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 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…