Is Apple Better Than Android?


The user interface (UI) is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the machine which aids the operator in making operational decisions.

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This is the definition from Wikipedia. I am bringing this up again for a few reasons… I am too tired and concerned to talk about patents. I believe this is something Google and Manufacturers need to pay better attention to. I also received a tweet from a very popular writer on Mobile Tech topics.

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He sent a generic tweet that he uses Android (phone) and Android/WebOS (tablets), but when someone asked for a recommendation, he responded with “iPhone” or “iPad.”

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I admitted to the iPad suggestion – I’ve openly bashed Honeycombs UI. It really is not ready for mainstream… but why an iPhone over an Android phone? We have better hardware (similarly priced phones) and better (or the same) networks… I just didn’t get it. I asked him for the logic and if he just “assumed people are dumb?”

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His response was that these people just want to use their phone… this made me sit back and think. Do people really have a better experience with an iPhone over an Android if it’s merely being used as a phone (because anyone interested in customizing has no argument – Android is better)?

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Both seem to have a power button, both seem to have icons for the Phone and Contacts. Both have the ability to easily download apps (I believe the Android version is better)…. I don’t get it. What makes the iPhone better for a user with no interest in development/ROMs/rooting?

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It’s the polish of the UI.

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There is nothing iPhone can do that Android cannot. But when the icons and graphics look pretty, it’s amazing what the perceived value is. It’s just like the Apple marketing – eye catching and cleverly done. I will give nothing but praise to Apple here – they are the absolute best at making their product look… well, better than it is.

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Android has been out long enough to where this should be a moot point. It’s not evolving though, not fast enough anyway. I’m hopeful that Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) will remedy this.  Google I/O honestly did not provide enough of a glimpse, so my faith is blindly guided by the positive hype that surrounded it – and it somehow helping the fragmentation issue of Android.

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Before I get too far down that road (getting side-tracked), I wanted to ask you… what makes for a good UI in your eyes?

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Is it pretty buttons… fancy-smancy animations or is it just common-sense knowing what/where to press? I picked up Android having not owned a phone for several years prior. That may surprise a lot of you…. I actually enjoyed the fact I could remember peoples phone #’s. I was in college at the time, so I used AOL IM (wow) and my feet to actually have interactions.  I was basically a Grandpa when I got my first smartphone… I say that because there was nothing challenging to me about navigating the G1. It was clear to me how it worked and I had never even held a smartphone.

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Oh, Menu > Settings for settings… Oh, either press or long-press on something… oh, the notification bar pulls down to show me notifications… Oh, the Market has apps I can download by pressing “Install.” Honestly, what is so hard about this?

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Nothing. Which leads me to believe Apple’s success comes from crazy good PR and pretty icons. And those are two things Android lacks. Say what you will about custom UI’s like Sense, TouchWiz, etc… but you can’t deny they bring polish and features that should just be a part of Android.

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How do I know I am right? The most popular (over 500 million installs) custom ROM out there, CM7 incorporates a lot of these custom UI’s features. One of my favorite features of CM7 is the Notification bar and the toggle switches – unmistakably inspired by TouchWiz. Ironic that most of those guys bash Samsung, but that’s another rant. I do wish they would incorporate the Smart Dialer… it’s so incredibly nice to start typing the first few #s / letters and it sort and show your results.

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Let me know what you think. Is there more than the UI that accounts for Apple’s success? Does it really do things better? Am I completely off my rocker and a total Google Fanboi? I really want to know what you think about the lack of effort shown by Google to make the UI better too.

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About s15274n

I will do what I can to help support the Android Community!

Posted on July 18, 2011, in Advocate, Apple and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Marketing! Apple has a way of making their users feel special because they use Apple, not because Apple is a better choice. I have had times I recommended an iphone over an Android phone, usually becuase I think the person wants and iphone and is just looking for confirmation in their decision. They aren’t buying a phone, they are buying a feeling of inclusion in the “magical” group. Typically it is the sway of marketing, they like to feel they are cutting edge, that they made the right choice. It is all perception.

