What an Android User Expects From iOS

Recently on Android.Appstorm, Nathaniel Mott wrote about What an iPhone User Expects from Ice Cream Sandwich, citing what he’s looking forward to and what has him worried as he patiently awaits his new Galaxy Nexus, a phone I claimed was the best on the market. In what seems to be a serendipitous coincidence, I recently received an iPhone 4S from my job, and I too have some expectations as I begin to use iOS more often.

I Have a Disclaimer Too

Much like Nathaniel, my thoughts come with a disclaimer. While I have used iOS devices in the past (namely on the iPad 1 and the iPod Touch), I’m what some people call a Google Fanboy. I recognize this and try to adjust accordingly. It’s not necessarily that Apple makes bad products — I think the market proves it does not. I just really, really like Android.

That being said, at work I was given the option of an iPhone or an Android phone. I took the iPhone because I already have a Galaxy Nexus and I’m interested in actually using the iPhone for day-to-day operations, not just demoing my friend’s. Just know that some of my thoughts may have to be taken with a grain of salt.

I’ve divided this article up into two sections: “What I Like ” and “What I Miss.” Since the iPhone has been out for sometime and I am familiar with iOS (not to mention I already have the iPhone from work), I can spin this more like a review from  the eyes of an Android user. So, without further ado …

What I Like

It would certainly be preposterous of me to say I don’t like anything about the iPhone, and it’s simply not true. It’s a very popular, solid device and it’s got a lot of great features. So what do I like the most?

Easy iTunes Syncing

Syncing iTunes is something you don’t get on Android without having to jump through some sort of hoops, especially in the early days. Google Music has made things a lot better, but even there, it doesn’t really sync with iTunes; not directly, anyway. With the iPhone, I plug the device in and I’m there: I can sync music, movies, apps, and photos all with the click of a button. It’s really nice that I can easily update playlists, etc. in iTunes and know that when I sync, they’ll be updated on my iPhone.

I also like that there is a separate section for Ringtones, but I would like it better if you could make any audio file your ringtone. Please correct me if that is the case, but I couldn’t do it.

Beautiful/Cool Apps

This I think, is an obvious one. The app experience on the iPhone is great because the apps have a consistent UI and there’s no denying they look better than their Android counterparts, for whatever reason.

Google is trying to fix that with the Android Design Guide.

There are also still apps exclusively for the iPhone that I’m excited to try; Instagram tops the list, and Family Feud & Friends in second. It will also be interesting to compare app UIs between both my Android and iOS devices.


Yes, I am a nerd that likes to accessorize my technology, and the iPhone is great for this. There are a wealth of cool cases, covers, connectors, speakers and  more that I am now privy to. Specifically, Disney (I’m a Disney nerd too — surprise!) has some very nice iPhone covers that I’m excited to check out. The backplates are a notable accessory for me, because they do for the iPhone what I wish cases did for Android phones — add some protection without increasing the girth of the device.

What I Miss


Freedom is the number one thing the drew me to Android in the first place. Not only can I customize my home screen through widgets, I can install third-party apps without going to the Android Market. This means I can easily try betas, buy apps from other sources (like the Amazon Appstore) and test my own apps right on my device. I can also completely customize the UI with new skins and mods without having to jailbreak (or root, as we Android users call it). Your device is truly your device.

Strong Google Account Integration

This one is a no-brainer. Android devices sync perfectly with your Google Account, as soon as you boot the device. While syncing with iTunes is nice, just syncing is even better. And since I use GMail, Google Calendar, Google Music and Google Reader, my email, contacts, calendar, music and news feeds are all synced to my phone over the air, instantly. No wires required.

Android’s Keyboard/Autocorrect

This is something I didn’t think I’d miss until I didn’t have it anymore. I feel the keyboard starting in Gingerbread (2.3) is considerably better than the one in iOS. I think it’s easier to type on and the autocorrect function is much better.

The Android (ICS) Keyboard/Autocorrect

Not only are you given more options for corrections, I feel you’re a bit more aware that you’re being corrected, and Android will automatically present you with punctuation when you type a space. I didn’t realize how nice this feature was until I kept tying to use it on iOS.

Final  Thoughts

So my friends will either rejoice or banish me when they read this depending on what camp they are in. However, I do enjoy some aspects of the iPhone, primarily what I’ve mentioned. I also think the phone is a good size and the screen/camera are incredibly nice. The basic UI does leave me wanting more, and there are some features I truly miss while on iOS. Using the iPhone for a couple of weeks now isn’t enough to make me switch, but I’m definitely willing to give credit where credit is due!

  • David

    Troll bait much.

