Competition is a wonderful phenomenon in human life and healthy competition brings many new inventions and innovations into existence. One such healthy competition historically quoted is the example of two great men who benefitted humanity; Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. We can apply this spirit on the competition in new technologies between Google's Android and Apple's iOS platforms that have revolutionized the communication technology. iOS has vividly defined the modern smartphone Operating System whereas Android convinced many by its variety of characteristics and features to smartphone experience in valuable aspects. Both have added tremendously to operating system technology, yet they are vastly different and the opinions differ greatly. The forthcoming iOS 8 and Android L are not likely to further change much but the competition will continue. We have two good examples, iOS 8 beta running our iPhone 5s and Android L installed on Nexus 5.
Some Points to Compare
To start with Android L lock screen has brought vivid changes. In the new system the notifications appear in the center of the screen, contrary to previous manner to drag down the panel to read the notifications; seems to be inspired by iOS handles lock screen notifications. In case of Android L, tapping twice launches the desired app and a swipe to the side removes it whereas in iOS 8, a swipe means to reply to an email or mark it as read. The two work well and with convenience for the user.
One small issue some may feel is that a notification causes lighting the screen of an iOS device for several seconds to read it instantly unlike Android L.
The Android L lock screen has an advantage of the shortcut to the Phone application that iOS lacks. It provides quick access to contact's number you want to dial. However both platforms' lock screens have a camera shortcut.
Android L has been abandoned the support for lock screen widgets. Google considered to reduce the lock screen stuffing or to create space for the new Phone shortcut. However iOS 8 will support third-party widgets in the notification panel accessible from the lock screen by pulling the said panel down.
The Android L home screen gives the look everything is like KitKat app shortcuts, folders, and widgets, our app drawer, and ‘Google Now’ is through swipe. The iOS 8 home screen hasn't changed and is not intuitive to navigate as before. Android L allows for personalizing while iOS 8 limits personalization features to keep it simple.
Notification panel, quick controls, multitasking
The remodeling of notification panel is significant improvements in Android L; allowing placement of important to unimportant notifications from top to down in order of user’s priority. Email alerts may appear at the top, say, app installation notifications at the bottom.
Apple's has different approach about notifications in iOS 8; pulling down the panel from the top displays the ‘Today’ tab, which lists the user's daily schedule and the weather forecast, widgets activated, and others customized bits of information. Notifications appear separate, grouped by application. They can be customized on liking from the settings menu.
A redesigned Quick Controls menu is included in Android L, placed in the pull-down panel like it existed. However, Google has abandoned the two-finger swipe-down gesture to reach the controls easily considering it inappropriate. New panel look is better being more functional with the more display brightness and having a toggle to lock the screen's orientation. Comparing it with iOS Control Center, it is equally awesome. You can easily set the screen brightness, toggle Wi-Fi on or off or control music playback, and do more.
For recent apps Android L now has a redesigned interface better in look showing recent apps as a stack of cards unlike in a boring column. Switching to a specific recent app can be cumbersome because at a time only 3 cards are displayed and we need to scroll more than before where it was in column shape and could be selected at once.
In iOS 8, recent apps list looks better. It has apps listed chronologically showing their icons on a separate row in front. List of our most frequently used contacts is really helpful and is contained in menu.
Keyboard, Dialer, Contacts
The redesigned fast keyboard included in Android L as a stand-alone app is really fast and accurate. Visually it may be giving different look as Google envisaged it as per introduced Material Design ye practically the L keyboard is not much different from the stock Android keyboard. It supports:
· word prediction,
· auto-correct, and
· gesture typing
· Emoticons expressions
With iOS 8, Apple’s intelligent word predictions to its basic keyboard is an addition. The conversation's context is analyzed and appropriate and better predictions are provided. Somehow Apple's solution did not get popularity. Third-party keyboards for iOS 8 are being introduced with release of the platform.
The Phone app in Android L has another good feature with a fresh new design and changed for the better. Priority or starred contacts are list more compact, and placed closer to the bottom edge making them accessible with a single thumb while holding the handset. The dialed last contact and the search bar are placed on top. Searching from the Phone app shows not only results from contacts, nearby businesses, restaurants, and hotels are also shown. In case you get a call from a business that's in Google's directory, it will be displayed by name the screen.
The iOS 8 Phone application remains the same. It is still:
· The minimalist,
· Black-and-white list of contacts,
· Favorites and recently contacted numbers.
Apple enables to block calls and texts from undesired contacts in iOS.
Contacts in iOS 8 are shown in a conventional alphabetical order list. It would give a better effect if a picture was displayed next to their name, probably Apple didn't want to include the option. However profile pictures on the Favorites list are displayed for such contacts. Android contacts list is more compact, with small profile pictures and no empty space between names.
Voice Commands and Search
Android 4.4 has included a wonderful feature for hands free search by voice command with "OK, Google" voice trigger working from any home screen even from the lock screen. If you don't want the "OK, Google" command all the times open you can turn it off. In fact, this update should be available on Android phones before Android L is introduced.
Siri in iOS 8 has also the ability to listen for voice triggers responding to the command, "Hey, Siri". This hands-free command in iOS 8 work when the device is plugged into a power source. "Hey, Siri" won't respond unless the Siri interface is open on the iPhone or iPad.
It is common to type for searching for most of the time. On Android L, the Google search bar is permanently displayed on top of home screen to allow you to search the internet, some contact, or an app already installed on the device. Spotlight search in iOS 8, with a swipe down gesture in the middle of screen, is quite versatile, can search:
· The internet,
· User's inbox,
· Installed apps list, and
· Other results from news outlets, from Wikipedia, and the iTunes store.
Android L deploys Google Camera as default camera application that you can download from the Play Store. It is a great app with easy use. It does not produce very high quality results but common users should be contented with this camera.
On iOS 8 the camera application has some special features of its own. iOS users have the options in: time-lapse videos shooting and control focus and exposure independently. A self timer is another addition.
In Android L Photos application photos are organized in two tabs;
- One containing all images and,
- The other labeled "Highlights" containing selected images arranged by date.
The Photos application automatically backs up the photo library to preserve your photos permanently. Plenty of editing tools are available, like basic Crop and Rotate to image filters, frames, and effects. They are easy to use. In iOS 8 we don't get image editing options as we get with Android's Photos app, but iOS 8 is simple and intuitive.
Android L and iOS 8 and both are coming in expectedly in September. We can't be bias towards one in giving preference to particular operating system; the two platforms are still in beta. Both are still in final stages of improvement and addition and subtraction before they're launched. Both are equally exciting and useful for the technology and users.
Android L brings along more than just a visual redesign. We really dig the new Quick Controls menu, the improved Phone app and how notifications are now being sorted by priority. Also, it is nice to see that Android has learned a few tricks from iOS, and the way lock screen notifications are handled is a good example of that. Similarly, iOS has assimilated some ideas from Android, such as the options for having third-party widgets and on-screen keyboards – nothing wrong with that, if you ask us.
So all in all, both OS releases are expected to be of huge benefit to users with all the features and improvements that they'll bring. Whichever camp's side you're on, with Android L or iOS 8, you'll have even more reasons to stick with your platform of choice.