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Five important things Android does better than iOS

The internet is filled with words about Android and iOS and why one is better than the other. It makes for fun writing and reading because everyone likes to hear about why the thing they prefer is better than the thing they don't, but there are some important things each operating system does better than the other.

In a perfect world, Apple and Google would merge and the result (Gapple?) would make software with the best from both sides. Since that's never going to happen, let's look at five important things Android does better than iOS.

Storage options

Everyone knows that some Android phones have an SD card slot. This is easy to see but is a result of the overall way Android handles external storage.

External storage is more than SD cards.

Android allows you to use external storage from an SD card inserted into the phone or a USB card reader, a USB-powered storage device like a thumb drive or hard drive and network mounted storage as part of the file system. Plug a thing in or connect to a service and the OS creates everything needed to make it available, much like your laptop does with its own location in the file system.

iOS can connect to things like cameras for photo transfer, but it's a one-way connection and only certain devices are supported.

Dual SIM

Many Android phones allow you to put two SIM cards in at the same time. This gives you two separate phone numbers for calls and texts, as well as access to two different data networks. iOS doesn't support this.

While not a popular feature in North America, in parts of the world a Dual-SIM phone is a must-have to cut down on roaming fees and connectivity issues. And it's a great way to have business and personal numbers on the same device you use every day.

With Android, you can decide which app is the default for things like opening internet links. On iOS, you can't.

If I install Firefox or Opera or use the Samsung browser on my Android, it's because I prefer it over Google Chrome. That means when I click a link in an email or message I want it to use the browser I like instead of the browser the people who wrote the software like. When you can make the browser you like be the default, you won't have your personal data spread out between multiple apps.

Single sign in for all the apps you really use

Apple has a pretty good selection of internet services with iCloud. It's really stepped up its game in this space during the last couple of years. But they aren't the internet services most people use. Those all come from Google.

Even people who love iOS are probably using Gmail.

Google's single account sign-in means you sign into one place and you're good with all the services. When you sign into your Android, Gmail, Google Docs, Music, Movies and TV, and every other service are ready to use and all covered under a single privacy agreement. When you sign into your iPhone, you need to download and sign into each of these services individually, which means you also have to sign out of them individually.

On the iPhone, iCloud works the same. But when is the last time you sent an email to someone using an @icoud.com address? One place to manage all your privacy and account security settings is important and Apple does it. They need to find a way to use the Google app to do the same on iOS.

Notifications

Android can handle your notifications really well. They stack nicely when you have more than one for a single app, they are informative, and you can reply from them without opening an app and marking them as read. Apple has most of these features and some of them are done really well. But only Android offers what's called a persistent notification.

Notifications are pretty good on both platforms, but Android's persistent notification feature is something Apple needs to adopt.

A persistent notification means any app can have some vital information in your notification shade when the developer thinks you'll want to see it. Important things like Amber alerts or severe weather information can be a persistent notification but so can convenience things like media playback controls or connection information (including your wireless radios and things connected via USB).

Most importantly, persistent notifications allow an app to continue working as if it were on your screen when you open another app. Having a notification lets you know an application is in the background doing stuff. The alternative is having an app do its stuff without you knowing or not letting an app do its stuff unless you're watching it on your screen.

There are plenty of subjective reasons to like one over the other when it comes to Android versus iOS, but when it comes to core services and the way things are handled, there are some things Google is doing better than Apple. These are just five of them that we would like to see Apple address as it continues to develop iOS.

A better iOS means a better Android as developers on both sides are forced to fight for our attention.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

