Tech-Friendly: Apple iOS vs. Google Android smackdown

By Paul Gorski

You are the winner in the mobile OS wars. The consumer is always the winner when you have choice in the marketplace. Competition drives innovation.

I am, of course, speaking of smartphone operating systems (OS). As Apple, Google, Microsoft and Blackberry compete for their shares of the smartphone market, each vendor improves its solution. My focus here: Apple iOS and Google Android.

Let’s cut to the chase, Gorski, which one is better? Only a bonehead would answer that one OS is the best solution for every individual, for every application. How an app works under a particular OS is extremely important. The apps are the tools, and these tools work differently under the different OSes.

Before I delve into apps, though, let’s be clear what OSes I am referring to: Apple iOS 6.1 and Android 4.1.2, as default apps get tweaked with different versions of the OSes. Google, being a bit behind in the smartphone OS race originally, has since come out with frequent, progressive updates, and is generally regarded as being the OS innovation leader at this time, especially with Android 4.2 rolling out to more phones now.

I have simple app needs, though. My main apps are e-mail and calendar, with texting as a distant third. When it comes to my e-mail and calendar, I prefer Apple’s default iOS solutions. I don’t do iTunes, so I won’t deal with it here.

Apple’s mail app has better visual tags for unread messages, messages with attachments, and buttons or gestures for editing, mailboxes and deleting mail. Android mail, under 4.1.2 on my test Electrify M from U.S. Cellular, works, but isn’t as “slick.” The visual cues are just not there. It is easier to quickly review the status of my e-mails with Apple’s mail app.

The iOS mail app displays meeting invitation date and time information without having to open my calendar, which I’m forced to do with the default mail apps for Android, which is pretty lame. In addition, the iOS calendar is easy to read, navigate and edit. The default Android calendar is just too plain and rudimentary.

I don’t browse on my portable devices often, but when I do, I prefer iOS Safari. The sites I do visit are saved as bookmarks to the home screen and look like apps. So, I’m one click away from navigating to my favorite mobile sites.

So, it’s a slam-dunk for iOS? No. While I’m not a fan of basic Android mail apps, the Android OS gives you greater flexibility in scaling fonts, making reading e-mail on my test Electrify M’s 4.3-inch screen as easy as reading on a Tablet. And the U.S. Cellular-supplied Wi-Fi Now app helped me to connect seamlessly to a variety of open Wi-Fi hotspots.

Consumers have a much wider choice of Android-driven products compared to Apple iOS products, and not all smartphones are the same. Visit “Tech-Friendly: The Motorola Electrify M at U.S. Cellular is a great smartphone” to learn more about the phone I used for my Android testing.

Paul Gorski ( has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.

From the May 8-14, 2013, issue

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