LearnWho Wins The Fight Between Android and iOS in 2012?


writes on September 28, 2012

I’m so done with the iPhone vs. Android debate. They both win. There it is–an Android developer admits that iPhones are cool, too. Okay, back to the debate–it’s over! Do we really care about the latest specs or screen sizes or stock app features anymore? They’re all basically close enough for most consumers. The vocal minority raises quite a ruckus, but my unscientific poll of non-technical users says that both are awesome. I am very, very happy with either platform. Both allow me to accomplish the things I want to accomplish with relative ease and a good deal of fun and style. High-end Android devices are now nearly as buttery smooth as Apple’s brilliant marriage of hardware and software, and Apple is no longer the innovator in mobile computing.

Apple still has the slickest, prettiest, most fluid OS, but the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean, almost closes the gap completely. And Android is definitely still more customizable, but what percentage of the consumer base really cares about that extra degree of customization? The most vocal, maybe, but definitely not the majority.

Can’t we all just get along?

Don’t get me wrong…I still love to wax poetic about Android to the majority of the Treehouse staff who are ultra excited about iPhone 5 and iOS6. But I am definitely fed up with the vitriol and unnecessary hate people spew on comment boards and forums about one platform or the other. Tensions between the two platforms have escalated faster than an iPhone user can get lost using the new Apple Maps app. Have you ever read the comments on Engadget or any blog that reviews iPhones or Android phones? Don’t. You won’t find any rational discussion there.

Now, I love some old fashioned competitive bickering, like this recent ad from Samsung, who has a (justified) case of sour grapes against Apple, what with that ridiculous lawsuit Samsung recently lost. The competition between these two platforms (and even from Windows Phone, which has received a few raves) has benefited the consumer immensely in the last half decade. Five years ago most people used their phones for voice calls, texting, and occasional web browsing, and an elite minority used their Crackberries 24 hours a day for email and web access. Fast forward to today where hundreds of millions of smartphone users use their “phones” daily to access content and information from the web, visit social networks, play games, listen to music, buy things, and more:

Graph showing what people use their smartphones for

Source: Online Publishing Association

Think about your own daily use. What apps are on your home screen or short list of must-haves? What sites do you visit? Who do you text/call/chat/Skype/email? Step back for a moment and think abstractly about what you like to do and accomplish using your smartphone. What activities do you do that are explicitly dependent on the platform? I bet they are few and far between. It’s not that they don’t exist; it’s just that the overall experience for most users is pretty similar on both Android and iOS.

And I’m not saying that the experience doesn’t matter. User experience is an integral part of software development and how people interact with their phones. A good user experience is critical to customer relations, and I’m sure we can all think of cases where a bad user experience has made us leave a website, delete an app, or take our business elsewhere. But the point I’m trying to hammer home is that, in the holy war of Apple vs. Android, the user experience is pretty equal, all things considered. Choosing between the two is a bona fide #firstworldproblem.

Flags for Android and iOS Build a Crystal Ball App

Want to know how development compares between the two platforms? Check out our “Build a Crystal Ball App” for both Android and iOS!

The Choice is Yours

I’m actually writing this post on my Galaxy S3 while my wife is browsing the web and playing nighttime music for our kids on her iPhone. Her contract is up soon, and I could make a pretty convincing case for her to switch, but I don’t want to. It’s up to her to choose which she likes best, and there are plenty of ways to live as a multiple mobile platform household, despite what people might try to tell you.

My dad is finally ready for a smartphone. His primary reason is to do video calls with the grandkids. Did I tell him to get an Android phone so we could Skype and because that’s the technology I’m currently teaching? Nah…I told him to get an iPhone because that’s what my sister has, and it’ll be easier for the less technically-inclined half of the family to do FaceTime. I’ll show him how to use Skype the next time I visit home. Similarly, I recommended the Galaxy S3 for my aunt because her out-of-state kids have Android phones, so they could at least show her how to use it and share pictures pretty easily.

In an earlier post I mentioned that using a smartphone is a little bit like playing with magic. I also mentioned how we take for granted the transformational power this technology literally gives us in the palms of our hands. We can get carried away when trying to assert that our way is the better way, but it’s so important to keep the proper perspective about this debate.

“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.” – Marcus Aurelius

If you think I’m biased or wrong, let me know below! I welcome and invite a healthy, respectful debate in the comments section. 🙂

*Featured image courtesy of components from Nick Sherman and Karin Dalziel under the Creative Commons license.


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