36 Comments

Summary:

After using the iOS 8 beta for nearly a week, it’s clear that some of the reasons to choose Android won’t be valid reasons in a few months. Android still has advantages though, so will you make the switch or stay put?

iOS 8 family sharing

It’s only been a week since Apple debuted iOS 8, but I’ve spent most of that week using the new software. Third-party apps are crashing a bit too much for me to use iOS 8 on a full-time phone — that’s understandable given the beta software status — so I removed it from my iPhone 5s and installed it on an iPod touch. As I said not long after iOS 8 was shown off, I’m impressed by the new features.

ios 8 trio

I think many smartphone users will feel the same way I do. And if you look at the numbers, about 80 percent of smartphone users around the world don’t currently use iOS; they have Android phones. Apple’s new software could change that situation, however, because many of the new iOS features were previously exclusive to Google Android. As Ron Amadeo put in an iOS writeup on Ars Technica, “many of Apple’s announced upgrades were things the Android OS has boasted for years.”

Sure, we could all argue about who borrowed from whom, but at the end of the day, does that really matter to consumers? At this point, most of the major smartphone innovation has come and gone; now companies are down to refining the experience until the next big thing arrives. So when spending hard-earned money on a smartphone, consumers are (hopefully!) going to pick the one that best meets their personal needs. The “best” handset on the market is the one that works best for you.

Some who have used Android in the past think Apple’s new software is now the better choice for them. Case in point: My long-time friend and fellow blogger Dave Zatz, who tweeted this after trying iOS 8:

He later added to that thought, saying “I can’t really justify any other mobile or desktop platform at this point. Assuming a larger screen iPhone.” Boom! If Apple does offer a 4.7-inch iPhone this fall as expected, there’s one less Android user simply based on iOS 8.

One out of hundreds of millions doesn’t mean much, but I suspect Dave won’t be the only person who switches. After all, several of the reasons one might have chosen Android over iOS in the past will no longer be valid once iOS 8 arrives. With an iPhone running iOS 8 you’ll be able to share data with more apps and social networks. Third-party keyboards? Yup, they’re coming. Widgets, too, are an Android staple and Apple is implementing them in the Notification Center for iOS. And Spotlight becomes a more useful universal search feature.

ios 8 spotlight

Android still excels at contextual data, thanks to Google Now. Folks who want to choose from a wide variety of handset hardware will still lean toward Android as well. Put another way, Android still has and will have some advantages over iOS even after Apple’s new software arrives. It will just have fewer of them come this fall.

So how about it: If you use Android today, might you consider switching once iOS 8 launches? Or is Apple’s new software still too confining for you on a smartphone? Leave a comment and vote in our poll; I’m curious if Apple’s presentation has impacted the Android users in our readership.

And before anyone asks, I’m not going to vote. I’m lucky in that I use multiple platforms and devices (that includes Windows Phone) for my job, so I don’t have to choose. In fact, by not choosing, I’ve come to have a deep appreciation for all of the available choices; it’s a good time to be a smartphone user!

  1. “Sure, we could all argue about who borrowed from whom, but at the end of the day, does that really matter to consumers?”

    Ironically, Apple sure seems concerned with who borrowed from them as evidenced by their constant lawsuits.

    While I’m glad to see iOS finally catching up and adding some features that Android has had for years (competition is good for us all), I still have no desire to give up the freedom of Android for Apple’s walled garden.

    Reply Share
    1. Apple is not interested in fandroids as customers.
      The first and foremost reason is that they are cheapskates.
      iOS devs earn 5x more than ‘android’. (It would be higher if fandroids could find a way to steal apps.)
      http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-the-difference-in-developer-revenue-between-android-and-ios-2013-11
      This is why the best apps hit iTunes first.

      Fandroids are also not the brightest bunch, let’s be honest.
      Just go to any YouTube video or any article that mentions Apple and take a look at how many trolls infest the comments sections. Not exactly the intellectual creme de la creme. 99% of internet trolls are fandroids. I wouldn’t want these people as customers either.

