Apples and Oranges
Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are both operating systems used primarily for mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. While some still argue that you cannot compare apples and oranges, or in this case Apples and Androids, we differ. Although very much different, they serve a very similar purpose, and this exact purpose of satisfying the user needs is the starting argument for our comparison. We will investigate further just how similar (or different) they are and if there is a possible winner in the Android Nougat vs iOS 10 match-up. Elements that we will inspect are the user interface (UI), speed, stability, security, privacy and some others.
Android is a Linux-based operating system, part of which is open source. Android mimics a PC more than iOS does. The interface and some features are fully customisable which does leave a lasting feeling of handling a mini-PC. In that way, Android relies on its users to intuitively pick it up due to the similarity it shares with a PC. Apple, on the other hand, has developed a neat and clean interface to simplify iOS for as many users as possible. Which one does a better job?
Before we delve deeper into the subject, we should first take note of the number of the devices that each operating system has.
The first ever released iOS was on June 29, 2007, while the first ever Android operating system saw its first release in September 2008.
Apple’s iOS powers their iPhone and iPad devices. Currently, the number of different iPads and iPhones isn’t huge, as both count only a small number of released devices which are all manufactured by the big Apple itself.
The first released phone with an Android OS was the HTC Dream, also known as the T-Mobile G1. Since then, the number of Android phones has only been on the rise. Android phone manufacturers are numerous, unlike iPhone manufacturers, and count companies such as Samsung, Lenovo, Sony, LG, and even Nokia now. In comparison to Apple, the market today is flooded with different Android devices, all in different shapes and sizes and with their own quirks, flaws and advantages. Devices which run Android surpass the number of iOS devices by a huge margin. And even that comes with disadvantages which leads us to our next stop.
Verdict: Android wins the first round with a landslide. With so many companies manufacturing different devices, you can choose from a healthy a palette of options. Pick a colour, shape, size, specifications, anything really. Android is the king here.
While iOS mostly sticks to a single interface with slight changes and derivations depending on the model of a device, Android boasts hundreds of different interfaces (if not more).
Apple redesigned its user interface with iOS 7 and with some further refinements made in iOS 9. Unlike Apple, Android comes with a varying degree of user interface success. There is the stock Android which the majority of phones don’t use. While it does come with Google’s new material design, manufacturers more often than not opt for their own user interfaces. This, in turn, creates new issues. Because each company overlays their interface on top of Android’s stock, it can (and it does) get confusing when switching new phones.
In practice, the user interface should be as intuitive as possible, but in reality? It often ends up feeling clunky with a whole new burden of knowledge. Instead of following an intuitive design, these often childish (in design) interfaces offer plenty of room for confusion.
This lack of consistency across Android phones can quickly become a drag. Although this is Android’s biggest drawback, it also is a major advantage as it comes with a lot more customisation options than the interface of an iOS device.
Verdict: Consistency trumps confusion, plain and simple. We’ll give this round to Apple, at least until Google comes up with a more permanent solution regarding the inconsistency of the user interfaces across Android devices. Switching from one device to another should be a gentle transition, after all. However, we’ll also give a point to Android for its wide range of customisability options.
Speed & Stability
Speed… is all I need!
When it came out, the new iPhone 7 was twice as fast as the fastest Android phone out there. No joke. If you ask any users with a high mobile expertise, they will tell you the same – Android eats the dust behind Apple. As we’re sure you already know, there are many different Android devices. Many so far, many announced, and many yet to be released. This device disparity does offer a broader price range and makes it easier to grab a cheaper Android device. Comparing multi-core benchmark tests proved the new Samsung Galaxy S8 to be faster than iPhone 7 Plus, but some real world tests still show otherwise. These real world tests are in no way scientific and should be taken with a grain of salt.
Nowadays, there are many youtube channels that pit various devices against each other to test their mettle, speed, stability, and whatnot in real time. Be sure to check some of those tests to see how your own phone fares.
Stable is, well, stable
But, does the speed affect stability? It seems that going too fast also causes more crashes. Apple is sure to deliver a fast punch, but the tendency to whiff grows with its speed. And thus, it crashes quite more often than our Android boy does.
