iOS 5 from an Android owner’s perspective


Apple (s aapl) outlined several new features at WWDC on Monday that will arrive with iOS 5 later this fall, which address some of my own issues with the platform. There are a number of similarities to functions from other mobile operating systems, but that shouldn’t surprise, based on this Steve Jobs quote from 1997’s Apple developer event: “If we can be much better without being different, that’d be fine with me.”

I migrated to Android (s goog) when it became mature enough for me. That was in January 2010, with the purchase of a then-cutting-edge Nexus One handset, complete with Android 2.1. I was enthralled with the nearly unlimited personalization options as well as the support for — perhaps even encouragement of — custom ROMs, that unlock a device sort of like jailbreaking does for an iPhone. It wasn’t until then that I realized how little I cared for the iPhone’s notification system, and how much I appreciated the deep integration of third-party apps in Android. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that I’ve been using Google services full-time for several years, in which case, Android provides me a better experience.

In general though, I’m impressed with what Apple has done. I don’t think it’s enough to sway me back to using iOS full-time, but it’s darn close. Here’s why, from the standpoint of someone who has used Android phones for the past 1.5 years, while supplementing the experience with an iPad and iPod touch.

Notifications are no longer disruptive

Yes, they may look and work just like Android, but the new iOS 5 notifications fix the age-old problem of being too disruptive and difficult to manage. They appear on the iOS lock screen, where you can swipe to unlock the device and go directly to the app that notified, and they appear in a list instead of just one at a time. In a way, this is similar to HTC’s Active Lockscreen I showed Monday on video, but much more powerful, since HTC’s version is limited to four specific apps of the user’s choosing. It can’t display notifications on the lock screen, either.

By building the Notification Center window-shade, iOS 5 allows notifications to appear briefly, then disappear on their own, which is far less disruptive. And since such notifications aren’t lost forever, users can manage them when they see fit, not when iOS does. It’s a much more elegant and effective system: Precisely like Android’s, with the added benefit of notification management from the lock screen. I would like to see a way to clear all notifications with one tap, however.

Twitter integration is a start, but…

One of the Android features that iOS users may not be aware of is how Android integrates third-party apps for sharing. Google’s platform does this natively. Once an app such as Twitter, Facebook, or Flickr is installed, it immediately shows up in the list of share options for photos, the browser, or Google Maps, for example. No additional input from the user is required.

Apple has taken a step in this direction by adding Twitter integration in iOS 5, and while it’s welcome, it’s just a start. For other sharing services, users will have to install bookmarklets or turn to email. That lack of integration caused me to add a Flicker upload email address as a contact to my iPhone in the past. Since there was no way to share photos with Flickr directly, I had to come up with a workaround. My hope is that as iOS matures, the sharing options are less controlled by the operating system, and are simply enabled through the installation of third-party apps.

Music in the cloud sounds great

When I called for music collections in the cloud two Decembers ago, I was summarily dismissed, but a billion dollar data center and 18 months of time heals all wounds. Apple’s new iCloud service will store music purchases and enable downloads to devices on demand; you can already get a look at the service on current iOS devices. In fact, I did just that, and found a few albums that got lost in the shuffle as I’ve moved between various computers over the years. Thanks to the new feature, I regained those albums purchased prior through iTunes.

Both Google and Amazon (s amzn) recently started similar services for Android devices, and I’ve taken full advantage of each. One benefit over iCloud is that both are hybrid services: Your music is stored on the web but can also be streamed as needed — handy for when you’re low on storage. Since Amazon couples its Cloud Player with its Amazon MP3 store, I’ve chosen that over Google Music for now. Still, iOS 5 comes close to parity with iCloud and support for iTunes on Apple’s servers. And kudos to Apple for iTunes Match, the service that adds your ripped music to the cloud without requiring uploads. It’s a safe bet that Apple worked this feature out with the recording labels while Amazon and Google didn’t, a very likely reason why both currently require you to upload your music collection before you can access it.

Wireless sync for all

Speaking of music, native synchronization with iTunes is welcome in iOS 5. As an Android owner, I almost never sync my phone to a computer; at least not with a cable. Instead, I’ve relied upon doubleTwist, which can shoot, playlists, music and video files from a computer to an Android phone over Wi-Fi. The software added support for wireless streaming and AirPlay as well, making it a full-featured solution.