      The objection to Apple’s “walled garden” is a smoke screen. Fandroids resent it because it is designed to keep out the low-lifes and bottom feeders. As mentioned, there’s no way to steal from iTunes.

      For these reasons Apple makes more money than all of the Android smartphone makers COMBINED.
      http://www.forbes.com/sites/tonybradley/2013/11/15/android-dominates-market-share-but-apple-makes-all-the-money/

      There IS however one area that ‘android’ does beat Apple:
      http://www.zdnet.com/android-fragmentation-turning-devices-into-a-toxic-hellstew-of-vulnerabilities-7000028342/

      Reply Share
  2. No. Apple’s walled garden means Android for me. Android is the platform for the free.

    Reply Share
    1. The last time I checked, Google is not on charity business. At least Apple is pretty clear about there business, they want you to buy there device. How about in Android? Are you sure your not giving up anything ;-)

      Reply Share
  3. lol Apple adding a handful of features still leaves it light years behind and at ridiculous prices, you have to be a bit off to even ask this question.

    Reply Share
  4. Brett Johnson Monday, June 9, 2014

    I could use at least two different platforms since I carry two devices all the time but after using the alternatives I would rather just have two different Android phones. That looks an awful lot like Touchwiz !

    Reply Share
  5. I use different OSs for my phone and tablet . . . Android and Win8.1. iOS doesn’t offer me anything (nor does OSX). I can see iOS8 slowing the flight from iOS to Android because it is catching up feature wise and first time buyers might be swayed but what is there to attract someone with an Android (or Windows) phone?

    Would I trade in my Nexus for an LG or HTC or Samsung? Maybe. My apps would still work; my cables would still work; my USB keys would still work. I’d only need a new case and I don’t use cases. If I went to Apple, none of my stuff would work. I’d have to start over.

    Since I don’t use any Apple infrastructure (like iTunes) I wouldn’t see any benefit to switching. I’d have to pay more for less in order to impress my barista. Not my cup of Frappuccino.

    Reply Share
  6. Personally, I’m going to wait until Google I/O to decide. However, no matter what happens I’m going to keep my Nexus 5. What has impressed me is that Apple have released so many features in iOS 8 and I think got security spot on. If Apple comes out with a bigger iPhone (which I think they will), I will use an iPhone as my primary device. I’ll keep my Nexus 5 for development purposes but use my iOS device as my primary mobile device.

    People mention that Android is free, but what does “free” really mean. The open source Android codebase has been stripped of any decent consumer quality apps by Google. Apps like Calendar, Text Messaging etc have been replaced with proprietary Google apps. If a company want’s to use those apps they have to pay a Google Tax so Android really isn’t free.

    Apple may have a walled garden but they are building more entrances into the garden. And unlike Android, iOS is more secure. If there is an OS exploit, if you’re not using a Nexus device, who knows when you will receive a patch. The carriers have no incentive for pushing out an update. iOS on the other hand will receive the patch as soon as it’s available or worst case, much sooner than Android.

    The bottom line is that Google needs to bring they “A” game at Google I/O. If die hard Android developers and users like myself are taking a serious look at iOS, then Android will lose users. Don’t even mention the developer story for iOS which is MILES ahead of developing for Android. Developing for iOS now that “Swift” has been released along with the new XCode 6 and other tools make developing for Android seem like a major step back in my opinion. I’ve developed for both platforms.

    Reply Share
    1. “Free” to me means several things.

      1) not paying money. I’ve had iOS, Windows Phone, and Android, and for every app that I used on iOS or Windows, there was a free equivalent on Android. Sure I might see an ad or two, but 1) that’s not a big deal, 2) if the ads get annoying, I look for a better app (and not only do most devs know this and keep ads unobtrusive, I’ve never been disappointed in finding an equivalent), and 3) it’s a better business model for developers. That last point could be argued, but I believe free with ads or in-app purchases encourages app distribution better than paid apps, and this is the dominant model with the Android user and dev base.