103 Comments
  • I think Apple handles notifications better than any Android version below 7.0.
  • Indeed. I would agree with this.
  • Disagree completely. I used Android and iOS side by side for 7 years and the number 1 thing I hated about iOS was notifications. The lock screen, notification center and app badges have absolutely no correlation with each other, the way they're displayed is inefficient garbage, the button to clear was only hittable if your hands were the size of a 5 year olds, notification center feels tacked on, there's nothing indicating there's anything in there and no way to know its even there unless you already know about it, it feels like a completely separate OS stapled onto an existing one. iOS has always had the worst notification system in all of mobile, possibly in all of mobile history. I haven't used iOS 10, so maybe its improved, but from what I've heard it hasn't much.
  • Agree.. iOS notification is garbage!
  • I'm with this guy. My iPhone notifications still drive me nuts. I think the worst part that I still can't get used to is that if I get a text but don't want to read it, but I unlock my phone to do something else, that text notification no longer shows at all on my lock screen! Then I forget to follow up and hours pass before I realize it.
  • Yep.
  • "The lock screen, notification center and app badges have absolutely no correlation with each other" Yes they do. Lock screen notifications are the notifications you've missed since you last opened the phone. Notification center notifications are lock screen notifications that you haven't acted on yet. App badges are how many notifications you've received since you last opened the app. Think of it like a cascade: The lock screen shows the most recent, then the notification center shows less recent, then the app badge shows the total. iOS also offers more customization, like being able to pick where it shows up (lock screen, notification center, badge apps, sounds, or some combination of those) and the ability to choose if it should be a banner notification or an alert.
  • Lol, Riiiight
  • I disagree with the notifications. I can't stand Android notifications, mainly the way they sit there until you clear them, right at the top of the screen. I'd replace that one with in-app purchases. iPhone owners can't buy a Kindle book from Amazon, or a video from Google Play, and so on, because Apple takes a 30% cut, so all of these apps have had purchases stripped out of them.
  • You can configure notifications so they do not. Good luck configuring Apple.
  • You can configure iOS notifications. You can choose where they display, how many are displayed, and whether you want lockscreen, notification center, or badge icons. People that think this is not possible need to take a look at newer versions of iOS. I still prefer Android, but iOS is perfectly functional for me.
  • this. I love how much you can configure iOS notifications. I don't like my notifications on the lockscreen but do like the red bubbles on the icons and the sounds.
  • You have to understand that Apple haters refuse to listen or even update what they think they know about iOS. Most still think you HAVE to use iTunes to use an iPhone which hasn't been the case for years.
  • So you don't want notifications is how I'm reading that.
  • Personal preference on the notifications. I cannot stand how iOS does it. Makes me never want to use their phones.
  • I completely agree with the purchases stuff. I hate that it's so difficult to buy something from Amazon or Google Play from my iPhone.
  • You cant just buy something on the amazon app? Really??
  • You can buy from the Amazon app just fine on the iPhone. I do it weekly with no problems.
  • Not renting a movie or show from either of them. Have to do it through the web site, them come back to the app. Also, buying a Kindle book is the same way - you can't do it on the Kindle app. You have to use either the Amazon app or the web site, and tell it to deliver it to your device. And I use the Amazon app all the time also. But this goes to show that there are some weird restrictions on apps...
  • But I can't even update the Amazon apps on my android phones without turning on allow installation from unknown sources.
  • That​ is a whole ten seconds for a major security feature.
  • Yep, and i have to do it several times a week on average. I don't have to do it on iOS.
  • You're installing (or updating) Amazon apps on your iPhone or iPad? Really? I don't believe you.
  • I find notifications better on ios imo... dual sims depends on the phone anyway you won't have it with the best android phones. Storzge options is true but it has its caveats as it can be more complicated as on iphone
  • Only 5? lol
  • I enjoy using both platforms, but honestly, I find dialing a number on Android to be significantly better. Almost solely due to T9.
  • Apple will have these features in the next 2 or 3 iOS updates....but by then there will be something better....
  • I used an iPhone for a year just to see what the big deal was. The only things that I found better is how it backs up your phone, battery life, and imessage.
  • Which, if we're being honest, are three pretty big factors why people stay with iPhone. Especially the last two.
  • I have a feeling that the backup and imessage are two things that apple holds either a copyright, patent or both on.
  • Oh I think that's exactly the case, especially with iMessage. Honestly, if they ever made iMessage for Android, I'd probably never pick up an iPhone again. It's literally the one thing that keeps me tied to iOS, because 99 percent of my family and friends use iPhones exclusively. And the simplicity of iMessage - especially when it comes to sharing video (lot of babies and toddlers in my family) - has no equal.
  • I'll bet there's more than 1 out of 100 using Android.
