Many devout Apple fans would never consider owning anything as sacrilegious as a PC or an Android device, and probably a smaller but equally adamant group of Android aficionados fantasize about dropping iPhones in the toilet. But the majority of us aren’t so set in our ways when it comes to which of the two leading mobile operating systems we prefer — Android vs. iOS.
And with that lack of righteous assurance comes the potential for analysis paralysis: What should we be looking for when trying to decide which mobile device to go with next? Does it even matter? Why should we care? Consider this article a definitive guide that should, at the very least, give you more confidence as you approach the cash register.
Android vs. iOS: What’s the difference, really? To be fair, there’s far more involved in this question than you might think. But, to sum things up:
Android is, by far, the most widely used mobile OS in the world, and that’s primarily because Google developed Android from the ground up as a free, open-source framework that encouraged widespread collaboration and adoption. As a result, many different manufacturers have built their mobile products around the Android OS, and millions of developers are actively working on variations and improvements for both the core software and the apps it runs.
iOS, on the other hand, accounts for a much smaller overall share of the marketplace. But because the OS was developed specifically for Apple products and has never been licensed for use outside of the iPhone and iPad, the world’s most profitable company has done very well with its market share in the mobile space.
Although Google’s Play Store and Apple’s App Store both contain hundreds of thousands of apps for their respective platforms, and many apps have been developed to function across platforms as well, the operating systems’ core differences have made developing, obtaining and using apps a distinctive experience on each system.
As a general rule, app developers will focus on one OS at a time. The trend is to go with iOS first, then expand to Android if the app is a success, according to BGR. Game developers tend to focus more on iOS than Android because of its more controlled and predictable performance, as iOS is only used on a handful of devices. BGR also notes that apps released on the App Store is twice as profitable for developers as those on the Play Store, despite accommodating half the total number of app downloads.
The App Store contains a lot more made-for-tablet apps developed specifically for the iPad, while the majority of Android apps for tablets are just scaled-up versions of phone-focused editions. In certain circumstances, that matters a lot.
Buying an Apple device is more of a lifestyle and mindset change than it is a simple purchase decision. When you choose Apple, you’re tapping into a large, rich, well-supported ecosystem that enjoys a feverishly loyal fan base, and for good reason: It’s high-quality hardware running high-quality software with a 30-plus year reputation for, to quote Steve Jobs, “universe-denting” innovation. But Apple products are expensive to buy, expensive to fix, expensive to use and tend to go out of date faster thanks to Apple’s nonstop development schedule.
Choosing Android has the built-in safety of numbers, and its open platform means fewer limitations on what you can use and how. It’s also generally less expensive at all levels, although some flagship Android phones cost as much as the iPhone. But, the lower price point on hardware has allowed some lower-quality products to enter the market — an issue that’s had little effect on iOS.