iOS vs Android

I am tackling the big one this time. iOS vs. Android I plan to update this document continually as new versions of these operating systems arrive. 




OS Fagmentation
Deep inside Cupertino, California a man is sitting in a dark room. A door opens and a man steps in. “You asked to see me, sir?”
“Yes, launch it. Launch it now.”
“Yes sir.”
The man steps out of the room and closes the door leaving the room dark. Still sitting in his chair the other man smiles. 
A few minutes later a blogger plugs his iPhone into his computer and sees a new update come up. Without updating he goes to his blog and makes a quick post. Just moments later a news reporter gets an email. He reads it, then quickly rushes to his computer and writes a quick post. The header: ‘The next version of iOS is here.’ 
This is a huge benefit of iOS, updates are pushed across all devices immediately. With Android, Google announces an update that everyone knew was coming. But who can get it? Only a Nexus One or Nexus S user, and only after a few days as the update rolls out. Then … the long wait. A month or two later the next premiere Android device gets the update, potentially stripped of a key feature or two and slapped with the manufacture’s custom skin and the carrier’s unremovable crapware. Then another wait… This is fragmentation, it is here and it cannot be ignored. 


Screen Fragmentation
Different Android devices have different screen sizes: 3.5, 3.8, 4.0, and 4.3 inches, just to name a few. App developers have to make their apps for all the different screen sizes and resolutions. When Rovio Mobile ported their popular game Angry Birds to Palm Web OS for iOS it took a matter of days, however when they ported Angry Birds to Android the process took months. Why? Because of the number of different evices that they had to support, test, and debug the game on. On iPhone there is one screen size for the iPhone and iPod touch, and one for the iPad. Now there is Retina Display resolution which has made things a bit more difficult, b out still not what android developers have to deal with. 


Button Fragmentation
All Android handset manufacturers have different button layouts, icons, and labels. Do you really need a search button, a back button, and a menu button? How about just a home button? Back buttons are built into apps and keep your fingers inside the screen perimeter. On iOS devices there is one main function button and that is the home button, everything else is built into the software. 


Market Fragmentation
Android has many different stores for apps and other media: Android Market, Get Jar, AndAppStore, SlideME,, Brothersoft, and Androlib, Handango’s Shop, and OnlyAndroid, just to name a few. While this may drive competition, what developer would put different prices for the same app on different stores? Not many developers. Just to be sure though, you have to shop around. Great, so buying apps makes you shop around and look at different stores to get the lowest price, not fun. Another thing, anyone can download iTunes whether they have an iOS device or not, or they can see app’s pages on the web, but Android has no such feature. Also, there are no gift cards for the Android market, but with iTunes there are plenty of gift cards. So, do you want Android apps for Christmas? Not under the tree. iOS apps? For sure. But, on Android you can use many more types of payment than you can on iTunes, like billing your wireless account (on supported carriers)


– Winner: iOS –


People tend to look at an iPhone as if it were much more expensive as a comparable Android phone, but it is not. A nice Android phone usually costs $200, with a two year contract (more on that in another post). So does a good iPhone, you can opt for the more expensive double-the-storage model though, but you can also get last year’s model which has the latest iOS, minus a couple new features for $100, with about the same feature set and technology as $100 Android phones. People complain about the data plan for iPhone, but for anyone who would really use an iPhone enough would end up getting a data plan. How many people do you think have a $200 Android phone but don’t buy a data plan? Not having a data plan ruins the experience of the phone and drastically reduces where and what you can use your phone for. Buying a data plan is a necessity for anyone serious about owning a smartphone. 


– Winner: Draw (For me, not necessarily for you) –


Volume Sold
Reports say that Android has been sold on more devices than iOS on iPhones, iPods, and iPads. What about those cheap $100 Android phones, they count into that equation, but should they? The people buying the $100 Android feature phones are not going to use their phone the same amount of time that people buying Android smart phones will. So it is my personal belief that the numbers of Android devices activated should be split between smart phones, feature phones, and other devices. However, more Android devices have been sold than iOS devices, so this one goes to Android. 


– Winner: Android –


This is one of the big ones. But there are a few things I am going to look at specifically, app quality, the number of apps and growth of those numbers, and what apps are allowed to do. 


App Quality
A quick scroll down a list of apps shows many abnormal prices such as $7.32 and $0.87. I personally have no clue why this is, but it is one factor in app quality. App developers for Android can make an app that, quite frankly, sucks, crashes, and has very few features and put it on the market. This Android’s system allows for apps like this which are detrimental to the customer’s experience. Additionally, developer are having a hard time selling apps on Android and instead are opting for ad-supported versions. This is not good for the user experience and it is a serious problem if developers can’t sell paid apps. One more thing, Android apps can have explict content and iOS apps cannot. For a parent giving their child a mobile device this makes iOS a more viable choice. 


App Statistics
This one is simple, on phones currently iOS has over 350,000 apps and Android has around 150,000 and most of them are junk and porn. However, Android is growing faster than iOS is, and Apple has had more downloads than Android. Then on tablet, iOS has 65,000 apps built specifically for the iPad, whereas Honeycomb has under 100 apps.
Note: I will update this post with current details as more details come out. 


– Winner: iOS –


App Permissions
Another simple one, Android apps have more system access than apps on iOS do. Take Google Voice for instance. Google Voice has an app on the App Store and Th. Android Market, but only the Android app can be fully integrated into the user experience. Again, apps like Swype can revolutionize the way people input words, but only on Android. This is a huge boon for Android. 


– Winner: Decide on your own –


UI Polish
This is one of the big differences between iOS and Android OS, iOS has an amount of polish that is unseen in Android today. While Google seems to be trying to add new features to its OS, Apple adds features a bit slower, but with more polish. For example, Android had major text messaging bugs that are further detailed here:, these bugs should have never got past testing and debugging. 


– Winner: iOS –


I am not going to post a final winner, this is your choice. iOS and Android are two very different beasts, and soon everyone will have to choose which side to be on. The decision that people are going to have to make is very important because switching between these two platforms is not easy, in fact it is very difficult. Have you ever tried switching from a PC to a Mac, or from a Mac to a PC? It wasn’t easy was it? The same thing is happening with iOS and Android. Mobile is the future of computing and everyone is making a decision. Consider yourself informed. 

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