  • I recently had to perform a factory reset on my Pixel XL and I found that the back up Google is doing now works pretty damn good. I was able to restore my phone and all my apps and the app data was there, I had all my SMS messages, only thing i had to do was log back in to some services.
  • I'm going to have to try it out on my op3. I wonder though if that's a pixel exclusive feature with the SMS.
  • It must be a Pixel feature. I had to download a seperate app to restore my sms on my Moto Z.
  • Google's back up worked great for me too. When my Nexus 6P needed a factory reset it asked me which backup I wanted to restore from after I logged back in. All app date etc. was ready to go.
  • I used an iPhone 6+ and 7 for a few months. I hated the notifications on iOS. There was only one thing that I liked about iOS that I couldn't do on Android... iMessages.
  • Great list Jerry. I enjoy both Android and iOS. My biggest problem with Android is, apps suck compared to iOS. My biggest problem with iOS is, I can't flash ROMs. It seems I'll never get either one of these problems fixed. So I'm stuck switching between the two.
  • What is so different at this point with apps? That argument held more water like 6 yrs ago.
  • Its still the same. iOS apps look and feel 6 years ahead of Android apps. This is not my opinion, it's a fact. I run them side by side and iOS apps are always better. I'm not talking about iOS has more, I'm talking about if you have the same app on both platforms, iOS will stomp Android everytime. Especially apps that use fingerprint authentication. I still love Android, I'm using a OnePlus 3T right now. I just wish the app developer's would make the same apps as good as iOS on Android, that's all I want.
  • Soooo you're saying the developers write horrible apps for android and beautiful apps for ios. Sounds like a developer problem to me, not the platform.
  • Exactly. That's exactly what I'm saying. Just like Windows phone has a developer problem also.
  • Yes and no. Bad apps reflect on the platform and the app. Snapchat is a good example of this. They admitted that they focused more on iOS and are going to shift towards raising the Android app experience to match iOS. A less severe example of this is Google. Often times Google apps get new features on iOS first and then Android some time later.
  • I don't use snapchat often, I get horrible blurry out of focus images with an S7, but I did recently notice it has improved. That is literally snapchat developers deciding to ignore the largest market share because it takes effort to optimize for the different hardware.
  • In some cases yes. For instance the BBC iPlayer app on android needs the BBC media player app installed too before it will work. On iOS you just need the one app.
    Also when it comes to processor intensive apps such as video rendering, iPhones perform much better than android phones. And this is not because android is pushing more pixels, video rendering is not dependant upon the screen resolution.
  • I think this is your opinion, not a fact. I also think it varies depending on the app. Remember, many Android apps follow material design, so that's your opinion that they look outdated, others may think the opposite.
  • It's a fact, I use iPad and a htc 10, and there are a lot of professional apps that doesn't exist in Android, a lot, high quality apps, of course they are not free.
  • Aesthetically, it's a matter if you like material design not. In terms of app selection, 95% of the time if there isn't the exact same app on Play Store there are 1 or 2 very similar ones. And the opposite happens a lot too. When I started using my iPhone, a few apps I use on Android just weren't available in the App store, but most times there are alternatives.
  • 6 years? Please... I currently have an iPhone 7+ and a Nexus 6P and pretty much all apps I use are very equal in terms of functionality. Visually it comes down to wether you prefer Material Design or a more iOS style look. Yes, there are a few apps here and there where you can nitpick, but it's not such a big deal.
  • It's a big deal. If Android is so widely used, why can't the apps perform the same? Why can't all the apps that are password protected use the fingerprint authentication like they do on iOS? My bank app takes at most 6 seconds to launch on iOS and at least 20 on Android, because of no fingerprint authentication. Microsoft apps are way better on iOS. Someone already stated that most Google apps are usually better on iOS. Is it because of fragmentation? Maybe it is because there are so many different Android devices with different specs, I don't know. I wish this wasn't the case, but it is.
  • My bank app has fingerprint recognition to launch. That is not an Android Fault but your bank's app that is the issue. It is weird that your bank would build it into one platform and not the other.
  • I know it's not my phone's fault. My question is why do developers give so much more attention to iOS these days if so many people use Android? These apps are Android apps so it is kind of an Android problem.
  • Because they have a revolting fondness for food, clothing, and shelter. They also don't have to attempt to build down to the lowest common denominator of a $100.00 phone.
  • Bank of America has finger print authentication so it might be your bank.
  • It is my bank for sure... but it's still an Android app problem. The iPhone app does have fingerprint authentication.
  • What we are saying is that is not an Android issue. It is an issue with the developer (your bank?).
  • Does it matter who is to blame; it still is a problem?
  • In the context of the article it matters since this is an Android vs. iOS piece. The issue is NOT Android related. Otherwise, nope.
