Android vs. iOS: 9 reasons you shouldn't ditch Google's mobile OS

Apple is making aggressive moves to bring Android users to iOS. Don't buy into the hype.

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Don't take the bait

According to reports, Apple is working on an Android app called ‘Move to iOS’ to ease users' transition off of Android and onto iOS.

If you've been contemplating the move, I'm here to tell you why you should stick with Android.

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Android vs iOS: The file system

Your 128GB iOS device is practically useless as a storage device. You are restricted to iTunes for transferring data to and from an iOS device. You can’t just plug your iOS device to your PC and copy paste files.

On Android you get full access to, and control over, your storage. You can plug in your Android device and copy data the way you do on any storage device. You can even create new folders and then access them from different Android apps.

On Android you can install third-party file managers (counterparts of Finder, File Explorer or Nautilus or Dolphin) and then manage the user data. If there is a file stored on your Android device -- whether it be a movie, song, image or document -- you can access and manage it from such file managers.

That’s not possible on iOS. Even if you install file managers they don’t have complete access to the storage. At most they will have limited access to the Photos library. You are completely locked out of your own files. What’s even worse is that if you do create folders using a file manager, only that file manager will have access to those folders and files. If you install any other file manager, it will be locked out. And once you uninstall the file manager, all your files will be deleted.

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Android vs iOS: Data transfer

iTunes is the only way a user can transfer data between the iOS device and a PC. You have to sync libraries in order to transfer data, which can be lengthy process. On top of that there is no way to sync documents or folders between devices using iTunes.

On Android there are many ways to transfer data between devices. You can plug the USB cable to a PC and copy files as you do on a 'regular' computer. Then there are third party apps like AirDroid that can do the same over wireless. You can even take a backup of your apps using AirDroid.

You can easily create new folder on the device and copy your documents, maintaining the folder structure, and the files will be accessible on the Android device in the same structure.

If you are running Linux and manage to connect your iOS device to the system, you can copy data to the iOS device but iOS won’t recognize your data; you won’t be able to access it.

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Android vs iOS: Digital assistants

The internet is full of videos comparing Siri to OK Google side by side and showing that after all these years Siri still hasn’t learned much. My personal experience bears this out:

When I asked Siri who built the Taj Mahal, Siri opened an excerpt from Wikipedia that had no information on its builder. By comparison, OK Google came back with the name Ustad Ahmad Lahouri, who was chief architect of the Taj Mahal.

When I tell Siri ‘Navigate to Pentagon City Mall,’ she asks which Pentagon city mall and offers two businesses within the mall. When I told Google to do the same it opened the map with directions to the mall in question.

Google does a pixel perfect job when I tell it to ‘send an email to Jennifer and tell her that I will be late.’ Google opens the mail app with Jennifer’s email ID in the address and the message ‘I will be late’ in the message field. It knows what ‘tell her’ means.

When I try the same with Siri, in 90% of the times it does not understand what I am saying. It will write something like this in the message field: ‘And does her I will be late.’ In some cases it will insert the message in the subject field.

When asked who was Mozart, while Google gave me the exact answer, Siri was looking for ‘mose art.’ When asked what is two and two, Google told me it’s 4 whereas Siri was ‘looking the web for what is two into two’.

Google Now
Credit: Google
Android vs iOS: No Google Now

Google has silently created one of the killer apps that everyone else lacks - Google Now. It’s a personal assistant developed by Google that taps into the install applications to pull important information and organize it for you.

Google Now displays information using Cards and once you have configured it properly, telling it what kind of information you are interested in, it will start gathering that information.

One of the most useful features, in my opinion, is the tracking of packages and travel. If you ordered a package from Amazon.com, Google Now cards will show you the status of your package. You don’t have to dig into your email to find the tracking number to check the shipping status.

If you are traveling it will show your flight details through Cards. Since it’s integrated with the OS it will pull location info and warn you to leave home in time so you don’t miss the flight. If there is bad weather, it will warn you.

iOS lacks ‘all’ of it -- at least for now. At the recent WWDC Apple announced that they will be adding similar capabilities to iOS.

Note: There is Google Now for iOS, but it's extremely limited because Apple won't provide it with OS wide access.

