Apple iOS vs Google Android…do you really know the difference? Part 4

Moving onto the security related aspects of iOS vs Android, well, at least at this point of time, the winner is iOS.

The Android platform has an un-regulated “AppStore” and multiple variations of the same. Some Android devices are custom built for specific markets and purposes and have their own custom stores as well. This flexibility and multiple “AppStores” come at a price. The price being security and integrity of the device.

Android devices have already witnessed a huge amount of malware and trojans and this would continue to ail the platform as it stands currently. These devices also follow the legacy of USB mass storage device interfaces. What this means is that anyone can plug in an Android device to a system (PC or Mac) and the entire storage content would be visible to them. This could include sensitive data which would be compromised with almost no effort. While a lot of people prefer this legacy storage mode compared to the iOS way, it does have it’s drawbacks.

On the iOS platform, Apple has made provisions to transfer data using iTunes into specific application folders that support this interface. The other approach of transferring data to an iOS device is over a WiFi network using a web browser, ftp, webdav etc. No application has access to data other than it’s own.

Another flexibility that the Android platform offers is the ability to install “unsigned” applications. This means that you can manually install third party applications with complete dis-regard to security and integrity of the device and the application. Although, this flexibility is welcome, it does have it’s price. By default, most Android devices do not have this option enabled. You have to specifically enable it from “settings”.

The last security related feature on iOS has no equivalent on the Android platform. iOS offers iCloud based features for locating your iDevice using a free application from Apple called “Find your Phone”. Not only does this free application and service allow you to locate your iDevice, it also allows you send messages to the device. It also allows you to wipe out all data from the device if ever needed.

Although, this was a killer feature and we did see quite a few examples of people finding their lost iPhones and the like, this is no longer quite the killer feature it was. The day Apple came up with their own maps, this killer feature was effectively killed since the Apple maps still do not map anything worth talking about. So, although an almost non-issue because of the current Apple maps, since this was a real killer feature, it deserves mention as part of security.

In the next part, we will look at applications for iOS and Android that come from Apple and Google. While Apple has no apps on Android, Google does have some common applications for both the platforms. Google also acquired some iOS based application companies to strengthen it’s own app offerings.

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