Android versus iOS: Do you care?

There are a lot of comments on which is the better OS – Android or iOS. If you see blogs asking “Which is better, Android or Apple?” then move on since the author is comparing an operating system to a company and therefore clearly does not know what they are talking about. It is like asking which is better, a banana or a fork? Having said that, please excuse the image – I could find an image for Android but not for iOS: maybe that is where some bloggers confusion arises.

I have battled long and hard with this debate myself. It all boils down to what is meant by the word “better”. Problem is, it is a normal word in normal use in the English language and was first used way before mobile phones were considered. It isn’t actually all that applicable to things like modern operating systems: it is almost like saying “Which is better, a Ford estate or a Vauxhall (Opel) estate?”

iOS has been written specifically for Apple hardware, and it has been argued that therein lies its strength, since it can make the phone last longer, perform faster, take better photos, etc., (meaning last longer than if the OS was generic, like Android, take better photos, etc). Fair point. But comparable Android phones last just as long, perform just as quickly, take just as great photos, etc. So yes, while iOS has that inherent advantage, Apple use it to skimp on hardware and end up providing phones that have a similar power to their peers. You as a customer don’t benefit from this iOS advantage: Apple does!

Android is a more advanced OS: I don’t think there is any dispute about that. Android gives true multitasking, widgets (iOS does provide a very poor implementation of widgets – shame on you, Apple!), decent notifications, and a lot more customisability. Yes, their lack of widgets and true multitasking means battery life is saved and the phone is more performant, but as stated above, this just means Apple gets to offer you less hardware for your money. Apple benefits, not you.

But the question is: do you care?

Widgets. I don’t actually think widgets on a screen the size of a mobile phone matters that much. I use them a little on my current phone (Google Pixel) but I could do without them. However, iOS is also the OS for iPad, and with all that screen estate that is where widgets would be really useful.

Notifications. I have used both and there is no doubt in my mind that Android notifications are way superior to those from iOS.

Multitasking. My wife has an iPhone and likes to play real-time games on it. She gets exceptionally annoyed if somebody calls her in the middle of a game because the phone can’t properly multitask and switches over to the phone app, that she then has to cancel. On my phone, I just swipe up since both apps work together. So yes, multitasking is an important feature and, again, Google’s implementation is superior to Apples.

Customisation. This is a nice to gave. I don’t really bother with folders having different colours, though I do like to have a specific icon bottom left of the screen so I always know where it is, rather than, say, placed at the end of all the other icons where I can reorder but not position them. And having all apps on the screen with no App Draw? Come on, Apple, you can do better than that.

Apps. Here is an area where I do think iOS is superior. Yes, these days apps are typically available for both platforms. But a little more care does appear to do into the iOS versions of them, maybe because the author knows Apple owners are more likely to purchase the app and therefore the revenue stream will be higher.

But people don’t care. People buy Apple’s technology because they love it and are prepared to put up with any shortcomings: After all, if you have never had a feature, you aren’t going to miss it, are you?