The main difference between Android and iOS, the Apple iPhone operating system, is customizability. IOS is designed to be simple for users who like the default settings. Android gives its users more options to customize and personalize their devices. From the home screen to the apps, there is almost nothing an Android user cannot change about his/her device.
Android’s home screen can be arranged however the user wants. Like on the desktop of a computer, items can be arranged in any layout, pattern or grid. Best of all, the home screen items do not have to be apps; Android users can also use widgets, which are like little apps running on the home screen. Widgets allow users to make the home screen more interesting, interactive and useful. On my Android device, I use widgets to make my home screen display an analog clock, my calendar and the contents of my inbox; on iOS, I would have to open up the clock, calendar and mail apps to get the same result. Android users can also download custom launchers, apps that allow them to further modify their home screens.
Basim Ahmad, a junior at Williamsville North High School and an Android user, said the custom launchers “give the user more options to change … For example, with the default Android launcher … you can’t resize some widgets; with a custom launcher, you could click a box in the settings and all widgets will be resizable.”
File transferring, moving files between a computer and a mobile device, is, in my opinion, easier to do on the Android. Apple uses a process called syncing to automatically transfer photos, songs and movies to and from the iPhone. Although I like this idea of automating the file-transfer process, I dislike syncing because it does not allow users to directly transfer specific files. Apple, the company who pioneered “drag and drop,” does not let its users do the same for mobile devices. Instead, users must navigate extensive menus and check boxes, the very clutter Apple professes to abhor. Android, in contrast, uses a more intuitive file-transfer interface that resembles the file managers on most computers. Users can select individual files to move, much like transferring files to and from a flash drive.
Installing apps is another area where Android users have more freedom. Android’s Play store is where users go to download and install apps. Android users have more options: they can also install apps from a developer’s website or even directly from the computer where the app was created. This, of course, invites users to create their own apps, custom-made specifically for their needs. This is great for programmers who have the knowledge required to make their own apps, but what about the average Android user? MIT’s App Inventor, at www.appinventor.mit.edu, has an easy-to-use graphical interface that allows users to create Android apps without doing any programming, simplifying a very difficult process. Using App Inventor, any Android user can design, create and install a custom app on his/her device.
In addition to software choices, Android users have a variety of hardware choices. There are many different kinds of Android devices on the market, so if a user dislikes one particular model, they can choose a different one.
Android and iOS are fundamentally different; there is no way to determine which is better overall. They are simply better at different things, and preferable for different uses. Many people like the default settings of iOS and have no desire to change them. Others who like to customize their devices find iOS too restrictive and prefer the freedom Android gives them. IOS excels at choosing for its users; Android allows its users to choose for themselves.
Kathan Roberts is a junior at Williamsville North High School.