iOS vs Android – which is better?

I often get the question about Android vs iOS and which is better. The short answer is: “neither” or “both” depending on if you want the pessimistic or the optimistic version.

Here’s the breakdown of it:

I’ve been using iOS since the iPhone 1. Just before the iPhone 5 was released, I decided to give Android an honest attempt. I saw that Apple had lagged behind on a lot of features: I had replaced most of the core apps with third party apps – Chrome instead of Safari, Mailbox instead of Mail, Fantastical instead of Calendar – and don’t get me started on the Podcasts app which I seriously hope the whole team at Apple got fired for. Twice. But even though I could switch the core apps out, that didn’t help much as Apple doesn’t let me set those as default. So links from other apps still opened in Safari, though Chrome was my preferred browser. I still had to configure the Mail app with my Gmail account, even though I mostly used Mailbox or the Gmail app to read and write e-mails.

I went for a Samsung Galaxy S3. At first it was awkward, but I thought I could deal with it. Every time I encountered a glitch an Android fan would be “hey, you should download X, it fixes exactly that”. And so I spent hours on downloading apps and customizing the experience so that it would be less awkward.

Using Android instead of an iPhone  was like having driven a sports car on a smooth highway, and then driving a different sports car on a bumpy country road. I ended up going back to iOS.

This year, I decided to give Android another go as the HTC One got really good reviews. That experience was much better and I realized that I didn’t hate Android. I hate Samsung. The HTC One experience was so good that I left my iPhone 5 until recently. What drove me back wasn’t Android or iOS per se, but the fact that a majority of the quantified self devices that I’m trying out only work with iOS.

Here are the things I’ll miss with Android:

– Apps being able to interact with each other, without having to build in explicit support for every app, in each app. I can use Feedly, and from there share directly to Flipboard and Buffer without having to exit the app. On iOS, the support for sharing to Flipboard has to be coded into Feedly (which it isn’t). This means that a new great app on iOS also requires updates for apps I already use in order for them to be able to interact.

– A clean home screen. My iPhone 5 screen looks as if it’ll explode if you just add another app. It’s cluttered and it’s impossible to get the clean, minimalistic look I have on my HTC One. Which is ironic, considering Apple’s minimalistic designs.

I use the same background on both phones. Which looks cleaner and more minimalistic to you?

– Widgets. I loved not having to open the calendar to see my calendar, I just swiped to the screen left of my home screen. Evernote? Don’t have to open it either, the notes are right there on the third screen. To do? Second screen to the left had a full screen Remember the Milk widget with all my todos.

– Google Now. I know that this is available on iOS too, but the whole point becomes moot when you have to open an app to access it. The Google Now widget is a much better assistant than Siri because it’s proactive. I love how, when I switch on my HTC One in a new country, I immediately get the exchange rate of currency X to my own, or a couple useful phrases translated to the local language.

– Voice recognition. Google’s default voice recognition is so much better than Apple’s – especially for me who has an accent as I’m not a native English speaker. The voice control experience is so much better on Android, as it is better of recognizing context and intent. I don’t have to tell it to “search the web” or “google” – Google Now does that automatically when it needs to.

– HTC One specific (I think): being able to snap photos while filming. Great feature, but on the other hand iOS 7 and iPhone 5S will also have this.

– The notification system. Being able to tweak notifications much better than in iOS was very valuable. My phone shouldn’t run my life, it should assist me and make my life easier. The notification system is key here, and Android’s is simply much better. I can choose to have sounds or have the LED blink in different colors, or have the notifications turn up in the notification center – where they are actionable as opposed to iOS notifications that simply start the app in question.

– The universal back button. This is perhaps the single best feature in Android. Being able to go back to the previous app using that button is gold.

Things I won’t miss with Android:

– Pocket dialing. This is an HTC One specific issue, but this is the first smartphone I’ve ever had that has dialled people, move icons around on my home screen and even deleted apps from the tray while the phone has been in my pocket.

– Another HTC One specific issue is that the remote control on the headphones can’t control volume. Nor can it activate voice control. This effectively renders voice control as useless as iOS does Google Now.

– Charging time and battery life. both the Samsung Galaxy S3 and the HTC One charge a lot slower (with the original chargers) than the iPhone 5 does. You can see a comparison chart between the S3 and the iPhone here

– The constant tweaking. Having to download another launcher, a third party keyboard, a screen brightness manager and a bunch of other apps just to get the phone up to a minimum standard is simply not okay.

– Always being second or third. I felt that if someone said “The iOS app is out now, an Android app is coming soon” one more time, I’d go falling down on them. And then there’s issues like the Basis Monitor, who when releasing an Android app actually released a Samsung app.