Given that history, I really don’t like connecting my iPod touch or my iPad to a computer for syncing. That goes away with iOS 5 and a new version of iTunes. Gone, too, is the computer from the setup equation for iOS 5. Instead of connecting a new device to the computer for setup and sync, iOS 5 will support direct setup over a wireless network, akin to how Google Android devices have worked since launching in 2008.

iMessage or Google Voice?

I haven’t used BlackBerry’s Messenger (s rimm) service extensively, but iMessage in iOS appears extremely similar. It’s almost a cross between text messaging and IM, complete with read receipts if desired and activity icons to see when the other party is typing. While that sounds great, it illustrates why I never used BBM: The service has always been limited to BlackBerry devices. Apple’s iMessage has the same limitation with support for iOS-to-iOS communications through Apple servers, although it’s supplemented by standard text messaging on the iPhone.

iMessage is sort of like my current setup with Google Talk and Google Voice. I use Google Talk on my handset, but also within iChat on OS X via a Jabber configuration. And Google Voice has been my go-to text messaging service for well over a year. No matter what device I’m using — mobile or desktop — I can send and receive free text messages to any phone on any platform. Apple’s iMessage still looks appealing however, as it integrates FaceTime and email options in a conversation. Of course, I’d like FaceTime much better if Apple had worked to make it an open standard by now, as promised during the service launch.

How compelling is iOS 5 for Android users?

I’m a huge believer in using the right tool for the task, especially when it comes to personal decisions about mobile devices and platforms. That’s why in the past three years, I’ve personally bought phones that run iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7 (s msft), and webOS (s hpq). Many of the reasons I looked away from iOS and toward Android have been addressed by iOS 5. And to be honest, it really doesn’t matter to me who created a feature or function vs. who might have copied or borrowed heavily. At the end of the day, if the smartphone is improved and meets my needs, that’s all that counts.

Will I switch from being primarily an Android phone owner to one who uses an iPhone? That depends on few things, and although I didn’t cover all of the new iOS 5 features, there’s much to like.

I’m not sure I can live without the useful widgets that Android supports, but perhaps that’s a feature Apple is still working on with iOS 5. Hardware, too, will play a part in my decision; the next iPhone is sure to have a dual core processor and improve in other ways, but I still think there’s room for a 4-inch iPhone, and I prefer a larger screen. I’m also not sure I want to give up Google Maps navigation and I had hoped that improved voice recognition that rivals Android’s would appear in iOS 5.

Regardless of my future phone choice, even as a heavy Android phone and tablet user, iOS 5 looks to offer an improved experience that’s worth strong consideration. And strong consideration is what I’ll give the next iPhone, whenever it happens to be announced, because there’s room for several great mobile platforms in the growing smartphone space.



Thats a perfect story. Specially, I liked the part: At the end of the day, if the smartphone is improved and meets my needs, that’s all that counts. Thats 100% correct. Till date, I luv iOS but also miss some android features like Widgets, Customization etc.

Jack W

I’ve been using both iPhone and Android and I have to say what I love the most about using an open system is the freedom, mainly its easy connectivity, customization, drag n drop files transfer, app installation, oh and Google Voice too. Well I have to say i’m quite a techie user who tinkers around a bit. iPhone no question has better UX overall. Saying that, I think I’ll stick with Android, but for ordinary users like my mom, iPhone will do just fine.


Like it or not Flash is the dominant technology.
His bank shouldn’t have to change Jobs should take that stick out of his ass.
It’s like Jobs can’t handle technology so he acts like a child who needs to get his way.
Typical developer who lacks social skills


I think this is absolutely comical. Oh, a pull down menu with functional notifications, what a novel idea! Bullshit. Oh, right from a picture you can tweet, yey! Looking at the options on my thunderbolt from a picture I can tweet, hack your iphone from 4g, and make toast. If you were an android user, and htc user, as they have ports of sense for the nexus one, you would know that sense shows the latest text message right on your lockscreen, so get your facts straight. Also I am running sense 2.1 with the sensations 3.0 lockscreen (thanks team bamf) and from the lock screen I can go directly into what ever 4 applications I assign to it, so once again what the shit apple? The biggest complaint android I’ve heard is the polish. And running the beta on my 3gs is really laggy as of now, so we’ll see.

