The differences between Android and iOS are rapidly evaporating

Through years of feature cloning and one-upmanship, Android and iOS have slowly become the same thing. Every year we see Apple and Google take to the stage with broad messages, which sound like different overall missions, only to see individual features that closely resemble the other offering.

As I sit here with an iPhone X to my left and a Google Pixel 2 to my right, I can honestly pick up either and comfortably use it without feeling like any one major feature is missing from the experience I appreciate on the other. Through no manipulation of my own, aside from the apps I choose to install, the differences between these two experiences have all but faded away.

For my use, and I suspect for many others as well, there are no major functional differences between iOS and Android anymore.

How we got here

I've been an Android guy from day one — picked up an HTC G1 because it gave me a Linux terminal I could carry in my pocket. I was a server admin at the time, so being able to remote in from the tiny computer in my pocket held tremendous value. Also, having come from the LG enV line of phones, I appreciated the hardware keyboard. While I have bought and tried every iPhone that has ever been released, I never really enjoyed the experience. Android got its hooks in me first, but never deep enough for me to not try what was offered elsewhere.

Today, the iPhone X feels just as feature-complete and enjoyable to use as my other favorite phone, because both companies have made so many moves to copy features found on the other side.

These details only matter to nerds like me, and with each generation those differences fade.

A lot has changed for both iOS and Android since those early days. As each of these platforms matured, it became necessary to implement both hardware and software features others found compelling. Tech nerds look at little things like the ability to copy and paste or the decision to use larger displays as these major efforts to copy the competition, but the reality is the major things were already fairly similar. You pick up the phone, open an app, use the app, and put the phone back down.

As much as Apple likes to crow about security or Google about intelligence, the truth is the way most people use their phones has always depended a lot more on whether your phone had access to the things your friends have access to. So these minor things that made the apps easier to use or more convenient to share from became priorities to implement everywhere.

If you look deeply at these operating systems, you can see the small differences so many tech bloggers will claim are enormous which separate them. Android makes it easier to share information between apps, for example. If I click a YouTube link in one app, it always opens the YouTube app to play the video instead of opening YouTube in the browser. Meanwhile, Apple offers the kind of granular control over the information your apps take and deliver that I dream of on Android.

Neither of these things matter to someone like my sister, whose biggest concern is whether her phone has the latest fitness app update or a fun new camera app to play with her kids. These details only matter to nerds like me, and with each generation, those differences fade.

When the most important thing is apps, it becomes important to make sure your operating system offers the best version of an experience and then make sure it can't be had elsewhere. For Apple, that app has always been iMessage.

Google has tried and failed to capture the magic of popular messaging apps more times than I care to count, while Apple fans consider receiving messages from someone not using an iPhone a mark of shame. Meanwhile, Google's computational photography keeps the Pixel phones in the camera lead without actually offering a superior sensor. Apple and Google could easily share here, but these apps are now ammunition in the effort to encourage users to switch from one to the other.

Where we go from here

I've spent a lot of time over-simplifying the comparison between these two to make a point, but it's important to highlight one major difference. In this effort to make apps a form of currency, Google faces challenges that Apple will never need to worry about.

Samsung controls the vast majority of Android's market share, and regularly tries to make its own versions of Google's software stand out from Google's. The Pixel phones aren't the most popular Android phones, but they set the standard for how Android should look and feel. Not only do the Galaxy phones not do everything the Pixel phones can do, but the experience is also muddied with bad copies of Google's best features. Google lacks the absolute control of its platform Apple possesses, which is why a lot of changes come through its Play Services system instead of through full operating system updates. Google can't update every part of a phone this way, but the parts this software can touch are easy to adjust and improve almost instantly.

Apple and Google are competing at an absurdly even footing for this to be possible.

There's also a big problem with universality in the Apple ecosystem. If you use all Apple products, the experience can be quite good. Deviate from that, and things start to fall apart.

The only fitness tracker that talks to Apple's excellent health ring and achievement system the right way is the Apple Watch. HomePod is only really useful if you use Apple Music. But it goes deeper than hardware, and that's where things become truly problematic. Apple's keyboard isn't my favorite, but I can never truly disable it in favor of one I prefer. The Apple keyboard takes over whenever I'm entering a password in order to protect me, and then some apps will default to Apple's keyboard instead of the one I have selected.

Another example is the browser. Safari is the default for everything and if you deviate from that your general experience across the OS suffers unnecessarily. Granted, in this case, Safari is generally the best performing browser on iOS, but it's an unmistakably user-hostile move to tell users they can have whatever apps they want and then artificially limit the capabilities of those non-Apple products.

Many — possibly even a majority — of Apple users are happy with platform lock-in. Similarly, a great many Android users are happy with whatever is provided on the phone to start. This is why many U.S. carriers tried for so long to exercise greater control over the apps that came included on phones; the money to be made from app developers who coveted that space in front of our eyeballs was enormous. And it continues to happen in a lesser sense today because it works.

The apps included on a phone are more likely to be the one used, unless that person has friends or co-workers all using some other app. While we spend an increasing amount of time in apps, research suggests more than half of us don't regularly go looking for new ones to install.

The bottom line here, at least for me, is how impressive it is for these two platforms to have grown to be nearly indistinguishable from a functionality perspective. The buttons may be in different places, and the number of taps and swipes I have to accomplish a task may be slightly higher or lower, but I can't point to any one thing in my day-to-day I can't do on one of these phones that I can do on the other. I have a little more control over how things look on Android, and I'm a fan of the way I can (sometimes) pick up my iPad and be right where I left off in an article on my iPhone, but there's very little else about the experiences I can point at and say I absolutely must have to enjoy my phone and see it isn't available on the other.

