It's All About The Apps
For years now, the two big players in the smartphone scene, Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS, have duked it out with each other to bring us all the best mobile app experience possible. While some may think that these two mobile operating systems are equals, their apps tell a different story. Some apps look and run better depending on which OS you download them from.
So with that in mind, here are ten apps that are startlingly better on one platform over the other.
Note: To compare these apps, we used an iPad running iOS 5.0 against an Asus EEE Transformer running Android 4.0 and an iPhone 4S running the iOS 6 beta against a Galaxy Nexus running Android 4.1
Better on iOS
iOS has way more apps than Android, but does that mean it has better quality apps overall? Let’s take a look at my list of the handful of iOS applications that trounce Android’s equivalent app.
At first glance, the iOS and Android versions of the Facebook app might appear identical, but once you try to click on a link or comment on a post you quickly realize that the iOS version is superior. Clicking on a link your friend posted, for instance, will open up a browser inside the Facebook app itself. Once you've finished, a quick swipe is all it takes to get back to your news feed.
You can't say the same about the Android version, alas. It’s pretty smooth, but replies and links all open into their own windows, making it a chore to go back and forth. Also, opening a link actually takes you into the Browser app, and Facebook has yet to release a version of the app designed with Android tablets in mind.
I feel like it’s shameful to even talk about Android’s Twitter experience on a tablet here. The Twitter app on an Android tablet is basically just a blown up version of the phone app, and doesn't make use of the extra screen real-estate at all. The iPad version, on the other hand, uses all the larger screen space to show much more information and has panels that pop-up so you can view content—like pictures and links—without ever having to leave the app. It's not the best Twitter app out there, but it gets the job done better than the Android version.
The iPad’s LinkedIn app looks professional and slick—social media for the business-minded done right. The Android phone version of the app looks similar to the iPhone one, but the tablet version leaves me feeling that the developer tried to make the Android app as nice as the iOS version and failed.
The Hulu Plus app is by no means perfect, but it's a good way of keeping up with your favorite TV shows. Both the Android and iOS versions of the app will get the job done, but in my opinion the Hulu Plus app on iOS is more intelligently laid out. The navigation buttons are put in places that make sense, and I don't feel lost while browsing through content like I do on the Android version.
Movies by Flixster
The Movies by Flixster tablet app for Android is full of lag, and it lacks the little things that make a good app. The iPad version, on the other hand, nails it: Buttons are labeled clearly so you always know where you're going, scrolling is smoother, and the app on the whole just looks better.
Okay, now that Apple's out of the way, let's talk about Android: Google's mobile OS may not have the best looking apps, but the flexibility of Android allows certain apps to have more features than they would on iOS.
On iOS, if you want to use Instagram on your iPad, you are stuck using the phone version (which you can blow up to better fit the bigger screen). The same is true on Android, though for some reason Instagram looked better on my Transformer Prime than it did on my iPad. If you're asking yourself why anyone would want Instagram on a tablet, well the answer is simple: Some photos just look better when viewed on a larger screen.
What separates the Android version of Google Earth from the iOS version is the inclusion of nearby landmarks and other notable sites. I didn’t even notice it at first, and I use Google Earth quite a bit (I like globes). The app will show you short clips of 3D-rendered landmarks and will give you more background on each one. It's a nice little extra for geography nerds like myself.
Is it cheating to mention Google’s flagship social media app? Google+ on Android lets you create events, automatically upload photos, start a hangout, and much much more. Both the iOS and Android versions are very well done, but I have to give the nod to Android on this one because Android's built-in sharing functionality lets you share pretty much anything from any app to Google+.
Google Chrome is awesome to have on the iPad, but the only functionality it gains you is the ability to sync your bookmarks, open tabs from other devices, and get at previous searches. Because of Apple's restrictions, what you’re using on iOS is mobile Safari (UI WebView, for those looking for particulars) with Google’s skin atop. It's probably worth it just for the sync, but Android’s got that beat with pretty much the full fledged experience.
If you saw Evernote side-by-side on the iPad and Transformer you’d think, based on prior experience, that they were flipped. The iPad version seems piece-mail and thrown together in a way that has an actual learning curve, whereas the Android app has everything close together and is very nice looking. Plus, with the sharing options available to Android, Evernote can be an extremely useful tool for storing anything you want to remember later on.