Google’s annual developer conference, Google I/O 2018, is just around the corner. Therefore, I decided to switch over (again) to Android’s biggest and in a way, the only rival — iOS for a few days to check what are its billions of users missing out on. Turns out, not a whole lot at least from the front. But dig deeper and you’ll come across a handful of aspects where Apple still has the edge. Therefore, here are the five things I think Android could still learn from iOS.
Yes, Android has an application store as well, which nearly houses a million more listings than iOS’. As of late, however, Google’s Play Store’s design has been sort of a mess. The company continues to add more tabs and carousels which, as a matter of fact, even violates its own Material Design guidelines. Compared to the iOS App Store which neatly highlights titles across various categories, the Play Store is just an endless stream of apps and games. Google has gradually begun to roll out a few updates such as a cleaner app page, hence hopefully they will be introducing more changes at I/O.
Desktop OS Integrations
It’s true Apple prefers a walled ecosystem over an open environment. However, that choice has also allowed the company to integrate its products and services much more coherently. One of the epitomes is how well MacOS and iOS play together. Specifically, in the case of features like a universal clipboard or the ability to answer phone calls from a Mac. While Google has begun offering a few such features on Chrome OS, it’s still on a rudimentary level.
Better Backup and Restore
Another essential feature which iOS is dramatically better at is backup and restore. You simply need to log in with your Apple ID and you’re all set with your contacts, applications, setup, SMS, and more. Android does have a similar option but at least in my experience, it’s highly inconsistent and I usually end up configuring a new phone from scratch. I understand it’s difficult when you’ve to consider compatibility for a gazillion types of devices, but even on Google’s own Pixel line, the backup and restore features are exceedingly janky compared to iOS.
Android applications have come a long way. However, you will still notice a glaring improvement when you use iOS. That’s partly because Apple has established much more strict design and developer guidelines like how they should function, what sort of interactions are allowed, and others. Even Google’s own applications are better on iOS as far as responsiveness and interface are concerned. Exclusives, of course, is still one of the key perks of owning iOS products. A range of developers prefer making their apps available on iOS first like the recent Alto’s Odyssey. In addition to that, iOS applications are generally quicker in adapting new iPhone or iPad features such as TouchID or Force Touch or even iPads. Only in the last couple of months have I seen Android apps being updated for adding fingerprint authentication.
Even though Google has brought a series of privacy-focused additions to Android as of late, its rules for how apps handle permissions is still far behind iOS’. Most of the applications I was using on my iPhone never asked for a single permission. Android apps, on the contrary, make you grant all the permissions on the first boot. That’s not all. If you don’t allow those accesses, they simply don’t launch. That’s one thing Apple has always prevented. Unless the permission is a core part of the app, it should function irrespective of the user’s choice.
On the surface, sure, these upper-hands might seem boring or insignificant but they do matter a lot. For instance, Facebook was recently found collecting a surprising amount of data from Android phones, not from iOS thanks to those stringent rules. Google, though, has made a myriad of advancements in the past year or two especially when we consider all the user-facing features like notifications (which are laughably bad on iOS), a better set of multitasking features, and more. Google I/O will kickoff from Tuesday, that is May 8th and we will be covering all the new stuff, hence stay tuned.