If you've owned a smartphone, you probably already prefer one operating system over another. Both Android and iOS, the two most popular mobile platforms, have great strengths and pronounced weaknesses. Despite what some might tell you, however, one isn't inherently better than the other. We tend to prefer what we're comfortable with, and for many of us, whichever OS we tried first became our OS of choice.
For those who haven't made a decision, though, here's a brief overview of what iOS and Android are particularly good at. There might not be a perfect mobile OS, but chances are, there's a perfect mobile OS for you.
Three Reasons to Buy iOS
Apple's iOS powers its entire mobile product line: iPods, iPads and of course, iPhones. The platform is known for being bright, powerful and easy to use, with a clean menu system and painless interactivity. It's also notorious for its lack of customization. You can change your background and rearrange your icons on iOS, but that's about it.
As an operating system, iOS tends to appeal to those who want reliability, ease of use and a bevy of top-quality third-party applications to pick from. This is because:
- iOS always just works. Apple's trademark polish permeates its operating system, and while occasional bugs might appear, they're quickly fixed. Unlike Android applications, apps on iOS can't access the operating system directly, which means if they crash, your phone still works fine you just have to restart the app. On Android, an application crash could take down the entire phone, forcing it to reboot.
- You get better quality apps, sooner. Although the majority of developers will try to release their apps on both iOS and Android, many release on iOS first because it's easier to develop for. Android is a fragmented operating system most phones that have it installed aren't running the latest version, which can make development harder. On the other hand, iOS is consistent across all Apple devices, and easy to update when a new version comes out.
- iOS is a more secure operating system. There are two reasons for this. First and foremost, Apple employees manually inspect and validate every single application posted to the iOS App Store before they're made available to the public. When combined with the restrictions preventing apps from accessing the operating system directly, this essentially keeps any virus or malware from infecting your phone. Additionally, Apple has integrated theft prevention software into the operating system, which makes it easy to track where your iPhone goes if it's stolen, and impossible to wipe it or turn off the GPS tracker without entering your password.
Three Reasons to Pick Android
Originally created by Google as an open-source project anyone could tinker with, Android has become the most widely used mobile operating system in the world. Almost every manufacturer of smartphones has at least one Android phone, with each one giving the platform its own spin. HTC, for example, pre-installs HTC Sense on all its phones, while Samsung employs an overlay called TouchWiz. Both offer custom interface tweaks that give their respective phones a unique look and feel.
Android will probably appeal to you if you love tailoring your mobile experience and want to play with the newest technologies. This is because:
- Android is almost infinitely customizable. If you want to make your phone look and feel exactly the way you want and you have a moderate amount of technical knowledge to make it happen Android will give you much more flexibility than iOS. Every part of the Android interface, from what the icons look like to what fonts you see, can be tweaked or switched out. And if you want even more control, you can root your phone, giving you access to the underlying operating system and letting you install anything you like.
- The phones tend to have fun new features and technologies. Along with hardware features you won't find on iPhones, such as IR blasters and NFC chips, Android phones often have unique extras that let you use your phone in fun and different ways, depending on the manufacturer. LG's new phone lets you turn the screen on by double-tapping it with your finger. Samsung's newer devices have eye tracking and facial recognition. While Apple tends to integrate new technologies very slowly, the best Android phones are always on the cutting edge.
- You can have your pick of phone at any price point. Android is the default operating system for most of the phones that manufacturers offer. Between the various brands and the many devices they have at difference prices, there's plenty of variety for you to pick from. If you're on a budget, for example, you'll be able to find an Android phone for free with a two-year contract.
What's the Best Smartphone OS For You?
In the iOS vs. Android battle, picking the operating system for you is all about knowing your own needs. Do you want your phone to just work? Is security a concern? Then the iPhone is probably a good buy. If, on the other hand, you're looking for cheap smartphones, or you're someone who likes customizing the latest gadgets, you'll love Android's open nature and extreme flexibility.