One of our users wanted to hear my thoughts on iOS vs Android, so here are my thoughts on this hot-button topic. You can feel free to discuss amongst yourselves, however do remember to keep it polite and within the forum guidelines.
I am not going to even go into comparing to Blackberry or Windows Phones, that is a completely different ball game.
Remember, these are the thoughts and opinions of Frederuco, and Frederuco alone. Opinions can never be wrong, but you can choose to politely disagree.
WARNING: LONG WINDED WORDY POST AHEAD!
So, there are two main topics to tackle here: Software and Hardware. All comparisons will be done on the basis of a stock configuration (not rooted or jailbroken).
I often hear users say that iOS Just Works. I struggle with this, it is like me saying that a Prius is better than a Shelby Mustang Cobra because you do not have to shift gears in the Prius. My mother would argue the Prius is better, I would argue hardcore the opposite way. Granted, I have not driven a Shelby, but I have driven plenty of Mustangs and also Priuses.
Back to the topic at hand. My thoughts on iOS: There is pretty much only ONE WAY to do things. This is good and bad. On one hand, it is for the most part pretty intuitive. But, some things are not the easiest to figure out. How do I see my recent apps? Oh, double click the home button.
My biggest gripe about iOS is the way you cannot set Safari for desktop sites, and you cannot set another browser as a default browser. I installed Dolphin Browser on my iPhone to get desktop sites. If I get a link emailed to me and I need to open it in a desktop view, I have to long press the link, adjust the selection bars to copy the link. Close Mail, open Dolphin, long press in the address bar and select Paste.
Another task - I am in Safari and I have my cookies turned off. I need to turn them on for a website. Lets see, I have to CLOSE safari. Open the Settings app, go to the Safari section and turn on Cookies. Then go back to Safari.
I am using an app like UrbanSpoon to search for a restaurant. I find it and I want to use GPS. The iPhone 4 does not have turn by turn navigation, so I have to use a 3rd party app. My choice: Mapquest. Tapping on the address in Urban Spoon will send it to the Maps app. Then, I have to copy the address, close Maps, open Mapquest and get directions there. iPhone 4s and 5 have driving directions, but the built in app is horrible (even Tim Cook admits it).
Sharing - this is something that Apple has finally started to get right with iOS 6. In iOS 4 or 5 if I wanted to share a picture I took, or a link with facebook, I had to OPEN the app, then share it from there. I could not just go from my camera roll and post a photo to Facebook. Also, iOS still makes it hard to get apps on the share list. If I want to upload a photo to a site like imgur, I still cannot do it from the Camera Roll. I have to open the Imgur app and select the photo.
File management. iOS does not have a file manager. If I start a word document in QuickOffice and it is not able to do something I want it to and I want to try Documents2Go or Kingsoft, I have to EMAIL the document to myself, then tell Mail to open it with the new app. Now I have 2 versions, one in each office app. Sure, you can sync with Google Drive, but that is not handy if you need offline file access.
iTunes dependence. I hate having to have a phone that NEEDS a program like iTunes to make it work. I have gotten to be iTunes free, with the exception of backups. I would use iCloud, but my company blocks it for security reasons, so I must back up with a cable. Sure, you can transfer files via WiFi, and if you PAY for iTunes Match you can get your music library available in its entirety. Well, I use the app gMusic on my iPhone to access my Google Play Music library. I have 15,000 songs at my disposal on my iPhone any time I have 3G/LTE access. I can make instant mixes, and make files available for offline use. Cost? One time $0.99 for the gMusic app.
Home screens - iOS has one major flaw here. You CANNOT customize your home screen. If an app is installed, it is ON a home screen. There is no app drawer to hide your lesser used apps. Sure, you can make folders. But the folders are ugly! They have mini icons of the actual apps.
Here are my two iPhone home screens:
All icons are top left justified, fill one row, then the next, and so on. I can rename folders, but that's about it.
And who was the first to have pull-down notifications? Oh that would be Android. And who was the first to implement the volume buttons as shutter button for a camera app? Oh - Android (on some hardware). Who had Panoramic pictures first? Android. Who was the first to have slide to unlock on a touchscreen? Nokia!
