Android vs iOS, iOS vs Android- it’s a battle of the ages… Well at least until one of them gets usurped by some other new mobile OS that is shinier and better. Failing that, there’s a possibility that they may not be needed in the future at all. If there’s an increase in the uptake of wearables, mobile phones may disappear all together… But I digress.
Windows phone/mobile/whatever you want to call it and Blackberry have both faded into the background, despite their companies best efforts to keep them relevant. So we're left with two juggernauts from Google and Apple, which we put head to head in a momentous battle in Episode 5 of our podcast.
I am an Android user, so while I will try to write this without any bias, I can't promise that it won't sneak in anywhere.
The mantle of the best mobile operating system seemed to change from year to year in the early days. I won't bore you with explaining the history of the debate, that's what Google is for. Right now, as much as it pains me to say it, it doesn't seem so quite as clear cut.
In the podcast, we touch on usability. Arguments can be made that Android is not as 'user-friendly' as iOS. But I do not believe this to be necessarily true. iOS is simple in operation; one button that takes you home to your apps, if you ever want to get out of something. This simplicity makes it easy to learn and probably makes teaching a young child or elderly (not so tech savvy) relative relatively painless. Android has two extra buttons on top of the home button; 'back' and 'recent apps'. Mastering these should make Android easier to navigate once familiar but I can understand why when first using a device it could be daunting to have to memorise all the functions.
Hardware is where Android falls down but it is improving slowly. The limited amount of iOS devices, coupled with the fact that Apple makes them all, means that iOS users (I would argue) have a more stable and bug-free experience (at least when it comes to apps). Developer's lives are also made easier as I think it is possible to own all of the devices in-house to perform testing on. Android has, as of writing this, 11,545 devices of which a developer could choose to support. Granted, some of these are on some old Android OS versions that are in very limited use but, regardless, there is still a fragmentation problem on the platform. This makes it incredibly hard for developers to test and support. There are also many manufacturers of Android devices, all with their own implementations of the Android OS, which muddies the waters and increases support issues.
The software is where I think Android shines compared to iOS. AS we mention in the podcast, everything on Android is just an app which allows for customisability for each user. For example, if I want my launcher (the thing that organises your screens when you launch your phone etc) I can get one from the Google Play Store. This cannot be done on iOS. The software looks the same on each device. This does come back around to how easy it is to use, but I would also argue that it makes it boring.
Design wise, both iOS and Android seem to be doing well. iOS has flat design and seems to have done away with Skeuomorphism (e.g. a calculator app looking like a calculator). Android now finally has some consistency with Material Design which is also flat but with a z-axis so there are some shadows to denote depth (think different sized pieces of paper placed on top of one another). My only concern with Material Design is that apps could possibly start to look a bit boring but overall it's a good thing. We actually covered a lot of this in our first podcast episode, so if this interests you- go and have a listen!
So which one wins?
As you can see, it's really hard to pick which one is better considering they both are doing pretty well and both have foibles. I'm not going to give you my answer or ‘our answer’ here. I guess that's where our podcast comes in right? Why not give it a listen and find out our verdict?
Written by Mike Scamell