– Stupid User Interfaces in apps. Android has got a lot of apps, and it’s got a lot of apps made by people who don’t really understand UX. They make apps for themselves, which is a very different thing. The frustration with some apps made me want to poke my finger through my eye, into my brain and swirl it around. Even apps that should be great (Evernote) aren’t. It’s not logical to have to tap a pen icon on a touch screen to edit a note. In Evernote on the iPhone it’s an intuitive tap in the note that allows you to edit it.

All in all: Android today is great. The problem isn’t Android, but clumsy third party vendors like Samsung that bloat it, or HTC that don’t think things through all the way. Had it not been for me trying out stuff like the Misfit Shine, W/Me, Heartmath HRV monitor and mostly any other Bluetooth enabled device, I’d have kept the HTC One as my main phone. Now the iPhone 5 is my primary phone and the Android is the secondary.

If you’re thinking about which phone to buy, and deciding between Android and iOS, I’d say that as long as you go for one of Google’s own smartphones like the Nexus 4 or Moto X you’ll most likely be just as happy as if you had gone for iOS. iOS constrain you more, but it also works better out of the box. Android allows you more freedom, but also requires you to tweak it more. And you’ll always be second when it comes to the great mainstream apps. But you won’t go wrong with Android.

(Unless it’s a Samsung.)

Link roundup May 28, 2013

  1. Violence & Silence: Jackson Katz, Ph.D at TEDxFiDiWomen 

    This is a very interesting talk that nails my issue with the “men’s rights movement”. They’re busy being bitter about women acting and getting recognition (in the form of attention) for it.Also, when thinking about domestic violence as a men’s problem brought an old Radiolab episode to mind. It’s about “the unchangeable nature of male baboons’ violent behaviors” and how it in fact can be changed. Human men are baboons.

  2. Google Glass has been banned from all of Caesars palace and pretty much every strip club & bar. While apps like Winky lets you take photographs with a wink alone, people are getting increasingly worried about privacy with these high-tech eyes around.

    I’m guessing that this ban applies to Memoto too. The point is: no matter what we think about it, “Public Privacy” is a real oxymoron, and as such it never existed. This just makes us really aware of it.


  3. I didn’t really know what to do, so I agreed to see a doctor so that everyone would stop having all of their feelings at me.

    This is a very good account of what it’s like to go through a depression. You do want to read it so you’re prepared when it happens to you or someone you love. It has funny pictures too. Just click and read!


  4. Ministry of Silly Systems
    The blog post Ministry of Silly Systems shows how government agencies are creating the opposite of a simple, delightful, shareable experience. It&#8217;s almost as if they didn&#8217;t want you to contact them. This is exactly how Migrationsverket works in Sweden, except they&#8217;re not this friendly.<br /><br />

    The blog post Ministry of Silly Systems shows how government agencies are creating the opposite of a simple, delightful, shareable experience. It’s almost as if they didn’t want you to contact them. This is exactly how Migrationsverket works in Sweden, except they’re not this friendly.


  5. Android’s Market Share Is Literally A Joke | Tech.pinions – Perspective, Insight, Analysis

    Two farmers bought a truckload of watermelons, paying five dollars apiece for them. Then they drove to the market and sold all their watermelons for four dollars each. After counting their money at the end of the day, they realized that they’d ended up with less money than they’d started with. “See!” said the one farmer to the other. “I told you we shoulda got a bigger truck.”

    John Kirk gives a lot of facts about why the Android market is just like the two farmers above: Android has a bigger truck, but it’s not a profitable market.

  6. The Next Facebook — Medium

    A story from a recent college graduate highlights this difference best: Facebook’s Graph Search was turned on for her and she was amazed at the people she could find. “Mutual friends in the double-digits and identical musical tastes and they like Lost In Translation?!”

    I never thought of Graph Search as being able to find “niches within niches” – but that’s what it’s for. However, just as the article says: Facebook doesn’t have any good way to connect to these people. The next big network will allow that. But I don’t think it will be a new network that does it, it will be one of the existing.

  7. Google ‘s Best New Unadvertised Feature: Photo Search With Visual Recognition

    I’m blown away by the new photo search in Google where it’s recognizing subjects in my own photos

    This is a killer feature in Google+. Although I love Flickr, this makes me want to move all my photos to G+.

  8. Thread: My one talk with Marissa Mayer

    All I remember of it was there came a point in the conversation when Mayer had had enough. She just got up and left. I think the people remaining in the conference room were a little embarassed. Google didn’t do anything to change the BlogThis! button.

