Apple iOS vs Google Android…do you really know the difference? Part 5

Let’s now look at some of the free applications for iOS and Android from Apple and Google.

Apple has some free applications on iOS which have no real equivalent on the Android platform currently. We will briefly look at them one by one.

Find my Friends & Find my iPhone

Find my Friends, like Find my iPhone, was an absolute killer app. Somewhat like the obsolete Google Latitude, Find my Friends allow you to see where your family and friends are currently. This works on demand and does not drain out the device battery like Google Latitude and you can keep both the “Find my…” apps installed and running with almost no impact on the battery life. Find my Friend also allows you to add temporary friends. This can be used to guide people to where you are without adding them to your permanent friend list. It also allows you to set notifications as and when a friend arrives or leaves a location. You can also add labels to your current location so people on your friends list can figure out where you are (Home/Office/Gym etc etc).

Unfortunately, this killer app was also killed when Apple released their own “maps”. Now, you would have to make guesses as to where your friends really are since the Apple maps would not tell you anything! I have a lame work-around for this issue, which, I will mention in another post later.

iBooks

iBooks, the Apple eBook reader is indeed one of the best such applications around. Although Google has come up with their own Google Play app, the Apple iBooks is streets ahead in almost every respect. You can also find iOS user manuals in the iBooks store for free.

iTunes U

This freebie from Apple gives you access to consolidated education content from universities and professional institutions. A must have for almost everyone!

Podcast

As the application name suggests, this app gives you a consolidated view for all your audio and video podcasts. Again, one of the must have apps for almost all!

Apple Safari/Google Chrome

Although Safari is iOS only, Google’s Chrome browser is available for for both. Despite Apple’s restrictive (read anti-competitive) practices, Chrome is far superior to Apple’s Safari. Since Apple does not allow changing the default browser on iOS, you are stuck with Safari as the default. One has to wonder as to why Microsoft was forced to allow the IE and Media Player change some years ago and Apple happily continues to follow the same practice on iOS.

Apple Remote/Google TV Remote

The Apple remote app allows you to remote control iTunes and/or your Apple TV. The Google equivalent allows you to remote control the Google TV.

Apple iWorks

Although these applications are not free, Apple has it’s own “Office” suite of applications for the iDevices. I choose to mention it here since there might be people interested in this category of applications. Another reason for mentioning this here is that Google acquired the creators of the QuickOffice suite and there have been no updates for the suite since. I happen to be one of the extremely unhappy customers of QuickOffice…still waiting for the iPhone 5 update!

Google YouTube

When Apple removed the YouTube app from the standard iOS distribution, Google created a separate app for the iOS platform. Android has the same kind of app from Google. Just like the Apple iTunes U and Podcast apps, this is one of the must have apps for both platforms.

Google Maps

Although the Android platforms have Google maps as a standard, Google created an iOS app (iPhone/iPod only, not meant for the iPad) when Apple chose to go with what they call their own maps. The Google Maps app can be a life-saver and is a must have for all. Although I am happy with the current iOS version, it does need some work like making bookmarking easier and more apparent.

Google Drive

This application from Google includes what used to be Google Docs. Not only does it allow you to use the storage you have on Google, it also allows editing/creating documents and spreadsheets. A good, free, alternate to paid “Office” apps. Google Drive, like most of Google apps, excepting Mail, allow only one account and therefore you cannot use this for a personal and an official Gmail account.

Google Search

This has become a multi-facted app and one should have this installed. The voice recognition is far better than Siri. The functionality of this application is limited on the iOS, but, works with far better integration on most Android devices.

Google Mail

Although an integral part of Android, on iOS this app was just a formality. It’s UI/UX and functionality on iOS still leave a lot to be desired. The iOS mail app is far superior is almost every respect. Although Google bought out an iOS/OS X based company that created a really good email client called Sparrow, the results of the acquisition are yet to be seen.

Google+

This was Google’s attempt at trying to compete with FaceBook and they also tried to set their “rules” on it, somewhat like Apple. This failed miserably, but, the usage has picked up since Android came up. On iOS, if you are not careful, it will default to uploading your entire photo library, with no way of removing the photos from the app itself. Overall, like most of the Google apps, a lot remains desired in terms of UI/UX.