To me, this all spells fantastic news for the future of Android.

To me, that's fantastic news for Android. Apple and Google are competing on an absurdly even footing for this to be possible. Comparing the quality of cameras is a matter of the most minute details. The performance of these high-end phones is nearly indistinguishable. All of my apps exist everywhere. As a tech blogger with access to all of this hardware, I'm in a uniquely privileged position to make this claim, but I can honestly switch from an iPhone X to a Pixel 2 and not really feel like I'm making a huge switch. The maturity of these platforms makes that possible, but it also makes the rush to make other things that keep users from switching a greater priority than polishing some rough edges in this next generation.

Russell Holly

Russell is a Contributing Editor at Android Central. He's a former server admin who has been using Android since the HTC G1, and quite literally wrote the book on Android tablets. You can usually find him chasing the next tech trend, much to the pain of his wallet. Find him on Facebook and Twitter

  • Apple has been adding features to iOS that Android already had - so they are catching up. Android is still much more customizable than iOS as you can make the home screen the way you want.
    One problem is that Apple limits iOS to only iPhones & iPads whereas Android can be installed on any device. Also, Apple does not make it's own apps for Android. Apple tightly controls iOS more than Google with Android
  • I have used both and vastly prefer Android. The flexibility one has with Android is so much greater than iOS. For example, using lastpass on Android is so much better than iOS because it will fill in logins/passwords for you without my having to open the app and copy and paste between apps. That alone is a winner for me.
  • Great article. I used iOS early on and I was happy. Then I got the Motorola Atrix 2 and I have never looked back. I do own a Mac and up until last year, we had an iPad in our household. I don't care about who's better, it's a matter of what I need out of it. The being tied down to Apple-centric apps, horrific way iOS handles notifications, and the sharing system keeps me on Android for my phone.
  • "... nearly indistinguishable from a functionality perspective..." I guess, "functionality" is in the eye of beholder -- you, probably, never had to share random content (EPUB book, PDF document, even a picture) with your iOS-toting friend or relative *without using online service*. More important (to me anyway) is how spectacularly Apple software breaks, however rarely that happens -- I am watching my friend trying to get mobile data service working on his phone with the help of both Apple and carrier support people. Three weeks and replacement phone later he is still nowhere to be connected -- the only working solution is to reset the phone *and lose all of the iMessages* -- restoring full backup happily returns the phone to the disconnected state. And yes, separate iMessage backup and restore is promised in iOS 11.3, some time later this year.
  • Would be nice if Android had more granular privacy controls. Rather than always allowing an app to get my location, "While Using" would be great. Both iOS and Android would be better if I could have "ask me every time" for an app wanting my location, or camera, or photos.
  • I agree about that when it comes to location. I feel like while using is the best balance for most things, because do you really need location for every single app? At the same time, there are times when you need it for the moment and only for that.
  • Photos usually have GPS data, so in theory, if an app can get your photos whenever it wants, it can get your location whenever you take a photo. Hence I wish they had to ask each time.
  • Honestly, there are only two things that's keeping me from Android this days. The customization (I'm hardcore with this with nova, kwgt and klwp while emulating the look of windows phone and ios is pretty fun as well) and my deep library of paid apps and games. I had an iphone 5s for a while and found the experience to be alright. The simplicity of ios have its merits but switched back a few months later because I feel like its a waste to just leave my android apps and games behind. Now that Google services(and MS) are on full swing on ios too I can definitely switch back and still feel at home.
  • MS still offers a lot more for Android (MS launcher, Lockscreen), but if you're talking MS Office, OneDrive etc, yeah, it's pretty much the same.
  • I couldn't disagree more. I hate the way android looks... It does look like iOS... So I changed it with substratum. And I'm not talking about a simple customisation, but a core philosophy of the software: Android is open, iOS is closed.
  • Android is great in many ways. However, the UI is at the mercy of the OEM. No matter which launcher you use, unless it is stock Android there is always an issue. My big complaint is the lack of a single, combined messaging service that has MMS/SMS/RCS and secure IP messaging. Having 3 or 4 different apps that do different things is dumb. Allo and Duo and Hangouts and Android messaging, what's the point. Maybe these apps are all being used as betas and then will eventually be merged together as one useful app that does it all... Oncr they do that then I think there will be no real distinct difference between the two systems other than apps.
  • If You have last version of Android - Oreo, than You can easily mod it's UI with Substratum and Andromeda. With Sony's RRO included, You can mod almost anything there is (there are 1 or 2 things You cannot, coz it needs RRO2).
  • On which damned planet is this crap true? Lol, you can't even run a proper torrent client on iOS. No file management means my whole way of listening to music doesn't exist on iOS. I can't properly manage my documents on iOS either. Especially if something happens to my internet connection and I can't get to use Google drive as I will be forced to do if I'm on iOS. There is no proper flac support and I wouldn't be able to listen to 24 bit files either. I would need the garbage known as itunes on my Linux box to properly transfer anything and any computer that doesn't have iTunes would leave me stranded. I would HAVE to use Windows. I use Windows if I feel like it, I don't want to have to use it. I also wouldn't be able to download any file type I want, only the ones Apple says I can use. I would also be completely restricted 1080p and lower. (I would never get the iPhone 10, that notch is an abomination). These are pretty big differences. I'm sorry, but I wholeheartedly disagree. iOS and Android are night and day. Android is the day and iOS is the night without the moon and stars or even a flash light.
  • Lol. Loved your comment. It's amazing how frustrated I get when trying to help my mom with her iPhone or her iPad. Things are just so hard to find on ios, it's like Apple does it on purpose.
