iOS could learn a lot from Android

Posted:  October 25, 2017   By:    37 comments   


Intro

Android vs iOS is an argument as old as time. It’s the tech version of the pizza vs burger argument, both with equally staunch fans that are willing to defend their side of the fence until their dying breath. It’s an argument neither side can win because there’s no such thing as a true winner.

I’m primarily an Android user. I’ve always used Android smartphones for two big reasons: 1. I like how customisable the OS is; 2. Android smartphones are just far more accessible than their pricier rivals. However, I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t occasionally wonder if the grass was greener on the other side. Then, the day finally came, and I got my hands on the brand new iPhone 8.

I was finally in the promised land, the utopia of simplicity and elegance that was supposed to be the pinnacle of mobile operating systems. But after spending a few days with iOS 11, the initial impression I came away with was actually one of frustration.

Unlike Android, Apple has full control over both the software and hardware of their devices. This means that they can optimise iOS to work perfectly for the iPhone. In theory, with the R&D and genius behind Cupertino’s software team, iOS should not have any big design flaws because it’s designed to work for a far smaller subset of smartphones than something like Android.

And yet big design flaws were aplenty.

The back button, for example.

You must be wondering, “What back button?”, and I don’t blame you because one of the more fundamental differences between the way users navigate the two operating systems is that iOS “doesn’t have a back button” while Android does. But if you’ve ever used iOS for an extended period of time, you will know that there is a back button and it’s often at the top left of the screen.

Yes, top left — literally the furthest corner from your thumb if you’re holding your phone in your right hand. What’s the deal here? Even on the small iPhone 8, I still have to adjust my grip just to reach it. On the 8 Plus, it’s an ergonomic nightmare without Reachability. With how wide iPhones are, even with Reachability it’s still a stretch.

Things are made even worse when you consider that the “back button” frequently changes. Sometimes it’s an arrow with the name of the previous page while other times — in-app browsers, for example — it changes to “Done”. Even as someone who reviews phones for a living, I hesitated a little before hitting it, not knowing for certain what would happen if I did.


Where’s back?

“Oh you don’t need the back button, just press the home button!”. Don’t be an idiot, if you’ve ever used an iPhone at all, you will know that there are times where you absolutely need to hit back because what you need is on the previous screen. And hitting home is not going to take you back.

For all of the talk around iOS’ simplicity and flat learning curve, it seems a little out of character to not have a fixed back button (or fixed gesture) to go back in an application. On a mobile OS that prides itself on having everything where it should be, it seems downright conflicting to have a crucial navigation tool that frequently changes its guise.

What’s up with the Personal Hotspot blue bar?

Speaking of UI elements that live on the top of the iPhone’s screen, what’s up with the blue bar that pops up when you have a device connected to your personal hotspot?

Now, I’m pretty sure I can live with how ugly it looks — even though it looks utterly hideous — but I simply can’t live with the fact that it actually blocks UI elements on the screen. Instagram, for example, doesn’t adjust to compensate for the obtrusive blue bar, so your search bar is sliced in half. What’s worse, is when you navigate away from an app into another app — Facebook to Gmail, for example — the button to bring you back to Facebook is completely blocked by this insufferable blue bar.

Oh, and if you thought Reachability would help the situation, I did too:

Unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Who did this? How could Apple, a company that’s so meticulous about so many things, let such an obvious flaw in their UI design go live? It absolutely baffles me.

Speaking of Reachability, there’s a known bug with the notification centre on iOS 11 where you can’t pull notifications down from the middle of the phone even when you engage Reachability. Instead, you still had to reach all the way to the top of the phone to pull it down. Apple acknowledged this bug and says that they’re “fixing it“.

And then we have the camera settings

I’m sorry, but why is it in the smartphone settings menu and not in the camera app? In the past, I guess you could make the argument that there weren’t a whole bunch of camera settings that needed frequent tweaking, so you just set it once and you’re good to go. But on the new iPhone 8, things are completely different.

It’s easily one of the most capable camera smartphones in the market right now, especially when it comes to videography because of the inclusion of 4K video recording at 60fps. That’s something no other phone out now can do and it’s truly an impressive feat.

But 4K 60fps may not be a video format you always want to shoot in, as Apple themselves state: 4K at 60fps playback may not be supported on all devices. Plus, 4K 60fps video files are much larger than 4K 30fps files, and that space saving could be crucial when you’re shooting on a device that you can’t simply swap in a fresh SD card when space is running low.

One fascinating change they did make to the camera settings on iPhone 8, buried the toggle for Auto HDR in the smartphone’s settings app (Settings > Camera) where in the past it was located in the camera app. Yep, they made it more inconvenient to tweak settings.