Conclusion

In the standard free apps department, iOS remains a clear winner…for now. In the next part, we will look at some 3rd party applications. Some would be available on both the platforms and some on just one.

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.

Apple iOS vs Google Android…do you really know the difference? Part 3

In this, the third part of the article, we will look at some of the standard applications that come with iOS and some of the better/high end Android based devices. Before we actually get to these “standard” apps, a mention of the overall UI has to be clarified.

While the iOS devices have no buttons that you would require for any application control, most Android based devices would have around 3 application control related buttons (these could be touch buttons on some of the better devices). In short, you would need to figure out and get used to operations on every Android device, even if they are from the same vendor. The other major difference is that all Android devices have a fixed number of pages where installed application icons appear. On iOS, there are a substantial number of pages and the applications can be organised into folders as well. For instance, I have only one page on my iPhone since I have organised all applications into folders based on their category.

After this brief, let’s move on to the “standard” applications. The first that comes to mind is “settings” or “configuration”. On the iOS devices, it’s an application called “settings” which looks and works exactly the same across all iOS devices based on their features. For example an iPad WiFi or iPod touch would not have GSM related settings, but, the rest would be exactly the same across. On Android devices, you would need to figure out which settings are where and then try and figure out the technical terminology used. This is true even of devices from the same vendor. Once again, the winner is iOS as far as setting up and configuring a device is concerned.

Delving further into the settings, iOS allows you all the normal settings you would expect, but, with one major limitation. You cannot customise any iOS device beyond setting ringtones and wallpapers. Apple does not allow this even with third party apps from the AppStore. Android based devices have no such limitations. You can customise your device to a very large extent including using standard music files for alerts and ringtones. If you want a custom alert or a ringtone on iOS, it is a process that one has to learn. You can even replace the standard “SMS” application on Android devices, use almost any third party web browser etc etc.

iOS is a closed environment and Apple does not allow even third party browsers unless they use the crippled iOS webkit which gives the stock Safari browser an unfair edge over other third party browsers. Again, in my opinion, Apple does most of this to “protect” their lame programmers as there is no other logical reason to do so. Effectively, Apple frowns upon any application that does the job far better than applications by their own lame programmers and designers.

In the long run, this attitude could put Apple right back where it was before the iPhone and Steve Jobs…being a nobody and a wanna be. Of course, easier said than done. If Google and the other Android supporting majors continue on their current path, Apple will continue to rule this space. Microsoft seems to have lost it’s way completely ever since Bill Gates “retired”, so, I have little to no hopes there. Which leaves BlackBerry…well…let’s just leave that one out for now as well.

Okay, now that we have run through the first application, a very brief mention on the other stock applications. There is no equivalent of FaceTime and iMessage on Android devices. Although quite a few of the better Android devices (read expensive) come with the WhatsApp messenger installed, it is still a third party application and not a Android stock app.

You could even install Viber from the Google “AppStore” and replace the standard SMS application for a far better experience than using the included WhatsApp Messenger. My personal choice is to install Viber on Android. It is far better designed and more featured than WhatsApp for the most part. Do keep in mind that just because WhatsApp, and some others, come pre-installed on some Android devices, does not mean that they are standard Android apps and are available on all Android devices.

The last couple of stock applications that I would like to mention here are the maps and voice control.

The maps related part I have already mentioned in an earlier post. Apple killed maps and therefore all location related services and applications the moment it decided to “create” it’s own maps. It was, and still remains a “sick” Apple design idea of have a clean UI with nothing marked out on the Apple maps so the UX would never come into play. It is, indeed, a miracle, and a mystery, that the top brass at Apple were not removed by the Apple board right after the incident of the Apple maps “release”. This “release” also introduced a crashing bug in Apple Mail on OS X as already mentioned in a previous post.

Google, on the other hand, has continued to improve on their maps. So, in case of the maps, Android is a clear winner by a margin that is simply too large to even attempt to mention or quantify.