  • Your use case sounds very specific and it is person dependent. A good amount of people I know don't care about those things. Maybe the iTunes thing might be annoying but otherwise, the rest of it doesn't sound like things that would bother a good amount of people.
  • Agree, this article wasn't meant for someone like him. I do agree with the author though. I have switched twice in the last 4 years and have enjoyed both OS. I never felt like I was compromising too much on either platform.
  • Seriously? Are you guys smoking crack? The lack of file structure access on iOS is extremely limiting, and completely bass-ackwards. This is a huge deal for anyone who has ever used any other operating system, from unix, to irix, to windows, to any flavor of linux including Android. I have an iPad Pro at home which I bought recently for art purposes (I draw and I'm really happy in this regard with my purchase), but every time I want to export something off the iPad it makes me want to punch someone in the face. Maybe this is fine since there are workarounds, but considering everything else the hardware and software can do, this is one of the most retarded choices by Apple to not provide access to the file structure. Overall I find iOS to be extremely un-intuitive, and I've honestly used dozens of other operating systems in my 40+ years on this blue orb. Prior to my i-Pad purchase I assumed everything will be super easy on iOS based on how much Apple fanboys and fangirls brag about their OS. Nope, just infuriatingly bad. Don't even get me started on the Apple "eco" system of apps that are only designed to suck money out of your pocket and put it in Apple corporate coffers.
  • No crack, I prefer prescription drugs. Again, I want access to a file structure. I want to be able to move things around etc. But no one else I know cares. So it's a limit to us (you and me) but it's not a limit to the casual user. The majority of those who buy smartphones. That is who Apple sells to.
  • Doubled. Sorry about that.
  • Summed up perfectly
  • I agree with everything the OP said and more. I loathe Apple. Thank you for saving me the typing time!!
  • only tech nerds would give a crap about Anything you just said.
    ask your mom or aunt what flac files are, or 24 bit files are. they couldn't care less.
    ask mom what she uses for music: pandora, iheart radio ... etc
    even being fairly nerdy myself, think half of what you are saying is just nerd garbage.
    use Apple music or google music. files: seriously, are you going to Seriously "work" on files on a 5" screen?
    files: if i seriously need them. google drive. icloud drive. drop box. MS OneDrive.......etc
    NO ONE but tech nerds trying to be different for bragging rights or whatever uses Linux.
    1 in a million people even knows what Linux is.
    There is Nothing wrong with Windows or macOS, other than the fact you chose to Not like them.
    I have the iPhone X (& Note 8) and the notch literally disappears after using it for 5 minutes.
    it is not an "abomination" ... pfft... drama-queen much?
    i disagree with your assessment. 99% of iOS & Android users do Nothing that you do on a phone.
    Sharing from an iPad couldn't Be an easier. Maybe you just are so smart, you don't know how to use it....
    of course it would also help if you understood at all what the author was saying. fanboyism prevented comprehension.
  • "Sharing from an iPad couldn't Be an easier. Maybe you just are so smart, you don't know how to use it...." Would you care to substantiate this, especially for the case when you *do not* have an Internet connection? The real life use case being exchanging photos and unprotected (no DRM) books on the cruise ship (no cellular service and metered and *really* expensive WiFi).
  • If everyone like mayconvert does the world's would be awesome.
    OP was spot on.
  • The 2 major features that make ios a no go for me, notifications and widgets. Pair that along with ios having no file manager that's as capable as android and customization being non existent on ios, that is why I only own an iPad and not an iPhone.
  • This is exactly what I logged on to say.
  • Notifications were awful. Just tried switching to iPhone X and couldn't stand the notification system. What a mess!
  • This article felt forced, almost like they want to get woo ios users. I understand some of the points but there as some big differences between ios and Android that make this article not that good after you read it. Oh well.
  • "Not only do the Galaxy phones not do everything the Pixel phones can do, but the experience is also muddied with bad copies of Google's best features." Wow. I didn't know that being a Pixel fan could make one so delusional.
    If "Pixel phones set the standard for how Android should look and feel", then every Android phone needs to be bland, featureless, and not innovative. Do I have to remind you that the reason why Android features multi-windows, power saving mode, do not disturb mode, quick settings, quick camera launch, smart Lock, display color modes, etc. is basically... Samsung's "muddied" smartphones?
    Those features, that you called garbage a few years ago, but which you couldn't live without today, and that you now call "Google's best features"... And in a few months, when Google will announce that Android's next version adds support for stylus tools, control over the resolution of apps, a video and sound enhancer... you will break out into tears before Lord Google, thanking Him for such innovative features.
  • Well said. Many of the features in the Pixel today are copied from other vendors and added to the base OS. When that happens, vendors often remove duplicate features from their image. Honestly, Google's best feature is allowing you to use whatever you want, because their version of many apps pale in comparison to what you can find in the store. In fact, the only Google apps I use on my phone off the top of my head is Gboard, YouTube, Family Link, and Drive. Three of those apps are not duplicated by vendors. I will occasionally use Photos over Gallery for the face recognition, but Gallery has some nice features that Photos doesn't have which is why I use both.
  • Pretty sure Android already has stylus tool support as part of AOSP.
  • Maybe, but the Note series has had stylus support (and a stylus) since 2011. The fact that OEMs can innovate by customizing and adding to Android is what drives Android forward.
  • Just wanted to write same thing. Android is not one company, so we can compare Android and iOS, but not "Apple iOS" and "Google Android", as there is no such thing - Google owns only it's services, not the OS.
    And some people may say that's coz Apple have they own environment. However whos "faukt" is that? Only Apple can be blamed that they don't want to work with other companies.