    Huh? You can sync your gmail, calendars, contacts, notes to the iphone. Just by adding the account. Google even has a page http://www.google.com/mobile/sync/. iPhone gets all the ticks. For RSS, which I use Goolge Reader, I use the amazingly beautiful and functional Reeder app to sync that is better then any android rss reader IMO. You also have iCloud to sync pretty much anything with, if you don’t want to be attached to google. Or Yahoo. Or your own server.

    For music you have iTunes, Match, Spotify, Amazon, etc. Choices.

    Why does the iPhone need competing stores, have one central place for music, apps, podcasts, etc. It’s more competitive. It works better. Stops fragmentation.

    Customizing. etc. Buy the phone you like and enjoy it. Not hard.

  • Francois

    You can make your ringtones yourself: choose the song you like in iTunes (desktop version), adjust the time of play in the song pref to less than 30 sec, choosing the moment you prefer in the song.
    Export that modified song to AAC (right click on the song…) and find it in the finder, change it’s extension to .m4r, reimport it in itunes and it’s now a ringtone.

    Regarding google integration it works pretty well for my using the google apps. And my iPhone is really my device, whatever false info google has planted in your brain :-)

  • bruno

    2 taps in the space it will put the damn punction dot.
    you have 2 finger tap, 3 and 4.
    the autorrection and text expanding are awesome, I know it is not cool as swype, but after you know how they work ou will be ablw type very fast.

  • Jaso

    Interesting article and I’m glad you like your mobile OS but here’s a slightly different take on Android and customisation.

    I had the misfortune to help a friend with a Samsung Galaxy SII the other day. They were complaining that the battery life was rubbish compared to their old iphone 3G.

    Sooooo, decent hardware, though I don’t buy any Samsung products anymore (TV’s especially) for reasons too long to go into.

    The battery life issue came down to all the customisation (such as animated home page) which needed switching off, other tasks running in the background, and the fact that Android runs effectively as a VM (Java or otherwise) which kills battery life. As evidenced when you try and play Minecraft on a notebook (java VM) and hear the fans whizzing at full capacity and the battery life falling rapidly because of the stress put on the hardware.

    IMHO VM’s are fine for efficient use of server grade hardware but require faster hardware than would otherwise be the case.

    Back in the day the UK’s Acorn had the right idea when they created the Arm chips. Their code was modular, super efficient, and ran on the bare metal. An 8MHz Arm chip ran a windowed environment just nicely thank you. We seem to have lost efficient coding techniques with GHz CPU’s and too much RAM.

    Anyway, we ended up switching as much crap off as possible. My next job is to root it and under-clock it. Not for a female who’s a complete novice.

    Better battery life but at what cost!

    • Dom

      My brother and I got our own first smartphones with the release of the iphone 4s. He got the iphone, I got a Galaxy SII. After months of comparisons and fighting about whose is better, we’ve come to several conclusions: My GSII fits my bigger hands better, has way way more customizable homescreens, has survived being thrown horizontally from 5 feet up with no case and only a small corner dent (I guess I’m pretty clumsy), and has a load of really nice tricks resulting from the multiple buttons. These buttons also clean up the UI, since there’s no need for on screen “back” or “options.” That being said, it is also a much harder device to pick up and go with. It’s taken me months to figure out the fastest way to do things, but I like the learning curve. Some other flaws are certain CPU intensive games heating up the screen significantly, and running the battery out up to 5 hours faster than the iphone. I do find myself constantly turning off wifi and background apps. I do have to read pages of reviews to find an app that will actually work as promised.

      Long story short, he likes his phone, I like my phone. The best comparison I can come up with is this: android is like a manual car, ios is an automatic. Sure the manual is harder to drive, and constantly requires more effort, but there are just some things a manual can do that an automatic can’t. I absolutely will take longer to do some menial tasks, but I can also do some things the iphone just can’t. It’s a toss up.

  • http://www.garysims.co.uk Gary Sims

    Freedom is the number one thing the drew me to Android in the first place…. Yeah freedom to not have an updates to new versions of Anroid from your phone maker… Freedom to use any app store and get infected with all manner of malware… Need I go on…

    • http://www.unitedworx.com paris paraskevas


      Ask all the android users of the low end and mid range models that will never get an update from their manufacturer to a new OS release months ago how free they feel! And no the average user wont go throught CyanogenMod custom firmwares in order to keep their device up to date.

      if thats what you call freedom?

      • http://www.casabona.org Joe Casabona

        No I call freedom not having to use all of Apple stock apps, not having to use Apple’s app store to install apps, and being able to customize home screen to more than just, “Look! I moved this app icon, which looks like every other app icon, here!” You know- the things I covered in the article.

        The fact that there are a wealth of different Android devices to choose from is freedom too. If you don’t like one, you can get another.

        It’s not having to deal with Apple’s cookie cutter way of doing things. I bought the phone and I should be able to customize it. If you put some thought into using Android, you’ll find it works just as well as an OS that is spoon fed to you.