Verdict: Maybe it all comes down to personal preference, and you are a fan of fast phones, but keep in mind that the turtle won because it strolled at a steady pace. In our book, Android takes the cake here, at least until we get some new info on the announced iPhone 8.
Security & Privacy
Theoretically, the open-source nature of Android does make it more “security sensitive”. Even though in this theoretical environment Android should suffer from more security vulnerabilities, in reality, that is not the case. Some sources report that over 97% of mobile malware is written for Android, but can you trust those sources? Even if true, what we are looking for isn’t the frequency of written malware, but the operating system’s ability to defend itself.
Many still trust more the monolithic nature of iOS. With a single company responsible for all updates across all of its devices, it might be that theoretically once again, iOS is more secure. It’s not impregnable by no means, though.
On the other hand, that same open-source nature of Android is what makes it potentially more secure (and private, but more on that later). With the code available to a broader audience, most malware gets chopped down quite fast, even before it does any real harm. Still, it exists, and it is widespread.
iOS isn’t a fortitude of safety either (see: XcodeGhost hack). But, Apple is known by its frequent updates battling malware promptly and on every step.
And, on the topic of privacy, it gets even more ticklish. Jailbroken or rooted devices? Android wins. Without jailbreak and unrooted device? iOS wins. iOS offers constant updates and takes privacy very seriously. Google, on the other hand, collects data on every turn. And, if you want your data to remain private, your only option is rooting your Android device to customise the security options. Otherwise, your dating app might know you are cheating on it with your Tinder app. Shame on you.
Apps, Apps, Apps
Do you know the song? I’m all ’bout that app, ’bout that app, no trouble.
On both platforms, the apps are pouring in heavy droplets with every single day. So far Android leads with the sheer number of apps, with reportedly 2,800,00 apps on Google Play Store against 2,200,000 in Apple App Store. It is hard to determine the general usefulness of all the apps combined, so we’ll have to look at another defining factor. And that, ladies and gentlemen and all the rest, is which one is better for development?
Building an App
According to our developers, developing apps for iOS is quite easier. The reason? You don’t have to build an app for so many different devices. It is also easier for a beginner with no experience to hop in and start learning. If you do have some experience, namely desktop or web development, Android might be right up your alley.
The development time of an iOS app can be shorter for up to 20% compared to an Android app. Shorter time also translates into lower cost.
Verdict: Winner, winner, Android dinner. Another round to iOS. Regarding development time and cost, iOS is the clear victor, which comes as no surprise, at least to our developers.
Key Points Summary
Regarding growth, both Android and iOS have shown the world that they still have plans for future improvements. In the light of new features, such as virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR, respectively) and virtual assistants (such as Apple’s Siri), both have shown enough of a lively spirit to compete with the other. In the end, what it comes down is the user. Who will have more users, more sales, or simply more income? With the advancements of both operating systems, it’s hard to answer these. However, as things are now, this is how it stands.
- Device Selection: Android
- User Interface: iOS
- Speed: iOS
- Stability: Android
- Security: Tie
- Privacy: iOS (if rooted then Android)
- Apps Available: Android
- App Development: iOS
The Final Verdict
Mobile devices are already an integral part of our everyday lives, and that importance is only further emphasised with each passing year. As the titans of the industry wrestle to take the throne as the top dog of the industry, average users only want to know the fundamentals. Which phone to pick? Which operating system suits us best? Unfortunately, it is not a clear cut case of which one is better. Life, it seems, isn’t so binary after all.
If it’s speed you are after, iOS will do the job, and most likely will further improve it with the upcoming release of the iPhone 8 (whenever that might be). Android, on the contrary, brings immense customizability on the table. If you are in search of a new mobile device, take your time. Lay out the features you want and need, jot down the pros and cons of each and see for yourself just which one would suit you best.
If, for some reason, you can’t be bothered to snoop around a step deeper, try taking the iOS route. It will be a lot easier to pick an iPhone out of the palette of devices than an Android phone.
And, if you are looking to build an app (or have it built for you), consider your targeted market. Are they the people that use Android more than they pick up Apples?
As we wanted to paint an unbiased picture of the situation, so too will we leave the final verdict up to you. What are your experiences with one or the other? Who is your mobile champion?