Android and iOS: Where are they headed? Part 2

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The Convergence: iOS becoming more open

With recent iOS iterations, some people (analysts and Android fans inclusive) have accused Apple of copying some features from Android.

On iOS7

Multitasking was introduced and it looks almost same with what was available on Android, showing a preview of each running application.

ios7ui

iOS 7 introduced an option that lets you quickly access settings like WiFi and Bluetooth with a control panel, a feature Android has had for a while.

iosquick settings

In iOS8

Apple has finally allowed the use of 3rd-party keyboard apps, so one can replace the iOS 8 keyboard with a third-party keyboard like Swype and Swiftkey. These are features Android users have enjoyed for a long while. With iOS 8 also comes widgets to be stored in your notification center. Android phones have always had widgets.

What all these implies is that, Apple is gradually opening up its mobile platform, allowing more API’s and looking more like Google. Apple is starting to get more Google-like ambitions to get iOS onto more devices like in homes and cars, instead of just a small, focused handful of products.

Android becoming more closed

Android on the other hand, is becoming more closed, and they’re gradually trying to tie things up. If you read this piece on why your Android fork is doomed, you will understand the steps Google have taken so far to tighten things up and lock down Android.

The launch of Android L is set to introduce a sleek interface and strong user experience with animations and color transitions, which is something Apple has been good at all these while. Google has partnered with vendors to make phones that carry the “Android Silver” label.

This ensures the phones meet Google’s standards in terms of delivering a consistently better Android experience with less bloatware and heavy-handed UI changes. Phones with these tags are also expected to receive future software updates directly from Google.

Google is also set to review the rules to be followed by manufacturers whom are part of the Open Handset Alliance . They’re reportedly going to mandate where the Google Search bar will be placed, and  how Google apps will be ordered in a dedicated Google folder which must be displayed on the home screen of new devices.

The new set of rules will also ensure manufacturers  have the latest version of Android installed on new devices, with a promise to update to the newest version within 18 months of the device launch. All these are steps which Google are taking towards total control of both software and hardware, and probably lock things down in the proverbial ‘walled garden’ iOS users are subjected to.

From all these, its clear to point out that iOS is becoming more open and Android is becoming more closed. The erstwhile polar opposites are now converging to being one and the same.

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One comment

  1. It is obvious that the more things change, the more they remain the same. With time, I think Android and iOS will be too similar for comfort. I also believe the rivalry between Android and iOS will be determined more by the ecosystem rather than the features. Imagine an Android user who has bought apps worth thousands of dollars trying to switch to iOS and vice versa, I see this as a limiting factor. Ironically, most of the popular apps on Google Play exists in the App Store.

    One way of solving this dilemma is making one eligible to use an app purchased from one store and also giving that person rights to use that same app on another platform. This sounds ideal but I don’t think it will ever happen. App developers will see a drop in profit margins. A better solution will be when the apps become subscription based rather than outright purchase. Let me explain this, for this to work well, all apps in all the stores need to be free for download, however a monthly or annual subscription would be required to use the apps irrespective of your platform. So Imagine buying an annual subscription of Angry Birds on Google Play, then after 3 months, you change your mind, buy an iPhone, then head to the App Store, download Angry Birds, log in and enjoy.

    Many apps have started with this trend, the biggest example is MSFT with Office 365 and Adobe with Creative Cloud. Once subscribed, you can use these apps on ALL platforms – iOS, OSX, Android, Windows etc. I feel this is the future of apps.

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