      I’ve developed for iOS and Android, and Objective C is a nightmare. Maybe it’s just that I need more time with it, but writing apps for Android is much easier. Also, the ability to install apps in developer mode – that is huge for me. Can’t really do that with iOS. And why must I own MacOS if I want to publish an iOS app? (Hint: I do own a Mac. Just don’t see the requirement here.)
      So, 2) more freedom over development, and 3) freedom over app installation.

      Also, 3) the ability to root (and stay rooted after an OS update), and a) freely tether or b) freely replace my default dialer and call via VoIP apps or c) freely install another ROM, like CyanogenMod.

      Regarding security… Security, in my opinion, is really up to the user. If one is knowledgeable, then one will generally know how to manage their own security and privacy, so I really don’t buy the “iOS is more secure” argument. (Hint: I work in I.T. security. I have never used antivirus on any of my personal machines (I also use Windows and Linux) and we highly encourage education security at work for our end users more than anything else. Security really all boils down to knowing what to trust when your make decisions during your computing experience.)

      And to @Hildy J’s point, if I went back to iOS, NONE of my things would work. USB devices? Gone. Charging cables that work with all my other hardware devices? Gone. Just to name a few. So, 4) the ability to freely use chargers and data cables from one device with another. (Great for packing light.)

      And while were talking hardware devices, 5) the ability to freely choose my own device and form factor and manufacturer, specific for my needs.

      So that’s what I personally mean by “free”. I’m sure there are some advantages and also some disadvantages that I’m missing, but those are the ones that stick out to me regarding the concept that Android is “free”. Maybe “open” would be a better term. Which showcases Apple’s walled garden.

      Reply Share
      1. “Open” I think is a better way of presenting or describing Android than “Free”. In terms of security, is it fair to expect a 16 year old kid who just got their first Android phone to be knowledgeable about protecting themselves? Most of the people who use Android isn’t technologically savvy enough to know how to protect their personal information on their device. It might be an education thing but for the most part iOS protects you from having to worry about that. Most people in the US get their phones from carriers and the carriers have no incentive to upgrade the OS so if there is a security issue then consumers suffer. My mom isn’t going to know how to protect personal information if there is an OpenSSL defect in the OS. The only way to fix that is to upgrade the Android OS and the carriers aren’t doing that.

        A lot of things you mention like flashing ROMs etc are not for mainstream users. My mom isn’t interested in doing that. I’m glad we have multiple platforms to choose from. I hope Windows Phone gains marketshare because it’s important to have competition. Not only that, because of the competition Microsoft is doing really innovating things with their AI on the phone and at least they give you an option on what their AI will keep track of for you.

        I will admit, Objective-C isn’t the easiest language to digest, but with the combination of the Swift programming language and all the tools that Apple released and improved, developing for iOS will be much, much more pleasant.

        Overall you make some great points. Most of them are the reason I chose Android in the first place and why I own a Nexus 5.

        Reply Share
        1. Exactly, Chem.

          A 16 year old doesn’t need to know every thing about security, but, if it were *my* child, I would opt for an OS that encourages him or her to learn about security, rather than “dumbify” the computing experience. Learning how to make wise computing decisions is paramount.

          For example, my dad, on an iPhone, received an SMS message from a friend saying something like “Hey [first name], I have a new app to manage my birthday contact list, and I want to add you to my list. So I can do that, please click here and download the birthday contact app. [Short URL]“.

          Turns out, this was an app that requested access to my dad’s contacts, and then started sending, on my dad’s behalf, similar SMS messages to all my dad’s contacts, asking them to do the same. As soon as I received the SMS from my dad, my security alert antenna went up, and my first course of action was to actually call my dad and ask him if he recently installed an app on his phone. We got to the root of the problem, the damage had already been done (info from his contacts had just been lifted), but a valuable lesson about trust was learned. My point here is that it really doesn’t matter was the OS is, what matters is how you use it.

          Things like heartbleed or man in the middle attacks or eBay asking everyone to change their passwords … These all depend on trust of third parties in the system, which is knowing who to trust, and even when to trust them.

          Nevertheless, if a carrier is slow on updating a security flaw within Android, this is one more reason to favor hardware devices that are capable of running other Android ROMs, like CyanogenMod. I’ll happily put CM on a phone and give it to my wife to use as her phone, and install a nightly update that addresses any potential security issues.

