It’s easy to summarize the hardware basics, but we seldom see a review or comparison of what could be the most important differentiation between the platforms. What separates iPhone and iPad from the legions of competitors throwaway plastic devices?
Why Buy An iPhone Or iPad?
At the high end of the Android smartphone and tablet spectrum, hardware comparisons with Apple’s iPhone and iPad are straightforward.
The best devices are going to have similar hardware specifications– screen resolution, CPU and GPU speed, storage, and internals (GPS, motion and proximity sensors, compass, and so on).
The major differences between the devices are also exemplified by the differences between Mac apps and Windows apps.
Where the Mac is cultured and refined, elegant and eminently usable and user friendly, Windows is cluttered and complex.
Smartphone and tablet comparisons can be similar, though different. After all, app icons on a small screen are mostly the same between Android OS and iOS.
What’s mostly different is how all the pieces work together with the entire ecosystem to create a notable contrast in usability.
In general, iOS and apps on all recent iPhones and iPads work with a seamless integration to the hardware. That’s not the case with Android devices, except the most recent products from top manufacturers.
Apps And Ecosystem
Consumer Reports pointed out recently that most people– on iPhone, iPad, or Android devices– download free apps, and that most popular apps are available on both platforms, therefore, switching sides is easy.
Maybe that’s the case for Consumer Reports personnel who need to polish their anti-Apple perspective, but actual usage is, indeed, different. Even research Canalys says there’s a difference in apps– quality and quantity– between platforms.
By and large, Android tablets simply use blown up versions of Android smartphone apps, while Apple’s iOS has almost 400,000 apps specifically designed for the iPad’s screen.
Wil, my long suffering SO, is something of a geek hound with more hardware than he can use, so I get as much time as I need to compare both hardware and software from iPhone to Galaxy S4. I like the size and vibrancy of the Galaxy screen, but everything about it screams ‘not as easy to use as my iPhone.’ It’s more of a two-handed device. Usability suffers because of Samsung’s need to differentiate by size.
The Lock In
As it is with iOS and Apple, Android device owners are locked into the Google system for data storage and maintenance, while Google feasts upon user information for profits. Gmail is free for a reason, folks.
Apple has another clear opportunity for differentiation. Where Google Play Store is mostly a wild west free-for-all where anything goes, Apple is actually clamping down a bit on iOS app standards and privacy.
Granted, the great unwashed masses of Android device users don’t give a wild hair about privacy. Today. That may change, but Google is unlikely to encourage privacy. Besides, half the world’s Android devices do not have access to Google apps or the Google infrastructure. That’s why most of Google’s mobile revenue still comes from iOS device users.
Tech pundits and geeks like Wil buy devices because of hardware specifications. The rest of us buy our devices for what they do, and how easy it is to get them to do what we want. I’d like to see more product usability comparisons between devices, especially those like Microsoft’s famed ‘Smoked by Windows Phone‘ campaign.