  • Had a S7E and now a Pixel 2 XL. The big difference is the Pixel is as smooth as butter and the S7E was very laggy. It would get worse over time and would have to factory reset from time to time. I could measure when changing screen orientation it would take several seconds for it to change. Then a factor reset and would be acceptable for a bit but then slow down. For whatever reason Google has the Pixel so it is smooth and stays smooth. I do miss wireless charging. But the surprising thing for me is thought the squeeze was such a gimmick but now just love it. I would be hard pressed to not have it at this point. I squeeze my iPhone all the time and so wish Apple would adopt this feature. I have only owned one Samsung phone in my life and could not see myself owning another. What I heard about Samsung before buying was exactly my experience. As long as Google continues to deliver with the Pixel suspect it will be my Android phone I carry for a long time. This along with my iPhone but really with the Pixel find myself using the iPhone less and less.
  • "For my use, and I suspect for many others as well, there are no major functional differences between iOS and Android anymore." How could the difference in file management not be considered a "major funtional" difference. It's huge!
  • I will have to say that every one in my family and most of my friends could care less about a true file manager. I think he is right. We here on a tech site are tech enthusiasts and we want to control and get into everything related to our phones. My wife, father, mother, brother, friends, teammates etc, just don't care. They don't do half the stuff on their phone that I (we) do. They want a good camera, text (they don't care if its SMS, iMessage etc.), web, email and apps.
  • I agree with rchapman80 here, but I primarily think in most cases it has more to do with ignorance being bliss. Many people happily plod along either not knowing what they are missing, or not knowing there is a better way to do something. They think that's just how it is, and never give it another thought. So while a file manager is important to some, it's not important to many because they just don't know any better.
  • Silly me. I guess I shouldn't have posted this on a "tech" site.
  • Not only everyone in your family but I could care less about file management, flac, and all the other tech stuff mentioned in posts above. So many here getting their shorts in a bunch, the point of the article is for "most" of the users, not the tech nerds. don't have to be a tech nerd to participate in this site.
  • I've never really considered it on iOS. You have to understand that as there hasn't ever really been "local" document/movies/music storage on iOS other than a very clunky interface through iTunes once upon a time, people just use online services. They backup to iCloud
  • The vast majority of people do not need a local file manager on the phone. Plus with Google Drive you basically have a file manager on the iPhone it is just cloud based.
  • Im forced you use an iphone for work, and even have my personal phone as the X now, just so I can carry one phone when I want and still have everything. I still prefer Android, just for the choices in hardware alone. Im not here to preach how Ios is better, but I do agree with Russell that they are much more similar now. I have my iphones/ipad Googled out, and MS apps. They are all working fairly well with ios 11. And at least Apple tried to introduce a file system, finally. Still a bit rough. The one thing I wish for on ios? Any keyboard that I can have numbers all the time! Imessage is great for the ipad or mac, but on iphone it doesnt matter. Could care less if its green or blue. As long as I get the message!
  • "Im forced you use an iphone for work, and even have my personal phone as the X now, just so I can carry one phone when I want and still have everything."
    Android devices with Dual SIM capability wouldn't be better? Both numbers in one place = no need to keep 2 devices, everything in really one place (nt on 2 devices in one environment).
  • Yes, they would, sans the fact my company actually develops their own apps, which are iOS specific. Took me a year after working for this company(which acquired my old company) to get over it lol. I would even settle for a dual sim iPhone at this point.....
  • I think most of you are missing the point of THIS article. I'm not saying you're wrong, but the point here is that for a majority of AVERAGE users, the two systems function mostly the same. Those of us reading this article, and especially those of us taking the time to respond here in the comments, are NOT the AVERAGE user. We are beyond that. We DO look to customize to high heaven. We DO want to have complete control of our files.
    I'm the ONLY person in my family that desires to use a phone like this. My wife, her parents, my parents, and siblings (save for one brother) all have no usage scenario where they would need that level of interaction from a mobile phone. Sure, a few of them use Android, but most of them are doing great with iPhones. Those other few with Androids use their phones entirely "stock," making almost no customization other than wallpapers and/or changing the ringtone. I have used both systems over the years, and I do agree with this article for the most part.
    My one big nitpick here is notifications, which I view as a basic functionality of a smartphone. iOS is laughably behind here. Android's method of notifying users of information is light years ahead, and should definitely be the next feature for these 2 companies to copy from one to the other.
  • I agree with much of what you said, but some things in the article refer to the non-average user. Do you honestly think the average user really cares whether the person they are texting with is giving them blue or green chat bubbles? The words, "mark of shame" were used in regard to that. I highly doubt the average user thinks that way.
  • Yeah I agree that that is exaggerated a bit. Although, having iMessage to converse with the wife was nice when I had a iPhone 7+ before my Pixel 2 XL.
  • Notifications in iOS have some quirks, mostly around 3D touch and whether you should tap or swipe them, and the fact that they disappear once you have been notified and very occasionally you wish you could just see the original notification again (that last one is more a 3rd party app design issue though) but they are way better now than they perhaps were in the past when you saw them. With Apple Watch, notifications work a lot better also. How are Android notifications that much better? Last time I used Android they were much the same as iOS unless you're talking something to do with different colour LED status lights or something I'd not considered:)
  • Yeah I think they're better now than in the past, but still are messy. iOS notifications weren't grouped (or were grouped poorly) and you never knew you had any once you unlocked your device. They're then gone from the lock screen, and you have no indication of having any until you pull down the notification center. Android's notifications are grouped smartly, persist in the lockscreen until dismissed, and are presented to you in the status bar. And while I realize you can quick reply to messages straight from a notification with a 3D press, Android's presentation of quick replies is more obvious and streamlined in my eyes.
