Apple’s iPhones, iPods and iPads are arguably the best selling mobile devices in the world. They all run on the Apple iOS operating system. However, according to recent statistics Google’s Android OS is shaping up to become the most dominant operating system for portable devices like smartphones and tablets. Why is the Android OS ahead of the iOS in market share despite the success of Apple’s devices?
Below are some of the answers to the above question.
This is easily Android’s best selling point. The Android OS gives a buyer a wide variety of choices such as:
– Choice of Hardware: There are numerous devices from several manufacturers that run on Android and they have widely diverse features that appeal to a wider range of people. For example, iPhones are touchscreen smartphones with no physical keyboard. On the other hand, there are touchscreen-only Android phones and there are those that offer physical keyboards (as well as a touchscreen). Many people do not enjoy typing on a touchscreen and for them Android wins.
– Choice of Software (Apps): Both Android and the iOS have centralized places where you can download (or purchase) apps, the Android Marketplace and the Apple App Store respectively. Apple’s App Store has the greater number of apps but it has a policy of rejecting apps which do not meet its own unstated guidelines. In effect Apple limits consumers’ choices by offering only apps that it likes or deems appropriate. To be able to install any apps that you want, you would have to jailbreak your iOS device and this voids your warranty.
Android on the other hand, allows virtually all apps created for its platform and only rejects or removes apps deemed to be malicious or harmful.
– Choice of Carrier: Android devices are available from almost every carrier. This allows you to choose a carrier that meets your needs such as: preferred technology (GSM or CDMA), best coverage area, most attractive contract package, cost of carrier services, type of smartphone or tablet on offer, etc.
On the other hand, as an example of limited choice, the iPhone is only available from AT&T and – very recently – Verizon Wireless. This gives you the option of only two carriers and the contract packages that they offer on the iPhone. You are also limited to using an iPhone only in places that these two carriers offer network coverage.
Android smartphones and tablets are made by several different manufacturers. They offer widely varying features from hardware through software to design as discussed above. Thus, the prices of Android devices also vary widely. Having a great range of prices allows buyers to choose devices which match their spending power.
Apple’s devices are only available in limited price ranges according to their various hardware specifications. They are also usually more expensive than Android devices.
Compatibility and Portability
When you download Android apps, you can install them on all devices that run on the Android OS. This means that you can download one instance of an Android app and install it on any Android device from Barnes and Noble’s Nook color eBook reader to Motorola’s high-end Xoom tablet. In contrast, apps for Apple’s iOS can only be run on iPhones, iPods or iPads.
Despite Apple’s claims that the current version of the iOS (the iOS 4) allows multi-tasking, Apple’s devices still cannot truly multi-task. The iOS 4 only freezes apps which are running in the background which means that you cannot load programs in the background. The only way that multitasking may work on an iOS device is for a software developer or creator to enable it in his or her app. (1)
Android smartphones and tablets can run several apps or programs simultaneously by default.
You can modify the version of Android that comes with your device if you are so inclined. You can install custom ROMs which are faster and more efficient that what your smartphone or tablet originally shipped with. These customized operating systems can add features that the Android OS does not officially have and can also remove superfluous features and apps (such as those installed by carriers). (2)
You cannot do the above on an iOS device and can only use the features that Apple enables on its smartphones and tablets.
Adobe Flash: Flash is a ubiquitous component of many web pages and is used to make them more interactive such as by adding games, videos and animations. Many websites rely on Flash to make their pages more alive and appealing. The Android OS allows Flash to load on web pages visited from its mobile devices. Apple’s iOS does not support Flash and surfing the web on an iPhone or iPad can mean missing out on several features present on many websites.
Open Source: Android OS is an open-source operating system platform built upon code derived from other open-source software. This means that anyone can access the workings of the Android OS and modify it as it suits them. It allows for greater and faster improvement of the OS and also customization of Android devices as mentioned above.
1. Multitasking with iOS 4 is Horrible: Apple Blew It
2. Custom ROMs for Android Explained and Why You Want Them