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The debate of Android Vs. iOS has been an ongoing one for years, and it has always broadly been one of design vs. features. With the introduction of Android Lollipop and Apple iOS 8 in the last few months, the discussion has become even more interesting. The lines are blurred, and it seems like neither one can now claim absolute superiority in the design or features arena. Let’s take a good look at what’s being offered, to help make an informed choice
Look & Feel
The Material Design is a major change in Android Lollipop, with the game plan being that this approach will soon begin to pervade all types of user screens including laptops, phones and wearables. With this “material” concept, Android has started using layering on their screens in a big way, aiming to improve the user experience. The use of animation or the way a button reacts to touch has also changed, with not just menus but a whole lot of other actions being triggered.
Apple continues with the polished look and design that it introduced in iOS 7. Layers and dimensions have always been a part of its aesthetic and this has now got some additional tweaks in iOS 8 to make things even easier for users. Actions associated with gestures have also undergone some changes, resulting in easier navigation especially on the big screen of the iPhone 6 Plus.
Where features are concerned, it might seem that Lollipop is focused more on the design front and has only adopted a fine-tuning approach. It has refined the way notifications are handled, which is going to be a significant change from the user’s point of view. These can now be managed from a central point and have many easy shortcuts as well. It has also improved on multitasking, with the introduction of the ability to switch between specific portions of the app such as different browser tabs.
iOS 8 has made a lot of attractive changes in the area of adding features, and widgets and swipe typing are sure to be welcome additions for many users. The introduction of the Healthkit is another major addition that would be supported by the release of the Apple iWatch in the same timeframe as well. Apple Pay and song recognition in voice searches are other promising features in this version.
Features that Could Help You Choose
It might feel that in the race to move ahead, the competitors are beginning to focus on the same design and feature aspects. Anyone who has used either interface would be able to instantly address this concern, as they would realize that even with a similarity in name, there are many differentiators at play here. Here are some of them:
Health and Payment apps
Google released its GoogleFit health and fitness tracking app around the same time as the Apple Healthkit. Both would have wearables associated with them. It is tough to assess the reach of either, until all the third party apps available in the market decide their allegiance. The most probable scenario would be that most apps would choose to interact with both, so the one you choose plainly depends on your choice of phone or operating system. Similarly, Google Wallet and Apple Pay would battle it out on the features front, but there is no real competition, as the usage would be limited by the user’s decision of which phone to buy.
Both iOS 8 and Lollipop use layering but the look of the home screen on an iPhone and an Android phone is still vastly different. Apple has stuck to the “fill the screen” approach, which has worked for them very well until now. This could be a minor irritant while using large screens though, as it’s no longer possible to reach the top corner of your screen with using just one hand for navigation. Android screens on the other hand have a “see what you need” approach, with important buttons on the bottom of the screen and the possibility of placing icons wherever you want.
Apple has hit the nail on the head with enabling the smooth shifting or hand-off of calls and messages between different devices. While Android does have similar capabilities, they are not yet able to offer this service in such a seamless manner to users.
Many other features could serve as differentiators depending on the requirement of the user. For example, the cameras in both offer different features but the end result is a good photo so only photography experts might be influenced by the choice of the RAW format now offered by Lollipop. Regularity of updates continues to be a big differentiator for Apple, with iOS users having easy access to every update in the operating system as soon as it becomes available.
While it is improbable that hardcore loyalists would start switching over yet, the changes in these latest versions are sure to give pause to the mobile user looking out for a new option. The key is to understand the differentiators based on your specific needs, and make the choice accordingly.
Image courtesy: Aidan