Oh, notifications are a mess too

I remember a time when notifications on Android were ridiculously messy. They were poorly organised and would give me a headache if I even looked at them. But now, Android’s notifications are awesome. They’re neatly grouped by app and also give you the option to pull down on each banner to view more details.

One nice touch in the Nexus 6P’s stock Android Oreo would design the Spotify notification banner in the same style as the album cover for whatever song you were currently playing. It’s sweet.


Left:iOS, Right: Stock Android

Then I move to iOS and my head starts hurting again. Why are notifications like this? Why does each WhatsApp message in the same group gets its own banner? Why is simply swiping them away not a thing?

Notifications on iPhone are approaching Fitbit levels of nasty and let me tell you, Fitbit’s banner notifications — i.e. those on the Blaze — are absolutely awful.

Since we’re on the topic of notifications, where is my notification LED? I’m not asking for an always-on display or anything fancy like that. All I want is a tiny LED somewhere on the front of my phone that tells me whether I have new notifications since the last time I checked, or whether my smartphone is charging without forcing me to wake the phone’s display.

Then we have the underutilised 3D Touch

OK, I’ll admit that this isn’t something that iOS could learn from Android, but I still want to mention it here because 3D Touch is easily one of my favourite input features on iOS. It’s infinitely useful but, in my opinion, deeply underutilised.

3D Touch is a simple but powerful gesture that takes the touch interface to the next level, yet I don’t feel that iOS is really making full use of it. Sure, on iOS 11 you can 3D Touch various elements on the Control Centre to bring up more control options (great!) but then I can’t 3D Touch the WiFi icon to view available networks. What gives?

Y’know how iOS’ volume controls don’t give you the option to manually adjust notification and media volume when you use the volume rockers? Why not let us 3D Touch the volume icon that appears to manually do so? It won’t change the way casual people interact with iPhone, it just adds another layer for those of us who want more control.

If you’re an iOS user, you might also have noticed that Apple even removed 3D Touch and swipe from the left to switch to your last app on iOS 11. Why are they removing more 3D Touch functionality when it’s already so underutilised?

Finally, why can’t I choose where to put my icons on the home screen?

I loathe how locked down the home screen is and I loathe how every icon gets auto-arranged to the top left side of the screen, the segment furthest from my thumb when the phone is in my right hand. Why can’t I place an icon at the bottom of the screen? Or to the right? Or anywhere else on the screen?

And no, Reachability doesn’t feel like an elegant solution at all. Why force me to have to double tap the home button just to reach an app that could have easily just been moved to the bottom of the screen?


Android, Apple, iOS, iPhone, Mobile Devices, Mobile OS, Opinion
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37 Comments for iOS could learn a lot from Android

Uno

The first ‘issue’ is almost non relevant.

iPhone(iOS) do not have back button but by simply swipe to the right of your screen to go back which is much faster than hitting a back button on the bottom of an Android.

An iPhone user since the first generation but now on Note 8 and that is the only iOS feature I wish android has instead of hitting the back button.

Swipe to go back!

    MH Yap

    No, swipe will never be faster than a tap…from a software engineering perspective

      Uno

      I don’t know about you but it is always faster to just swipe then hitting a button. Never does it ever lags. Tapping on a back button at the bottom of your screen is so dinosaur.

        Hak

        It's also worth knowing that Android is very versatile. Because of its customization prowess, Android can have a swipe/gesture function and hardware navigation, both.

    CK Shieh

    Mmm… you expect some older and non tech people to remember "swipe back" is to go back? Human are pictorial based animal based on eye sign. Yes, to you, you might be always remember doing that action, but have you try to teach older people to remember that action?

    iOS and android

    Swipe does not always go back if it involves cross application. If you open fb messenger while on safari, swipe will go back to fb messenger main page. Not the real back function it is returning to home of the app.

Other lee

Try using it for the next 12 months. Then switch back to android. I am sure you are gonna miss a lot of the simplicity features and the efficiency of the ios. Both sides are different but great in their own way. That is why we consumers have the luxury to choose which one suits us best. Articles like this feels a few years too late IMO

marco

quite obviously u r a geek. this article is just a nit-pick. nothing's perfect in this world.
here are my thoughts on the 3 'issues' that you'd raised.

* apple notification is much better. user immediately can raise the phone up, glance at it without additional interactions. superb.
*reachability – not such a good feature. just use 2 hands to interact with your phone.
*home screen icons – you can use the dock DUH

    luqman

    agree. raise the phone up, glance without additional interactions.

