Android vs. iOS - Usability
Android vs. iOS
iOS 9 vs Android Marshmallow
Round 2 will be released next week, 4/17/16.
Round 1: Usability
Although my judgement is skewed because I use an iPhone 6 on a daily basis, I have used Android extensivly and have written tutorials on how to run it on your PC or laptop. Android Marshmallow has come a long way since 2011, when I dismissed it as an operating system not even comparable to iOS, dude to the lack of app support and specs that were better on paper than in real world usage.
Android Marshmallow is a very good operating system. It is lacking a few things compared to iOS, but the same can be said the other way around. It is hard to compare usability because Android is an operating system, and there is not a definitive version. The apps that come packaged with most devices can be broken down and compared to iOS quite easily. Every one of them is tolerable, and some are better than any alternative in the Play Store.
Updates - Most Android devices get updates for 6 months - 1 and a half years. Nexus phones are guaranteed updates much longer than that, but most handsets are released and receive one or two updates.
- Browser - The default browser app that comes with most handsets is usable. It doesn't exceed expectations, but that is because it doesn't have to. You can easily download Chrome from the Play Store.
- Email - It works, and its a mail client. There are still plenty of alternatives, so it is not an issue, but the app is okay and can handle most email services.
- Gallery - This app feels out of place on modern Android devices and most phone or tablet manufacturers replace it with their own version. The app feels stuck in 2012, and it is basic compared to newer apps like Google Photos, which supports backing up all of your photos into the cloud cross-platform. I usually put this in a folder and forget about it.
- Google - Google Now and all the benefits of having Google at your fingertips is great. Now on Tap, a new feature in Android Marshmallow is incredible and can search the internet for things on your screen. This app is amazing.
- Contacts - It's contacts. It syncs with your Google account, so you never have to worry about losing your contacts.
- Messaging - It is passable, but not great. Other messaging apps have tried to replace it, and nothing is that remarkable. Hangouts is a great messaging app, on the other hand, but can't fit in with your cellular plan like the original Messaging app. Hopefully in newer updates it will be polished a bit more.
- Phone - It dials phone numbers!
- Maps - Google Maps is probably the best map service on the planet. It has been tried and tested for years now, and is accurate. Apple Maps is catching up, but with native integration, Google Maps beats it by a lot.
- Settings - Settings has improved a lot over the years. When not restricted by the device's manufacturer, it gives a lot of options and allows you to install .apk files right from the device.
- Clock, Calculator, Downloads, Calendar - These apps do what they say, but nothing special.
- Find My Android - All you have to do is Google "Find My Android" and you can locate your device anywhere. It's great!
And most importantly,
- Google Play - Android Market has done a lot of growing up in recent years. Developers are beginning to take the store more seriously, and Google has been Apple-esque with their app rejection recently. The biggest problem with having so many devices is that a lot of apps just aren't compatible. For most, this is not a problem, but not being able to get an app because your screen is too small, or if your phone can't update to the next version to get an app you really want is infuriating. It is not Google's fault, but it is an issue. It is difficult to aim an app at such a wide variety of devices, so many developers accept their losses and determine a demographic.
The app support have matured, but the quality does not match iOS yet.
Conclusion: Android 6.0 is completely usable, but lacks native split-screen multitasking and a truly customizable control center. Other device manufacturer's forks of Android, or their own editions, have filled in the gaps of Google's Android. The susceptibility to malware and viruses is still an issue, but most Play Store apps are fine to use.
iOS lacks many features that Android has, but its exclusives can outweigh the shortcomings. iCloud and iMessage are two features that keep many people locked in the ecosystem, but that will be discussed in Round 2 of this segment. The apps all work, but feel trapped in 2007, with few major changes since their initial release.
Updates - iOS devices get updates for typically 3 or 4 years. This is noticeably longer than Android devices, which gives it quite an upperhand.
- Safari - One of the few apps that has changed significantly since its debut, it is quick and reliable. iCloud tabs sync the websites you visit to all of your Apple devices and iCloud Keychain sync the passwords as well. It supports ad blockers, something Android does not currently do. Not much else to say, but it is a nice app.
- Mail - The app has not changed that much since 2007, but the few features it has work well for most people. It is a basic mail client, and that's about it.
- Photos - iCloud Photo Library gives the Apple Photos app an edge over the competition. Built-in to the device, all of the pictures taken can be stored on iCloud for free just like Google Photos, but its cross-platform compatibility is lacking. It requires using the (in my opinion, abysmal) icloud.com, and it feels bogged down by too many proprietary APIs.
- Siri - Siri is one of the best features on iOS. I use it daily, but it has started to fall behind Google Now recently. Most of its features can be replicated through Google, and it misunderstands me more than it previously had. It is not cross platform (yet) so the only way to use it is on the device itself.
- Contacts - It's contacts. It syncs with your iCloud account, so you never have to worry about losing your contacts (unless you switch to Android).
- Messages (and Facetime) - This app is decent, but has a killer feature, iMessage. You can message any Apple device with the Messages app (manufactured after 2010 running iOS or OS X) for free, as well as Facetime video call and audio calls. Sorry, Android users.
- Phone - It dials phone numbers!
- Maps - Apple Maps has improved since the iOS 6 disaster in 2012, where it led people to abandoned streets and alleys. Today, it works almost as well as Google Maps, but is missing accurate mapping in many rural areas.
- Settings - The app is now searchable, and it helps navigation a little bit. Nothing special, and the options are very, very, limited.
- Clock, Calculator, Calendar, Music, and Notes - These apps do what they say.
- Find My iPhone - It works. I admittedly use this a lot, and now, finally, it is web-accesable on icloud.com.
And most importantly,
- App Store - The iOS App Store was released in 2008 and has had incredible developer support. Because the iPhone has always been a high-end device, app developers know that people that use the platform are more willing to spend higher ammounts of money for quality. This drives the apps to be released on iOS first. Android has begun to step up the quality of apps, but the solid user-base and monopoly Apple has control of on their devices make it superior to Google Play in many ways, but options is not one of them.
Conclusion: iOS 9 is a great operating system, but lacks customizability. In iOS 10, a lot of users are looking forward to see what the new features will be and hopefully iOS devices will be able to replace the native apps like Android users have been able to do for so long. Because iPhones and iPads still surpass a majority of Android handsets in stability, and receive updates much longer, the usability is better.