iOS vs. Android has always been a bitter rivalry. This year that battle reached a fervent pitch with both Apple and Google releasing new versions of their operating systems almost simultaneously. iOS got updated to iOS 9.0 while Android, continuing with its tradition of using deserts/sweets for nomenclature, evolved into Android 6.0, also known as Marshmallow.
Here’s the showdown between the two heavyweights:
UI / Design
Android 6 is still the definitive king of customization. The ability to entirely reorganise your UI, right down to icons, fonts and even native apps like Dialer, give an unparalleled control to the end-user.
With Marshmallow, the support for custom-made mods, themes and launchers have only increased. It’s like eating at Subway; you can make your sandwich. But in iOS, there’s no menu card. You eat whatever the chef decides to make.
Google Now on Tap vs. Siri
Android 6 takes customization even further with ‘Google Now on Tap’. It is the updated personal assistant on Android previously known as Google Now.
Pressing and Holding the Home button on any screen will allow Google Now to read the content of the screen and generate appropriate search results (without leaving the app you were using). For example, if you are texting your roommate about making pasta for dinner, firing up Now on Tap will bring up recipes for making pasta, or restaurants near you that serve pasta!
Siri, on the other hand, has also gotten better. It has now become spatial and time aware. Meaning, you can ask “Siri, show me songs purchased in March” and it will pull up your iTunes account with relevant history.
In the long run, Apple might let you control your entire phone using only Siri. Whereas Google Now hopes to run behind the scenes to anticipating your needs ahead of time, and mining data from other Google apps to make Android as personalized as it possibly can be.
Prediction vs. Privacy
All that predictive technology from Google, where it hopes to bring you your sandwich even before you order it, comes at the cost of privacy.
Google wants to know everything about you! When you wake up, where you stay, how you travel to work, what you like to eat, what you search, what you browse, everything.
Apple, on the other hand, is very insistent on not keeping any data. Whenever you ask Siri will never reach the servers of Apple.
For some people, the Google way is fine. But for most, that’s a big price to pay.
One area where iOS 9 triumphs is backward compatibility. iOS 9 supports eight different models of iPhone – going all the way back to the iPhone 4s, which is half a decade old.
Whereas Android 6 won’t run on any Android handset that is more than 1-2 years older. This means many Android users will be left out. The situation is even more frustrating because, unlike Apple, Google does not issue a list of devices that its OS supports. So all you can do is wait and watch!
The Catch-up Game
Both the operating systems have borrowed features quite ostensibly from each other. Android has added two big ‘iOS first’ features – Fingerprint recognition
and NFC payments. On the other hand, Apple has introduced Android features like low battery mode / power saving mode, a back button (of sorts), search enabled Settings menu etc.
There is a wide variety of apps on both platforms. However, iOS trumps in its making better use of bigger screens. Split View and Slide Over modes are excellent productivity tools. In contrast, Android looks stretched and rather lost on larger devices.
Apple rolls out its updates at once. Android updates are much more fragmented with a lot of waiting and uncertainty involved. On the flip side, Google’s ‘on cloud’ strategy is more refined that Apple’s iCloud.
Android is more open and customizable, while iOS offers a less fragmented and more private experience. The interesting thing is that besides freely borrowing features and having a similar look, both operating systems have a very loyal fan following who find the other impossible to work with.
Instead of picking a winner in this war of operating systems, we would like to enjoy the fierce competition that is pushing both players to do better and better. At the end of the day, irrespective of the camp you belong to, the OS experience is improving with every iteration. That’s what matters the most!