  • Jim

    Freedom to search for tablet apps that actually work! Freedom from bugs and crashes! Owning a Xoom, myself… running ICS, is still a freaking experiment in the futile, while running my iPad 2 is like driving a Ferrari! Android is just a bad attempt at replicating the iOS and now after the fourth version, it still hasn’t gotten it right! It may or may not be a great OS for a phone, but for a tablet it still sucks! Just try clicking into your emails combined folder on ICS, running a Xoom, and watch the consistent crash! And that is just one of the many bugs that I have come across! Try dragging an icon over another icon, and watch the fun… I swear this version acts more like a beta than Honeycomb did!!!

    And I am no fanboy of either system, I just want a device that will work for me, that is stable, and one that I don’t have to tinker with just to get it to work! After years spent fighting and configuring windows, I now want simplicity and stablility in my tech devices! And if that makes me a fanboy, so be it, then I am a fanboy of devices that actually work properly! And right now, my iPad 2 still spins circles around my Xoom, even with ICS on it!

  • Chrisv

    Freedom is having an option to choose your device and use it whatever you want however ridiculous it may be to others.. PS. My phone is 7“ and its the best size for me :)

  • http://nathanielmott.net Nathaniel Mott

    I find it telling that my piece was better received over on the Android site; I wish that the commenters over here had been as accepting as over there.

    Enjoyed the article. I agree (somewhat) with the Android keyboard getting improved at a faster rate than the iPhone’s. I’d like to see an update to the iPhone keyboard to bring it up to par with the Android and Windows Phone set. That said, I find that despite the keyboard itself being lesser (and not by much) than the others, the auto-correct learns faster and is more spot-on.

    Have fun looking at some new apps. You happen to already be in the right place to find some of the best, so I won’t give you any recommendations in this comment. Let us know how it works out for you, though!

    • Ansatz

      To be fair, the article writer’s “negatives” about the iPhone were utter bollocks. I’ve used both iOS and android off and on and Google integration is, in every meaningful way, equal to that in iOS. Go to your accounts page, give them your email and password, tick the options for which services you want to sync and you are done. There is no built in Greader or Gmusic in iOS but there are apps, again, functionally equivalent and in my opinion stylistically superior to the google versions.

      While I would agree that both the Window’s phone and Android OS have a more attractive keyboard than iOS, I don’t necessarily agree that they are functionally superior. I’ve used both and they function almost identically with the exception, as you already said, that I find that iOS adapts more readily and more accurately.

      As to freedom, I don’t necessarily disagree that Android is “more free” but I do disagree that this is a good thing. I think we tend to forget that companies like Apple spend millions on UI design and ergonomics. They know better than we do, by leaps and bounds, how things ought to be laid out and how things ought to function. Apple takes the approach, “There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, and we aren’t going to let you do things the wrong way” and I like this approach. When it comes to desktop computers or laptops, I do like to have some say in my workflow but these are mobile phones we are talking about. Mobile phones are low powered, limited screen, limited input devices so you generally can’t get much real work done on one and probably shouldn’t be trying to. While it seems counterintuitive, I like the idea that Apple (or even Google if they were willing to go that route) will do things the right way and keep me from futzing with things and making it worse.

      To be fair, there are a number of things about Android that I feel are superior to iOS, but the article writer has identified none of the legitimate ones.

  • Theron

    Having gone through 3 Android devices and not havent been happy with a single one — the excitement of getting a cool new phone wore off within a single day of usage for the second 2 out of the three — I grew to expect one single thing from iOS: function properly & reliably! I switched to the iPhone after several years of frustration with Android and their devices lack of reliability both both in the software and hardware. It’s been a few months and so far, so good.
    The iPhone/iOS vs Android debate will surely go on until the end of time (or until one of them bite the dust and we find another major contender), but for now I’m pretty much sold on iOS devices. I have yet to have my device bug out on me, when I’d gotten used to having issues daily with my previous three Android devices.

    When it comes to phones, the bottom line should be reliability? Why do people gloss over that in every review, when there are so many unreliable devices on the market? Too many fancy distractions nowaday I guess.

  • http://internetseoconsulting.com austin seo

    I use both platforms all the time and I find each has its qualities that I love and each have qualities I could leave behind. If I could merge the two I would! I use the iPhone more than the Android but the Android does have me swooning over some of the aspects. Not to mention the development side of Android I LOVE! iOS not so much.

  • http://Mostlynerd.com Mostlynerd

    I use both platforms and others. For the phone, I prefer android mostly because of the large screen. I have large hands and the iPhone is just too small. Not even close to comfortable. For a tablet, I prefer the iPad hands down. No current android tablet beats it. Although I prefer the 8 inch Samsung galaxy tab from a form factor perspective. Much better than the iPad’s 10inch.

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