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Friday, July 5, 2013

Using iOS vs. Android

Recently, I switched from my Samsung Galaxy S III to an iPhone 5 for a few reasons. Ever since the iPhone's release in 2007, I wanted one. With Android's first release with the G1, I wanted one too but wasn't sure which one was better. It wasn't until a little while later that I switched.

So far, I have used Android 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.0, 4.0, 4.1, and 4.2. I used all of these versions in their stock states that came from the manufacturers as well as rooted ROMs that the developers released. The phones that I had were the Samsung Moment, HTC Evo, a Chinese tablet, and the Samsung Galaxy S III.

My experience with iOS started with the 3rd Generation iPod Touch. What version it was running, I honestly cannot remember. Thereafter, I switched to a Zune and hadn't had another iOS device until my iPad Mini running iOS 6.1.2. I used both my iPod Touch and iPad Mini in stock as well as jailbroken states. I got an iPhone 5 shortly after selling my iPad Mini. My iPhone is on iOS 6.1.4 and was on 6.1.3 due to an accidental update I made. I wanted to jailbreak it, but missed my chance.

I loved the experience with Android as well as iOS. Both sides have their ups and downs over the past few years that I can't say that I'm a fanboy for either side. However, when I got my Galaxy S3, I was a bit mocking towards those who chose to wait for the iPhone 5. Apple and Google have lots of differences between them. In this blog, I hope to make comparisons that I have personally noticed and things that I liked over the other as well as the things that I despised. First, allow me to explain my history with the devices.

The Samsung Moment caught my eye as it was Sprint's second Android device following the beloved HTC Hero. One of my co-workers had the Hero and I loved it. I had the iPod Touch back then but I was infatuated with the Hero mostly because it had web wherever it went whereas I was confined to searching for hotspots wherever we went. Another one of my co-workers showed me his Moment and I was in love. So much so that I went and bought a used one since my contract wouldn't be over for another couple months and I was tired of my Samsung Instinct s30. I loved the physical keyboard and the overall look and feel of the Android user interface. Downloading applications on the go was fun and I was using it for everything. At this time, I joined the online community where I began to learn about this thing called "rooting".

I rooted my Moment and used it for tethering as well as trying out the cool ROMs that were available. My friends and family ooed and awed at the device and what it could do. After some time, the Moment lost its coolness and began getting on my nerves. I found myself continuously taking out the battery because it would jam up on me. My co-worker was just as frustrated as I was, if not more. His wasn't rooted while mine was so we knew it was the phone itself and not rooting. My co-worker went through a total of six replacements because he kept destroying them when they would mess up on him. I stayed with the same one the entire time until selling it after upgrading to the new HTC Evo 4G, the first 4G phone in America.

I loved this phone. It was huge and everyone wanted to see it. Some loved it because it was huge while others thought it was too big. I was loving the new Android 2.2 versus 2.1 that I had been stuck on. When Android 2.3 was released, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. I was able to get some ROMs with it before its arrival. As time went on, the HTC Evo became outdated and old and no longer was able to use all of the new apps. It was time to upgrade and at this time, I had the choice between waiting for the iPhone 5 and seeing what features it had or upgrading to the HTC Evo 4G LTE, Sprint's first LTE device. I waited a while, trying to figure out which phone to get. Along with the new Evo, I was wondering about the Motorola Photon Q and the Samsung Galaxy S III that my friend was telling me about. My cousin insisted that I not get the Photon Q because, while it had a nice keyboard, the support community wouldn't be that big like it was for my Evo. I decided that the Photon Q was a definite no and that it was between the Evo and Galaxy S3. I went for the S3 because of its community and knowing that it had a bigger name than the Evo and would be easy to sell when that time came.

My Galaxy S III was very nice. So nice that even my cousin who was waiting for the iPhone 5 and a die-hard Apple fanboy began checking out my phone and loving what he saw. During the first few weeks of the iPhone 5's release, people still were checking out my phone and everyone was comparing the S3 to the iPhone 5. But then Samsung announced the S4 and my heart dropped. My contract wouldn't be up until another 2 years and I was going to be stuck with this phone all that time with two new Samsung devices being released. My Galaxy S3 started to lag and the battery performance was frustrating. I literally carried a USB wherever I went because the phone was so untrustworthy. The iPhone continued to gain in popularity while people's focus was now on the new Samsung Galaxy Note II that would be coming soon. I started noticing that people on Craigslist were no longer willing to trade their iPhone 5's for Galaxy S3's and anyone that was demanded lots of money. One guy even turned me down for an additional $200 on top of my Galaxy S3. I had gotten an iPad Mini for school purposes and loved the iOS look and feel. I began noticing the great battery performance that it and friends' iPhone 5's had.