          And yes, I do hope Windows comes back. Competition is always good, and Windows Mobile was what got me started in my first mobile devices back in the day.

          And yes, I do hope Swift brings some positive changes to the iOS and Mac development experience.

          Reply Share
          1. Great points. I wish everyone had someone like you who could warn them of security issues. Your points basically reenforced to me that most main stream Android users should be extremely concerned. What happened to your dad could not happen on iOS or Windows Phone for that matter because of how their respective security systems work. Well, that is, unless their phones were rooted.

            Also, most people will return to their carrier to try to fix issues with their phones if something is wrong. If you flash your phone and put CyanogenMod on it then you void your warranty. So I guess with great power comes great responsibility. With the OpenSSL issue, it’s an OS vulnerability, therefore, only an upgrade to the OS can resolve it.

            If I buy a car, is it a good idea to know something about how the engine works? Sure it is, but most people don’t so that’s why they go to a mechanic. We can’t expect normal (people outside the tech industry) to know about the all the features or security issues with a phone. People have had cable TV with fancy features for many years and don’t even know what all the buttons on the remote control can do. I just think it’s unrealistic to expect main stream consumers to know everything about protecting themselves on their mobile devices. The companies that provide the OS and hardware should be doing more.

            Maybe the solution is to teach users about the security implications of using any mobile device, whether it’s iOS, Android on Windows. So in essence, you nailed it. Education is the key.

            Reply Share
            1. But you also nailed it: When education is not feasibly attainable (for example, when market adoption of a device into the tech ecosystem takes precedence over educating users on how to properly use said device within that very tech ecosystem, which could be a challenge because it is constantly evolving, and all the security issues that one can face…), the companies providing the OS and hardware should be doing more.

              That is, if people value their data and their privacy as we do, and they voice those concerns to the providers of components that make up and work within the tech ecosystem.

              I do think most providers are trying their best to step up their game. I mean, look at the early Windows 2000/XP/IE6/ActiveX days, when practically everyone was vulnerable. Microsoft thankfully decided it was critical to put security first, and I think they did step up to the challenge as best as anyone could. Unfortunately they were the scape goat in that era and got a bad wrap for having bad security, but I’d much rather the dominant cashcow Microsoft have that problem than a smaller company without the financial resources to put security at the forefront. Fortunately, this allowed many to wake up regarding security, and many companies now work together.

              But back to the polling question: For me? It’s Android. For many of the reasons above. For others, I do hope they accept the responsibilities of whatever device they choose, and don’t stop learning about how to properly use it. One bad decision (like my dad inadvertently and indirectly leaking all his contacts’ mobile numbers to a company will ill intentions) can affect everyone else. And if something happens to you (either directly or indirectly), 1) know how to respond to safeguard what is valuable to you, and 2) try to even prepare beforehand, if possible. Examples: donotcall.gov, a spare Google Voice number, protect your real email address, etc.

              Share
  7. I might switch if their midrange phone didn’t cost twice as much AND make me look like a cheapskate.

    Reply Share
  8. Matthew DeGeorge Monday, June 9, 2014

    I have used Android since my T-Mobile G1 in 2008, then the G2,Galaxy Nexus and my current phone a Nexus 4 and it fit my needs. I also own a Macbook Pro and the IOS 8 Continuity feature may have just changed all that and will most likely get me to switch.
    Forget Windows phone, I got burned by them on my Casio Cassiopeia E105 and Windows CE then my Tmobile Dash and WM 6.0 (which still works BTW) so I’m done with anything Windows and mobile.

    Reply Share
  9. Jeffrey Todd Monday, June 9, 2014

    I must not understand the Continuity feature. My Android phone and Chromebook seem pretty integrated.

    Reply Share
  10. I probably wont. I spent 150 on my last android phone. It works. I do very little on it except make phone calls and maybe read a few emails and google plus. I do very little typing (typing on small keyboards is tough) – I use voice to text when i can. Otherwise i use my tablets or laptop (MBP) or PCs. Even on my tablets, i do very little typing.

    Reply Share