    *take friend's phone, look at all naughty ongoing whatsapps and whatnots with his gf without any additional interactions*

YouAreSuchANoob

Dude… Obviously you're a noob iOS user. You can swipe from left to right at the edge of left screen to do the back function. Don't even need to click the "button" on the top left corner. Go read up on iOS shortcuts before even talking bad about it.

    Hunter

    Means its not as straight forward. u need to open 'guides' and 'shortcuts' from external sources. a general layman first time users of iOS wont have a clue.

    To me ease of use is showing how ergonomically a device is designed. a back button is a back button. its physically there. To me that is a better choice when considering human machine interfaces..

      swan

      so so farking wrong.

      when you're using your smartphone with your thumb, swiping from left to right at the edge of the left screen is definitely more 'ergonomic', faster and easier, everything remain on the screen, no distraction no hassle, rather than having to purposely go press that stupid back button, i find it so fking annoying when using my n4

    Notsonoob

    Ugly hotspot bar = Noob user
    Messy notification = Noob user
    Cannot change HDR in camera app = Noob user
    Cannot off WiFi on control centre = Noob user
    Calculator fail = Noob user

    Apple users are one of a kind. Congrats for keeping Apple shares high.

willie

am always curious what is so hype about iphone till i got a 6S plus to try out. dun like it, got back to Android. during the tenure with the iphone, i would guess for consumer whom does not want to bother, buy use whats app, facebook, games, emails, that it, which i think majority of us happen to be in that category. also especially given to children or not so tech savy adult like me, in terms of security, its gives a piece of mind, unlike android, prone to virus or some promo thingy. in my personal opinion, i dun mind iphone…. the main reason i switch was making calls as been a heavy user, i need to dial by number/alphabeth which give me all the contacts.

Sam

Since most of our fellow commenters would most probably disagree with the points above (I guess most people won't comment if they agree), why not try to state something Android can learn from iOS
They both can learn from each other, right?

    Cloud78

    In IOS, when u’re scrolling down a long feed/page in Safari/FB/any app, u simply double tap on the screen’s top right to get back to top. I wonder why Android never implement this, forcing u to manually scroll all the way up. It’s tiring and looks stupid. PS: in FB app, u can click Back to return to top, but what about other apps eg Chrome?

CK Shieh

That's some of the major factors that once I jump out from iPhone 4, I never look back and use IOS. IOS just not my kind of OS and seem like cater for those who is just use what the phone "can do for you" from Apple, nothing more and nothing less.

Rip

Well, the good thing with most Android phones is you can add an sd card.

Who wants to get ripped off by Apple’s ridiculous pricing which banks purely on different storage levels?

Pure insanity.

r1chk1d

All you noob iOS users, go back to your Android… Leave iPhone to the rich brat like us to use. Simple-minded dumb as fcuk users like you should just stick with Android

    Faris

    I thought richest person on the planet like Bill Gates uses Galaxy S8 which is an Android?

swan

i cant stop laughing at author and this article, lucky this guy will never be the chief of android and ios. noob ass katak user suddenly feel like hes genius and quickly wrote this. lmao

Kelisa

That's why you don't ever switch to iOS if you are on Android. Android users can never appreciate iOS, and so does some of iOS users.
Having said that, even on Android, I can't stop hating Samsung's UI, to me Stock Android like the Pixel or MiA1 is the best. The rest of Android phones are just crap loaded bloatware.

Put it simpler, no OS is perfect, so if you love one OS, always stick with it.

Chockoroy

This is what we call fanboy-triggered article.

Mate 10 Lamborghini

The article only stated small part of shortcomings of ip, base on my past ip5 to ip7+, each update the phone become hang and lag, app clash, and already short battery life reduce render the phone total useless, that’s why keep on replacing latest model, year after year, not to mention snail speed charging, no expansion slot extend storage, not true multitasking, and must buy another ip to back up when abroad, and a must have additional burden ’power bank’, all this joke disappeared after I use mate 9 Porsche, truely premium and prestigious design, until now still smooth and fast, only plan to upgrade to mate 11next year, more iPhone, no more headache. Good bye fruit brand.

