Some of us may still remember when every mobile manufacturer used its operating system. No one was surprised when the OS was significantly modulated with the introduction of the novelty. However, with the advent of smartphones, the situation has changed drastically. Users stopped using the native applications they bought on smartphones and began to use third-party apps more and more often. And since each of them is relatively expensive, it was unthinkable to develop them on dozens of different platforms. After the definitive end of support for Windows 10 Mobile, the world of smartphones is divided into only two camps. But what does Android stand out for, and what do they offer their owners?
The fact that Android works on the Linux kernel and iOS on XNU is irrelevant to the end consumer. So we decided to make the article more from a practical point of view and focus on the main elements that users encounter when using their devices. In addition, all of the following information is traceable when needed, given the highest possible objectivity in this article, so information like, “We think iOS will open the app 0.02 seconds faster,” definitely don’t wait here.
Systems Differ In The Basic Idea
Android was first deployed on the HTC Dream smartphone, which sold in September 2008. However, Google began developing the system three years earlier with the idea of creating competition for the then favorites, which were Symbian from Nokia and BlackBerry OS. Android was considered an open-source project from the beginning, which means that the core of the system itself can be used free of charge by any company in the world. A considerable advantage is that the system can be run independently of the hardware – it supports both ARM and x86 processors, various memory configurations and any special devices and sensors for which the manufacturer prepares a driver. We understand the situation better when compared to Windows, which is sold as a pre-installed system on most laptops and desktops. In this segment, however, every manufacturer has to pay royalties to Microsoft, which is not the case with Android, which is why we will also see it in Chinese smartphones with a price starting below 100 euros.
The Google services that many people automatically associate with Android are a separate chapter, and the manufacturer already needs the authorization to use them. Still, it’s free and easy to access, as evidenced by tens of thousands of devices on the support list. Exceptions may be specific markets, such as Chinese, where Xiaomi and Huawei sell their Android devices without Google services. Customers lose the ability to download apps like free photo editing apps from Google Play and sync with a Google Account. Still, most include an alternative app store that takes advantage of Android’s features and benefits.
Apple’s iOS is the exact opposite. It appeared in the first generation of the iPhone, which was introduced on June 29, 2007, then still under the pseudonym iPhone OS. The renaming took place after the company introduced devices in new categories – iPod Touch and iPad. Apple had the system under control from the beginning, in all aspects. To date, iOS is closed, third-party developers cannot interfere in any way, and its use on devices other than Apple’s is entirely out of the question. The iOS kernel isn’t even built to run on various hardware configurations. Before release, Apple adapts it to all supported iPhone and iPad models, and each uses its specific installation file.
Superstructures From Manufacturers On Android Are Loved And Hated At The Same Time.
While each version of iOS has a fixed user interface look – icon set, layout, native applications, notification center design, home and lock screen or multitasking, this is not the case in a competitive camp. Almost every manufacturer will take the Android core and make its superstructure, and the user interface on Samsung smartphones is different from that on Huawei or Xiaomi. In addition, manufacturers can add their tweaks – a range of Galaxy S smartphones, for example, supports working with windows, Sony adds gestures for quick access to applications, and Xiaomi does not have a list of apps – all of them automatically appear on the main desktop. Customers thus have more options when choosing, but it also brings several disadvantages. Superstructures are often poorly optimized, have a slower response or even “mow.” In addition, after the release of a newer version of Android, each manufacturer must add its extension. Upgrading to a more recent version often comes to smartphones months after the Google system is released, or the device manufacturer decides to stop support altogether.
However, this does not apply to Pixels – smartphones from Google and devices included in the Android One project. They have the so-called “clean” Android without a superstructure, which ensures fast and regular updates and smooth operation of the entire system – Apple device owners have a similar experience. IPhone owners are used to a particular way of using it, and iOS in the same version will have the controls distributed identically on all devices, making it easier for less technologically savvy customers to switch to newer iPhones.
More Customization Options Are On Android.
Android is benefiting from its openness in this area. You can download the launcher from the Play store – an application to change the home screen look. You can set the number of icons in the row and column their size, but also better customize the widgets or the appearance of the heroes. Versions of Android from selected manufacturers support themes that change the visual across the system – you can customize the color of the notification bar, volume windows, the setting environment and other parts of the system.
The chapter itself is applications that use root access. If you have it open, you will add to Android whatever you think of, and you can change all parts of the system according to your ideas via specific apps. However, personalizing at this level is at the expense of security. If you allow root access, the app code will gain access to the entire system and, without your knowledge, personal data can be misused in the worst case. Applications added to Google Play are not subject to such detailed scrutiny, so you should check with the developer before using lesser-known ones.
Custom Firmware And Updates – Android is Under Your Control, iOS Is Under Apple’s Control.
