Between iPhone and Android
(The Freeman) - November 13, 2019 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Two mobile operating systems divide the smartphone world today. The only real choices are Android smartphones and iPhones. Here’s how they match up on key aspects of the smartphone experience:

Ease of use. Some people say Apple products just work. It’s certainly true that the iOS interface is easy to use. But so is the Android interface. Frankly, if one uses Android, he won’t have much trouble using iPhone or vice versa. There’s really not a lot that differentiates the two phone operating systems when it comes to ease of use.

Fit, finish and price. The Samsung S7 and the Google Pixel, for example, are every bit as attractive as the iPhone 7 Plus. True, by controlling every step of the manufacturing process, Apple makes sure iPhones have great fit and finish, but so do the big Android phone manufacturers.

Apple makes nothing but luxury phones. There will never be a “cheap” iPhone. Those that don’t want to pay good money for an iPhone may just get a used one.

But decent Android phones can stand side by side an iPhone in terms of function. These may not be as good-looking, but they do the job at a fraction of the price of an iPhone.

Closed versus open systems. The iPhone remains as proprietary as ever. If you’re an iPhone user who wants to buy an Amazon e-book from the Kindle app or watch a Google Play movie using Play Movies, you’re out of luck.

Android is both open source and far more open to alternative applications. Apple hasn’t ported any of its applications to Android and never will. So, if one’s music library is based on iTunes, then he’s locked into iPhones.

A.I. and voice assistants. When it comes to Google Assistant versus Siri, there’s no question of the winner: Google Assistant. It is more than an excellent voice interface to Google search. If one uses Google applications, such as Google Calendar and Google Maps, Google Assistant can make his life simpler.

Say, one is meeting someone for lunch downtown and traffic is awful. Google Assistant will work out that he needs to leave early to make his appointment, and it will notify him beforehand. Now, that is cool.

Siri may have been first to market, but it’s still pretty basic. It’s fine for answering questions, but it’s not really that much of an assistant. Gladly, Google Assistant is also available for iPhones.

Timely updates. When Apple releases a new update or patch, all phones – those that are still supported, anyway – get it. With Android phones… it’s “pray and hope for the best.”

Unlike the iPhone, where every detail is under Apple’s control – with Android, Google supplies the base operating system and some programs, and it’s up to the phone manufacturer to deliver upgrades and patches. With high-end phones, one may get the patches; with all the other Android smartphones, odds are one will never even see a security patch.

Security. It’s not so much that Android has security problems; it’s that Google is more lax than Apple about what applications it will let into its app store. True, the best way to keep malware off one’s Android gadget is to only get apps from the Google Play store; even so, Google reports that 0.16 percent of all apps contain malware.

But an iPhone user shall not get too cocky. There is iPhone malware out there just waiting for an overconfident user to download a dodgy program. Still, iPhones are inherently more secure.

Peripherals. Many people tend to connect their phones to other gear. Here, Android has the advantage. All Android devices use standard USB ports, so there are many gadgets that can connect to one’s phone. With iPhones, one needs something that will connect with its proprietary Lightning port. Another Android advantage is that USB cables and devices are cheaper than their Lightning port cousins.

Battery life and charging. This one’s hard to judge, because every Android phone is different. But with Samsung and Motorola phones, in particular, these Android phones don’t need to be as recharged as often as iPhones. One’s charging may vary, so it looks like a draw here, depending on the phone in hand and how one uses it.

Cloud integration. iCloud continues to be a problem for most people, no matter what platform they run it on. Android, however, is tightly integrated with Google’s applications and services. With an Android phone and Google Now home screen, one also gets access to all the news he needs from the personal (local traffic) to the global (the president’s latest doings).

Google Photos has unlimited storage and includes a decent basic photo editor. True, the iCloud Photo Library is good too, but accessing iCloud across devices is problematic. All in all, for cloud integration, Android is the one to beat.

Videoconferencing. Google can’t seem to make up its mind about its voice, video and IM applications. It seems Google Hangouts is now Google’s master communications application.

With iPhones, it’s Facetime, period. Facetime is a great videoconferencing program. It runs on just Apple platforms, though. bBut if one’s whole family or workgroup is using Apple, they’re good to go.

Cameras. Cameras vary wildly on Android phones. That said, the Galaxy S8, which uses essentially the same hardware as the S7, does seem to be a bit behind the top-of-the-line iPhone 7 Plus. Actually, both cameras are very, very good. While the iPhone is a bit better at most things, the Galaxy models, with their wider-angle lens, are a tad better at selfies.

Software choice. Once upon a time, one could argue that there were better apps on one app store than the other. These days, it’s pretty much a dead tie. Besides, with 2.8 million apps on the Google Play store and 2.2 million on the Apple App Store, it’s not like one is ever going to run out of apps to play with.

Put it all together, and there isn’t a simple, one-size-fits-all basis for choosing between iPhone and Android. Both phone ecosystems have their advantages and disadvantages. It really comes down to one’s budget and what matters most to him. Some say it’s Android, but others can’t be swayed from going for iPhone. ( - Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

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