Fire up an iPhone X alongside a Galaxy Note 8 and you might not think there’s all that much to choose between Android and iOS any more. They offer the same apps, in the same sorts of grids, with similar approaches to notifications and quick settings, and at this stage in the game you’re probably happy with your choice of mobile OS and sticking with it. Is there really any reason to switch? Well, yeah—there’s still a few!
Android and iOS might have borrowed enough features from each other over the years to make the superficial differences not so great any more (iOS even has widgets these days), but dig a little deeper and you’ve got three main ways that Apple’s mobile platform differs from Google’s. This is what you need to know about them, and why your pick of smartphone OS still matters.
For the last couple of years, Apple has been keen to talk up the user privacy advantages of going with iOS. Less of your data gets sent to the cloud, more of it gets stored securely on your device, and Apple doesn’t want to collect as much data about you in the first place, according to Apple.
We know Apple’s approach by now: It may half-heartedly support iTunes for Windows and Apple Music for Android, but it really wants its users to be running Apple hardware and software and nothing else. The HomePod is just the most recent example of this, with no support for Spotify (unless you use Airplay) or Android.
As with macOS vs Windows, the security outlook for iOS vs Android is stacked heavily in Apple’s favor: There’s more malware aimed at Android devices, it gets through more often, and security updates are slower in rolling out (not least because Google’s hardware partners are involved as well as Google).
For better or for worse, Android apps still have the edge over iOS apps when it comes to how deep they can get their claws into the mobile operating system. It’s the reason why you can’t change your default SMS app on an iPhone, or record a call on the phone itself, or open a link from an email in anything other than Safari, or change the icon and wallpaper theme with a couple of taps.