    Although I tend to stay away from the Android vs Apple arguments, I always get a kick when pointing out to an Iphone user that their user experience is pretty much just like every other iphone user. It seems that they really believes they all have the same needs. The same 3.5 inch screen, no keyboard, no user changeable battery or memory, etc… Ask them why they don’t all walk around in black turtle necks and jeans, after all, that is what Steve determines at the best fashion. Some people recognize this and most don’t. It is almost like sheep, they are happy thinking they have already made the best decision and marketing supports that.

    I am not taking away from Apple, they do what they do well and for some people their needs are aligned with what Apple offers. It just isn’t for me. I prefer to control my phone, not the other way around.

    • Dang. Well said man… feel free to write something for the blog if you like.

      • Had some spare time so I did some digging. I found this infographic that compares PC users vs Apple users. I realize there will be some differences but I suspect that this might not be that far off for an Android vs Iphone comparison.

        http://blog.hunch.com/?p=45344

        I would love to get something similar to this done specifically for the Android vs Iphone comparison, if anyone has any ideas how please let me know.

        In a nutshell I think Android users tend to be more independent thinkers overall. I think Iphone users would probably say the same but the fact that they all use the same phone and largely have the same stereotypes might indicate otherwise. To be fair there are probably stereotypes for Android users as well, but it is the difference in stereotypes I am highlighting.

  2. iphone is polished out of the box, while some android phones is better with Custom roms.

    We all know that SGS stock roms have some hiccups when used for a long time & installed a number of applications. Those things are solved by flashing custom roms, but we don’t really expect some people to do these things right?

  3. Most people do not care either way. They either

    1). buy into the iPhone mystique
    2). buy whatever smartphone is the deal of the day (which is increasingly android something or other)

    The more thought conscious are still enamored more by perceptions than reality. At least until the middle of last year getting an Android phone (with carrier mods) that didn’t have the occasional frustrating UI lag or glitch was a crap shoot. The iPhone may be locked down tighter than a drum but they test, and test, and test, and test till the UI behaves exactly as they desire. Given that the ONLY WAY carriers can differentiate their Android devices is either via ui skins or pricing (or both), it’s clear that carriers cannot and will not test to the extreme levels that Apple does. Apple basically has one baby, Android has 86+. None of the manufacturers or carriers have the marketing vision or philosophy of Apple, so none will likely ever approach the fit/finish/polish of an iPhone.

    Having said that, Android is now mature, an an absolute juggernaut that will eventually crush everything else just by the sheer math of the equation.

  4. p.s. and unlike us, 99.9% of Android users have never even heard of XDA, less cared about either it or customizing their Android phone. Wallpaper, ringtones, a few games…that’s the extent of customization for most.

    • Scott… you are probably right man. I’m dang lucky to have you guys making comments… these are the things that will shape my future writing.

      So, Thank you all. Please keep it up.

  5. You all make very compelling points, but you forgot one of the biggest reasons people go with the iPhone. Apps, although Android has been making big strides in catching up with the App Store the most popular apps always are released on iOS first. This is important to note because when a user is new to smart phones and hears their friends talking about the new up and coming app its usually only available on the iPhone. Then a few week/a month go by and its available on Android. People want to be hip and use whats “in” right now. Unfortunately, Android isn’t there yet but it is close. Like mentioned before a lot of Android users do not know what XDA is, which takes away from the Android experience.

  6. I think iynfynity has it nailed. People can take an iPhone out of the box and start using it. You cannot argue how much that makes a difference. iPhones are a rad. They are; you can’t argue against that. Android phones are rad too, but, like iyn said, many need tweeking to get them running they way they are made to run.

    Think about it this way: How many people want to buy a toaster that you you have to customize to get the best toast from? Not many. So they buy the iPhone because it makes some darn good toast as soon as you turn it on.

  7. Oh, and RC made a good point too. “There’s an app for that” was brilliant. But we are seeing more open, and Android friendly, “look for the mobile app” type of comments in the media now a days.

  8. I love iPhone but i also like android. I just love everything about apple but jailbreaking, custom firmware, and restoring can be a pain. I really like cydia with all its tweaks.
    And theres android, with the most easiest way to put a custom rom on it with very little errors:)

  9. I’ll just be blunt. APPLE SUCKS AND ANDROID RULESSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!

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  13. i phone is better because it doe load fast and it has better updated apps plus a sat nav

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