Apple iOS vs Google Android…do you really know the difference? Part 8

This is the last part of the series where we will come to conclusions on the variety of devices available and the potential fitness based on usage. Before we move on to the conclusions, the one point that we need to remember is that nothing is perfect. Not Apple and iOS devices and the same applies to Google and Android based devices from a variety of vendors. All have their pros and cons.

The most interesting part of my observations of device usage is that fact that most users do not really need or understand the concept of a “smartphone” or a “smart” device. For the vast majority of iOS and Android device users, it’s just the fad of a new device and nothing beyond that. The excitement of the novelty dies out within weeks of getting a new device.

So, if all you need is a phone or a pad/tab, almost any would do depending on your budget. For just using a stock device with pre-installed apps only, I would not recommend purchasing an expensive Android tablet or the Apple iPad. The same applies to the top end Android phones and the iPhone. Even the age old, tried and tested Nokia phones can beat any of the top end “smart” devices in terms of battery life and stability by a very large margin. Think about it, if all you need is this kind of functionality, why waste money on any expensive device?

A common example can be used to demonstrate this. A vast majority of Android users today know about and use WhatsApp messenger simply because it comes pre-installed. They have no clues on any other apps and never user the Google “AppStore” for any purpose, excepting to look at it from a novelty perspective. Of course, another major reason for this spread of Android based devices is the sheer price difference between an Apple device and almost all others.¬†So, before you spend a whole lot of money on a new device, do try to analyse your need/requirement and usage.

The next observation is a class of users, who get “smart” devices based on feedback/advice from friends and manage to install and use a few apps. This category of users would also land up putting some documents and data on the device over a period of time. Keep in mind, this is all in the technology domain and the majority still does not quite understand even simple terms like login/upload/download etc. It takes some time and effort to figure things out. For this category of users, I would recommend a low to mid-range device. Once they are used to the technology part and how it can be applied in ways that make it more useful and productive, they will be far better placed to make a decision for the next high-end device purchase.

The last category of users is where the high-end Android devices or the Apple iOS devices fit in. This category has either graduated from the earlier mentioned one, or, is already tech and gizmo savvy. These users would actually be using apps other than just FaceBook, Twitter and WhatsApp. Any “recommendation” for this category is pointless since at this stage you already know what suits you best.

I had mentioned earlier that the iPhone is my primary device of choice for a variety of reasons and that I would share those reasons. To start on the reasons, I have to go into a bit of history of the good old Nokia/Ericsson days. Initially, you could just about save a name and number, then, that expanded to multiple names and numbers and other fields like addresses etc. Then came the speaker and connectivity on the phones and finally bluetooth.

Over a period of time I had identified my basic requirements. Initially, it was just the following 2 requirements.

  1. A complete address book
  2. A functional calendar with reminder alarms

With the passage of time and advancement in technology, the following 3 were added to the list.

  1. A speaker phone
  2. Connectivity (including a WAP browser etc)
  3. Bluetooth

Not a major issue one would say, but, the issue, actually, was a major one. Even my first two requirements where never completely fulfilled till the iPhone came along. The bigger issue was the first one…the address book. As and when fields were added, the size was either inadequate or did not exist, depending on the phone.

The only way to backup and sync the address book used to be unstable proprietary apps from vendors (all Windows based only) and they could sync only with Microsoft’s Outlook to start with.¬†Outlook itself was a fairly unstable app and had fixed fields. For example, if I wanted 2 or more mobile numbers for a contact, there was no way of labelling them “mobile”.

I could go on and on about this including the calendar, but, for people who have been there, already know. It was a major pain getting organised and keeping it stable. I used to keep multiple backups and still was not able to completely recover all the contacts etc at times. Changing a device was yet another painful activity.

The last non-iPhone that I purchased was a Nokia N82 in 2007. Impossible as it might seem, it was equivalent to the first iPhone price wise. I then tried a friend’s iPhone (the first generation) and was amazed to see that all I had wanted in a phone was there. The iTunes backup and restore also seemed to work almost perfectly. I finally took the dive and purchased the first iPhone a few months before the 3g came out. Due to a flaw in the first iPhone, it was possible to permanently carrier unlock it and use it anyplace.

Although I was skeptical initially, after some time I discovered that my basic needs from a phone had been fulfilled for the first time. I fixed up all my contacts in the address book just as I would want them, set up the calendar with all the events that I wanted (meeting, recurring payments etc etc). Although not perfect, but, it was the best experience thus far for me. I still kept the backups (including files copied off this jailbroken phone) just in case.

After this, my confidence in the device and iOS increased and I started putting more data on it. Once the AppStore came up, I started using some apps. Oh, I skipped the 3g and since then I have always purchased factory unlocked iPhones. I have had the first generation iPhone, followed by the 3gs, 4, 4s and now 5. Personally, for me, iPhone 4 was the device I was looking for. It did almost everything I wanted from my phone.

Keep in mind that there was no real competition to the iPhone initially. With all the time and effort that I had already put into setting up stuff just as I wanted it, there was no way I would repeat that effort for another device unless there was an extremely powerful reason to do so. This fact, coupled with the security and the application variety on the iOS makes it my primary device of choice. In all honesty, if there had been a choice like Android when the first or the second iPhone was released, it could have been a different story.

Even though the iOS device build quality and support is unmatched by any Android device on the market today, an iOS device is the last one I would ever recommend to the first two category of users. The basic reason being the steep difference in price and the missing requirement/usage of an actual “smart” device. Also the fact that you have more to play around with on Android devices. Once you learn, you can make your own decision far more effectively.

There are some more reasons why the iPhone is my primary device today and I will write about the overall system that I have setup for my family, which, currently, is not feasible on the Android devices. For now, I hope this series of iOS vs Android would help some people make more informed decisions.