After much frustration with the S3, I made the expensive switch early to an iPhone 5 after selling my iPad Mini. Ever since then, early June 2013, I have kept my iPhone 5.

During these times, I noticed the same was happening with Android devices. This is a plus and minus. Android is growing at an alarming rate with new features added every few months, it seems like. This is great but comes at two costs.
1. New devices constantly come which make older devices go obsolete much quicker.
2. Brand new features and innovations to technology come at the price of stability as developers work to work out the unknown kinks that arise.

On average, it seems like Android devices hold their value for a year or less. The only people who hold onto Android devices for any longer than that are those that are satisfied where they are. Usually older folks who don't mind and don't use the extra features of the phone like downloading and using apps. By comparison, I notice that iPhones keep their value for much longer.

The iPhone 4 was released in 2010. Some people, even tech-savvy people I personally know, still use their iPhone 4's.

The difference here not only being stability but also value. Do a quick search for Android phones, like my Evo, that came out in 2010 versus iPhone 4's. Evos are practically non-existent here or sell for next to nothing while iPhone 4's can still sell, even in fairly bad condition i.e. screen cracked, bad ESN, etc. for, at least, double digit dollars.

In terms of stability, I noticed a huge difference in stability. When I say stability, I also mean battery performance. I was disappointed to learn that you couldn't easily take off the back of an iOS device as I had been used to Android devices doing this since their first release. I loved this feature for many reasons but mostly so I could manually, or as they say, perform a "cold boot", in case the phone was ever frozen or needed to be turned back on. The iPhone never needed this because I have never nor ever heard of anyone ever needing to restart an iPhone manually. They don't freeze or at least not nearly as often as Android devices do. And here's where the argument becomes more about personal opinion.

Apple keeps a tight lock on all of their products, not just their iOS devices. Everyone should remember how active they were in going after Psystar for manufacturing computers pre-loaded with Macintosh. Apple has done the same with their iOS devices. Apple does not encourage hacking and will void warranties at the first sign of tampering. Apple, as I said before, doesn't allow easy access to the internals of their devices. Apple doesn't use the latest innovations and features but waits until a time to add them into new updates.

Google is almost exactly the opposite. Google is very friendly with the hacking community, actually encouraging people to hack their Android OS. Android devices are fairly open to all. Before, cell phone companies and operators were highly against any sort of hacking but have grown accustomed to it over the years and actually being not only more lenient but also encouraging themselves by providing tools to everyday users. Google gives the basics to manufacturers who then decide whether or not to add in new features.

To be fair, I should have really owned at least one Google Nexus device as I hear they are much superior than other Android devices. I was about to choose the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, but the fact that it didn't have an external memory outlet was a deal breaker for me. Seeing the Nexus devices in action is awesome and there is one thing that Nexus devices do have in common with iOS but not other Android devices.

Most Android devices, as I said before, only last for maybe a year or less. But not just because they become outdated with hardware but also software. New Android versions are released at least once per year and since Google gives control over to manufacturers, those releases aren't always given to all devices. Each manufacturer puts their own twists into the updates to give it that extra vibe it needs so you can differentiate that this phone came from HTC because it has that huge clock everyone wants but this one is from Samsung because it uses the TouchWiz interface. With Google's Nexus program, Nexus devices are pure Google with nothing else added. It is the raw form that Google made for each release and is sent almost immediately to these devices first. This is good not only for updates but also because none of that bloatware comes with it. With my HTC Evo, HTC had some deals or something with Amazon and Blockbuster to have apps installed onto the phones. These apps couldn't be deleted either and it angered many of us to have them there and we couldn't do anything about it.

In direct comparison to iOS, Nexus devices do not carry these unnecessary bloatware apps. iOS does have apps that users wish they didn't have such as Stocks for some, Newsstand, a separate Contacts app, Passbook and more; however, these aren't necessarily the same as bloatware as they aren't ads that we don't want nor do they seem to be taking a whole lot of room on the device.

As soon as an Android update is available, they are sent to a Nexus device. The same is true for Apple iPhones. The iPhone 4, 4S, and 5 have all received the latest updates up to now even though the devices were released years ago. This was something that I wanted because it ties in with value. I wanted a phone that had the potential of lasting me years and not just for the first few months of owning it. I feel more appreciated as a customer with this than I did with Android. It felt cheap and like a ploy to get me to buy the newer devices.

When it comes to apps, I have to definitely take the side of the iPhone. iOS receives almost all of the newest apps before they come to Android. Vine and Whisper were two apps that I had while my Android friends kept waiting for an Android version to come around. I don't really understand why this is just because I understand that it costs money to make apps for the iPhone whereas with Google, I hear it's free to make apps for Android. But possibly it has to do with the tools that are needed as well as the time being that iOS has been around longer than Android and the developers there have had time put into iOS more so than with Android. It could also be the various Android models.