  • Your bank app doesn't have fingerprint auth. because they simply didn't put yet. Fingerptrints have been working since Marshmallow. Microsoft apps? What are you talking about? Word and Excel are very good on Android, pretty much on par with their iPhone counterparts. And Arrow launcher is one of my favourite third party launchers. Google apps are mixed bag. Aesthetically they are pretty much equal, because Google uses Material Design on both systems. Sometimes the Android apps get a few features first, other times it's the iOS versions, but, generally speaking, at any point in time they are very much on par.
  • I preferred Android for most of my smartphone life. Then work forced me to use an iPhone, and I don't think I'll go back. The counter arguments: Battery life, iMessage and Facetime for family members also on the platform, iPad integration, app reliability, native voicemail and transcription, TouchID in more apps, and I truly think you got it wrong on notifications (iOS does it better). Still miss the accessible file system and flexible storage options, but that's about it.
  • Persistent notifications on Android are annoying. For me personally the LED notification light is probably the single reason I use Android over iOS, however. If iOS had a nice notification light that didn't time out over time I would be tempted to switch.
  • Agree.. I disable them.
  • Agreed. And, although you can disable them, then you run the risk of Android closing the app if it needs to free up memory. It doesn't happen often on flagship phones, but it does occasionally happen.
  • No matter how hard I try to stick to iOS, I always find myself going back to Android. Maybe it's just me. But I love the fact that I can customise my OS to pretty much anything I want, launchers are in abundance on the Android platform. So many things I love about android.
    That's not to say I don't like iOS, I do. I only get sick of using it after a few weeks. I never get sick of using android device. I love the feel of Huawei devices lately, Pixel devices are awesome, moto devices and HTC devices as well. Sony devices... Etc.
  • External storage... I just found out my SD card is corrupt... With a lot of pictures on it... Now I'll have to find a way to correct that and try to recover those pictures. I've never took it out after it was installed. I've never ran Apple... The appeal to Android was the levy of apps available... And I've gone through my fair share of them. So is there an issue of writing to the external card? Apple. The appeal there is the efficiency of the platform and the possibility of better quality of apps to some extent. And - the continued updates... To me for my purposes... They are fairly close... Android and Apple.
  • Sounds like you should do a cloud backup solution like Google Photos or One Drive in addition to having photos on your external SD card.
  • There are some software packages that can recover data from corrupt memory cards, so hopefully they work for you. Also, I'd check the authenticity of your SD card, especially if you bought it from a third party site like Amazon or Newegg. There are lots of fakes out there where they force the card to misreport the amount of space available on it (8gig card reporting as a 128gig) You put 60 gig of data on it, and suddenly, all of it's gone because it never was really there to begin with. It just kept overwriting that same 8gigs over and over. SD cards are one of the few places where I'll pay the big box retail prices to ensure I get the genuine article.
  • Hey, lots missing:
    - widgets. My 2 homescreens are mostly widgets.
    - peripheral support. I don't wish on anyone to have to do Office work on a phone or tablet, but I sometimes have to, and a mouse is a nerve-saver.
    - dual booting Windows. On some Chinese tablets. That's very handy for that Office work, and you still get the vastly superior Android apps and games for Tablet mode.
    - Android VM. Reciprocally, it's nice to be able to *cough* work (Clash of Clans !!!) in Android on your PC.
    - Desktops and Laptops. My elderly parents are reaching an age at which they're *forgetting* their meager IT skills. I'm switching them over to an Android desktop box, so it'll work like their tablet.
  • Widgets - Apple doesn't support those? Ouch. That's a key point for me... I've got weather, calendar and tasks, reminders etc. on my rotating home screens... And rotating dock - got to love Nova and Action Launcher...
  • iOS does have widgets. It might do them differently to android, but they are there.
  • Not on the home page, so not quite the same thing.
  • It puts widgets-like stuff in a separate screen, not the home screen.
  • Cool article. I'd also love to see a competing article from Mobile Nations where it explains what iOS does better than Android! I've just always been curious why so many people i know use iPhones, and i like to hear both sides.
  • Re: Single sign-on with a Google account. Once I sign in to one Google app on iOS with my account all I have to do to sign in to another is click on my name. No need to re-enter credentials.
  • android backup and restore still failed miserably unless rooted.... fix that!!!!
  • Android = Freedom!
    IOS = solitary confinement
  • Android = Freedom, which devolves into anarchy when left unchecked (OEM bloatware, carrier bloatware, disabled phone features, etc). iOS = Walled garden, but at least it's a nice walled garden?
  • I use both platforms, but I favor my HTC 10. I prefer Android buttons, launcher customization, QuickCharge, audio quality, and the way music files are stored.
  • Unfortunately, one thing iOS handles better is OS updates. Yes, I know that Nexus/Pixel phones are an exception, but most folks don't buy those. Another thing is that iOS devices don't come with carrier bloat. Why Google and the OEM's don't push back hard against this practice is beyond me. Or, as a compromise, tell the carriers they can install whatever apps they like, but they must be uninstallable, just like a user-installed app.
