Does Google's commitment to iOS make the iPhone a better buy?
Earlier this week, Google released a redesigned version of its Gmail app for iOS, bringing it more in line with its Android equivalent. It's a big upgrade, and something that, after years of neglect, seemed a long time coming.
But it also brought back to life an argument that, for many people, the iPhone, with its impressive hardware, great camera(s), rich app ecosystem and, of course, iMessage, may be a better showcase for Google services than Android itself. Of course, many disagree, but the iPhone has a 44% market share in the U.S., and Apple maintains a lot of influence over the smartphone world.
For some Android faithful, Google's commitment to iOS development is confusing: why create great apps for a competing platform when you want people to buy Galaxys, Motos and, ideally, Pixels? Ultimately, Google wants your data, and wants to show you ads, and will do so wherever people are, and that is increasingly on iOS and Android.
Indeed, the last couple of years has seen Google bring almost every notable app and service to Apple's platform, including long holdout Keep. If you look at Google's developer page on the App Store (opens in new tab), it looks fairly similar to what you'd find on Android: YouTube, Maps, Chrome, Earth, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Hangouts, Photos, Calendar, Inbox, Books, Music, Movies, Wallet, Allo, Duo, Newsstand, Keep and plenty others. Even Google Search has its own app. What you won't find are apps that Apple doesn't allow, like an alternate dialler, or an unnecessary intervention like a camera app.
You'll also find apps like Gboard (opens in new tab), a pretty great third-party iOS keyboard, that many people think should be ported over to Android in some form.
In all, Google has 80 apps to its name right now on iOS, slightly under Microsoft's 88 and nearly twice as many as Apple itself. This doesn't really mean anything other than Google is trying to make its most important services platform-independent, but it also brings up an important point: The prevailing tension between Android and iOS is far more about hardware than software, especially for someone entrenched in the Google ecosystem.
This is doubly true when looking at the sorry state of Android tablets, which we've been doing in the run-up to the holidays. While many Android users would be happy with a Pixel C, Yoga Book or Galaxy Tab S2, they would likely be just as happy, if not more so, with an iPad. An iPad that runs all of the above Google apps, plus hundreds of thousands of others for which care has been taken to optimize them for the larger screen.
Lots of us here at Android Central like the Google Pixel, which borrows more than a couple of pages out of the Apple playbook. It attempts to standardize elements of Android that were left to the interpretation of various third parties, and it introduces an environment where Google is comfortable offering exclusive services, like Assistant, that are not available to other hardware vendors. People use it as a pejorative, but it's true that in many ways the Pixel is the iPhone of the Android world.
The main argument I hear for wanting to stick with iPhone, even as an Android fan and a Google loyalist, is iMessage. That Apple's closed-loop messaging service is hard to quit once you're in it — lock-in in the purest sense. Apple did a lot in iOS 10 to make iMessage more attractive and useful, but its success is also a source of frustration for many Android users left out of that experience.
WhatsApp leads the charge for a cross-platform option, along with myriad other services from Kik to WeChat, but Google's own attempts to build a viable alternative to iMessage with Allo have fallen flat, and a push to introduce a more open platform built on top of existing SMS protocols will take time, and may never be a comprehensive solution.
The appeal of Android is considerably wider than just included Google services, though. Its success comes from the variability of the hardware — in size, form factor, material, color and, of course, price — and from inherent advantages to having an "open" platform. Despite the increasing similarities between the two platforms, Android — especially on Nougat — still handles notifications more elegantly, and there is an argument to be made that a universal share API is far more powerful on Android than it could ever be on iOS. The flexibility of on-screen navigation buttons alone speak to the myriad ongoing cultural differences between Android and iOS. For many people, that's enough to stay in the Android fold, and I wouldn't blame you if you never left. It's pretty nice down here.
But, playing Devil's Advocate for a moment, in a world where, increasingly, you can access the best of Google from anywhere, what would it take for you to switch to the iPhone?
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Daniel Bader was a former Android Central Editor-in-Chief and Executive Editor for iMore and Windows Central.
1) put a better camera in the iPhone for example by 'borrowing' the HDR+ feature from the Google Camera
2) Allowed third-party apps to control in-camera post processing (NR, sharpening).
3) allowed downgrading iOS to any version supported by your particular model.
I recall doing similar manoeuvres back in the days when I was a big fan of Samsung's Galaxy S series. This is my main gripe with Apple, how they're not permitting downgrading (except for a brief period after the release of a new iOS update) even though it's technically possible.
