A quick comparison between iOS 7 and Android 4.3

iOS versus Android

Ever since Android came onto the market in 2005, iOS has needed to defend their piece of the pie. In recent years, Android has been winning the race for dominance and is now seen as the undisputed global leader in the mobile operating system space with iOS coming in second.

With the rivalry between Android and iOS users still going strong, we are going to make a quick comparison between the latest iterations of these two operating systems. We look at how each platform deals with specific usability issues. With this you can make your own mind up about which one truly deserves the crown and, of course, which one you personally prefer.

User interface

Users have lately been pointing out how much Apple’s iOS is starting to resemble the Android user interface. This is all thanks to the release of iOS 7 with a flat design (instead of skeuomorphism) which is what Android has been using for the most part of its existence. This can merely be a sign of the times since Microsoft has already been a pioneer in creating flat instead of three-dimensional design with their release of Windows 8 and the subsequent Windows 8.1.

iOS has also now incorporated horizontal scrolling (something unusual for the Apple brand) while Android has been making use of vertical scrolling since the beginning. Many would thus argue that scrolling on mobile and tablets are an idea that has been taken from the Android system by Apple. Even the lock screens now resemble each other with similar large fonts and near-transparent backgrounds.

Notifications and control

Apple has recently added a notifications bar similar to that of Android. You simply swipe up from the home screen to access your WiFi settings, turn Airplane Mode on or off, activate Bluetooth, access the music currently playing, adjust screen brightness and more. This function is also available when the screen is locked.

Android has also had a swipe down notifications bar for many years where you can access the same features as mentioned above. You can also expand these notifications to view more information or swipe to dismiss them. Android also has a Power Control widget that you can place on your home screen from where you can access more important and in-depth settings.

Android and iOS is also on the same par when it comes to accessing notifications from the lock screen, a feature that is quite new in iOS and a feature that became a regular on the Android system a while ago.

Browsing

Browsing the Internet from your smartphone or tablet has become something that most users will do every day so a good browser experience is important. iOS uses Safari while Android incorporates Google’s Chrome (some devices also include the Opera or Opera Mini browser). Many people have complained about Safari in the past but with the latest release of Safari they have undergone a makeover. One of the great new features of Safari is a tab view that lets you view the tabs that are currently open instead of struggling with tiny tab names at the top of the screen.

The Safari URL bar is now resizable and you can swipe through your history. Tabbing is now synchronised across all devices through iCloud. Straight from the browser itself you can tweet webpages, post these to Facebook and share via Apple’s Mail or Messages.

The Chrome browser’s bookmarks is syncable across multiple devices and incognito browsing is available. One of the features that Chrome is well-known for developing is the omnibox. This is a search bar that picks up whether what you are entering is a website or a simple search. This feature has now also been picked up by Apple’s Safari browser.

Maps

Apple Maps vs Google Maps

There has been much controversy surrounding the Maps feature on iOS with it lacking a lot of the basic features and quality that Google Maps (available on most Android devices) has. Android is a step ahead of iOS in this department but iOS has been making progress in improving its current model.

Google Maps on Android provides great local information through its app, has traffic updates based on the user’s location and satellite navigation via the Navigation app, which serves as a standalone GPS service. Google Maps also has offline capability as well.

Some features are seen on both iOS and Android’s Maps. These features include a quick search for nearby places such as businesses, compass mode, traffic reporting, street view, public transit directions, walking directions and the saving of frequently visited places for quick referencing later on.

Sharing and syncing

Sharing information is easy with the introduction of Airdrop on iOS devices. You can send photos, music, documents and more to a friend with an iOS device by simply opening the Airdrop application and placing what you want to send in this area.

Android has been using what is called near-field communication (NFC) to share information between users. But unfortunately to use this, users need to be in close proximity to each other in order to hold the devices close next to each other to send the information. Many users have complained that it is too unreliable and finicky. Android has recently added WiFi direct, a function that enables users to connect with each other through WiFi without the need for an access point.

Updates

The newest iOS system on the market only now provides you with the option to have your apps auto-update in the background where, in the past, users had to manually update each app and it could become cumbersome to keep up. Android users know that the auto-update feature has been available to them from the beginning.

Availability

iOS is, unfortunately, only available on iDevices. This can provide either a feeling of exclusivity or limitation. One of the benefits of this type of exclusivity is the fact that information is easily synced easily across a multitude of different device types.

Android has expanded to be available on many OEM (original equipment manufacturer) products such as Samsung, HTC, LG and more. This provides a bit more variety in terms of the type of smartphone or tablet that you prefer to use.
There appears to be no definitive winner in the competition to be the best and most used mobile operating system. The same features and approaches tend to appear on both Android and iOS, making them essentially the same. In the end, it all seems to depend on personal preference, after all.