Six users, six questions. After a (very) long  research about which mobile OS is better between the two, I realized that the simplest way to find that out is by actually talking to people that use them. As you might expect, everyone has its own requirements and tastes, but in the end, one of the two OSs clearly stands out.

 

The hardest part of this process was coming up with the questions needed to build up an objective comparison between Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. So, I became Test Subject #1, an average Android user that has a basic knowledge of iPhones and iPads. Based on the conversation I had with myself (and I’m not crazy or anything), I managed to come up with six questions that I could then show to five my colleagues: two other Androids and three iOSers.

 

1. What made you choose one over the other?

iOSers (iOS users) made a thorough investigation before making such a big investment in an iPhone. It’s needless to say that they weren’t disappointed (so far).  Reaching that decision involved talking to people that already had and iPhone, reading countless reviews and paying a special attention to the app ecosystem (but we’ll talk about that a little bit later).
Androids (Android users) think that it’s all about the money! Two out of three Android users clearly stated that the price of a phone was a decisive factor, and they both ended up paying around two to three times less than they would have had for an iPhone. Nonetheless, the third user was one that actually gave up on iOS and switched to Android due to a very specific lack of Gmail features.

 

2. What do you usually do on your phone?

The goal of this question is to illustrate that none of the six people that were interviewed use their phone for some occult activity. All users bought one device or another for simple stuff  like social networking, media consumption (games, music, videos, news), email reading (and other work related apps) and, of course, communicating with each other.

 

3. How do you feel about the App Store / Play Store? 

Here’s where things get serious. The way people think about the app store is critical in deciding which of the two OSs is better:

iOSers seem to be satisfied with the platform they use to enhance their smartphone experience. Apple’s provisioning system (through which they manually verified each new app before accepting it) pays off and users get (sometimes early) access to the best apps out there without having to do a very time consuming research.

Androids feel that Google could have done a lot better. In fact, one of the users I talked to specifically mentioned that “Google can set its Play Store on fire and then rebuild it again”, which, to be honest, is a thing I can easily relate to. Android’s Play Store is filled with ridiculous and useless apps, the recommendation system is awful,  the Editor’s Choice section never changes, and its very difficult to find a thing you actually need. The only good part about it is that after a developer becomes successful on the iOS, he usually makes an Android version of his awesome app. So, if given a huge amount of time, the Play Store can clean itself up.

 

4. Which one would you prefer developing an app for?

As you might foresee from the answers above, most developers would build an app for the iOS since you are somewhat guaranteed that, if you do a good job, your little piece of software will get noticed and will generate revenue.

Moreover, Apple does offer a powerful development kit and all coding is done while having to worry about a single type of hardware configuration. The only downside is that you have to come up with a substantial amount of money to have your app published in the App Store.

It also seems that people that have tried to write apps for both platforms found Objective-C a lot more easy to use than Java, once you get a hand of it.

Nonetheless, Android does have its own advantages in this area. First off, it has a much larger user base than iOS, so getting your app used by lots of people should be easier. And secondly, it’s virtually free to write the code and push it into the Play Store.

 

5. What are the biggest advantages of the OS you’re using?

iOSers seem to agree that Apple did a really good job regarding the stability of the OS and its overall performance. They’re also pleased that they have early access to the world’s top apps, and that the user experience the interface provides is very simple and intuitive. One of the people I talked to actually said that “the iOS feels like something that was tailored specifically to my needs”.

Androids are a little less enthusiastic when talking about the good side of Google’s OS. However, they do appreciate the ability to customize their device, and the fact that Google’s services work somewhat better.

 

6. What would make you switch sides?

iOSers love their operating system so much that almost nothing can make them change their mind, as most of them have tried Android before and were disappointed. But, Apple does have to keep raising the bar if it wants to keep its customers. If the next iOS won’t bring any significant improvements and features, its fans might start looking somewhere else.

Androids would buy an iPhone the moment its price tag would be cut in half. One other thing that would make Android users switch the the iOS is its customization power. But given that Apple has made a fortune keeping things simple and stable, I doubt that highly customizable apps or features will ever be available.

 

Even though iOS clearly beats Android at almost any type of game, the power of Google’s OS cannot be ignored. With the right set of improvements, it is not so hard to imagine that one day, users will be faced with a very difficult decision when buying a new smartphone.

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