As an experienced IOS user, I decided it was time for me to learn Android and early December 2012, I jumped in head first. I bought an Android (Nexus) device and started reading/watching everything I could find.
Having spent over a month living and working with an Android device, I wanted to share my comparative thoughts about Android (Jelly Bean 4.2) vs IOS 6.0.1.
Android is now competing head to head with IOS and offers almost as many apps to its users. Comparing well rated and very popular apps, I feel that the IOS ones are still slightly more polished than the Android ones.
When testing a Nexus 7 tablet, I was surprised at how many Android apps aren’t tablet optimized. Sure they work fairly well but don’t really take advantage of that bigger screen to offer a rich user experience.
Although it isn’t a major issue, I have found that my Android apps tend to crash a little more often than my IOS ones.
With Android’s market share growing in leaps and bounds, it may be a question of time until the prime development platform for new startups becomes Android but for now many cool new apps I want to try are IOS first.
One thing I love on IOS is the free for a day promos. I have been able to download some high quality apps for free using these promotions. I haven’t found this type of a system on the Google Play App store (and the Amazon App store isn’t open to Canadians).
IOS wins it for me here.
Google suite of apps
It’s no secret that Google offers a robust set of online services that has proven difficult to compete with. I use Google Maps, Google+, Google Apps, Google Chrome, Youtube and I am happy that all of the apps for these services are available in both Android and IOS.
Google has done an excellent job offering a top notch user experience on both platforms. Sure Google Maps on Android supports caching of offline maps but this isn’t really an issue for me.
My only complaint about IOS is the fact that I can’t change the default app for a third party one (i.e. Chrome instead of Safari).
Android wins it for me in this category simply because I can reassign default apps.
Clearly Google wins here. My Nexus 7 device performed extremely well for a device priced $100 cheaper than an iPad mini. The Nexus 4 is an unbeatable value at $300.
Obviously Apple has been able to charge a premium because of the popularity and its products but I am hopeful Mr Cook will come to his senses and start pricing Apple products more competitively. I don’t expect Apple to be the cheapest but they need to become more competitive.
Google wins this one.
Social Media Integration
I find both platforms have excellent integration with Facebook and twitter. Both allow me to post easily from the default apps and to pull contact information into my address book. I am hoping Apple adds Google+ integration into the next iteration of IOS but I’m not hopeful.
This category is a draw for me.
I tested both voice systems head to head and they each seem to shine in their own way. In my personal unscientific testing, I found SIRI able to more easily understand natural language queries most of the time.
When both systems understood the query, I preferred how Google presented the results in the form of a Google card pulling from its knowledge graph.
Overall I find both systems fall short and need huge improvements to be truly useful. Both systems made mistakes and both systems aren’t able to control commonly used system settings like Bluetooth, wifi, etc.
This category is a draw for me.
Since IOS devices are more limited and each has a much larger user base than individual Android devices, accessory manufacturers seem to gravitate more to Apple product. From battery cases to speaker docks, an IOS user has a lot more choice and accessory options.
Apple wins here.
I hate the fact that Android devices (non-Nexus) get OS updates when the manufacturer decides they do and many users are left waiting for 6-12 months before being offered the latest and greatest.
Then many Android manufacturers orphan users who own devices only 18 months old.
Apple wins here.
In its current form (with all the limitations it has), Google Now is cool but not a differentiating factor. If Google plays its cards rights though, this could quickly become a killer feature.
I went into the test hoping Android would be the clear winner and that it would be my platform of choice going forward. Unfortunately it didn’t knock my socks off and I am still left in limbo.
Apple hasn’t made any revolutionary changes to IOS in a while and I feel 2013 may be the year Google becomes the more full features smartphone OS. Apple’s walled garden maintained by absolute control over the user experience is also sometimes annoying and limiting.
Project butter seems to have made Android a lot more responsive, however I find that it still doesn’t match the IOS user experience. In IOS, my apps rarely freeze and the OS rarely stutters.
I have decided to wait until Q4 2013 to make my final decision as I want to see the next iteration of Android, IOS and the next major iterations of the Nexus and Apple smartphones. Based on my experience and discussions I have had with other users, it is still Apple’s fight to lose but they are walking on very thin ice. All it would take from Google is one major innovation and Apple may find itself in intensive care.