Kevin C. Tofel

You did see the mention (along with a video link) to HTC Sense 3.0 in the article, yes? ;)

Bear in mind that “Sense” does not equal “Android” for folks not owning an HTC phone (which is tens of millions), so while HTC’s interface brings excellent UI enhancements, it doesn’t bring them to all Android phones. I had to install a custom ROM on my Nexus One to get Sense about year ago, but most folks can’t/won’t do that.


Yes but you specifically mentioned HTC in your article. I just don’t want to confuse people who are really trying to make an inform decision to simply conclude that iOS 5 simply does things that HTC devices do not, because obviously this is not the case. We can all agree that the iOS polish and marketing has been its selling point. And truth be told, if iOS did have the functionality and personality of Android or HTC sense 2.0, 2.1 or 3.0, a market would not exist for Android devices based solely on the fact iOS is made for a wider spectrum of consumers.

Getting off topic. I don’t hate iOS by any means, as you can see my videos of my iphone 3gs on my youtube channel, however, if we are going to be open about stealing each others software, and not bring up stupid lawsuits like apple tried to do to google for multitouch in the beginning, then lets openly call iOS 5, Apple’s And_iOS 5 Honeycomb.


And just to troll a little bit more, HTC does in fact equal android as explained clearly by HTC’s late revenues and Android device sales.

Kevin C. Tofel

You said “troll,” not me. ;) So you’re implying that the entire Android smartphone market is comprised of HTC handsets? Factually, it’s not.

In any case, the point of the article is that iOS 5 has addressed some of the gaps I have with it, as an Android user. Some of these are already native to Android, while some, as you’ve pointed out, are addressed by handset makers and third-party software, which I agree with.


We can argue about details all day long. The updates regarding deeper photo/twitter integration and a modified notification system really are more fixes than intuitive additions. The red eye reduction and cropping could already be accomplished with 3rd party apps and could be avoided if the flash were further away from the lense. All in all iOS all versions is simple, functional, and beautiful. However, the OS is stale. Same old day in and out. Same home screens. Same Google search. Same lack of navigation functions and deeper 3rd party integration for those who want it. Clouds are nice, but late. What would make me want to buy any iOS device over say the sensation or the galaxy s2 which allow mass storage USB connectivity, Amazon and Google cloud services, larger screens for my fat fingers, ability to flash new OS’s or customize my interface to the way I want it, and for God’s sake let me watch a flash video? The answer is absolutely nothing, and I really feel bad for those who fall right into marketing schemes. Hell I did 2 years ago with the hype of the 3gs. iPhones are great phones with a lot of new fixes and updates. But they definitely don’t offer up what recent android and web OS devices do besides millions of apps that just take up precious storage space that keeps me from loading Fergilicious on it.


I have a MyTouch 4G from T-Mobile running Android 2.2. I guess I must be missing the great Android experience because T-Mobile has this phone so locked down that I can’t even delete the crapware they installed. My battery life sucks unless I turn everything off, turning it into a dumb phone. Don’t even get me started on Flash.

From what I’ve seen in the market, most of the apps are stuff that wouldn’t even make into the App Store. The only apps that I’ve found useful are the common ones like Evernote, DropBox, Facebook, and Twitter. Actually using Twitter on my Android is a pain since the widget is nearly worthless. I might as well open the regular app.

The bottom line is that if my phone is classic Android, you can keep it, I need something that will work with my workflow. Thank God, I’ve got an iPad, my phone is a poor paper weight.


Mark, I hear you.
We just replaced our iphones with MyTouch 4G from T-Mobile. My wife uses the stock MyTouch 4G, while I flashed it with a modified ROM (Cyanogen 7.0). Wife complains till date about the battery life and choppy performance.

On the other hand, I have a different experience with great battery life, several different ROMs that I boot into for occasional fun, and am blown away by the kind of customization one could achieve on these devices. Apps that allow you to backup/restore data onto SD card, etc.. are amazing. Is this for everyone, absolutely no. My wife misses her iPhone, and I cant imagine going back.

My observation is that Apple is dedicated in supporting every aspect of its offering (hardware + software + services), while Android ecosystem is loosely coupled with OS being developed by Google and hardware (and crapware UI wrappers) being designed and manufactured by HTC/Samsung/others. A user who enjoys assembling and customizing these pieces will have fun with Android, everyone else will have to wait for a few years till someone ties these things together in the android world.

All said, there will always be room and need for more than one OS. I can see that iCloud will not work for me, as I will be using a mixed set of hardware in my household.

Great article that echos my experience.


