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The Showdown

Throughout history, there have been issues that have divided families, made enemies out of close friends, and even started vehement arguments that lasted until early hours. The Civil War, liberal versus conservative, paper versus plastic, Coke versus Pepsi…all pale in comparison to perhaps one of the greatest controversies of our age: Apple’s iOs versus Google’s Android OS. Throughout history, there have been issues that have divided families, made enemies out of close friends, and even started vehement arguments that lasted until early hours. The Civil War, liberal versus conservative, paper versus plastic, Coke versus Pepsi…all pale in comparison to perhaps one of the greatest controversies of our age: Apple’s iOs versus Google’s Android OS.

So what are these things?

Apple’s iOS and the Android OS are both mobile operating systems. They are the fancy and sleek-looking interfaces on popular phones and tablets that allow the user to run different programs and applications (usually shortened and refered to as ‘Apps’) so they can customize their device and enhance their experience using it…in plainer terms, you can add fun stuff and do more with that phone running iOS or Android OS than you can with that old flip-style phone.

So now a bit of a history lesson about each…

Back in January 2007, Apple unveiled it’s groundbreaking iPhone along with the equally-groundbreaking operating system it would be running, based on it’s Mac operating system, OS X. At first, it was simply refered to as the ‘iPhone running OS X’, though later this was changed to ‘iPhone OS’. Initially, only Apple’s applications were allowed to run on the systems, and third-party applications were not supported. Steve Jobs argued that developers could build web applications that “would behave like native apps on the iPhone”. On October 17, 2007, Apple announced that a native Software Development Kit (SDK) was under development and that they planned to put it “in developers’ hands in February”. What this meant was that the average person could develop applications for their phone on their own, albeit with a bit of a learning curve. The first few iPhones (up to the 3GS) were exclusively for AT&T service, with later models expanding out to other carrier. According to Apple Android has it’s start with a little company called ‘Android Inc’, founded in 2003 with the idea in co-founder Andy Rubin’s words “…smarter mobile devices that are more aware of its owner’s location and preferences”. From that start, they drew attention from another small company that wound up acquiring them in 2005. That small company? It’s ‘Google’…well, alright, they’re kind of a big company…sort of the largest search engine ever on the internet…and in 2007 Google unveiled it’s Android OS for smart phones. Touting it’s ‘Open Source Code’, Android OS took a different direction from the more proprietary iOS, and allowed anyone to see the code (the actual written langauge of the operating system) and, if they chose, modify or even help improve upon it. According to Google, as of February of 2012, there are 850,000 Android devices activated each day.

That’s great, but what’s the difference?

Before we get into the differences, I want to make it clear that we’re not looking at the devices themselves, just the operating systems running on them. For iOS, it is only on Apple’s devices (iPhone, iTouch and iPad) and these are generally on a higher price-scale, while Android OS is available on devices in a wider price-range (and, arguably, quality range). This alone could be the root of a great number of arguments, but using that same logic would be like arguing the quality of two movies or TV shows based on what TVs you’re watching them on. We’ll also be comparing the latest versions of iOS (ver 5.1 at the time of this writing) and Android OS (4.0.4 as of this writing)

Getting Things Started – Powering up and Boot Times.

Again, trying not to get too caught up in the hardware differences between devices running the two operating systems. Taking that into consideration, each system seems to have about the same boot-up time…’boot’ meaning the process of starting a device like a computer or cell phone, anything with an operating system. Overall time, on average, is going to be 10 to 20 seconds, again somewhat depending on the device, but will always seem much longer when you’re staring at the screen.

On the surface: A look at the desktops.

At first glance, the desktops (the initial stuff that you see when on the device…the ‘work area’, if you would) will look similar. On both, you’ll see small icons for your applications laid out in columns and rows, and on both systems you can ‘slide’ the initial screen over for more room for more applications. One of the big differences come in with how your icons are organized. For iOS, if something is installed on the device, it’s on the desktop of your device. You can then group these together in folders, or slide them over to another desktop area, with the amount of desktop areas near limitless. Android OS is a little different, in that when an application is installed on your device, it will need to be added to your desktop space which allows users to clear up clutter from applications that are seldom used. And while you can group these icons together in folders in a similar manner to iOS, the number of desktop spaces available is limited, usually to four or five.

Gettings Stuff: What’s available and how to get it.

You’ve got that new tablet or phone, and you’ve heard about all the cool stuff you can do with it, but you really want to know the important stuff…how soon can you play Angry Birds? Applications whether they came with the device or are downloaded onto it, are commonly refered to as ‘apps’. These can range from being very productive to being very non-productive (again, see Angry Birds). For the Android OS, there is the Google Market, recently renamed to Google Play, which has thousands of applications available, along with e-books, movies and television shows, and of course music. The powerhouse of the industry, though, is Apple’s iTunes, which has long been held as the standard of an online market for digital devices. Music, books, movies, apps and software, not only for their iPhone and iPad devices, but it’s integrated into it’s OS-X software devices (it’s Mac computers). The big difference here between these two OS’s and getting software is the restrictions on where you can get software. For the iOs, it’s pretty much iTunes and only iTunes. For the Android OS, in addition to Google Play, third-party markets are available, though without the oversight of either Google or Apple, it can be ‘buyer beware’. Besides that, it does seem that iTunes has much more content available, while Google Play seems to have more free content and apps.

The Latest and Greatest: Software updates and upgrades.

Just as you need to keep your vehicle maintained regularly, making sure your OS is up-to-date will keep it running smoothly. Updates are additions to the software to help take care of problems or issues, or even add new features. Both Apple and Google have been pretty frequent with their updates, though again, it will sometimes depend on the hardware of the device you are running. Some of the newer versions of iOS won’t run on the older iPhones, and likewise, the newer versions of Android OS won’t run on the older or even the lower-end, economy phones and devices. Which brings us to our final point…

Pretty much the bottom line is that both operating systems are viable for portable devices, and each has their advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons, and hordes of devoted users. A smart consumer will think about what they are looking for in a device, see what kind of hardware will match those needs, and most importantly, see which operating system ‘clicks’ with them. If you are in the market and still have questions, or maybe would like to see both operating systems in action, come in and talk to one of our sales associates. As always, we’d be more than happy to help you out!

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