Looking at the Android OS, it is much more open. I can use a file manager to open an office file in one of many office apps. I can choose which app is default if I so choose. Browsers are much more flexible - I can even choose iPhone or iPad useragent string! Sharing, well, you can share a photo with just about any app you want. This has been a feature that has been around since I started using Android at version 3.0 (and I am sure it was there in 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2).
You can toggle WiFi off and on MUCH easier in the Android environment. There are quick settings you can add to the notification tray, and there is a pull-down in Android 4.2 for toggling WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth, Brightness, etc. All of these must be changed by actually going into the Settings app on iOS to change their state.
Home screens - There are a LOT more options for home screens on Android. Even using the stock launcher, you can install an app and NOT have it clutter up your home screen. Using custom launchers, you can set up some nice effects like HUBS. Here are 3 of the 9 HUBS I had at one point:
You can also make folders with custom icons, and even hide the text on the app icons. All of the words on the top half are a folder in this picture:
Keyboards - iOS has one keyboard. If you don't like it, too bad. On the iPad, you can do a split keyboard, but that's about all you can do. For Android, there are many keyboards to choose from. I like Asus' default keyboard because it has the row of number keys, and it supports swipe input:
If that or the default android one do not fancy you, there are many others. My favorite is Thumb Keyboard:
Then there are the so-called "Floating Apps" of Android. I use LilyPad HD and StickIt! quite often to give my the ability to watch YouTube and other videos while doing something else, and also to GTalk with friends and using another App. On iOS, I have to change apps to do this same functionality. Here is one example using Overskreen, LilyPad and StickIt!:
Adobe Flash Support - I am going to omit this topic since Adobe Flash is not officially supported on either OS at this time. There are workarounds on both platforms, but from my experience neither is that superior to the other when it comes to Flash.
On the hardware side, in many ways Apple has a leg up. They make the hardware AND the software. This means that when a new version of iOS is released, if it is compatible with your hardware, it will be ready immediately. On Android, it is referred to as Fragmented because very few devices (less than 15% as of February 2013) are running the latest OS, JellyBean. Most Android devices (estimated 44%) are running 2 version behind on Gingerbread (we are not counting Honeycomb since it was tablet only). Since Google does NOT make any hardware, not even the Nexus devices, the hardware OEMs have to take Google's source code and making sure it is compatible with the hardware. Most cell phone carriers also want to put their blessing on the software before it goes out the door. This can delay 1-2 years from the time the actual new OS is released.
Looking at the phones themselves, for the iPhone, there are really only 3 phones to choose from (not counting color or storage variations). The iPhone 4, 4s and 5. All 3 iPhones use proprietary connectors for charging/USB. The iPhone 5 changed to a Lightning cable. You have a choice of a 3.5" or 4" display and no external storage. Internal storage ranges from 8-64 GB. In the US, AT&T is hardcore about the fact that the iPhone can talk & surf ONLY on their network (they are the only GSM carrier that officially has the iPhone in the US). Sprint and Verizon are CDMA and that does not support talk & surf.
Android has many more to choose from depending on your carrier, you can have lots more to choose from. Many Android phones have external storage options and most all of them have a microUSB to make it easy to charge them just about anywhere. Some android phones even have microHDMI output options. Most all Android phones, even on CDMA networks can talk & surf. How can they do this? Simple, 2 radios, one for voice, one for data. Apple has been bullied by AT&T to keep this feature out of the iPhone. My sister has an LG Spectrum that came out January of 2012 and it has 4G and can talk & surf on Verizon. The equivalent iPhone 4s is only 3G and cannot talk & surf on Verizon.
Here is a table to break down the choices for two popular networks in the US:
Next, digging into the tablet world, we are not going to go into 3G/4G tablets, only WiFi devices. Also, we are ONLY going to consider major Android brands, none of the cheap imported and no-name tablets. Acer, Apple, Asus, Lenovo, Motorola, Nexus, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba.