A really good and sincere piece Kevin. I have also long been torn on whether to switch over to an iPhone from my Android and I was pretty excited to see some of the new features from Lion, the iCloud, and iOS. We have used Apple computers exclusively for years (think back to the II ci, but at this point, I am really tied into Google (though I haven’t made the full switch to Google Voice yet). I’m a grad student, I teach and I’m married with kids. That’s a lot of assignments and schedules to keep up with. I use a lot of Google technologies with my classes, all of whom seem to have a Google account. I use the calendar in addition to the syllabi, assignments can be opened and saved on Google docs. Many of them also use Android-based phones. And there’s all those third party apps that I’ve found helpful– grade books, attendance apps– all on my phone.

And then there’s Google Talk, Google Books, Google Reader– all of which I use regularly, along with the ability to multitask. And now Google music . . .

As an Apple user for so many years, it surprises me that I’m still reluctant to make the switch to the iPhone. I probably would have had the iPhone been on Verizon from day one, but I wasn’t willing to make the switch to ATT.

At first glance of the new iOS, I thought, great I can get my iPhone now. But deeper looking still shows that Google and Apple aren’t fully compatible, yet.

Kevin C. Tofel

Thanks Allison. I’m in the same boat as you, although I don’t teach and I dropped out of grad school. ;) Seriously, I’m embedded in Google services for many things, both personally and professionally. That’s what got me to look at Android to begin with when I started to not like a few of the iOS functions. But iOS 5 addresses many of those issues, so the dilemma becomes exactly what you outlined: use iOS and lose some Google functionality / ease-of-use or stick with Android going forward. It’s a difficult decision made more difficult by the new iOS 5 features; and I’m betting there’s a few more held back that we’ll hear about with the launch of the next iPhone. ;)


Hey, Allison

I am a teacher as well. Which third party apps do you use for grade books and attendance? Also, thanks Kevin, objective as always.


Will, sorry I was out of town. On the Android Market, there’s two apps: once called Attendance and the other is Grade book; both are by Android for Academics.

These are simple to use. I made a class list on Google Docs (spreadsheet) and named it. Then the app asks for the name and uploads it. Simple to use and the changes show up in Google Docs in read time. Pretty nifty.

Richard Garrett

One of your best efforts yet, Kevin. I hope NY Times reprints it. You’ve offered clarity and a lack of bias that should be useful to anyone faced with a platform decision in the next few months.

Kevin C. Tofel

If the piece offered clarity and value to anyone debating between the two for their own use, then mission accomplished! Thanks, Richard. :)


I think most of the smartphone owners have an opinion about the OS provider equally as they do about the features.

I can only speak for myself. Generally speaking I would not touch an iPhone. Just because I have my view about the company and the opposite about what Android give us.
That said … if iPhone had provided phone capabilities in 5-6″ screen, I am sad to say that I would probably own one.
So – its a mix of perception and features. Luckily for me at least based on my perception and feature list, its going the same way.


Nice piece. If there’s a healthy fight in the OS space, then consumers will get great choices. iOS needed a real push to develop as they were cruising high altitude with no competition. Apple’s way of recognising competition (Android, rightly so) is to improve themselves. Love SJ quote. There’s another version. ‘Being better is more difficult than being different’. There you go. /


“And to be honest, it really doesn’t matter to me who created a feature or function vs. who might have copied or borrowed heavily. At the end of the day, if the smartphone is improved and meets my needs, that’s all that counts.”

True words indeed.

Antonio Correnti

As Kevin said you should buy the phone with the OS that meets your needs.
I have to buy a new smartphone because my old one was stolen in Malaysia. I will stick with Android by buying a Samsung Galaxy S2 for now. I cannot live without maps navigation, voice search, hdmi output, usb host and custom keyboards. When I will need to buy a new phone in the following years I will evaluate what the market offers. No fanboyism, just choose the best value for you.

Lucian Armasu

I think Apple is once again trying to lock people in, this time through their own “iCloud”. The cloud is supposed to work across all devices, not just Apple devices. That’s the whole point of the cloud.

Google is certainly not perfect, but when it comes to improving the web, you should bet on Google, because they have a strong profit incentive to do that, while Apple and Microsoft don’t.