  • Exactly! My wife and son could care less about any of the things we all do like customization. Most I know think I'm nuts because I do.
  • Ha, yep! I was blown away when my wife actually started using folders on her iPhone's homescreens recently. She brought 5 or more pages down to just 2 I think. That was a huge step! Now to get her to clean up all those notifications...
  • Man this is the kind of article I’d expect to find on Phone Arena. WTF is happening to AC? I can now see why a lot of my favorite posters have moved on.
  • You mean the difference between the Pixel and the iPhone are disappearing
  • Exactly. And the difference between iPhone and Pixel sheep is almost non existent, even down to the crappy “iMore” like website redesign lol. Mercifully for the rest of us, there aren’t nearly as many Pixel owners.
  • "The Pixel phones aren't the most popular Android phones, but they set the standard for how Android should look and feel." It's not setting a standard, and "should" is a particularly bad word to use. It's simply how Google wants its phones to look and feel. What makes Android great is that OEMs can (within limits) decide how they want Android to look and feel. You know, be together, not the same?
  • And they are not setting the standard, just follows other Android OEMs. Same for Apple. If Apple wouldn't copy Android from looks (I still remember them fighting Samsung for copying iPhone look) to software (most features come from AOSP or OEMs implementations).
  • Have the Pixel 2 XL and easily the best smartphone I have ever used. So to me is setting the standard for Android. It is as smooth as butter and what every Android OEM should strive for. I had a Samsung S7E and it was just horrible. It gave Android a bad name.
  • I'd say 'functionally' iMessage/facetime is a pretty big differentiator. Likewise the notifications, which work quite differently on android, and the always on display of Samsung and others are also a huge part of how I interact with the phone.
  • Maybe for you, perhaps some young people, but I doubt it is with the average person older than 30. My wife gave up iMessage, a heavy user of it too, and not once did I hear her mention that she misses it. I have not once heard anyone use iMessage as a reason for why they need/want to stick with iOS outside of the Interrnet. It's not like those features don't exist on other phones, they just don't all exist in the same app. Inconvenient, sure, "big differentiator", hardly.
  • I would say they are quite a big differentiator based on what people's friends are using. Occasionally when my friends use iMessage to message me and I only have cell coverage, not data, it will send as a green bubble and they'll say something like "Did you move over to try Android again?!?" not having iMessage likewise caused some friction with my partner who was still on iPhone to the extent that we had to switch to WhatsApp while I still had the Android phone, but only to talk to each other. It was just a bit annoying and meant that I grabbed the next launched iPhone. Also, if you have a Mac, you can send iMessages from the messages app and all the conversations are combined and kept synced, so you do actually lose some functionality.
  • The day i found myself really frustrated for not being able to pass photos between my fiancee's iPhone and my Windows notebook, was the day I decided never go to iOS. The file management in those things are awful, a short look at the files in any Android connected into an usb cable and my PC is all you need to find photos and other files. My thoughts here.
  • To transfer between mac and iPhone or iPhone to iPhone Airdrop is usually the fastest option, unless it's lots of files. However, assuming you use Photo Library, your photos are synced via iCloud to the Photos app anyway. On Windows you could just use Explorer and the lightning cable to drag and drop them couldn't you?
  • One feature that still hasn't been duplicated, thankfully, is iTunes. Apple's dependence on iTunes has gotten better over the years, but I will never buy another Apple product until the iTunes dependency is eliminated completely.
  • Anyone that considers a non-iMessage as a "mark of shame" really needs to get their perspective on life adjusted. I say this not because I don't have iMessage, but because I don't care that I don't have iMessage and would never waste time messaging someone that felt that way. That's ridiculous if true!
  • I installed iTunes for my wife's iPhone, but I found that we never actually used it. It's a good thing, too, because I hate iTunes. I uninstalled it and nothing has changed.
  • I wouldn't say its a mark of shame, exactly but it's just weird and unusual when I get a green message pop up, usually indicating something is wrong e.g. my data coverage hasn't been picked up or it's spam, because everybody else I get messages from uses iMessages and it's blue.
  • iTunes as an app just keeps getting worse and worse, too. The idea that Apple knows how to write simple, intuitive software is a joke when it comes to iTunes.
  • Nice article, thanks. I use both OS's daily and iMessage is absolutely an Apple lock-in, especially in the US. Siri is definitely a joke compared to Google Assistant. I load my iOS devices up with Google apps and services, that's what makes the crossover compatibility work for me, and yes, they both do the same things that the vast majority of people do with their phones each day. If you need to fanboy it up to try and feel superior, that's actually pretty pathetic, maybe you should try getting a life, there's a whole grown-up world outside your mother's basement.
  • It seems to me that Apple charges ridicules prices for the hardware you receive as well as many apps. They also don't seem to care for Music unless it came through their web site.
    On the other hand, their closed ecosystem seems to work better for those that are not technically inclined.
    Android on the other hand is very flexible as well as very powerful. But they have seen the prices that Apple gets away with charging so they have been jacking their hardware prices up as well.
    I happen to like removable batteries and I have multiple batteries for the Androids that I own. I also like to be able to use removable SD cards instead of paying Apple many, many, hundreds of dollars for an extra 200 GB of storage.
    I also like being able to root my phones, which I really don't need anymore, and I don't think that ability exists with Apple products.
    I do have a single IPhone that someone gave me along with 4-5 Android phones that I have purchased.
    If I am spending the money, Android is my first choice and Apple would be a very distant second.
