Apple iOS vs. Google Android: Which Is Better [For You]?
If you’re in the market for a new phone, you’re more than likely asking the question, “iOS or Android?” iOS is the operating system (OS) – think software – that runs on the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad; iPhone being the only phone to run iOS. Android is Google’s answer to iOS. Unlike iOS, Android is available on a variety of phones [and tablets] made by different manufacturers including HTC, Samsung, Motorola, and LG. OK, so which one is better – iOS or Android? The honest answer is that “it depends.” Each OS has its strengths [and weaknesses] and it ultimately depends on what you’re looking for. People who think one is truly better than the other are either passionate fan-boys or just plain ignorant.
FYI we’re excluding Windows Phone 7 (Microsoft), webOS (hp/palm), and Blackberry (RIM) from this conversation – primarily because iOS and Android are dominating the competition. But no worries, we will cover the strengths of these other operating systems in a future post.
So here are some of the biggest positives of iOS and Android:
- iTunes – If you buy and manage your digital media, i.e. music and videos, through iTunes and you want to use your phone as your primary portable media device, an iPhone would be the better choice. Syncing an iOS device with iTunes is simple and intuitive. The iTunes Store also gives users a one-stop shop for buying apps, games, music, and videos. The purchasing process for apps and media is definitely not as smooth on Android. With Android, you buy your apps through the Android Marketplace using Google Checkout (some carriers allow carrier billing) or through a third party store like the Amazon’s Appstore. For music, you’re best option is via the Amazon MP3 app. Who knows about videos/movies… This is all kind of a mess with Android.
- Apps – iOS is still king in terms of the number of apps available with over 350,000 and Android with 250,000. But the fact that iOS has more apps available doesn’t necessarily make it better. Let’s be honest – there are a TON of crappy apps out there. What does count is that app developers find iOS more attractive than Android [at least for now]. That’s why you will often see an iOS version of an app debut before the Android version. In fact, there are some big name apps that only exist on iOS, for example Netflix and Hulu Plus. Android is continuing to grow in popularity, but for now iOS has the “better” apps, and more of them.
- Gaming – iOS offers a much better gaming selection than Android, i.e. better titles and way more of them. If you look at the top 20 paid games on iOS and Android, it’s easy to see that the caliber of the games is so much higher with iOS. Also, there’s the Game Center on iOS. This is a feature available in some games that allows gamers to face-off against one another, earn and track in-game achievements, and check out leaderboards showing how you measure up against your friends and other players. Android does not have any feature like the Game Center. But what it does have are emulators. These applications allow users to play games from different systems like Nintendo, Super Nintendo, etc. Mario Kart, anyone? So perhaps the gaming argument can go either way depending on what type of gaming you prefer – actual game apps or emulators.
- Navigation – Don’t have a GPS? Well, you won’t need one with an Android phone. And if you already own a GPS, you may end up abandoning it for your phone – I did. Every Android phone comes with free, turn-by-turn GPS navigation baked right into the phone. Some of the nice features include text-to-speech (the phone speaks street names to you), speech-to-text (you speak your destinations to the phone), alternate routes/traffic (an option to view different routes to a destination and the traffic patterns associated with each), and free map updates (since it runs off of Google Maps, updates don’t cost a thing [unlike most standalone GPSs], plus it’s constantly being updated). With Android, you don’t just get a phone; you also get a reliable, accurate GPS unit.
- Google Integration – Just as iTunes is seamlessly integrated with iOS, so is every Google product into Android. The Gmail app for instance, which is not available on iOS, is fast (meaning you receive your emails quickly); a heck of a lot faster than you’ll find with the iOS mail inbox. You also have Google Talk which allows you to chat with anyone on Gchat via your phone without using up text messages. All the other Google products work equally as well, including Google Voice, Google Maps, and Google Sky Map. So if you are a Google power user, you should strongly consider Android over iOS.
- Customization – One word: widgets. Android does widgets, Apple doesn’t. What’s a widget? It’s essentially a tool that sits on your screen and enables you to quickly view, access, and/or modify certain information – like a clock.
But widgets aren’t the only thing that Android offers in the realm of customization. It also offers the ability to use live wallpapers (your wallpaper moves, sometimes even responding to your touch), create shortcuts and folders, and choose how things [like media and apps] are being stored – either on your internal phone memory or on your SD card (iPhones don’t have expandable memory). Android really enables its users to make their phones their own. But as great as customization sounds, for some people it’s too overwhelming and frankly something that they could care less about.
Hopefully you get a sense of what each operating system brings to the table. So what’s important to you? Do the research, make an educated decision, and save yourself the buyer’s remorse a.k.a you hating your phone.
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