Until a few months ago, my answer was iOS… because I love/ed it. However, I’ve realised that’s not the right answer anymore. I’m writing this to explain why.
You see, both iOS and Android have grown to become top-notch operating systems. iOS started off as iPhone OS and shipped first with the original iPhone. It was a redesigned Mac OS version that was made to support touch displays. The iPhone OS initially had a serious lack of functionality - so much, that even copy-paste didn’t exist. As the iPhone grew, iOS became more and more refined. Today, iOS is reputed to have some of the best software features and security. Android too, has grown up a lot. When Android was first released, it was neither fast nor powerful. It did have customisation features iPhone OS lacked, and that is probably what propelled it to grow. Today, Android is the most popular mobile operating system and is running on millions of unique devices.
As both these OS’s grew, they started to share a lot in common. The notification centre from Android arrived on iOS, and the flat design of iOS 7 was implemented as ‘Material Design’ on Android L. As these similarities grew larger, the OS's started being accompanied by similar services as well: iOS has AirPlay, Android has Cast; Apple has CarPlay, Google has Android Auto; Apple has Apple TV, Google has Android TV. Today, both iOS and Android have developed entire ecosystems around them. And that’s what makes the question of Android vs iOS harder to answer.
If you have an iPhone but also own a ChromeCast, you cannot get full utility out of it. Similarly, if you have an AirPort wifi router without owning any iOS device, you aren’t going to be able to use the AirPort Utility functionality on your phone.
The Android vs iOS debate has taken a turn. From being a mobile operating system debate, it has become an ecosystem debate. You either choose the Android ecosystem, or the iOS ecosystem, and stick to it.
To further explain, I’ll take my own example. I live in an iOS ecosystem. It all started back when my dad got the iPhone 4. After that, I ventured into the Mac territory, buying a MacBook Pro (that I’m using now). Eventually, I knew it was going to be Apple or nothing. Now, the only computers in my house are Mac’s, the wifi router I’m using is an Airport Express, the streaming box of my choice is the Apple TV. And somehow, every time I want to buy a new tech product, I do not even care to look beyond Apple’s products. I truly consider myself an Apple fan, and I rely on the brand strength when I buy my products.
This ecosystem gives me some big advantages - iCloud will sync all my data across all my devices, I can easily AirPlay videos from my iPad onto my TV via the Apple TV and I can even sync all the apps and games I’ve purchased on the iOS AppStore without ever having to pay for them again. Moreover, I love the Family feature in iCloud that allows my iOS and Mac devices to be spotted on my dad’s Find my iPhone account. These big features are why I never look beyond Apple when I’m buying a new product.
Coming to the point: whenever you ask yourself about Android vs iOS, think about the possibilities you can build around each ecosystem. If you already own an iPad, I’d highly recommend you choose an iPhone as your next phone. Or if you have already bought some apps on the Play Store and want to use the personalisation features on your current Android phone, the best bet would be to buy a new Android.
But there is more to it.
Here in India, very few have an ecosystem of gadgets. So for those who are asking which ecosystem should I build, the answer lies in your satisfaction levels with the products you are currently using. Do you love the Android phone you own? Do you have a streaming stick like the Chromecast? Do you own a Mac? Then choose accordingly. The sad part, however, might be the lack of information about the features of the ecosystem itself. [Drop in a comment if you knew that a phone call on an iPhone can be answered on an iPad.] I’m sure many didn’t know this, simply because most of you must have never seen this in action. Building an ecosystem gives some unbelievably great control on all your products, so I highly recommend starting off now!
And that is it! The solution of the Android vs iOS debate is very straightforward. I feel it is absolutely a waste of time asking “which is better?” because the answer lies with you!
So next time you buy a product, don’t only look at wether its the best. Look at wether it suits you/ will ease up your life. And of course, keep reading blogs like this to keep improving you tech knowledge!
P.S. The Android vs iOS debate might sound very different if you talk about the differences between an iPhone and an Android phone. Then again, most of today’s phones have equally many features and there is not much difference between iOS and Android. You can debate saying “1 GB of RAM on an iPhone is equivalent to 3 GB on an Android device,” but saying this absolutely makes no difference. The end result is that both the iPhone and the Android Phone will run apps equally smoothly with that amount of RAM. As a consumer, think about it for yourself!