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Android vs. iOS, iOS vs. Android. It’s a battle that seems almost as old as time itself by this point, fought on both sides by clutches of feverishly passionate fanboys with only one goal in mind: total mobile market domination. But is either one truly any “better” than the other, and if so, by how much?
In the war of mobile OS vs. mobile OS there’s many different factors that you should consider before making your final purchase, so read on in our guide to find out which overall experience is going to be right for you.
It’s hard to split hairs in this department particularly because over the years and throughout hundreds of revisions, both operating systems have borrowed many of the same tricks from one another’s toolbox.
The notification center in iOS 2.0, which started as a fleeting, jumbled mess of text that was impossible to manage soon morphed into a bastardized version of what Android users already had in 3.0 Honeycomb. Android’s widgets were a wreck, so they looked at how Apple condensed the noise on the user’s home screen and quickly followed suit.
By Android’s latest 6.0 Marshmallow rollout and the arrival of iOS 9, both platforms excel in the category of general usability. Installed on a bleeding-edge device like a Samsung Galaxy Note 4, Marshmallow 6.0 makes it easy for users to acutely customize their experience for everything from the notification center to their home screen with ease, as apps open, close, and swap back and forth with lightning speed.
On the other side of the ring, we have iOS 9. While the OS doesn’t make too many revolutionary improvements to many of the aesthetic changes brought about in its predecessor, this latest version does still take the already-pleasurable operating system to an elevated level of elegance that’s unmatched in the space.
Round One: Draw
Right off the bat, you should know that the iPhone takes this category across the board, and the second place finisher isn’t even close.
These days, the mere mention of Android is enough to get internet security specialists quivering in their boots. It doesn’t seem like a week goes by where we don’t hear about some new attack or root vulnerability in the operating system’s architecture that leaves millions, or even billions of users open to having their personal information hacked.
iOS on the other hand has only experienced two very minor security holes throughout its entire lifecycle, both of which needed a very specific set of steps to happen one after the other to even be effective in the first place. With iOS, Apple has somehow managed to achieve the impossible by creating a nearly 100% virus-free experience, something that not even the most popular desktop-based OS’ like Windows 10 or OSX can claim.
The Cupertino company’s stalwart dedication to keeping its users safe has become the gold-standard, in an industry that has struggled for decades to create a system that was completely and totally hacker-proof. Conversely, the ball that Google has dropped with their own offering has made the threat landscape more dangerous than ever, linking people’s photos, credit card information, and even their fingerprints up to the worst parts of the underground web.
Round Two: iOS
Although Apple has made many much-needed and well-received updates to its notification center over the years, this is one area where the company has always lagged just a little bit further behind its Mountain View counterpart.
One of the greatest motivators for early adopters of Android was its clear and obvious superiority in the space of notifications, with the ability to customize nearly every aspect of the experience down to the nose.
Even now, while the iOS 9 Notification Center is more than well-equipped enough to handle the job it’s been tasked with, Marshmallow’s mastery of notifications is simply unmatched. The double-edged nature of iOS is the same barrier that prevents it from getting infected by just any old app is also what keeps it from being able to reach the bar that’s been set by Android’s own team of engineers working on perfecting how your phone or tablet handles its alerts.
This is a hard one to call, simply for the fact that the lion’s share of apps that are actually any good or worth a user’s time support both Apple’s iTunes App Store as well as Google Play. Sure, it could be said that the App Store gets a few extra points for its market-leading dedication to vetting any and all apps that make it onto the charts for viruses or malware, the sheer volume of apps that are available on Google Play is usually enough to shut anyone on that side of the aisle down in an instant.
Both have their benefits and drawbacks for the same reasons that make the other look worse or better. While Apple’s stringent rules and regulations for entry into their Store make it difficult for indie developers to get their apps featured, Google’s laissez-faire approach to their Wild West-esque marketplace makes it easy for any developer (nefarious or otherwise) to get their apps through the front gates.
For this reason alone, we’re going to call this round as a draw.
Round Four: Draw
Final Score: iOS 2, Android 2
And with that last round in this bout between the two titans of mobile, we come to the conclusion of our OS contest: Both have their merits, and it’s all about what kind of mobile experience you think would fit your lifestyle best.
For smartphone users who prefer to have most of the hard stuff figured out for them ahead of time and a secure place to store your prized photos and contacts, iOS offers a streamlined, one-size-fits-all experience that even the most technologically challenged customer can dive into without reading a training manual first.
For the power-user who prefers to maintain absolute control over their mobile device and use it however they please as soon as it’s out of the box, Android’s endlessly customizable mix of apps and UI tweaks can satisfy any ultra-nerd’s wildest fantasy. That’s what’s great about competition, is that when it comes down to it: it’s all about what you love the most, and who gives it to you for the best possible price, right?