cmzr

i agree with rory in this one but i also understand why so many people bashing this article

first, let me clarify myself, i frequently change my phone and i had use almost all os such as android, iphone, window phone, blackberry, symbian etc. i had use more than 10 android phone and 2 iphone (iphone 6, iphone 7plus) in the past 3 years. based on my experience, both android n ios have it own ad/disadvantages

and i agree with all rory point in the article. but for long time ios/iphone user, all the point in this article is NOT AN ISSUE because they already getting used to it. and that why so many people r bashing rory. ios might look simple but it not really user friendly, u have to use it for a year to fully familiar/adapt to it ios ecosystem. for me the most user friendly phone in the market right now is google pixel/oneplus 5

meanwhile for 'part time' ios/ long time android user (android 6.0 n above) this become a problem because the back button really convenience to use. u can navigate thru ur phone using one hand, very convenience, very usefull

so for conclusion, i think if u r a geek like myself, iphone is not for u. i always carry 2 phone in my pocket, 1 android one 1 iphone. recently i sold my iphone 7 plus for 80% resale value. that a nice thing i cant get from android phone and now im using 2 phone, note 8 and google pixel as my daily driver and i dont fell i miss my iphone at all. i got everything in my android phone here.

iphone is good for casual user but i still cant justify it price tag. to pay over 3k for something that only do basic smartphone thing + excellent camera is the worst decision i ever make. meanwhile android have improved so much in the 2 years.

my rating base on the phone i have use
best function & feature phone: note 8>pixel>ip7p
best camera phone: google pixel>ip7p>note8
most user friendly/fluid/buttery smooth phone: google pixel>ip7p>note8

recommended to iphone fanboy to try/value for money/- oneplus 5(1.8k-2k after discount qoo10)

Raphaelinc

In my opinion, it’s all down to individual preference. Instead of focusing on UI, I would recommend the writer to write more about the ecosystem of both world.

Jonathan

Very valid points and I switched from ios to Android after selling off my iPhone 6 Plus. Android has leapfrog Apple after Android 6.0 and it is much better. Of course iPhone users will not appreciate until they give android a try. Go and try first before you bash the author.

    YKK

    Oh, not really.

    I have more Android phones and Windows phones than my iPhones.
    I have just escaped from the dark side.
    Non-iOS will not be my primary device anymore.

Aniki

haha, still wanna argue with die hard apple fan? they just know how to spend like they are rich people but actually just to show off.
for us who know the value of the phone they bought at RM4-5k can be just RM1-2k but they still pretend like they own the whole world.
but in fact only smart people will use RM3k to but a good i7 ultrabook and remaining RM1-1.5k for a mid to premium smartphone is enough for daily work and leisure. (and i believe they will still spend another RM6-7k for macbook)
y still argue will them?
there is no point pointing them back to the correct way while their stubborn head already push them to the no return end
=end=

    YKK

    Android phones are just too darn hard to support in the enterprise. With a plethora of different interfaces and customizations. It's just too frustrating to both the support team and users when rendering assistance remotely.

    I can use any phone or OS thrown at me, but not able to assist or guide the entire team.

    So, I would rather be a die hard apple fan than to really dying very hardly by resisting apple.

    FinalCut Pro is so affordable compared to Adobe Premiere. The cost I saved by not subscribing to Adobe's CC is way cheaper than getting an Ultrabook.

    How much one saves, is subjective. Some, don't need to pay for Adobe. So that really saves!

SOKK

no wonder ykk zipper is working for ios, can understand why so defend the bitten fruit, and always post unrelated comment to distract attention, syok sendiri king

kenny

I am fanboy for almost 5 years with iphone/new ipad before switching to Android since. I would said i prefer Android ways of interaction and customization and ease of use. I won't switch back to IOS forever.

andrekua

I thought you would have learn a thing or two given the years you spent with both platform.

There is very little to choose between them. There are things that you hate and like on both platform. If Apple dont do it your way, just jump over to Android. Solve the whole equation very easily.

Those who feel it is hard to support both type of users, it just simply mean you are a lazy tech support. Quit your job.

BTW, is Soyacincau not getting enough traffic lately? Just kidding… LOL

Jackie

It is absolutely hilarious reading all these comments. LOL

Android or iOS, you know what you have and what you don't. The author is simply pointing out why Apple did not do better than Android in some aspects, seeing Apple is the pioneer and innovator that change this industry, not like he is saying iOS is a piece of junk and he force you to switch over to Android.

It is just the author's five cents on today development of iOS and Android. It is your money at the end of the day, spend it however you like, as long as you are happy.

swan

lmao you even contradict yourself, and dont know any facts probably never use an iphone before but butthurt diedie want to act pro and comment.

swan

that one is personal preference, and dont forgot microsoft's competitor is apple, whos still the boss behind?none of your bodokambing business if any of the rich guy use anrdoid phone.

Jack

Thanks for sharing your stuff with us. I would like to appreciate you on doing better keep sharing your stuff in future i will check your website also.
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