There are two kinds of people in this world. Android users and iOS users. The rest of the mobile operating systems are almost non-existent in this mobile operating system universe.
Every time there is a conversation revolving mobile devices or technology, it boils down why Android or iOS is better than the other.
A bit of history is required to understand why and how Android and iOS have come to be recognized as mobile OS pioneers.
Android is a mobile OS founded by Andy Rubin, Rich Miner, Nick Sears, and Chris White. Originally, Android was pitched as an operating system for digital cameras. Later on, when the founding team understood the limited market potential of digital cameras, they upgraded the Android’s vision and made it into a rival for the then-existing mobile OS like Symbian and Windows Mobile. It was acquired by Google in 2005.
Apple launched iOS in 2007 when the first iPhone was launched. Today, it is the OS that powers almost all Apple devices including iPad and Apple Watches. At the time of release, Steve Jobs claimed: "iPhone runs OS X" and runs "desktop-class applications". At that time, iOS was referred to as iPhone OS. It was in June 2010 that it was rechristened as iOS.
The truth is, both the mobile operating systems are good at what they do. They make lives easy for mobile users with their own ecosystem of utilities, apps, and services. So, it is unfair to say that one mobile OS is better unconditionally.
However, there are specific nuances that we can discuss to judge Android to be better than iOS or vice versa.
This blog is an exploration of such differentiators. Without much ado, let’s cut to the chase.
Android has a larger user base than iOS for obvious reasons. Android devices are more wallet-friendly compared to Apple’s iPhones and iPads which cost a fortune to buy. Even the cheapest iPhone will make your wallet lighter by $349 whereas premium Android phones can be bought at half the price or even for less.
Also, Android being an open-source mobile operating system makes it possible for a wide pool of original equipment manufacturers to produce Android devices at scale. Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, Motorola, Vivo, LG, Sony are some of the dominant Android device makers. What differentiates each manufacturer from the other is the hardware spec within a specific price band.
Also, ever since Google bought Android in 2005, it has been offering its suite of apps including Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Maps, Drive, Play Music, Play Books, Play Games among several other apps free of cost. Of course, there is a ceiling limit on Drive storage. However, for the budget-conscious users, Android is definitely a better choice compared to Apple where storage has to be bought for.
As a result, by Q2 of 2018, Android has acquired a market share of 88% while iOS has an 11.9% market share (Statista). Other mobile operating systems share the remaining market share.
This is one battle that Apple wins every time hands down. Great design and flawless user experience are at the heart of Apple’s products. Right from the app drawer that gives access to basic tools to the advanced settings, every pixel of iOS is crafted to deliver a superior app experience. In fact, it is Stebe Job’s fanatic obsession to design and user experience that has propelled iOS as a niche mobile operating system.
Android, on the other hand, takes the utilitarian approach. It does offer a good user experience, but not a stellar one like Apple. Also, being an open-source mobile OS that allows OEMs to tweak around, the UX fluctuates from each model. iOS, on the other hand, ensures that there is consistency in UX across all devices, including iPhone, iPod, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, etc.
Even the software that is used in Apple devices is optimized to make maximum use of the hardware. It is for the same reason that when the tech specs of Apple devices are inspected, their RAM and similar tech attributes might appear to be lower than Android devices. However, Apple has engineered iOS in such a fashion that the hardware is used to the best extent possible without any loss.
Also, there is no bloated software on iOS devices that makes them work faster and better. Android on the other hand, despite higher tech specs, falls short of superior performance. One major reason is that OEMs tweak the open-source OS the way they want to suit the devices they manufacture. As a result, there is also a difference in performance from brand to brand.
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The mightiest punch that Apple fanboys land on Android users is that Apple is more secure as it gives great importance to user data privacy. Apple’s closed ecosystem prevents any third-party from snooping on user data.
In fact, the apps that get to iTunes are thoroughly screened for complying with user data privacy guidelines before they are approved for general availability.
Android devices are infamous for security concerns. Numerous studies have brought to surface the security flaws that most downloaded apps in the Google Play Store have. However, Google has been working consistently to make Android a safe and secure operating system for users.
According to the Android Security & Privacy 2018 Year In Review report, there is a 20% year-over-year improvement to the health of the Android ecosystem.
If you are short on time and want a synopsis of the major pros and cons between Android & iOS, this infographic is what you have to glance through.
If you ask any millennial which mobile OS they would prefer, the top choices would either be Android or iOS. There is no other mobile OS that has gained so much global traction like these two.
Each of these mobile OS has its own pros and cons. While iOS has a closed ecosystem that restricts third-party access, Android takes the oop-source route which allows for extensive collaboration and integration by app developers.
As a result, the iOS app store, namely iTunes has a restricted number of mobiles (but of premium quality), whereas Android has millions of mobile apps with varying qualities.
iOS gives much impetus to user experience and design, while Android gives importance to utility and affordability.
Now which of these mobile OS would be your choice when you venture into mobile app development?