    Marissa Mayer worked at Google back when they acquired Blogger. The promised not to change anything, just like Yahoo! now promise not to change Tumblr. Dave Winer’s moral in this story is insightful, and a reminder to all current Tumblr users.

  9. You only get one chance to be a beginner

    This is the time to do the impossible, because you don’t know enough to know what can’t be done yet.

    Simple, beautiful, brilliant. In a lot of cases it’s better to embrace being a beginner instead of fearing it.

  10. HTC First discontinued by AT&T: First ‘Facebook phone’ a flop | BGR

    Our source at AT&T has confirmed that the HTC First, which is the first smartphone to ship with Facebook Home pre-installed, will soon be discontinued and unsold inventory will be returned to HTC

    Ouch for HTC and Facebook. But I’m happy that customers saw through this. Facebook as a launcher? Bad idea. There might come a time when Facebook is everywhere, but I’m happy it’s not here yet.

  11. Seth’s Blog: The reason they call it a browser

    Call it attention inflation. More time spent looking, less time spent clicking. We’re being conditioned to sit back and assume that action is the exception, not the rule.

    Brilliant as he most of the time is, Seth Godin writes about why we interact less even though we spend more time online. This definitely hooks into the UMOT/ZMOT and being context aware, providing the right information at the right time to the right visitor.

  12. Samsung is hurting Android – Opinion – Trusted Reviews

    Here is a dirty secret: it is in Samsung’s interest to damage Android.

    I never realized that Samsung might be trying to hurt Android, but reading this it seems like the perfect strategy. For Samsung. The problem is that to become Apple, you need products that really work – which Samsung doesn’t. The new features on the Samsung Galaxy 4 are disappointing (read: they only work with Samsung’s own apps).


  13. Really small apartments
    These photos tell a story that’s very hard to grasp for someone living in Sweden. Stockholm is the city in the world with the most single-person households (per capita) and living in apartments as small as these is most likely unthinkable for every Swede who has a home. See more at These apartments are so small they can only be photographed from the ceiling – Quartz

Link roundup February 4, 2013

  1. Your own camera drone

    A camera that hovers and follows you, filming video or shooting photos. I’ve been waiting for this product since the Swivl was first introduced. Coming in 2014, read more at Always Innovating’s website.
  2. Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook say they require warrants to give over private content

    Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Facebook all say that they require full warrants in order to provide the contents of emails and messages to government entities, The Hill reports.

    There are still uncertainties about this, as it hasn’t got the full support of the law, but this is good news for all users and for our privacy. However, we will see if this is just lip service or if they’re prepared to fight for it when it gets tried under law, which could cos a lot of money.

  3. Internet Explorer Must Get With The Program – Doktor Spinn

    2. I smell a rat. Why wouldn’t they want to hear what people say? Sure, Internet Explorer isn’t exactly the most popular browser around, but if the browser is truly better, than why not let those who would sing its praise do so?

    Jerry Silfwer points out exactly how Microsoft fails again with Internet Explorer. I have to give credit to the advertising agency for coming up with the nostalgia commercial, or “Internet Explorer Sucks Less” but in the end this points out the problem for all agencies: if the client’s product is a turd, you can come up with all kinds of clever ways of selling it. But in the end, it’s still a turd and people will point that out. If you find yourself stuck fearing “social” campaigns for a client, it’s most likely because the products suck. You and the client either have to be fine with non-social campaigns, or the client has to change the product.

  4. Dear Tim: Open Letter from an iDAD, Apple iOS Parental Controls Needed

    Also, while the ratings on games, apps, movies and TV shows are great, could you amp up your music ratings controls? I want to lock his device down to age-appropriate lyrics.

    I’m sure that the dad who wrote this plea to Apple to “give him more control of his 11 year old son’s iPod” means well, but the results will be less fortunate for his kid. What will this dad do about Safari on said iPod? It can be used to reach any part of the Internet. I can give you URLs that you can surf to that would make even the most horrific “song lyric” look like a Sunday sermon. Remote spying and control don’t inspire trust from the kids. This is just another version of the horrible, horrible “contract” that a well-meaning but totally clueless mom made her son sign to get him an iPhone.

  5. HowStuffWorks “Caterpillar Metamorphosis: The Magic Within the Chrysalis”

    Think of it as recycling — if you drop a plastic bottle off in the recycling bin, it can be melted down into an entirely different shape. This is what happens inside the chrysalis.

    When caterpillars become butterflies, they melt into a pool that’s used to build up the butterfly. If this single fact wasn’t awesome by itself, then get this: they retain memories acquired as caterpillars.


  6. Facebook Brings Back Tag Suggest Facial Recognition For Photos In U.S.

    Facebook’s controversial tag suggest feature for photos, which was temporarily suspended last year amid concerns over the use of facial-recognition technology, is being re-enabled in the U.S.