On Android the camera API does expose control over noise reduction and sharpening without having to use RAW. Having said that, it's up to the device manufacturer to decide how much control to expose. My Padfone S offers no control while the Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro I had earlier, which incidentally also could be downgraded, permitted adjusting sharpening and NR but didn't support RAW capture.
b) Apple finally put a compelling enough hardware package for me to consider (the only weak link might be the screen);
c) Where I live (Portugal/Europe), the 7 plus has a serious lack of Android competition right now (the Note 7 went kaboom, the LG V20 will not launch in Europe, the Pixel XL still hasn't been relased in my country);
d) I use Google apps for pretty much everything and they are also on iOS (though they are not as well integrated into the OS, I know);
e) I have used a Samsung phone for the last 4 years and really want something different. Right now my choice is between the iPhone 7 Plus and the Huawei Mate 9 (which I think will be launched before the end of the year). iMessage is not even a factor in my decision because everybody here uses FB Messenger and WhatApp PS: The iPhone has 44% market share in the US? Kantar just relased their figures and they estimate a 34% share...
apple maps sucked for the first year or two, but apple maps are now 5 years old. came out in 2012. There is Nothing wrong with apple maps now.
it even launches Night mode automatically at night.
You would say Hey Siri instead of OK Google.
I feel like picking a side and putting a fence up is one of the dumbest things people in america do. I like iOS, Android, WP, OSX, windows, Ubuntu etc. why do I have to hate others because I picked one? what a waste.
People miss out on SO much doing this idiotic side picking and misc company hatred because Hating is Cool....
As an iPhone user, green bubbles don't bother Apple users... really? Do you really think people are "annoyed" because your bubble isn't blue?
Tech is way to fun and cool to be so narrow minded. I love something about every single os on the market. but, I find each one is FUN to learn and see just what it can and can't do. And, since I don't "hate because hate is cool" I enjoy playing around with damn near anything that lights up and beeps.
Not at the moment I'm sure - so how far is Apple prepared to bend across to tempt iVirgins? (never had an iPhone, but my wall is coming down and I would try if I had spare cash)
You do Not have to cut, copy and paste photos. You just need to learn how to use iTunes and the file system on your computer.
i also like the Dual stereo speakers and waterproof on the iPhone 7 better compared to Google Pixel. iPhone 7 Plus has better standby time and better battery life.
also its better in games and i you can get bigger storage like 256Gb compared to Google Pixel,
if Google Pixel at least had waterproof and dual stereo speakers then it had better chance face to face, pound for pound fight with iPhone 7 Plus.
but iPhone 7 Plus easily win's.
I understand why people like one vs the other. I have always used google for contacts, calendars etc since it would sync with iOS OR android when switching back and forth.
One thing that takes iOS to higher level is when your daily computer is a Mac.
The way iOS and OSX talk to each other and compliment each other is something google can not do.
(chromebooks do not count as a real computer, sorry) Being able to get all my iMessages and/or phone calls and the way everything just transitions from one device to the next, like Air drop (native, no external 3rd party junk) hand off, Calendars, bookmarks, reader saves, etc etc.
You can do "some' of this with a whole bunch of 3rd party crap, but with iOS/OSX, it just works. That is when the Magic of IOS really comes into focus. I love being able to be on the crapper reading an article on AC and when I walk back to my computer, there's a little safari "ghost" icon that I click and it takes me to the EXACT spot I left off on the phone.
Android can't do this using windows and again, chromebooks are not computers.
Anyways. I get why people Love Android. it really is awesome. I also get why people love iOS and why they love is magnified 10X when the have a Mac to go along with it. I use a 5K iMac. its absolutely an excellent machine. Anyone who hates on OSX just doesn't know anything at all about it.
I also bootcamp Windows 10 as well. So now I have access to iOS, OSX, Windows 10, Ubuntu (via bootable thunderbolt drive) and I also have a windows phone. I usually have both android and iOS available at the same time. I don't currently since I couldn't get a Note 7.
If you have a windows system, its just not the same and Android is just as good as iOS in that situation.
For me, I just Love the way they work together. I still Love android too. It truly is an awesome phone OS.
I honestly can be happy with either OS. I like having access to both.
I still love my windows phone, but WP is indeed dead. sad though, I really wanted a 3rd player in the game.
I allwaya protect my phone with silicon case against drop, and it allways helped.
From an android phone, i just get much more than from iphone.
Its my pocket compiter with endless possibilities. Time ago i ordered my first apple device (ipad pro) and every day i realize how bordered that device is.
I have no controll over my files, no multiple users (on my nexus tablet i use two accounts, private and work) No back button, so each app has the back button on other side of the huge display. Only benefit is the one app i use for editing video (pinnacle studio) which runs only there and is amazing. I think delevopers should work on better apps on android, still there are thousands of rubbish apps there not worth to install. Not much pro apps