After watching a recent YouTube video by Chris Pirillo, it had me thinking about the vast differences between the iOS and Android mobile platforms. Both have been and currently are successful, and both approach the marketplace from a different angle. As Chris noted [see video below], you really cannot definitely state which platform is universally better, for it all depends on factors for each individual. For me, I like both ecosystems, but I prefer Android [I’ll explain why soon]. I do, however, use both platforms; I use my second generation iPod Touch when I work out at the gym each day and the iPad from time to time, and I have two Android phones (the Samsung Galaxy S3 that I use daily and the Galaxy Nexus that I use for business). But, which is best for you is entirely based on your mobile needs!
#1 Want Phone Selection?
Do you want the latest trending phone or a selection from many of the latest phones? Apple’s iPhone really stirred up the infant smartphone market segment in 2007, providing the standard of measurement for years to come. Apple provides a consistent phone form that is rarely altered since they produce both the hardware and software for the phone and monitor and approve apps for their devices. This means that few physical features change – therefore, fewer options are available to consumers, but this also means that the user experience on the iPhone is consistent throughout.
On the other side of the argument, Android is created as the foundation of the software from Google, and Google allows third-party phone manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, LG, and others to build on top of the platform, providing many different phones of various sizes, shapes, colors, and formats. This gives us the consumer a lot of choices. Of course, this also means that some phones might run off of an older version of Android using a different look and feel. Also, Google has control over which apps can be found in their app store [Google Play], but they are not as controlling as Apple is, so download apps with a bit more caution, especially those from unknown sources.
#2 Want Accessories Selections?
While having limited variations (if any) of the iPhone may be a weakness for Apple, but it also is a strength. Having the same physical size phone being sold to millions of consumers means that it is more likely that the accessory (case, adapter, etc.) of your choice will be available to buy. So, if you want that phone case is a specific color, you will have better odds with the iPhone.
When you dig down into the user experience on the phone, Android and iOS differ. Stock iOS provides users with a standard user experience that limits customization outside of the typical moving on the app icons and the all-important wallpaper. On the other hand, Android allows users to add widgets that run on various screens and more settings are able to be customized so that the user can make the phone his or her very one.
#4 Plays Well With Others?
Interoperability is a critically important factor to consider when buying a phone. If you are already a heavy Mac, iMac, iPod, iPad, or iCloud user, chances are that you might want to go with the iPhone. The Apple ecosystem is built so that files and experiences are shared across various devices. On the other hand, heavy Google product users [of Gmail, YouTube, GTalk, Google+, and Google Maps might like to try out the Android platform. Sure, the device interoperability is not completely there yet as the Apple ecosystem is more mature, but many advantages exist when sticking with the platform that molds most closely with those services that you use most. Of course, in either situation, it is important to know that Google apps will run on the iPhone, and there are alternatives to iCloud (like Dropbox and Google Drive) that allows easy synchronization of files across devices!
#5 Who Controls Overall Experience?
Again, this comes back to customization. Apple is very restrictive on which apps are allowed to be on their iPhones, and they have to approve each one. On the other hand, Google allows apps to be added yet will remove the malicious apps as they are discovered. But, ultimately, it comes down to the expected experience of the user. Some will say that the iPhone is very simple to use while others note that Android has a tougher learning curve. Do you want to be able to control most of what your phone does, or do you simply want a phone that can do the basics and more very well without the need to customize? In time, I expect Google to tip-toe in the gray area that is app standardization by enforcing requirements for apps optimized for their various Android-based tablets versus smartphones built on their platform. Of course, this competition is helping everybody enjoy a better, overall experience. Still, you determine how and who should be controlling the phone experience. Does Apple know best or does Google giving you free reign to customize create the best experience?
Which One Is Best For You?
Great question! Of course, that answer is different for each of us. As Chris eloquently pointed out, there is no right or wrong answer! The good news is that, along with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform, the marketplace is filled with healthy competition. That means more advancement from the players in this industry for years to come! As a result, we all win!