — Apple has found itself in some trouble with its approval process whereby the first app has been approved while similar apps thereafter were not approved citing similar functionality.  But the point being, should it be able the first app approved or the best app that consumers want.  The Android Marketplace, on the other hand, is open-ended and only recently incorporated some ratings methodology to give users some information about app quality, experience and usefulness.  Developers had hard time making money from Android due to challenges with transactions.  This isn’t seen a s a problem with Apple’s single click AppleID shopping cart experience. While Android has had a slower start with apps, their Marketplace is growing fast with a confirmation from Andy Rubin, VP Engineering at Google who tweeted in December 2010 that Android activations had reached 300,000 per day!  The race for operating system and app eco-system dominance has begun in the US and worldwide.  Should Apple launch with Verizon in Q1, 2011, the game could change and affect Android’s momentum but only time tell.

  • The notifications process on both operating systems function with stark differences between the platforms. Prior to the 4.2 release of iOS4 operating system from Apple, notifications were limited to ‘open’ native applications such as Mail, iPod and Phone because Apple’s version of multitasking was not even available.  Now with iOS4 4.2 for iPod Touch, iPhone 3/4 and iPad, all apps can now display notifications even as they operate in the background thanks to Apple’s version of multitasking in the current release.  The downside of Apple’s notification system is that if the app is a ‘heavy’ in terms of its social interactivity.  What do I mean? Multiple apps running in the background could drown your iOS device screen with a flurry of pop-ups that you have to close or view as an action item.  In a few instances, a backlog of notification pop-ups essentially drowned the access experience due to bad data connectivity in a particular area.  And this is the problem — you could have a whole series of apps running in the background with notifications on and you can only see one pop-up at a time.  With Android, the experience is quite different. Android’s notification bar can be pulled downward to reveal more detail about each notification versus being committed to a notification pop-up which can be more intrusive and annoying especially given that it has stopped actual game play on an iOS device!  Further, app developers under Android can deliver viewable notification details from the lock screen which is currently only available on Apple’s iOS4 platform with native apps from Apple.
  • Remember this quote from Henry Ford? “Any customer can have a car painted any color he wants so long as it is black”.  That was Ford thinking in an era when build-to-order meant same car model and color for everyone.  Today, build-to-order is the mantra of all PC manufactures who sell direct to consumer including Apple.  While the Japanese popularized the concept on the factory room floor with their cars, this only became a common place in the PC world with Dell’s direct-to-consumer build model of the 1990s.  What is this about? Consumer choice.

Today, mobile isn’t exactly build to order but in Apple’s world, you are limited to Henry Ford’s color vision with one extra point:  You can get your iPhone in black or white. The point here is that Android is available in multiple flavors and multiple devices giving consumers choice.  While choice in terms of hardware configuration was a predominant selling feature with computers, this has never been the case with Apple.  Apple simplified its iOS device strategy to three kinds of device: iPod Touch, iPhone 3, 3GS and 4, and the iPad.  While some of the internal specifications are different with each device type, the core code that is used to build apps for all three is consistent, thereby making it easy for app developers to build for all devices and increase their chances for sales and profit.  Not so easy with Android apps.  However, in the Android world, consumers can choose different devices because the hardware feature specifications are different. In the mobile world, smart phones are an extremely personal choice.  In Hong Kong and Japan, consumers change phones every 2-3 months and in some cases, own two smart phones!  If you are a young trendsetter in an upwardly mobile segment of the population where personal taste matters, the Android platform caters to this need with cool phones from Motorola (Droid), HTC (Magic), Samsung (Galaxy S), or even Google with its soon-to-be available Nexus S.  With Apple, you get the same device like everyone else.  In Android’s world, you get to choose the device that defines you. Again, this decision comes down to personal taste and personality.

  • The last feature comparison relates to how information is made available on  Android and Apple’s iOS4 operating system.  In the Android world, you can customize your home to keep ‘active’ widgets (similar to Windows and Apple widgets on computers or Google gadgets) at the user’s fingertips with always-on access and visibility without having to launch any app.  In the iOS4 universe, certain apps that provide similar information such as the Android widget format can be hard to find as you swipe through your list of apps.  With iOS4 folders now, the search for these key apps becomes even more cumbersome to the point that you have to use the device’s search to find the app, launch the app, and retrieve the information you are looking for.

All in all, both operating systems have their merits and pitfalls.  The elegance of Apple’s iOS4 wins out against the more ‘open’ Android operating system but in a fast-paced world, you need to ask yourself a simple question.  Do you want to be a power-user who can meddle with the technology for its sheer coolness or would you prefer a seamless and consistent experience that is largely functional and beneficial to your needs at any given point in time.  That decision is yours to make.  Android and iOS4 are both credible contenders and power some amazing smart phones.  One of the best ways to make your choice is to simply try out the devices at a retailer to get a sense for the user interface and the experience.  Once you’ve done the test run, you may find it easy to select the device and operating system.

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