Why should you be interested in updates on your smartphone? In addition to the new features, the current versions of the operating system also bring two critical factors. The first is the support of new APIs – developers have new classes and functions at their disposal, so they create better applications. Therefore, you will not install some applications on older system versions, and others will work only to a limited extent. But the most important thing is safety. Each operating system always contains several security flaws, which cannot be avoided when creating it. Both Google and Apple offer high rewards for detecting such bugs, and when they are reported to someone, companies fix them and issue a security patch in the form of a new update. While Pixels, Android One and iPhone devices receive such security patches almost immediately,
The method of issuing OTA updates also differs. If Apple decides to release a new iOS, users of all supported devices in all states can download and install it from now on. However, Android smartphone manufacturers usually do not have enough capacity for programmers and server equipment. At first, the update was released only for the flagship and selected regions. Later, the updated wave will spread to other countries, and lower device models are gradually added.
Internally, the system is installed on Android by downloading the system image and installing it from there. Android users can choose to install custom firmware – a different operating system than the one with which the device is sold. For example, suppose an error occurs somewhere, and a newer version of the system does not work as expected, with a bit of technological skill. In that case, anyone can go back to the original or try an entirely different interpretation. Perhaps the most famous of these is Cyanogenmod, popularly installed by fans of pure Android or owners of older pieces whose official support is over.
On iOS, the situation is diametrically different. Your iOS device can’t install any system on its own – it must always communicate with the Apple server that mediates the whole process. As a rule, signed versions of the system are only a few days old, while older versions lose their “signature” after some time. Let’s look at the iPhone XS Max; for example – it came out with iOS 11.1 installed, but only iOS 12.3.1 and iOS 12.3 are currently signed for it. Each time you install a system update, you must accept that the way back only exists for a few days until the system stops signing. Then you won’t get the older edition to your device in any way. So Apple has control over your system, and you, as a user, can’t do anything about it.
Many Applications Say Nothing About Their Quality.
Approximately 2.7 million apps are currently available for download on the Android platform, while the competing AppStore offers a total of only 2.2 million apps. Does that mean Android is better with apps?
Most of the basic social networking interfaces and other tools we all use work on both platforms with virtually no difference. The same can be said for A-game titles, although there are exclusivities that only come out on one of the platforms or get to the other with a few months’ delay. However, Apple still has an ace up its sleeve.
Thanks to its updated policy, the vast majority of devices on the current operating system are always at the moment. The latest iOS 12 is currently used by 84.2% of all iOS devices, while only 10.4% of users have the latest version of Android installed. When developers want to prepare an application, they must decide which oldest version will be supported, while they cannot use APIs from newer versions. At the same time, however, they need their applications to be used by as many people as possible.
At the same time, iOS draws on hardware connectivity and has a very successful Metal API, which simplifies the work of developers and allows them to make better use of the full potential of devices. When creating applications for iOS, developers have more sophisticated and newer tools, thanks to which they can prepare more sophisticated applications. An example is ARKit – it allows developers to create applications using augmented reality. Although the latest versions of Android also have similar technology, developers use them with much less popular, as they affect only a fraction of users.
The iPad is then a single player. While Android tablets are virtually dead in-app support, professional work tools constantly evolve for the iPad. Examples are Affinity Photo, photo editing, Adobe Illustrator Draw for vector graphics or Autodesk SketchBook.
iOS 13 And iPadOS Remove long-Standing Barriers
The most significant disadvantage of iOS – is working with files we did not miss by chance. It only concerns the currently available system, and the new iOS 13 and iPadOS will soon be released, which will forever move this several-year illness to the dustbin of history. If you still wanted to connect a USB key, SD card or other flash memory to your iPhone and work with files on them, you just couldn’t. The only operation supported was to import photos from the SD card. A similar situation occurred if you tried to download any file from the Internet. The system did not natively support such a primary function, which was only possible to a limited extent with an external application.
However, the iPhone and iPad have reason to rejoice – with the arrival of iOS 13 and iPadOS. They can connect any USB key or SD card and work comfortably with all its contents, while the Safari download manager has also been added.
Trapped In The Apple Ecosystem
The most significant advantage and disadvantage of iOS can be considered the connection with the Apple ecosystem, as many fans call it. It is a cooperation of equipment and services from this company, thanks to which they function as one organism. Apple Watch only works with iPhone and allows you to unlock your Mac. AirPods select connected devices automatically, and you can finish your work on the iPad at any time on your MacBook or iMac. You would search iMessage elsewhere in vain and have all your files synchronized via iCloud. If your old iPhone happens to break, all the content will be uploaded to the new one via a backup, so you don’t have to deal with anything. This perfect solution is that change is practically out of the question. For example, if you don’t like the newly introduced iPhone and want to keep the benefits of your system, the only option is to stay with the current generation. It is in the choice that Android users have a considerable advantage, which motivates manufacturers to deploy innovations more and more quickly. For example, if you use Huawei and decide to buy Samsung, the change will not hurt you as much as when switching from an iPhone. Some iOS users have inadvertently become prisoners in their system, and Apple is well aware of this when raising prices.
Everyone According To His Taste
The gap between the most prominent mobile platforms has disappeared over the years, and it can be said that they are becoming more and more balanced rivals. However, it is exceptionally beneficial for us to end users that both exist. Google and Apple are forced to improve and innovate their platforms due to competition constantly, and at the same time, it allows the customer to choose the system that suits them.