With iOS, you only build apps for three devices, and realistically, it's only two devices. The iPod Touch and iPhone, which are almost the exact same device minus the phone feature, and the iPad. While there are different variations such as a smaller screen for the iPad Mini and a larger screen for the iPhone 5, there's not too much else that changes. Especially in comparison to Android, there really aren't any changes. Apple purposefully made the iPhone 5 screen taller and not wider so that iPhone 4S, 4, 3GS, 3G, and 1st Gen apps could all fit somewhat naturally on the iPhone 5 screen with no gaps on the sides. There was some confusion as my cousin assumed that this was natural for Android to have big gaps all the way around screens for devices such as the Galaxy Note II. However, this wasn't the case. Most apps fit just fine or were made special.

But not all Android devices can get all app updates and it became a hassle. Lots of bugs would arise and app developers couldn't always help each and every person. Google got smarter about this and made sure that the Android Market, now Play Store, specifically stated what model someone was using when they would post a review for an app. This helps, but still, some devices are left in the cold with no changes. I remember with my Chinese tablet, this was the case for some apps. I would run into a problem and no update would ever be released to fix my problem because my device wasn't popular.

The advantage that Android has over iOS in terms of apps is that there are lots of the same types of apps and the store is not regulated as well. The latter can be a positive or negative depending on your personal preference. Personally, for me, I liked having root apps on the Android store. Whereas with iOS, once I jailbreak my device, I'll have to go to Cydia to get my jailbreak-only apps. I also liked it because it seemed like developers had their own choice of what they wanted to post.

Steve Jobs made a big deal over this at one of his conventions where he said that Google allowed porn apps onto their store but Apple would never allow such a thing onto iOS. This is good and bad. For parents, it's great because they don't have to worry so much about what their children are downloading from the store. For adults, like myself, it's great to have Android because I can get whatever it is that I want, in that case, maybe I would like an iPhone porn app. It really depends on personal preference there.

Sound boards and other copyright, questionable content is much more frequent on Android than on iOS. There were apps for downloading music, absolutely free on Android but not so many on iOS for obvious reasons. While there seems to be more choices on Android, apparently Apple has more apps in their AppStore than Android does in the Play Store. But it really didn't seem that way then or now. I find myself not downloading as many apps as I did before.

When I had an iPad Mini and a Galaxy S3, I said that it was a good combination because I had iOS and Android whenever I needed it. Now, I don't feel that way. I'm content with only iOS. I haven't used Android since leaving my S3 and I really don't miss the experience. The iPhone's UI caught on with me as well as its stability.

What I do miss from Android is the customization. That is the one thing that I miss. And I will never be able to truly get it back because Apple will never allow such things to happen on any of its mobile devices. The key to the iOS' great stability comes from the fact that it doesn't allow heavy customization. Everything that runs on the iPhone has been tested and used prior to release so little to no bugs are seen. iOS 7 is full of bugs because it's still in development and that is a beta. The only thing that I can say against this is the infamous Apple Maps fiasco. However, in Apple's defense, it was simply shortsightedness rather than a flaw. While Apple Maps was fairly bad, the cry was more about them ridding iOS of Google Maps rather than Apple Maps itself.

I miss the way that Google seemed to listen to us, users too. Apple listens but in a very creepy way. I remember when I had my iPod Touch and this was when copy and paste still wasn't a function of iOS nor was a customizable background (except the lock screen wallpaper). Eventually, Apple did "listen" to the users and implemented the features. But the hacking community had ported both of these and many other features way before Apple's official release. When Apple finally did release it, they acted as though it was something brand new that the iPhone had never seen before. Google, on the other hand, listens to the users and actively encourages them to implement new innovations to their platform.

In reality, neither is truly better than the other. Both are needed to keep the healthy continuation of competitiveness. If Android had never been developed nor anything like it, I don't think the iPhone would have ever seen changes like customizing the background image or Apple being so ready to add a copy and paste feature. The competition between the two companies is what helps us, as users, have the very best choices for our devices. I would never wish for either of them to fall because they are both needed to continue the ever-changing evolution of the mobile device race.

For me, personally, I enjoy my iOS experience more so over the Android experience. I believe it will always come to personal preference when choosing the best of the two. I think that fanboys from both sides need to try out the other device before trying to put them down. It's amazing what a difference it is to simply read or even witness someone using a device versus actually holding it and using it for a few days to a week.

Which one do you prefer and how long have you been with them?

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