    This feature was turned off when the EU started probing into it and it was found to be very hard to implement and comply with EU’s privacy regulations. Facebook turned it off completely, for the US too, but now they’re re-enabling it in the US.

  7. Errata Security: Risk analysis v. Downtime

    Thus, when there is a downtime for an hour, you can measure the next few hours to see if customers are coming back to try again later. Even if the effect is only slight, like 5% additional traffic, you’ll tease the signal out of the noise.

    If you make a revenue of $5 million per hour, like Amazon, and you’re down for an hour – will you make it back in the following hours? Obviously not. Thus downtime is extremely expensive.

  8. The Good Night Lamp won’t be KickstartedGood Night LampI was very happy when I found the Good Night Lamp on Kickstarter. This is a product I’ve been waiting for someone to create ever since I saw a prototype to a similar product at The Interactive Institute in Stockholm. However, the sad thing is that this project will most likely not succeed in raising the funds. £360,000 (~567,000 USD) is a very high amount, and it’s always better to start small and then add stretch goals if you reach your first. If people see that the project isn’t likely to succeed, I think they’re less likely to pledge, too.I like the thought behind requesting such a large sum: creating a sustainable company that will survive the first initial boom, making sure that all the backers can buy additional small houses in the future. And maybe it can be done, but you need a different strategy than this.I has a sad, but the team behind the Good Night lamp let me know that Kickstarter was just the first attempt and that they’re set to make this happen. I’m really rooting for them!
  9. Pew Internet Research: 21% Self-Track with Technology
    • 69% of adults track a health indicator for themselves or others.
    • 34% of individuals who track use non-technological methods such as notebooks or journals.
    • 21% of individuals who track use at least one form of technology such as apps or devices.

    This means that 14.5% of American adults use some kind of “new” technology (apps or devices) to track their health. This is a higher number than I’d have guessed. Quantified self is really about to explode.

  10. Why Not Windows?

    Realizing Java represents the wave of the future, Microsoft tried to corrupt it – to lure developers into programming in a “Windows only” version.

    It’s always interesting to read future predictions from the past. This is from 1998, someone who predicted that Microsoft wouldn’t succeed. He was right, but at the same time he bet on the wrong horse. Java died faster than Microsoft.


  11. Do A Bit Of Research On Kickstarter Projects Before You Hand Over $100 For A $15 Watch – The Consumerist

    Fifteen people paid at least $175 for higher levels of sponsorship and additional watches. But as folks on Reddit noticed, the images on this project page look an awful lot like the ones for this watch that you can buy for $29.60 — for two of them. That’s right, these stunningly beautiful watches are going for $15/each.

    You can’t hide from the collective conscience embedded in the hive mind that is the Internet. This scammer var especially stupid, as you don’t get money until the campaign is over – and you’re bound to get busted in a few days if not hours if you try this on big sites like Kickstarter.

  12. E-commerce will make the shopping mall a retail wasteland

    Recent figures indicate that retail space in over 200 shopping malls across the United States are suffering 35 percent vacancy rates or higher.

    Very interesting about how e-commerce is changing, and killing, brick-and-mortar stores and malls. I realized that I’m guilty of this too: the other day I was about to buy a TV. I went to two physical stores, but ended up buying a TV online after researching prices on Swedish price comparison site Prisjakt because it a) was cheaper and b) got delivered to my home for $10 more than a cab ride from the store would have cost me.


  13. Facebook Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2012 Results – Facebook
    • Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.06 billion as of December 31, 2012, an increase of 25% year-over-year
    • Daily active users (DAUs) were 618 million on average for December 2012, an increase of 28% year-over-year
    • Mobile MAUs were 680 million as of December 31, 2012, an increase of 57% year-over-year
    • Mobile DAUs exceeded web DAUs for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2012

    Facebook’s report for the 4th quarter 2012 shows a very interesting break: more mobile daily active users, than web daily active users.

  14. YouTube Set to Introduce Paid Subscriptions This Spring

    As of now it appears that the first paid channels will cost somewhere between $1 and $5 a month, two of these people said.

    Youtube is about to launch paid subscriptions, at least for a select amount of channels. Interesting!

  15. Samsung’s future?

    Arthur C Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” There’s long been talk about flexible screens, and we’ve seen lots of different concept videos – but here is something real being showcased. It’s also interesting to see that the first flexible screens will not be flexible as in “you can bend it anytime” but flexible as in “it has round corners”. This could be Samsung’s salvation in the smartphone battle.


Photo Credit for header image: Julia Manzerova via Compfight cc