Making the Call Between iPhone or Android Smartphones – Part Two
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Hardware, durability and cost are not the only considerations that go into deciding between an Android or iPhone.
The software or operating systems that power our devices do as much to shape the character of a particular phone as the look and feel of the machine itself. It’s also in this internal software that the most stark differences exist between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS.
Know Your OS – Pros and Cons
When it comes to operating systems, neither iOS or Android can please everyone (especially tech geeks and programmers). Fortunately, a bit of healthy competition means that consumers are constantly seeing improvements and updates to perfect their platforms.
Apple’s latest OS is iOS 6 as of this article’s publication date, while Android is on version 4.
• Android’s open system is designed with the developer in mind. Built using the Linux kernel system, Android’s infrastructure is versatile and easily customizable.
• For those who like complete control of their machine, Android is easy to hack and its wide-open marketplace means there are a seemingly unlimited array of apps and extensions to choose from.
• Android is integrated into Google, so users who take advantage of Google services like Calendar, Gmail and Drive will appreciate the synchronicity.
• Because Android operates like a ‘wild West’ for developers, it can be difficult to get support. Compatibility suffers.
• Older Android devices may be unable to update to the newest Android version, making some apps obsolete or unusable. Wireless carriers are slow to put out security patches and have no incentive to update handsets to new major version of the operating system. They would prefer you buy a new smartphone.
• Some Android smartphones have very little storage for additional apps. We have a T-Mobile LG and it is full of built in apps you cannot remove, leaving little space for new apps. While it has a MicroSD slot for memory expansion, you cannot move apps to it, you can store movies, music, documents, or pictures on it. (You can root the phone and run a SD card shadow memory program if you are an expert)
• Android’s open system makes it more vulnerable to apps that have security problems and privacy issues.
• Google tailors ads based on your personal message content, so users sacrifice privacy in their email conversations.
• iPhone is renowned for out-of-the-box usability, and iOS versions are consistent across several years of iPhone releases. You will almost always be able to upgrade to the newest operating system. (If Apple allows it)
• Apple devices are easy to learn and easy to use, and support is readily available. Apple Retail Stores are all over the country.
• The user interface is consistent across devices. If you have an iPad, then you know how to use an iPhone, and vice versa.
• Significantly more apps are available for iOS, especially tablet optimized apps. All iOS apps must be approved for the Apple Store, helping to ensure higher quality and security.
• Apple’s closed system is not as friendly to developers and programmers. Although ‘jailbreaking’ is common and allows for apps that exist away from the App Store, it voids the warranty on the device and makes it difficult to update to a newer version of software.
• iPhone is not as customizable as Android. All users’ interfaces resemble each other.
Microsoft's Windows Phone platform has come a long way in four years and, with innovative features coming in v8.1 such as the updated Modern interface, Cortana, and Microsoft Office pre-installed, has emerged in the mobile wars as a viable alternative for users looking for Office compatibility and a fresh new interface.
Windows Phone PROS
• Windows Phone comes with complete and out-of-the-box compatibility for Microsoft Office with a mobile version of Office pre-installed
• The unique Metro UI, with real-time "Live Tiles" and pre-installed widgets, provides a fresh approach on mobile interfaces
• Metro UI is used across all of Microsoft's OS's, so Windows 8 and Surface users will feel right at home
• Window's app "Marketplace" requires developers to send in their apps for approval, which means that the apps on the Windows Marketplace are secure and have been screened for quality
Windows Phone CONS
• Windows Phone OS lives in a closed ecosystem, where programmers and developers are kept out of modifying the OS or installing apps without submitting them to the Windows Marketplace first
• The selection of apps from the Windows Marketplace is sparse in all areas (especially in non-utility apps such as games or entertainment apps), and users who are switching from an iOS or Android device might miss many of their favorite apps
• Many users complain that the OS doesn't feel fully finished or that the OS feels intuitive at times.
• Microsoft's mobile browser Internet Explorer Mobile feels half baked while forcing you to use Bing for all of your searches.
The Bottom Line
Android — Although Android offers far more options for quality phones from various manufacturers, there are also many budget options that may ultimately disappoint. Read reviews of the latest devices online, rather than just trusting the salesperson at the carrier’s retail location, who will obviously push the phone they are currently hyping with new service contracts.
Because user interfaces can differ between devices (and between Android phones and tablets from makers like HTC and Samsung), less tech-savvy users may be disoriented by a new Android device. Finally, because of the wide array of manufacturers, tech support can be problematic when the phone maker blames an issue on the carrier, and vice versa.
For users on a budget, who heavily rely on Google services, or who desire the maximum possible customization, Android may be the best choice.
Apple — Consistency, elegant design, simplicity, quality and customer service are the hallmarks that make Apple the industry leader in smartphones. Pricing can be expensive, but because new phones are set at a hard price, there is little need to ‘shop around.’ Apple’s tech support is easy to reach and very helpful, making Apple the all-around best for user experience.
If you want sleek and simple usability and can afford it, the iPhone may be the best choice.
Windows Phone — Excellent design with a unique approach to the homescreen and 100% compatibility with Windows, but tied to Microsoft's ecosystem with a small selection of apps. While some built in features are rough around the edges, Microsoft's new mobile OS has shown quite a bit of potential
The Windows Phone may be the best choice for users who want easy Windows Office integration, a safe, small, and closed ecosystem, and the opportunity to try something new
iPhone or Android is the question for today. Are you a former iPhone or Android user that has made the switch? Are you happy with your decision? Leave a comment with your opinion.