  • I wish I could agree with you but, there is one glaring difference that is hard to overlook. Android is very polished and well built. For someone who likes things a very specific way, it might be the only way to go. But, I have bounced back and forth (iOS -> Android -> iOS...) multiple times. So far, I have owned the original iPhone, the 4, 6 and now the X. The one area that is impossible to overlook is in app integration. And, it is actually startling how much more elegant iOS is with this. And, I blame Google. Because, the Pixel 2 could have been amazing but, it is not. At least, it is far from a true competitor to the X. In fact, it is far from being the right phone. No headphone jack? Not a problem is you release great wireless buds - they failed. 128GB max storage? That might last me a year. Screen? Its fine but, not earth shattering. The camera is great. But, for average Joe (even above average Joe) the X takes great photos. And, just to be 100% clear - I have always been on team Android. But, I cannot overlook shortcomings in the Android space. It's actually time for Team Android to stop fawning over Android and demand more from Google. The HW is not in line with the standards of Apple. The app-level integration is clunky at best. Android users need to demand more. Truly, the only feature I miss from my GS7 Edge is having the LED that I can customize so I can know when to look at my messages/emails/etc. Again, I hate to disagree but, it has been a long time since I felt iOS was this far away from Android.
  • That's why BlackBerry 10 should of been saved, it's more fluid and more secure a than any android or iPhone. The software can multi-task like no other. The UI was great. 2gb ram on BB10 is more stable than 3gb android. The only downside was apps, as an OS, it was ahead of its time, like webos. Now we are stuck with the most data mining companies that do exactly the same thing...example, hub on android vs hub on BB10, on android its just a app lol.. App developers and paid phone reviewers never gave BB10 a chance, they were crying about the swipe gestures lol, now they are praising the same feature blackberry had in 2012 on the new iPhone x lol... only advantage ios and android have was apps, that's it.
  • Believe it or not, I can't live without widgets!
  • The differences evaporated years ago. For me, somewhere around 4.0/4.2 Android overtook iOS, for my taste and my use case obviously. Since then, Android and iOS have been quickly converging and taking ideas from the other. One cannot deny Android pre-4.0 was a bit... behind
  • Very nice article. Up until the last couple of years I've been toying with the idea of getting an iPhone but not anymore. Customization was always there with Android but I always felt it was a step behind iOS in speed and fluidity. Most Android phones nowadays can hold their own so there's really no need to switch.
  • The two platforms are only 'equal' in very superficial cases. Apple is far more restrictive, and that leads to sacrificed functionality. For example, I'd say that being able to download an .mp3 off of a web page and play it locally is a pretty important feature - but you can't do that on an iPhone. Having to use iTunes to fully 'use' your phone is a big drawback. Apple products are great if they do exactly what you want, but heaven help you if you want more. Ironically, they're the ones that encourage us to "think different(ly)".
  • Easy access to file system. For me this is a must. Flicked via the BlackBerry keyboard on my Pixel 2
  • Having used iOS for almost 18 months, I can say while there are a lot of similarities, Android has an overall better user experience. I die a little inside each time I have to try to find something in the settings app in iOS. I'm pretty sure Apple just used the settings app as the catch all for things they didn't know what to do with. It takes 4-5 clicks to access the information you need (usually more than that, because you have to search), whereas you can usually get to just about anything in the Android settings app wtihin 2 clicks. And the categories are a little more logical compared to iOS. But as far as using apps (social media, web browsing, etc), the two platforms are nearly identical.
  • Looks like a Android guy kissing apples ass again! Apple is King of we didn't do it first we do it best or buy companies that actually innovate! I can't believe people still fall for that BS!
  • Finally, after 10 years with iOS, I ditched it for Android. Best thing I ever did. Notifications alone were enough reason for me to switch.
  • iOS is nothing like Android! Notifications are a complete mess. Settings and quick settings are stupid. Quick settings are not quick. iOS is solitary confinement Android is freedom!
  • Good read.. I enjoyed that.. OG Pixel XL
  • My wife and daughter have iPhones and what frustrates my the most with them is how they lock the file system. Something as easy as backing up photos becomes difficult if I don't want to use iCloud and would rather store on my local PC. Apple makes it easy when you use their tools but creates barriers otherwise. Android is far from perfect but at least I can choose my preferences.
  • What do you mean there’s no difference between the 2. Apple will always be slow to implement advance features. Android you can do default apps and customise just about a lot of interaction. Even down to system level changes. Android to me is the better software but i myself use iOS, wouldn’t mind coming back to android. The last version of android I used was marshmallow before I lost the phone. Actually on iOS 11.3 I don’t mind too much about the customisation. I love nova prime and sd card with file explorer and the way the sharing between apps and the way apps can access your messages to pull password immediately and the way Pushbullet works or airdroid works. I deleted most 3rd party apps like textra though and went back to stock. YouTube gaming can stream on android, I doubt the app does much on iOS. Otherwise I like the stock features in iOS 11.3 and I love that all the granular settings from my older phone is carbon copy over even in third party apps. I like that password auto fill is improving quickly from iOS 11 to 11.3 most. I like the new control centre and the way you can switch between output for Bluetooth audio from iOS 11 to 11.3. I like the customisation of the assistive touch, double tap Long press 3D Touch extra functions. I like the new type to Siri paired with default text expander. I like the way Developers are fast to bake in new interactions from new iOS version like drag and drop between apps in iPads. Android is still better and Google assistant is better by far. for me though iOS is not too bad and very useable, and I would say iPhone X is very special on the hardware front. iPhone used to be lacking far behind in hardware, the x took care of that and leap frog the game I think, software needs work but it’s just an amazing phone corner to corner screen, having no lips below the screen is just such a nice illusion of a full screen device even more so than infinity edges, my opinion. Face ID is worse than Touch ID but they are improving the interaction for a more seamless authentication. They will take very Long to perfect interactions like how slow iOS is moving forward but it does point the needle forward and as I’ve