Apple just want to sell their devices, so they’ll always try to lock you in as much as possible, while Microsoft will always want to keep selling Windows licenses, and they’ll try to improve the web a bit too, or at least not fall too much behind, but expect to see some proprietary stuff from Microsoft with IE10 and Windows 8. They’ll try to make a version of the web that works a certain way only on IE10 and Windows 8. It’s in both Apple’s and Microsoft’s interests to lock you in, because improving the web is not ultimately their goal, but just a mean to an end, while for Google, improving the web is their main priority.

So yes, Apple’s service is called iCloud but I’d be very wary of calling it an actual cloud service. All their “cloud” services are native apps and all they’re doing is syncing the data, and they don’t even stream your music. So in a way it is a cloud, but in many ways it’s not, at least not like a true cloud is supposed to be, where you only use stuff from the web, not native applications tied to one or two operating systems.


And Google doesn’t lock you into Google services? Why is there a separate app for Gmail and “regular” mail, for example? Why do you need a Google account to activate a device? How is this not lock in?

Funny, Google seems to have no problem inventing compatability concerns to lock competitors like Skyhook out of Android.

So let drop this false argument about lock in, please? Apple wants lock in. Google wants lock in. Microsoft and RIM wants lock in. There isn’t a SINGLE mobile provider that doesn’t want lock in. Lock in argument is a tripe, and by appearances, used mostly by Google partisans who like their Google lock in but hate the Apple kind.

Rather, let’s get to the real crux of the matter: the fundamental difference in cloud philosophy.

To Apple, the cloud serves your devices. It acts as a hub, but only for the purpose of pushing data to your devices. The cloud is invisible to the user in this model. That’s why there is no streaming because the data actually naturally belongs on the device, in this case, the same data on all devices.

Google’s and everyone else’s philosophy is that your devices serve the cloud. Your devices are nothing (or not much) without the cloud. Your music locker is nothing without a net connection. Local caching resolves some of this but the point is that devices are subservient to the cloud. Someone tell me how well that streaming music locker works when you are hiking in Yosemite or if your taking a flight and don’t want to pay for on board WiFi. For that matter, if you have 60GB of music and movies in your cloud locker, tell me how good local caching will work on your 32GB device.

This is the difference between Apple’s cloud approach and everyone else. And I have a feeling Apple’s approach will work better because the real world isn’t the ubiquitous, unlimited data, low latency, big bandwidth nirvana Google et al thinks it is.

Kevin C. Tofel

I’m in total agreement with you that all of the platforms would prefer to lock you in; I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise. However, I think the “level” of lock-in varies by platform. If you want the best Office / Sharepoint / Exchange experience, for example, Microsoft is a top consideration. Prefer the best and broadest media experience? Then Apple is a strong number one. Use Gmail / Google Voice / Google Nav? The answer is obvious.

So yes, there is lock-in for all, but that doesn’t (at least in my purchase choices) mean that there isn’t a lock-in argument or consideration point. There is a definite difference between Apple’s cloud service definition and what others provide today: no argument. Is one “right” and one “wrong”? I’d say no because we have different needs. I actually prefer a hybrid music solution such as what Google / Amazon offer. I stream what I don’t have on the device as needed and in the case of no connectivity can easily and quickly download locally; I do just that before I go on my daily run if the tunes I wan’t aren’t on the device I’m using at the time. To each, his or her own.


Kevin, I completely agree with you about how lock-in varies by platform.

What I find disingenuous (and something which you are NOT guilty of, btw) is how “lock in” is almost always used exclusively as an argument against Apple, as if Apple’s ecosystem doesn’t have compelling advantages that are still not matched by other platforms, or Apple’s ecosystem advantages are automatically negated while Google’s lock in mechanisms are considered acceptable or even advantageous.

Just as you find Google’s lock in mechanisms to be more useful, I find Apple’s approach to be more beneficial to me. What I don’t like is Lucien’s presumption that Apple’s lock-in is inherently bad, but Google is okay because they’re about the open web.

Yet somehow I have no ability to shut off the text ads in my Gmail nor can I stop Google from gathering the analytics that go into delivering them to me. Last I checked, my email is 100% ad free.

So the lock-in argument is mostly irrelevant because at the end of the day, you use what works for you. Anything else is dogma.

Kevin C. Tofel

Makes total sense! Maybe we all need to do a better job communicating the type of platform lock-in, instead of generically throwing out the term in an argument. Thanks for the thoughts and helping to advance the conversation. :)

Ivan Beveridge

The way I view it is that Apple lock you in for applications (and ways to do things), and Google tends to lock you in for data. The lock-in for apps is more noticeable, but the lock-in for data could be considered more insidious.

