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.

Apple iOS vs Google Android…do you really know the difference? Part 1

Having used the iPhone since the first one and then a couple of Android based handsets, it is time to share my findings and views so far. I will break this up into some parts instead of making one long article. This, the starting one, outlines the basics of both the mobile OSes and the major differences in usage and configurations. The following ones would outline the basic usage and how to get the best out of each.

Both the mobile OSes have *nix roots. Apple iOS is based on it’s OS and Google’s Android is based on Linux. While Apple made iOS ground up for the first iPhone, Google created Android as a competitor to iOS. Microsoft’s Windows and Blackberry are nowhere in this picture being completely ancient systems by comparison and therefore will not be discussed in these articles.

The basic difference in the approach or Apple and Google is the major difference to begin with. While Apple designed and created a mobile OS, Google simply hacked around Linux to create what would seem to be a mobile OS. While the first release of iOS and the iPhone ran only on 128 MB of RAM, the requirements for Android were far larger to begin with.

Android is more like Windows or DOS that runs on a variety of devices whereas iOS runs only on Apple iDevices. Although Windows and DOS had the same UI/UX across the hardware they ran on, Android, has customisations from every vendors which differs even across the same vendor’s models of handsets.

In short, what this means is that if you ever used one Apple device, you were sure the other would work exactly the same way or very similar. In case of Android based devices, even devices from the same vendor could well behave very differently and you would have to get used to the different UI every time.

Since all these devices come under the category of “smart” phones or tablets, the better devices are expensive. One of the basic things to consider when purchasing expensive devices is updates. While Apple’s iOS had had free updates for at least 3 generations of the devices so far, Android updates are vendor dependent and therefore, in general, have no guaranteed updates for any purpose.

The above outlines the reason for Android based devices concentrating their advertising on hardware specifications when comparing with the iPhone. Android, like the recently announced Ubuntu mobile OS is a Linux hack and needs a far better hardware configuration for a reasonable user experience. Neither of these were created or designed for a mobile device, they are just hacks, with “features” tacked on!

Although it is not quite the time to comment on the Ubuntu side, some of the Android OS variations are almost un-usable compared to iOS. Having said this, it is also a fact that most people with an iDevice are clueless of the actual usage and power that iOS can provide over any other device OS today. The majority that I have come across, there seems to be no difference excepting the UI/UX. This is quite in-correct and is the basis for these series of posts. The intent being to differentiate and provide a basic, working knowledge of the device OSes.

Both the OSes have their own pros and cons. While the Apple iOS is severely restricted by what Apple thinks that users should and should not have, Google’s Android has no such artificial and stupid limitations. While Apple artificially limits functionality on older devices in current iOS releases, Android does no such thing! Of course, to be fair, there is also the fact that Android based devices might never have any updates.

The following posts will start outlining the basic usage and differences between iOS and Android.

Apple kills all location based apps! Crashes Mail to boot!

Although it has been a while, still, it had to be said as there seems to be no hint that Apple would ever fix this issue.

Ever since the fiasco of the Apple Maps (??) release with iOS 6, Apple effectively killed all location based apps including it’s own Find My Friends and Find My Phone. The very purpose of having location based apps was killed since maps did not exist anymore. It was only Apple’s idea of what maps should be…a clean design with nothing on it!

No longer can you locate anything (excepting for places where Apple actually got some maps) or anyone at anyplace anymore. Even in places where there was no navigation, one still had a very good idea of the location and places as long as Google maps was the default on iOS. Now, there is nothing!

Yes, there was the obvious effort to create a good demonstration on the iOS 6 release, but, a demo it was, and a demo it remains. Now, with the other mobile platforms like Android and Windows maturing to some extent, Apple had better watch out!

As a side effect, the so called “Apple Maps” also bring an Apple Mail client crasher to the latest OS X. Just share a location (if you can find something) and send it via email. Try a preview (press the space bar on the attachment) or opening the .loc.vcf location attachment in Apple Mail on OS X….CRASH!

In the overall mobile context, it would be worth pointing out that the Google speech recognition is far superior to Siri. Also, the Google services are not limited and work far better globally than Apple’s limited Siri.

After all this Apple started releasing hardware variations of the iOS devices with the same dated UI and no maps (also called Apple Maps) and therefore no usable location based services. One really has to wonder as to the direction Apple is headed in…