In the battle for supremacy in the smartphone markets, Android clearly enjoys an edge over Apple iOS. We here analyze the main causes for the greater popularity of Android over its chief rival.
As per the latest available reports, Google Android is the undisputed leader in the international smartphone sector, in terms of market share. In the United States alone, the former has a device share of nearly 52%, and the dominance is much more pronounced in several other countries. Although the availability of lower-end Android phones does influence this figure (a strategy that Apple burnt its hands with, thanks to the flop show of iPhone 5C), there are many technical aspects too – where Android outscores iOS. Over here, we deliberate on some of the key factors which justify why Android enjoys a clear edge over iOS across the globe:
- Better choice of hardware – Since Android is an open platform, users can easily take their pick – when it comes to the hardware system on their mobile devices. Right from Motorola Droid to the hugely popular Google Nexus – a vast collection of setups come under the domain of the Android mobile OS. On the other hand, iPhones only allow you two choices – the 16 GB and the 32 GB models (apart from, of course, the black and white color alternatives). Apple does not quite offer a customized mobile experience – something that Android manages very well.
- Installation of third-party keyboards – The built-in keyboard of iOS 7 is not horribly bad – but it is nothing to be overwhelmed about either. While the quality of the default keyboards on Android devices can also vary, it is way easier to simply download and use third-party keypads on them. To do this on an iPhone, you will need to do a jailbreak (with the Cydia app) first. Many people, particularly new smartphone users, are reluctant to do so.
- The ‘rooting’ option – Speaking about iOS jailbreak, it practically pales into insignificance, when compared with the ‘rooting’ option on Android handsets. The latter is a relatively easy 15-minute process (and there’s nothing illegal about it either!), which allows you to do a cool assortment of additional things – like adding kernel codes, getting rid of bloatware, and even overclocking the default phone processor. There’s no chance for such deep-level personalization on iOS devices.
- More user-friendly app store – Experts from most leading mobile application development companies would agree to this. iTunes might have more, and better-quality apps – but it is rather difficult to get new applications approved by the Apple authorities. The store has the right to decide which iPhone apps are to be featured. Now, compare this with the Google Play Store, which lets the apps that enjoy the most popularity to occupy the top slots (and with it, get the maximum visibility). Since there is no censorship on Android apps, people can find practically whatever application they are looking for.
- More convenient file-management – There is an air of familiarity in the way files and documents are arranged on Android phones, which adds to their usability factor. When you plug on the device to your PC/laptop – the entire file system is displayed – and copying/sharing/editing any document is hardly a matter of minutes. The file system on iOS devices is slightly more complicated, and lacks that additional user-friendliness.
- Toggling between alternative system settings is easier – Once again, the better customization features of Android comes to the fore. On an iPhone/iPad, if you wish to switch on/off the wi-fi connection, or use the 3G resources – you will have to manually change the settings on the device. On any standard Android handset, there are widgets that lets you directly activate or deactivate these settings. Smarter, and quicker, management of system resources, in turn, leads to the phone batteries lasting just a tad longer too.
- Seamless multitasking and notifications – Both mobile app developers as well as average smartphone-users prefer operating systems that offer better multitasking options. Android leaves iOS far behind on this count. The latter still uses the pop-up notification scheme, which is not only rather tricky to keep a tab on – but also requires to be closed one by one. If you are an Android-user, you can view all notifications at once, on the designated notification bar. This functionality remains, even when the phone screen is locked. iOS has smart notification options for Apple’s native apps – Android is a better gadget for overall multitasking.
- Adding photos to contact names – Probably not a standout advantage of Android – but this also contributes to the more personal feel of these handsets. You can automatically add images of your contacts in the address book – next to their phone numbers. The virtual address book of the iOS 7 platform does not provide this option, and can look somewhat bland at times.
- Option to check out different interfaces – Now, we are not saying that the default iOS interface isn’t cool. However, wouldn’t you love it, if it were possible to try out different user-interfaces (UI), and pick the one that seemed to be the most convenient for you? Android lets you do just that – via the custom ROM installation feature. Professionals from any good mobile apps company would be able to show you the steps for porting these custom UIs from one Android device to another. It’s your phone – why shouldn’t you be able to use it just the way you want?
- The home screen is much more informative – On a standard Android handset, the widgets of all the mobile apps installed in it (including the third-party applications) can be viewed on the home screen with absolute ease. On an iPhone, however, you will have to browse through the entire list of applications, to find the one you want. Locating and launching any app on an Android handset is quicker and much simpler – and evidently, users love this factor!
- Setting up multiple user accounts – The Apple iPad has lost its earlier craze, and this might have something to do with its diminishing popularity. It can be possible that the data stored on a tablet has to be shared in a team at office, or among friends. Android tablets address this requirement by providing the option of setting up multiple user accounts on them. An iPad can, of course, be lent, to someone else – but two or more people cannot have user-accounts on it.
- The price factor – Apple specifically caters to the premium segment of the market (until it released iPhone 5C, at least), while Android has devices for both ends of the sector. On an average, the latter is nearly $375 cheaper than the latest iPhone models. Couple that with the large-number of low-end smartphones that are powered by Android, and you’ll easily get it why more people own these smartphones. Apple can harp over its quality excellence all day long, but it does not have Android’s mass appeal.
The carrier support for Android phones is much better than that available for iOS devices (which are still primarily dependant on AT&T). There is one point to be noted though: even with a much lower overall market share, iOS has significantly higher market capitalization as well as quarterly revenue figures. The profitability of iPhones is not under the scanner – but the fact remains that Android scores over it on various usability factors, its average selling price is much lower, and it, not surprisingly, has more impressive acceptance figures in the worldwide markets.
An iOS device is still, after all, a niche product!
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