The same applies to the voice recognition app of Apple called Siri. The Google search voice recognition is way ahead by some light years and since Android has no pretences of “protecting” lame programmers, the voice recognition and integration on Android is far superior to Apple’s limited and feeble attempt with Siri.

Also, Google and the Android device vendors do not indulge in the kind of marketing malpractices that Apple does in it’s iOS updates. Apple is known to limit, cripple and remove functionality in newer iOS version for older devices. The general claim being the user experience. My question would be that if it was the user experience, why was the functionality there in the first place? Add to this the fact that even if a device is equally or better powered than the other, how come the “other” device has a new feature which the more powerful or equally powered device does not!

As a last comment for this part of the overall article, consider the following:

  • I buy an iOS device with iOS at version x.y
  • Apple updates iOS to x.y.z and removes/changes functionality which I do not like/want (Siri/Google maps for example. I have no use for Siri, but, I still want Google maps as the default).
  • Something goes wrong with my device and I am forced to re-flash to the new iOS x.y.z since Apple will not allow me to restore my original iOS version of x.y

I hope someone sues Apple for this…sometime…someday…someplace where it would hurt them just like it does the users of iOS devices. My point here is simple. I paid for a device with a certain iOS version on it. I want the right to stick to that version of iOS and not be forced by Apple to upgrade for whatever reason!

Incidentally, none of these major issues/flaws in iOS came up while Steve Jobs was around. This part seems common to all the majors. Once they have made money and the people who created the difference move on, for whatever reason, the others are only keen on larger pay packets, rather than even attempt to try and continue on the path that brought them there in the first place.

Okay, after all this ranting, we will now move on to the security aspect of the iOS vs Android devices in the next part. Although “security” can mean different things to different people, let me assure you, it’s important to all! Yes, it’s important even to the casual home user in a variety of scenarios.

Apple iOS vs Google Android…do you really know the difference? Part 2

The first point that must be made clear is that the Apple iPhone is the leader in the touch phone scene and Android copies quite a bit from the Apple iOS. While the initial iPhone OS (now called iOS) lacked even some of the basic phone related functionalities, it was the sheer novelty of the iPhone that kept it going. Rather than dwelling on the past, we will look at the current scenario and see where it leads.

The first common part between iOS and Android is an ID. In iOS, it’s called an Apple ID and in Android, it’s just any GMail or equivalent (Google Apps) ID.

Without an Apple ID, the iPhone is just like any other similar phone in terms of functionality. Of course, the build quality of the iPhone is still un-matched in almost every respect, besides some other features.

Android based phones, without a GMail ID are similar in terms of functionality. The cost and build quality of the Android based phones vary greatly across vendors and even by the same vendor.

So, the first assumption we make now is that we have either an Apple ID, for iOS users, or a GMail ID for Android based device users. The moment you apply this assumption, the entire scenario changes for both the platforms.

The Apple ID opens up the iCloud, iTunes and App Store on iOS. The GMail ID does something similar for the Android platform. This is where the major difference between the two platforms starts to show.

While the iCloud backup/sync is seamless and always on, the Android GMail sync might not even work on a majority of phones (personal experience with 2 such handsets from the top 2 majors). While the iCloud services offer more features today, Android could catch up with those some day in the future.

There is really no equivalent of the iTunes store on Android. Android has a disjointed system where you can purchase music in some countries. It’s still a wanna-be compared to the mature iTunes.

While there are apps on Android, the quality of those apps is questionable. Given the large number of manufacturers and the huge variety of Android based handsets, it becomes extremely difficult for a developer to cater to the entire gamut of devices.

iOS, on the other hand, has no such issues since the devices are very limited in numbers.

While iOS apps are “moderated” for Apple “guidelines” compliance, Android has no such equivalent thereby allowing thousands of malware to be installed on the end user phones. Although Google is trying to make attempts to clean out this mess, it is a huge task.