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Android vs iOS: iTunes is a mess

If you have more than one computer and you want to ‘sync’ your iOS device from these computers you are inviting trouble. The moment you connect your iOS device to a different computer and attempt sync, the only way for sync to proceed is to ‘erase’ everything that was synced from the previous computer. I have lost a lot of my data due to this issue.

Let me share an anecdote. We were on a road trip. My iPad Air 2 was synced with my Mac Pro at home; it was loaded with videos for my son and over 200 ebooks for me to read. During the trip we wanted to add some music to the device because the T-Mobile network was dodgy in some areas. I connected the iPad to the Macbook, opened iTunes and started a sync. It threw out a warning: “Music, movies, TV shows, books, and tones synced to 'Swapnil's iPad' from other iTunes libraries will be removed and items will be synced from this iTunes library.”

I was trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. If we wanted to listen to music during our trip we had to delete all the movies, music, photos and books that we saved on the iPad. I started to despise iOS from that moment.

Android came to my rescue. I added that music to my Android, without losing any previous data and with greater ease.

Apple Photos
Android vs iOS: Google Photos vs Apple Photos

Bloggers have wasted barrels of ink criticizing how confusing the photo management is on iOS.

Before I bought my iOS device I had only read about it and considered it to be a non-serious issue. I was wrong. When I got my first iOS device I realized how complicated Apple's Photos app really was. There is jargon that no one understands -- albums, collections, photos, moments, Year -- none of which is manageable.

It also appears that the whole Photo experience is created to push people towards using the paid iCloud service, which itself is a disaster.

And if you made the grave mistake of copying any photos to the iOS device using iTunes you can’t delete those photos from the iPad. You will have to plug your iPad into a PC, run iTunes and then delete from there. So if you are away from your PC and running out of space don’t think of deleting some photos to save space. Also don’t even think of borrowing your friend’s PC to do so. All of your data will be wiped off.

Google has seperated Photos from Google+ and turned it into a standalone service; they call it Gmail for photos. And unlike Apple Photos, you can access your photos through a web browser or an app.

Google is doing many more exciting things with Photos and the icing on the cake is that Google is offering unlimited storage for Photos.

iOS mutitasking
iOS vs Android: Multitasking

When Apple introduced multitasking back in 2010 with iOS 4, it was limited to the core Apple apps and very restricted multitasking capabilities were available to third party apps. Apple added new multitasking capabilities in iOS 7 but it was still behind Android. With iOS 9 Apple is once again giving multitasking a push, something they planned last year.

Even just switching between running apps is much easier on Android than on iOS devices. On an iOS device you have to click the home button twice to switch between apps and then scroll, scroll, and scroll from one end to another to switch back to that app that you opened earlier. When you want to switch back to the previous app, again hit the home button twice and scroll, scroll and scroll again.

On Android devices (except for Samsung devices), there is a dedicated soft key (no waste of screen real estate for just one button) for multitasking and you can easily switch between apps from the neatly arranged stack.

On Android, every browser tab gets its own place in the stack so switching between opened websites is also much easier on Android than on iOS where all tabs are squeezed within the tab bar.

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Apple vs Android: Locked walled garden

Apple’s iOS is so locked down that it suffocates an Open Source user like me. Apple doesn’t allow you to install trusted apps the way you can install them on Mac OS X or Windows. You are not allowed to install any app that is not available on App Store. Period.

By comparison, Android is fully open. Android has an option called ‘Unknown Sources’ that is disabled by default for security reasons, but once you enable that option you can install any app that you want. All you need is an .apk file. Copy the file to the Android device, open the file and the app will be installed. There are many open source projects that offer great apps and I can easily install them on Android whereas I can’t do the same on the iOS.

In this way Android also ensures that you are not at the mercy of Google for installing apps. Even if there are apps that Google may not allow in their Play Store you can still install them by downloading them from the developer’s own site. Just make sure to install apps from only developers that you trust and never download apps from random websites.

Android M
The Future: iOS 9 vs Android M

At Google I/O, the company introduced what they called “Google’s Now on Tap”.

To paraphrase what Morpheus from The Matrix: unfortunately no one can be told what Google Now on Tap is all about, you have to see it for yourself. Take a gander at this video of where Google is taking us.