  • Bloat \ and lack of timely updates is what is severely guiding me to either the Pixel lineup​ from Google - or to Apple this next go around... Especially if I have to pay full price for the phone... Take away the incentives, add Samsung and AT&T bloatware to the phone to which I can't uninstall - take 170+ days for an update to my 7 Edge - and - yep - I'm looking elsewhere... Who'd a thunk of that?
  • I am new to Android from Windows Phone. Getting familiar with things. One thing I wish Android would implement is counters on the Launch Icons. Win Phone had this and I think IOS has this. I really miss seeing how many unread emails, texts or missed phone calls.
  • I'm sure there are lots of ways to do this. I use Nova launcher and the prime allows you to add unread count.
  • There are lots of little touches on iOS, that you probably don't notice, but make the experience that little bit better. For example, when I connect a Bluetooth device to my iPhone 4, I get a battery level indicator for the Bluetooth device at the side of the Bluetooth icon. I don't get this on any of my android devices despite them all being newer. When I am editing text in a document, iOS zooms in so that I can easily read what I am typing. On android i have to manually zoom in on the document. These are the small things that make iOS a more pleasurable os to use in my opinion.
  • ONE thing iOS does better than Android - generally not being rendered unusable, out of date bricks after major software updates. I'm sorry, but I'm just calling it as it is. Between the Pixel Bluetooth disconnectivity, 7.1.2 on Pixel breaking all fingerprint reader functionality, Nexus bootlooping and early shutoff (which Nougat has apparently worsened,) dead earphone jacks in Xperias, self immolating Note 7s, auto bootlooping LGs, a 1.5 year old OnePlus being absolutely abandoned, and arbitrary performance degradation after installing a FEW apps, I feel really burned about Android in general...
  • Well, iOS also has its fair share of wonky updates, some of which bricked devices (I have experienced that). Though they do have a way to reinstall the firmware with a click via iTunes.
  • Storage options is what brought me to Android many years ago. Apple still only gives a cursory nod to transferring pictures and nothing else.
    This is a sub-set of how the two companies differ in basic attitude towards users and toward OS development. Android sells the software and services and leaves the hardware mostly to OEMs. (Even Pixels are built by an OEM albeit to Google's specifications.) Apple really only makes software to sell the hardware.
    Apple's attitude is that they know what people want and they'll create the hardware/software combination that people will want to buy. If Apple doesn't include it or allow it, you don't need it.
    Google's attitude is that the users basically know what they want and the way to give it to them is to make the system as open and extensible as possible given security constraints. When Google doesn't include it or have it as an add-on, it's likely a third party will.
    I prefer Google's approach, but I can understand why people prefer Apple's.
  • Agree with Jerry's list but in general I think it true that with each successive OS update Android and iOS become more like each other and there aren't glaring user experience differences between the two as there were say in the ICS/iOS 5 days. Only thing I'd correct Jerry on is some of us iPhone turncoats who went Android like me still use our @me.com email.
  • 2 more than my perspective... Widgets on my home screen and (Nova Prime) launchers!!
  • I didn't know, I've never used ios though I would like to. Tell more so that I must be aware of the cons.
  • Mr. Jerry, what do you think be better Samsung whatch or Apple watch to get? I do have Android phone and Iphone 7.
  • We can definitely agree with the storage options part. Should've also tossed headphone jack management in there as well!
  • Headphone jacks!
  • If all I had to choose from was between Samsung for Android and iOS, I'd definitely have an iPhone and an iPad. Thankfully though, Touchwiz crap does not define Android. Therefore, I have four Android phones and a Nexus 10.
  • Idk I have never own an iPhone, I only play with my mom's and brothers every now and then. But I get easily frustrated. I need my three navigation buttons at the bottom of the screen: back, home and multitasking. Most apps if not all have a back arrow in the hardest part to reach: upper left corner (whack). But I do admit I see most apps work and look way better on iOS. And I still think Android still lacks in having a better messaging system similar to iMesage.
  • Swipe right in iOS to go back. Also if it is a 6s or 7 series use 3D Touch on the left of the screen to open multitasking.
  • Thanks for the info. I'll try it out next time I use one.
  • There's also the option to double-touch the home button to engage Reachability, which brings the UI half-way down the screen.
  • You can visit the playstore on your computer and download apps to your phone without being tied to your computer. You can't do that with iOS. They way iOS handles notifications pales in comparison to Android. Having an indicator on your status bar is way better than a bubble especially if that app is not on 1st page on the home screen.
  • Now app downloads through desktop iTunes automatically download on all your iOS devices.
  • - The back button.
    - Alternate app stores (Amazon, Humble Bundle, etc).
  • One thing iOS does better with notifications is that apps need my permission before they can notify me. That way PvZ2 won't beg me to play it and make me wade through a few options to turn that off.
  • Google Assistant/Now voice recognition and search is superior.
  • Bizarre that you mentioned browsers, but missed the big advantage that many readers don't realize. There is only one browser engine on iOS... Mobile Safari. So, you don't really get to choose your browser period. When you use Chrome on iOS you are actually using the Mobile Safari engine.