So, in Apple land there are 3 choices, the iPad 2, Retina iPad and the iPad Mini. In Android, there are too many choices to list, even if just looking at these major brands of Android Tablets. I would guess there must be 20 choices not counting color and storage choices. One major advantage for a lot of Android tablets vs the iPad is the inclusion of a GPS radio. This allows many Android tablets to function as a stand alone offline GPS. The iPad cannot do that without tethering to a phone that it can utilize the GPS of the phone (limited to the iPhone AFAIK). The iPad has 2 form factors to choose from, 7.9" and 9.7". I have played with some of the 7" tablets, and their form factor is quite nice. The 7.9" iPad is supposed to be palmed with one hand. I can do it, but my wife cannot. However, a Nexus 7, both of us can easily hold in one hand. Granted, it is only about 14 mm difference, but that can make a difference if you have smaller hands. Android definitely has a lot more size choices than just 2. From what I found, there were at least 6 different screen sizes, and 4 different screen resolutions on the Android tablets.
Here is a chart for comparison - do note that on the Android side it should be 8 MP for the max camera for the Infinity(Thanks SoulTKR):
Many users are worried about storage size on tablets. With the removable storage of many Android devices, you can get 256 GB of storage (about 230 after formatting and OS installation) without using a USB drive. TF700 with keyboard dock, 64 GB tablet, 64 GB microSD, 128 GB SD card. If you add a USB drive, the sky is the limit (keep in mind spinning hard drives require MUCH more power than solid state drives). Granted, with this configuration you are limited to 64 GB of apps as you cannot move the apps to the microSD or SD without rooting (and even then it can be tricky) but I myself have no more than 3 GB of apps on my tablet and have never had an issue with space on my 16 GB tablet.
I also find the home button of iOS to be a bit clunky. One click to go home, two to see recent apps. My iPhone 4 had a hardware issue with the home button and it would sometimes not register double clicks, or single clicks might act as double clicks. I much prefer the HOME, BACK and RECENT APPS soft keys of most newer Android devices to the physical home button of iOS.
I am often asked What tablet should I get? and my retort to them is this: What do you want a tablet to do? Most folks expect a tablet to replace their need for a computer. I would say 50% of the time most folks are a little disheartened when I inform them that for most users they will be disappointed with a tablet expecting it will eliminate the need for a computer. Especially in the iPad world as you need a computer to transfer media on and off the device in most cases.
However, if you are thinking about a tablet/phone and are unsure which way (Apple vs Android) you should go, to me it is pretty easy. If you are a tweaker (constantly fidgeting with settings on your computer to see what happens) or are always wanting to find a way to do something better and different, by all means GO ANDROID! If you just use your computer to check Facebook and never change any settings on your computer, are content using Internet Exploder instead of Firefox or Chrome, have no clue what regedit is, then you should go iOS.
My wife has an iPhone 5 and an iPad 2. She is quite content because for her, this combo works great.
I have spent plenty of time on her iPad, as well as on my company iPhone and get quite frustrated after experiencing what Android has to offer. I almost threw my iPhone against the wall many times after I got used to Android. The biggest thing that stopped me was waiting for the iPhone 5. If I destroyed it this past summer, it would have been replaced with an iPhone 4s which IMO was not much of an upgrade from the iPhone 4 other than Siri who is fun for 5 minutes. I mostly use her to dial numbers for me - this is a feature that has been in iOS 4 since at least the release of the iPhone 4, and was functional on the 3Gs for looking up contacts.
If my employer gave me a choice for phones, I would have either a GS3 or a Note 2 at this point, but since they do not I have an iPhone 5. I cannot be bothered with carrying a personal and work cell phone, and if I was not too cheap to pay for a smartphone for personal use, I would definitely have an Android.
Which is easier to use? Hand an iPhone to a seasoned Android user, they will think the iPhone is NOT intuitive (settings app to change an app's setting?!?) Hand an Android to an iPhone user, they are lost (just last night a friend handed her Android phone to my wife to take a photo, she was lost).
It is up to each person to decide which is better and more intuitive to them.
I might want to point out there are quite a few senior members here who also had iPhones (some still do) that much prefer Android. Jeffrey, MickeyLittle, Buzzman and mrumm49 are three that come to mind
I feel the WORST part about the Android vs iOS is the documentation on the device. These phones and tablets ship with virtually NO instructions and users have to turn to forums to learn how to do things. I have a friend who has had an iPhone since the first one. It was not until I posted a screenshot with my iPhone 4 that he asked how to take a screenshot. He had no clue this was an option. If the companies made some better How-To videos and manuals, we would not have to turn to forums to learn how to check our email, or even turn on the device and charge it.
And that is all I have to say about that.