Although iOS users have not had any such malware related issues, the downside is that Apple allows apps into it’s app store on it’s own whims and fancies. Even though Apple might have developed lame apps themselves, they will not allow a better app, that has the same or similar functionality into the app store. I would say Apple does this to protect their lame designers and programmers as this practice is obviously not in favour of the consumer, developer or any kind of creativity or innovation. Something similar to the Apple “maps” which map nothing even today, but, Apple will neither fix the mistake nor back down.

Although Google does no such thing and allows almost everything into it’s app store (called Google Play currently, the name might change again so…) it also allows other stores and malware and trojans. Googles own apps on Android and iOS leave a lot to be desired. Their app quality is currently amongst the lowest in my opinion even considering the huge variety of Android based phones. Another major drawback is apps for Android based tablets are almost non-existent even today.

So, if we look at the apps scene, or the music/movies buying capability, iOS is the clear winner for now. Besides these, Apple also offers iTunes U (University) and Podcasts as free, standard apps. This really pulls iOS way ahead of Android in terms of the overall offerings and ecosystem.

The next feature we would want to look at is the iOS FaceTime and iMessage. There is no equivalent of either of these on the Android platform. FaceTime is a one-to-one video chatting application which has no equivalent. In my experience, FaceTime is the tops and Skype is the bottom of the chart with all others fitting in between. A special mention for the voice only Viber, a third party app, is required as it is the most efficient, in bandwidth terms, and really exceptional in quality for the bandwidth used.

iMessage is a hybrid between a data based chat application and an SMS application. It will detect if the recipient of the message is also using iOS and will send the message across on data, otherwise SMS (in case of an iPhone). Of course, iMessage does more than send just a message. It can send photos, videos, v-cards etc as well.

Both FaceTime and iMessage have what could be called parallel “ringing”. All devices using the same Apple ID, be it a laptop or any other Apple device, will ring simultaneously if there is a FaceTime call coming in. You can pick the call on any device. Something similar happens with iMessage as well. All devices registered with the same Apple ID can send/receive messages in parallel.

Then, there are the other “standard” apps that come with the devices. Although they are almost equivalent on iOS (iPad does not have a calculator, weather, stocks or compass app), the variations on the Android platform are quite large. I will not get into these so called “standard” app details, excepting those that require mentioning.

The eMail app is one such app. While on the iOS, the configuration/setting of a variety of email accounts is all done the same way, on Android variations, only GMail is guaranteed to exist and the configuration/setting up other email accounts might require professional help and/or installing other apps.

In iOS, all your email accounts are configured and setup in one place and all the email comes into a single app in a seamless experience. Not so on the Android devices. The same applies to calendars and contacts.

While both platforms have some level of integration, sometimes optional in case of Android, with Facebook and Twitter, iOS keeps all of them separate. On a vast majority of Android based devices, the device would merge your GMail contacts with Facebook without warning.

To end this part of the post, the point to keep in mind is that the iOS is a controlled environment and Android is not. Both have their pros and cons. In the next post, we will look at some of the features and apps in more detail. The only apps discussed would be from either Apple or Google. Third party apps will come later.

iOS 6.1.2 out and jail-breakable

With the OTA update of iOS 6.1.2 weighing in at around 12 MB, it seems to be a very small change that was needed to fix the Exchange calendar bug and maybe some more stuff.

Hopefully now the push notifications start working as they used to…

The jail-break should be released within a day and should keep jail-breakers happy.

Personally, I only used to jail-break for gestures to close and switch between apps etc. Toggles were also useful at times as are photos in the contact list. Apple engineers have not been able to figure out how…so far…to implement these features that other phone have had for some time now. The whole idea is have a more visual look-n-feel and avoid using the mechanical buttons unless absolutely required.

Of course there is also the “thing” that Apple calls “maps”, which is probably the sickest tech joke of the century. Apple maps also make the once useful Apple apps like Find-my-Friends completely useless since there is no map. Of course, Google also helps a lot by not using it’s own maps in Latitude and not updating it for over a year. As with Latitude, Google has still to figure out as to how to get it’s maps onto the iPad.

Once Apple engineers figure out some of the basic stuff and how to implement it, I believe that the jail-break numbers would go down to almost nothing.