used a lot of iOS version, the improvements are there and the road map is quite good. First they did Touch ID in the 5s, the next year Apple Pay paired with Touch ID, the next year Apple Pay on macs with Touch ID on the phone, and the next year Touch ID on macs. 3D Touch haven’t gone far though, hope they don’t ditch it like the aux, Taptic Engine also still no match for Nintendo switch rumble interactions. Maybe this post is a good cushion for oh you copied me and I copied you mess in the comments going forward especially if S9 does the Animoji thing, they already have Snapchat filters in their cameras right, so. More choice is always good. Ultimately reviewers are the winners from all these. They get all the latest hardware and they get to choose what they want to use. Do they throw away or sell iPhones because of the frustration of iOS or do they keep them for fringe uses. A lot of YouTubers keep them because sadly iPhones have not been killed yet despite years of killers and The platform still has its fringe merits even if their daily driver is a pixel 2 XL.
  • For some people there's little to no difference between Android and IOS. Those of us that are power users and /or tinkerers there's still a huge difference. IOS still doesn't have the full functionality and intuitiveness that Android has. Android has a much better file system, similar to the Windows file system, 3rd party home launchers, apps where you can create widgets from scratch, and Tasker. Need I say more? On top of that all, default apps can be replaced on Android. You can't say the same for IOS.
  • IOS and Android in the beginning used to be very different in what one could do and the other couldn't. However over time those differences have become slimmer and slimmer. Now it's all about the experience and what ecosystem that you're invested in. I'm an Android man, I find it horrid that IPhone has become just so locked into itself and that the experience has changed so little over the years. I've actually got an original IPod Touch that was gifted to me many years ago for my birthday (runs IOS 6.0 if that tells you how old it is), and a friend of mine has the IPhone X. While vastly different products they both still - STILL - use the same launcher (or whatever Apple calls it) and the IPhone X still looks and mostly acts like my old IPod Touch. While I'm sure I could get by quite nicely with an IPhone, I can set up my Android to look and run however I like it, have widgets actually on my screen handy with information and not be off to the side and isolated and I can dictate which programs I want as my defaults not which the manufacturer thinks I should be using... That's what keeps me coming back to Android each time I need a new device. It's transcended the software and the abilities and now is into the experience for most people... That and price, I've got a very capable mid-range device for less than two-hundred fifty dollars. Most folks aren't going to spend one-thousand dollars on a phone and that's why the IPhone X shipments have slowed as they have...
  • Really? I haven't tried iOS in a while, but last time I checked they still didn't have a flipping file manager... Let alone the ability to customize your phone at all. Going on the last version of iOS I checked out, I would agree they are both very good options, iOS has a speed and efficiency that Android rarely reaches without beefier hardware. Both had everything required to get stuff done on a day to day basis(minus file explorer). However, it was the little things that made me love Android so much more. For example, the stock launcher has an icon that opens the app drawer by switching to using the home button for that you can fit more stuff on your dock which means jumping into apps faster. Pair that with the ability to swipe up on an app icon to open a different app means I can use one icon for personal and work email. Another great example is using the notification light to separate types of notifications. Dark blue for important work notifs, calls, texts etc. Light blue for personal messages and notifs(Discord, Skype, etc.), and white for social media. Just that tiny feature allows me to decide if I need to step away from a convo for a notif without impolitely turning on my phone even when it's silenced with buzzing turned off.This doesn't even include the benefits of apps like LastPass(password manager) which autofills within apps, instead of forcing you to copy paste like iOS, or Parallel Space another lifesaver that lets you install more than one copy of the same app(for multiple accounts on apps that don't support that). As an app developer, I would say, now that Google is starting to get better control over OS updates it won't be long before they are able to push an update that supports the 'next generation' of Android applications to 85+% of devices in one go a move like that might bring Android's speed up to that of iOS and blow the entire competition out of the water.
  • "The Pixel phones aren't the most popular Android phones, but they set the standard for how Android should look and feel. Not only do the Galaxy phones not do everything the Pixel phones can do, but the experience is also muddied with bad copies of Google's best features." Written like a true Google fanboy. "Not the most popular is an understatement." Pixel sales are a tiny blip in the smartphone market. And while it's true Galaxy phones don't do everything Pixel phones can do, there's a whole lot more that Galaxy phones can do that Pixel phones are missing. And many of us prefer some of Samsung's apps: a browser that includes ad blocking (and more effective ad blocking than Chrome is now rolling out); a calendar app that focuses on events, and not all the cute little space wasting garbage that Google forces down your throat. I've owned and used Nexus phones, and looked at PIxels, but Samsung's phones offer more capabilities and superior, more reliable hardware (and, looking at the Pixel 2's problems, better tested, more reliable software). It's also amusing to see a Google fanboy criticize Apple for locking you into their ecosystem. With every update, Google comes closer and closer to doing exactly the same thing. As for offering almost the same experience, I suppose there's some truth to that if you take an app centric view ONLY. But I can organize my Android phone the way I want it organized. A 3rd party launcher with a tabbed app drawer to organize my apps so they're arranged logically FOR ME, instead of a grid of icons that I can do nothing with. A clean home screen that lets me see my wallpaper, instead of covering it with that grid of icons, but with folders that hold as many apps as the crowded iPhone screen. I could go on and on with examples of the flexibility and configurability of Android that Apple simply lacks. The iPhone launcher looks and works about like my Palm Pilot did 20 years ago.
