So, why not iOS?

android-desktopLast time I wrote about the shortcomings of Android’s permission system and how iOS sandboxing is inherently more secure. So why not use iOS? What does Android have that iOS doesn’t?

The first answer is subjective and may be heresy to Apple fans. In my opinion, Android simply looks better. You can do more to customise your device, and iOS is starting to look a bit dated. In addition, the things that make Android look better also add functionality.

I’m talking about widgets, the things you can add to your desktop. Take a look at the example shown here. The nicely transparent weather display is mainly aesthetic, but the others are functional. There are quick toggles for wifi and bluetooth, a twitter widget that shows recent tweets and the shortcut widget for Evernote. This is particularly handy and a good example of the functionality – rather than simply launch Evernote, I can jump straight to adding a new note or searching notes. Not a big deal, but one less tap or swipe.

Information widgets like the ones for twitter and email give you the information at a glance without even having to launch the apps. The toggle widgets save me from rooting around in settings to turn off bluetooth or wifi. OK, so iOS has that functionality in the swipe up from the bottom of the screen, so I’ll concede a draw on that one!

Apple have always cited battery concerns as a reason for not offering similar functionality, but with Android you have the choice. Of course lots of widgets constantly being updated will affect battery, but it’s a trade off that the user can make with Android. With iOS, as is typical of Apple, that decision is made for you. Like it or lump it.

ios-desktopIt’s not like the functionality does not exist – it’s just that it’s only available to Apple developers and as far as I know third party apps can’t use it. Look at the clock and calendar app icons on the crop of an iOS desktop shown here – they’re live and they update to show the correct date and time. Apple could easily offer the same APIs to third party developers. OK, it might only allow for icon sized widgets, but it would be a start.

There are also some purely aesthetic things that I personally think Apple have got wrong. Look at the translucent dock at the bottom of the screen – it hides your wallpaper and makes the screen look smaller when compared to the full transparency of the Android equivalent. App icons are also forced to use the full box with no transparency – compare the safari icon with the chrome icon on Android.

Those are minor details, and the main thing is the functionality that widgets bring to Android. The forthcoming release of iOS is supposed to add some level of widget functionality, but only to the pull down notification screen. It will still be interesting to compare iOS 8 on the new iPhone with the forthcoming Android L release.

My bet is that Android will still have an edge in both form and function.


in Mobile

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