Apple push the app lock-in as a quality thing (because they ‘ensure’ apps work well and as they are supposed to before making them available in their app store). This would be a good thing of itself, but they also deny access to other apps that provide functionality that they don’t like (eg Flash, some crypto, other non-api calls like Google’

Ivan Beveridge

The way I view it is that Apple lock you in for applications (and ways to do things), and Google tends to lock you in for data. The lock-in for apps is more noticeable, but the lock-in for data could be considered more insidious.

Apple argue their app lock-in as a quality thing (because they ‘ensure’ apps work well and as they are supposed to before making them available in their app store). This would be a good thing in itself, but they also deny access to other apps that provide functionality that they don’t like (eg Flash, some crypto, other non-api calls like was the case for Google’s voice search option in the Google search app). From this you can see that Apple are dictating what their device should be like and how it should be used (which ends up generally being quite nice), but it means it often lacks flexibility, so you can’t get functionality you could do on other platforms.

Google initially ‘required’ you to use their services (gmail, google calendar, etc), and the only way to sync was through those, or Microsoft Outlook. This means that they have a copy of your data and, although I’m told that there is a team dedicated to ensuring data can be exported from Google products (kudos for this!) it means they have a copy of all your data, so can mine it and do numerous things you may not want to be done … the more different types of data they have (eg email, calendar, maps/tracking, etc) they have, the more they can profile you as a person (this is what I mean by insidious).

I believe that there is an Android mail app (perhaps installed by default, but definitely available in their app store) that can use IMAP to other servers, so that’s one problem gone. When I last looked several months ago Google still weren’t supporting CalDAV (a standardised way of synchronising calendar data, which Apple have supported for a while).

The other thing you may need to bear in mind is that you require a working Apple login to use iOS devices, and a working Google login for Android devices. That’s fair enough in a way, but what if either of them locks your account (that has all the sync’d data, etc) and perhaps doesn’t allow you to create a new account? In the case of iOS you wouldn’t be able to buy from their app store (thus stopping getting new apps or upgrading existing ones), but in the case of Android it would (as far as I can tell) means not only wouldn’t you be able to buy from their app store, but you couldn’t backup any data! I remember reading about someone who had an Android ‘phone and Google disabled his Google login .. so his smartphone was of very limited use then. *This* is the kind of thing you also need to be wary of.

Being an iPhone user (for the past ~3 years) the thing I particularly like about it is the safety that each time it syncs with iTunes it also backs up the whole phone. This means that if you lose it, or when it crashes completely, or when it gets into a horrible mode that you need to clear & restore from factory default, you can actually fully restore. The flexibility also means that, if you are away from wireless Internet connectivity (eg on an aircraft, at sea, or in a remote location) you can still backup & sync your data if you have a laptop/computer. This may also be relevant if you are abroad but don’t want to pay extortionate data-roaming costs. There are some apps that backup certain data to the device’s local memory card, but that is not all data and it doesn’t help you if you lose or someone steals you device.

It’s these points that have had me holding off buying an Android device for 18 months, and wondering whether to get another iPhone.

As has been said by other people, “each to his own”, and having multiple competing products is good to drive foward innovation and is good for the end user. You just need to be aware of what each product has vs what you want, and (unsurprisingly) neither Google nor Apple say what the competition has but they don’t.

Tim F.

Android would be a failure if Google tried to make all of its apps web apps. Android neglects key features or entire services/apps on all platforms but its own.


I feel Apple have done a very decent job in matching the extra features of Android. It even have very new stuff like web installation.

There is nothing particular that’s not already offered by google though, outside of the iMessage. The sole disappointment is that the iCloud doesn’t stream. That make this service pretty useless, no matter how cheap it is.

I think at this point what iOS 5 and Android 3.0 offer are pretty much toe to toe. You really have to look into hardware to find the “deal breakers”. And this is where the Android advantage is. It can offer so many specific hardware feature to cater to the niche markets that any other smartphone OS will be hard to match.

As an Android user, I don’t see any new iOS feature I want google to steal. Maybe the automatic photo backup service? What I really want right now is a guarantee way to remote wipe a Android phone once I lose it. I hope google get on it.


The Android version of iMessage is Gtalk. Only difference is that the SMS and Gtalk apps aren’t combined into one app.