  • To me, the biggest differences are between usability, not functionality. Are both OSes capable of providing all the functions that I need? Absolutely. However, iOS mostly drives me crazy with little things that I take for granted on Android. Camera settings not residing in the Camera app is a huge pain and time waster when I'm trying to get a particular shot. Font size in the ESPN and Google Playstand apps are tiny and don't follow the font scaling settings that I set in iOS. I know that is a problem with those particular apps, but I use those apps daily on Android and don't even bother on iOS (my eyes aren't great). Notifications are a mess on iOS. And the biggie for me, like most Android users, is the ugly row after row of icons on the home screen that can't be arranged as I wish. If you've seen one iPhone, you've seen 100 million. No personality, and what is the point of having wallpaper if it is hidden? I actually like the iPhone widget implementation despite it's lack of flexibility. Widgets that I use often (, hue lights, google maps) have more functionality than their Android counterparts. Another advantage for iPhone (for me) is wifi calling without having to worry about carrier restrictions. I can switch to any of the 4 major US carriers and I know the iPhone will support wifi calling without me having to jump through a bunch of hoops to get it to work. With any Android phone, switching carriers and keeping your current phone is almost guaranteed death for wifi calling. It may not matter to 99% of users, but I spend many hours a day on phone calls for work and my house is in a dead zone of wireless carriers. All of this is to say what we all know already. Both platforms can do everything for the vast majority of users, but the experience can be drastically different based on your own personal use cases.
  • I use my Google Voice number, so switching carriers doesn't impact my ability to make VoiP calls.
  • Proper file access and being able to set default apps are in fact major differences. Oh, and an app like Termux is not possible on iOS. If people who don't particularly care about phones or tech in general don't notice these differences -- well, why should I care about normals? Why are we talking about them here? They don't read Android Central.
  • I call BS! There are major differences in the OS. IOS is closed and damned infuriating to use. Also all this talk of tech nerds only and not ordinary people noticing these things: pffft! I'm no tech nerd neither are my friends but file sharing across devices is a pain when one person is locked in the ios bubble. There are real differences especially here in Nigeria where data doesn't come cheap. You have to use data for nearly every thing on ios, pay for things that are free on Android with much more choices by the way.
    So yeah, ios is limiting and that's why Android will continue to be more popular in Africa and most parts of Asia. Apple can sit in their western world bubble.
  • After all of this the main and unbridgeable gap between iOS and Android is this: iOS average selling price $800, Android about $250.
    For most people the $250 Android is perfectly adequate. Most iOS users probably never tax anything to the limit (other than batteries). When The Register calls it a "Cupertino idiot tax" they're not joking for probably 60% of buyers.
    That's a difference which is if anything opening up further with time.
  • I now prefer Android over iOS. But my issue had been Android lag. Purchased a Pixel 2 XL and it has been the first Android phone I have used that is as smooth as iOS. Simply the best smartphone I have owned.
  • I don't comment often, but I felt compelled as I currently own both Pixel 2 Xl and iPh X. I find myself using the X more than the Pixel lately. One thing I miss from the Google phone is the ease of activating assistant. A simple squeeze, "Open the garage door." Voice control integrates flawlessly with my home automation system. Apple can do the same through Siri, but it requires more software integration. G assistant on the iPhone isn't as easy to activate. I can set it up as a widget, but it still takes a lot more time to open than the Pixel. Somethings I enjoy on the iPhone is the ability to unlock by just looking at the screen. People will say, Samsung has had this for years, they're correct. But having had the S8 and Note 8, using facial recognition in the dark is a no go. iPhone works no matter the lighting conditions. Something else is the ability to go back by swiping from left to right. It's so much quicker than reaching for the back button on Android. Though swiping up from the bottom of the screen to get Home is quite cumbersome at times (thumb fatigue). Bookmarks in Safari are super easy to get to, whereas in Chrome I'd have to 3 dot in the top right, find bookmarks in the menu and then choose the webpage I wanted to navigate. Handoff and iMessages between the phone and the MacBook are unbelievably smooth. Why Android doesn't offer such a nice non-web based interface is beyond me.
  • Big huge difference. Price. Just bought my friend a new 5.5 inch Huawei Honor 6x for $169. Try to match that with an Apple product.
  • I've used both and I prefer Android by far having recently switched from iPhone back to Android for good, I'm done with Apple's BS and lies and their limited, locked down and overpriced phones I'm loving the freedom, customisation and, flexibility with Android. As for the differences between Android and IOS, Android gives you choice, has a file manager you can download third party apps from anywhere including music from YouTube videos converted to mp3s direct from the YouTube to mp3 converter site direct from my Android phone, can do that on iPhone as Lord Apple doesn't want it's nimrod and brain dead users to have any sort of control over their phone, and don't get mr started on the connection (public WiFi) and sharing options which are not only superior on Android and also works seamlessly on Android. With Android the possibilities are endless for such an advanced IS while with iOS, it's like being in jail and Apple is the prison Worden who dictate what you can do with your phone. The differences between Android and iOS is night and day, light and darkness. Android is the light and iOS is the darkness and I'm never going back there, I finally love Android.
  • I want this to be true. But iMessage makes some of the claims made here hard for me to bounce between the two. As well as FaceTime. My family all uses iPhones. I don't want to train them to use alternative services just because I want to go Android.
  • Russel tends to favor the Pixel 2 and has an unnecessary grudge for Samsung. Yes, what the Pixel experience offers is valuable, but at the end of the day, there are a lot of people who really like (some of) the extras that Samsung throws in. For instance Samsung Pay. It is leaps and bounds ahead of both Apple pay and Android pay. Samsung's dialer is also arguably better than Google's, because it gives more options, which is what Android is supposed to be all about. That said, they add some silly duplicates, but they also offer them to fill out a full ecosystem. You can fault them for offering extra stuff that the user is free to not use.