We are gradually in the transition from the mobile phones to what is now called as the smart phones or the i-phones and the tablets etc. - thanks to the rapidly developing technologies around us. Today, in the world of telecommunication and entertainment the two technologies that are competing for dominance is the iOS and the Android.
Although both the technologies have far reaching influence than mere services provided by a mobile phone, yet they concentrate largely on mobile telecommunication.
Therefore, in this post we would be reviewing both the technologies to, firstly, understand them better as to what exactly are these terms and secondly, to help you take a decision given a situation.
Why Operating System?
In the world of processors and microprocessors every hit of the button, no matter on which device it was made, must ultimately render itself to the processor for the device to work. Nevertheless, the processors, as most are likely to know, are simply a collection of many electronic or strictly speaking semiconductor elements. These elements (or the microprocessor as a whole) can function/react only to electrical signals in the form of voltages. And so in order to use the device a user must feed in electric voltages! Similarly, the output from the processors are also nothing but electrical voltages.
Does not this sound weird to say the least! A user feeding electrical voltages to the processors to make the device run! You would run mad simply by wondering about it let alone actually doing it. Just at this point of your anxiety comes in the Operating System to help you out.
Every punch of the key that we strike is registered with the Operating System. Then after several step of operation the Operating System ultimately renders the required electrical voltages to the processor and it does the required function.
Once the operation on the processor is completed, it returns relevant electrical voltages which is somehow received by the underlying Operating System and rendered accordingly on an Input/Output console in human cognizable format.
By this time you must have realized the indispensable importance of Operating Systems - hats off to its inventors and researchers.
On the foregoing, because the mobile phones also function through micro processors it was natural that they also contain Operating Systems to facilitate their various services. Various telecommunication companies came out with their own version of Operating System compatible for their range of devices. In this post we would be concentrating on two such products: the iOS from “Apple” and the Android from Google.
The iOS - an ‘Apple’ to have
With the iconic industrialist Steve Jobs founding his company - “Apple” launched an Operating System for its devices, particularly, the mobile devices. This Operating System was initially known as the iPhone OS. Later it was renamed as iOS because it became a platform for other devices as well like the iPads!
It is reported that “As of August 2013, Apple's App Store contained more than 900,000 iOS applications, 375,000 of which were optimised for iPad. These apps have collectively been downloaded more than 50 billion times.”
The above data itself speaks volumes about the Operating System. It provides agile and flexible facilities which owe to the popularity of the System.
For instance, the user interface of iOS supports direct manipulation. That is you do not punch any “key” on the pad for any given action rather, you directly “touch” the icon on the screen via the multi-touch gestures.
An exciting policy of Apple takes iOS usage to the next level. Apple does not charge you any license for iOS’s installation on non-Apple devices! This is something unique in itself because Apple’s sharpest competitors - the Microsoft and Google do charge for any of their Operating System installations on a different make device!
Technically speaking the iOS have four layers known as the “abstraction layers”. They are: the Core OS layer, the Core Services layer, the Media layer, and the Cocoa Touch layer. It is in conjunction with these layers that iOS provides all the elegant functionalities.
Android: The human automaton?
Much like the iOS, Android is yet another Operating System. It is based on yet another famous Operating System known as Linux. It was also created to primarily support the mobile devices by Android inc, under the funding tutelage of Google. Later Google bought it.
Android is open source software. This makes it easily accessible to developers from all strata of the software development community especially those from the Java world because Android supports customized Java language for the development of applications - “apps” - for Android platform; this must be appreciated with the fact that Java itself it an open source and one of the most commonly used language and technology that it provides for internet applications! Recent data show that Android is one of the widely used platforms for mobile app development:
In October 2012, there were approximately 700,000 apps available for Android, and the estimated number of applications downloaded from Google Play, Android's primary app store, was 25 billion. A developer survey conducted in April–May 2013 found that Android is the most popular platform for developers, used by 71% of the mobile developer population.Just like the iOS, Android also supports the touch screen facility!
As you might have already observed that there is a lot of parallels between the two platforms both in terms of technology and popularity and therefore, we would in the next few passages briefly compare the two.
It’s not about Apple vs Android; its Apple OR Android
The first thing that comes glaringly to the eye is the fact that on one hand where Android apps can be developed on any given machine, let us say your desktop with a Microsoft Windows Operating System, to work with iOS would require a dedicated Apple’s Mac! This is a serious issue when it comes to cater to the development needs of a larger community because not just that Macs are relatively costlier but that Windows environment are a tad more popular amongst the new-bees!
However apple has an edge when it comes to app management. Apple segregates the apps for iPads and iPhones because iPads are generally meant for bigger screen sizes like that of the tablets. However, such a clear distinction of apps to be used on a phone or a tablet is not quite there with Google.
While many third party vendors offer free apps on your Google device, no such facility is offered with Apple devices. Nevertheless, this is a bit jittery affair because most of the time the apps offered are banal, never-usable ones! So, in reality, you may see it as an advantage with Apple that it saves your device screen from unnecessary cluttering.
Continuing on with apps, some of the very famous apps which are up and running in Apple devices are yet to be developed in Google’s version. In fact, developers tend to create apps which can be potentially run on both iOS and Android platform, first for the iOS platform!
While Google persists with Flash as its main support for multimedia on the web, Apple has migrated to HTML5. We believe this decision is a result of the foresight that Flash would be replaced with HTML5 - only time would let us know in this regard.
Finally there is an area where Apple has a definite edge over any other competitor. A swipe on the right displays an interface for global search. That is one can search anything from music, to app, to Wikipedia etc.
Through the above review it was not our intention to justify the superiority of one over the other. We simply pointed out the strong sides and the weak sides of each platform which the two IT giants offer. At the end of the day, depending on your need, budget and availability you need to take a call whether to go for iOS based device or Android.