Prof. Peabody

It seems you are dedicated to playing the role of Android apologist/defender for this thread, but I have to say (without boring anyone with the long detailed criticism), that most of the things you say are not exactly true at all. You’re just twisting everything to your own particular point of view.

In reference to this particular comment … Gtalk is not really like iMessage that much, and the fact that SMS is a separate app is certainly *not* the “only difference.” Most of your other remarks could easily and similarly be pulled apart but I like to stay positive as much as possible.

It’s likely that nothing I could say would likely convince you that you are wrong about even the smallest point anyway. I get that you think you are just being an Android cheerleader, but please be aware that to others it just comes off like bullying.

Ivan Kowalenko

@Prof. Peabody (sorry, comments don’t seem to recurse far enough) You’re right in that GTalk isn’t entirely like iMessage, but it’s not too far off. At the moment, it lacks some things like read receipts, file attachment, and the SMS integration. But I can do FaceTime-like audio and video chats, and you can probably bet that Google will be playing catch-up on the feature count with this one.

However, you’re right: it’s not like iMessage that much, but it is analogous to iMessage, and I’m sure the feature set will be pretty close.

P.S. — Not trying to be an Android apologist, just a guy who has owned a BlackBerry, iPod Touch, Nokia N73, T-Mobile Dash, and a Nexus S throwing in his 2¢ on the topic.


The best way I would describe the difference is that Android is like a polyester suit. It does the job and looks ok, but it just doesn’t have the comfort and feel of fine wool. That’s the difference. Having said that, polyester suits sell well and many folks are happy with them.


The “share” feature you describe has been part of iOS for a while. Apps can message each other in various ways, and in particular, any app can send a file to another app. Once an app is set to send files, it can send them even to apps it was previously unaware of–it’s not hardcoded. For instance, I upload things to Dropbox from various apps all the time. This is because Dropbox registers itself as being able to “read” almost everything.


That iOS 4 feature is limited compared to the Android version though, so it doesn’t quite give the same level mix/matching of apps that’s been a feature of Android even in it’s Blackberry clone days.

Brian S Hall

Kevin, iPhone had me at…when you wrote: “iMessage is sort of like my current setup with Google Talk and Google Voice. I use Google Talk on my handset, but also within iChat on OS X via a Jabber configuration.”

Um, I’ll bet you my house that 99.999% of humanity has no clue what you’re talking about but if you gave them and a loved one an iOS device they’d get iMessage working instantly, and love it.

I don’t use Android because, for me, it’s always been a pale copy of iPhone. Except for those times when it’s been a pale copy of Blackberry. But, third party integration of applications as you mention can be extremely joyful. My problem with this has always been that while I definitely prefer an Android/Blackberry level of app integration, I want this only for a very select group of apps (particularly Twitter and Facebook). Meaning, I hate to admit, that Apple gets to remain the kingmaker of third party apps.


What about multi-tasking.. I have iPhone, iPad and a bunch of Android phones and I can tell you the one thing that I hate on iOS is lack of true multi-tasking.


Really? Tell me what senario exactly you find yourself in where “true multitasking” is needed on an iOS device? The term “True multitasking” seems to actually mean “inefficient battery killing multitasking”.

Dougan Milne

As a convert myself, the biggest trouble with switching back would be the loss of Google Voice. Once you have used a fully-integrated gvoice device, number-apps-and-all, I don’t think you could make it through a day without those advantages. Google’s golden sword is having built (and continuing to build) a wonderful unified communications platform. Apple’s triumph is in the unified media platform. The productivity benfits alone – with Google Voice – are the real showstopper for anyone in this same decision process.

Ian Betteridge

Dougan, have you tried the Google Voice app for iOS? I’m curious to know how it compares to Android.

(Also, as an aside, it’s worth remembering that outside the US, Google Voice doesn’t exist.)


It’s a pretty decent version, but not quite on the level of the Android one. Still, it gets the job done (for me anyway).


Oh, please. How many times has Apple updated the iPhone software while you wait forever or four your 1st update? No iTunes on Android- that’s like missing out on millions of content files. No iBooks. No Game Center. Lame icons that look like Windows 3.1 icons.

Sucks to buy a hack. That’s what Android is.

Kevin C. Tofel

You’ve clearly missed the point of the post. If iOS meets your needs, that’s great. But that doesn’t justify harping on other people’s choices which meet their needs.


Thank you for being an ACTIVE blogger and defending your point. Too many people post and forget and allow all the useless comments. I’ve only been a GIGAOM reader for a few weeks but really enjoy it over the “majors”

Kevin C. Tofel

Thanks, Jim. And you meant “OTHER majors” right? Just kidding. ;) All joking aside, if we don’t have conversations on the blog, we’re simply writing words and moving on instead of having two-way dialogue and learning from each other. Glad to see you’re enjoying it here and I hope to see you around for a long time to come. :)


“Sucks to buy a hack. That’s what Android is.”

A hack that iOS 5 clearly iterates from. Even if you’re never going to touch Android, the competition is beneficial to you as an end consumer. Stuff like the app purchase list/push downloads and iCloud syncing may not have been given the go ahead if it wasn’t so prominent on Android.

Prof. Peabody

I don’t agree with lrd’s rude comment either, but you are using the word “iterate” incorrectly.

iOS could only be said to “iterate from” Android (a very bad grammatical construction regardless of meaning), if with each successive release it copied what Android did in it’s previous release. This is easily proven to be false.

Iteration usually refers to self-iteration also, not copying of something someone else has done.


@ Prof Peabody: It’s pretty ironic that you go on a grammatical tirade, only to put “it’s” where “its” was the proper form. You fail. You fail hard.


Geez LRD, calm the h*ll down. You sound like a rabid whining child…how old are you?


Fucking snob. That’s the essential core of apple users too. I’m sure you used next computers in 95 too right? Itunes sucks ass.


I think it is inevitable that iMessage will follow BBM onto other platforms – Android, Windows Mobile, BB etc. Apple has been talking a lot about getting into the social networking space. (and failed with Ping) This is a big chance to get a foot in. I would guess that reliability issues for Beluga are not an unrelated issue. Thats what happens when you control the platform. It is only a matter of time before Apple steps in in a big way.

Jonathan Cohen

> I think it is inevitable that iMessage will follow BBM onto other platforms

Just like Facetime, eh? ;-)


I wonder if iMessage uses something standard under the hood. I hope so. Google’s decision to use XMPP/Jabber was great for interoperability with the large number of existing clients & servers, and coding libraries! Knowing Apple it’ll probably be yet another IM platform … or perhaps based on AIM?


I dont think you understand apple.

You cannot ichat (videoconference) with people not on a mac and its been many many years since ichat released.

Ivan Kowalenko

But here’s the infuriating problem: they’ve already done this! They have iChat installed on every Mac that’s sold. It uses the cross-platform AOL OSCAR protocol, Jabber protocol, and the local network Bonjour protocol.

It makes you question why they keep reinventing the wheel? iChat had video messaging, in fact was a huge headlining feature when it was introduced. iChat was really hyped it when 10.5 rolled off the assembly line with iChat Theater, multi-user conferencing, and Screen Sharing. But now it’s in limbo, with FaceTime getting the iOS integration iChat always lacked, and stripping users of the features they were making a big deal out of four years ago.


you failed to mention Android runs Flash, iOS never will. iPhone users are missing out on a lot of web content and it’s no just about video clips. How do I know this? Because I’m a disgruntled iPhone user… I can’t even order new checks from my bank with this mobile computing platform.


How is it Apple’s fault that your bank uses Flash to do whatever it does? Shouldn’t your bank be using something more secure than Flash?


You still use checks? How about floppy disks?

I don’t miss Flash at all on iOS. I also block it on my PC. When I need it I choose when to load it.


Michael, no Flash on iOS is a valid complaint for many users, but one I feel is rapidly becoming less of an issue. In the year+ since Jobs gave Flash the thumbs down, sites have been inexorably moving away from Flash content. After all, there are 200 million iOS devices in use now, and the number continues to swell every day. With the amazing success of iPad, site operators have the choice of updating their content to not require Flash, or risk users simply ignoring them. Users have voted overwhelmingly for iOS with their dollars, and sites are following the money. Even Adobe have tacitly admitted that there’s no holding back the tide, and I get the sense that those sites that haven’t as yet moved away from Flash are scrambling to do so, or risk being sidelined. That being said, that doesn’t solve your problem today, but the writing is definitely on the wall.

Kevin, thank you for a balanced piece that doesn’t devolve into frothing fanboyism

Richard Blaney

I never installed Flash on my Android phone, is slow, heavy, and really not useful at all (other than being an argument for iphone vs android fights). Web has already changed.

Comments are closed.