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Android 5.0 'Lollipop' vs. iOS 8: More Similar Than Ever 178

Nerval's Lobster writes With the debut of Android 5.0 (also known as Lollipop, in keeping with Google's habit of naming each major OS upgrade after a dessert), it's worth taking a moment to break down how the latest version of Google's mobile operating system matches up against Apple's iOS 8. After years of battle, the two are remarkably similar. So while nobody would ever confuse Android and iOS, both Google and Apple seem determined to go "flatter" (and more brightly colored) than ever. Whether or not you agree with their choices, they're the cutting edge of mobile UX design. The perpetual tit-for-tat over features has reached a climax of sorts with Lollipop and iOS 8: both offer their own version of an NFC-powered e-wallet (Apple Pay vs. Google Wallet), a health app (Apple's Health app vs. Google Fit), car-dashboard control (Android Auto vs. CarPlay), and home automation. That's not to say that the operating systems are mirror images of one another, but in terms of aesthetics and functionality, they'll be at near-parity for most users, albeit not for those users who enjoy customizing Android and hate Apple's "walled garden." (Related: Lots of reviews are popping up for Google's new Nexus 6, one of the first phones to come with the newest Android; TechCrunch's is typical, in that reviewer Greg Kumparak has high praise for the Lollipop UI, but found himself nearly dropping the device because of its size and texture.)
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Android 5.0 'Lollipop' vs. iOS 8: More Similar Than Ever

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    When will I be able to get and install the OTA update for my Nexus 5?

    No, I'm not interested in downloading and installing the new image manually. I just want to do a quick update through the normal update mechanism.

    • by GweeDo ( 127172 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @11:01AM (#48378305) Homepage

      The OTA started yesterday. They do a staged roll out for all these updates. So you should get it within a few days.

      • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) *

        If you're in a hurry to see the performance improvements over the UI improvements, you can go ahead and switch from the Dalvik JIT to the ART precompiled runtime now:
        http://www.cultofandroid.com/5... [cultofandroid.com]

        (you may want to have a charger nearby while recompiling all of your apps, though)

      • I don't get these staged updates.

        With iOS, Apple announces a new OS update, and makes it available to all, for all compatible devices, simultaneously. Given the hundreds of millions of compatible devices this must be a massive logistical problem, yet everyone that's interested gets the OS update immediately, the downloads tend to work just fine, and everyone tends to be happy.

        With Android, Google only makes builds for Nexus devices. One would have thought that given the relatively small numbers of devices

        • by GweeDo ( 127172 )

          I assume the number of people clicking and waiting are probably pretty few. Normal users probably don't realize a big update is coming until the day the notice pops on their phone. For the rest of the people, you can sideload the update easily. I don't think it is perfect, but it isn't the end of the world. The benefits of a staged roll out shouldn't be over looked either. Look at the issues Apple had with their first update to iOS 8 and having to pull it after so many already installed it. A staged r

    • by Geeky ( 90998 )

      I'm not in a hurry if the look of the new gmail app is a sign of what's coming.

      • I'm not in a hurry if the look of the new gmail app is a sign of what's coming.

        What?

        But it has a handy little write new email to no specific person button in the bottom right, where your thumb is. I start writing emails to no-one in particular all the time! Okay, maybe not...

        But at least all the other features have been optimized to be as far away from your thumb as possible (assuming you're right-handed), in the top left corner. But you can also swipe right from the left edge to open the menu, and this will only sometimes cause you to delete emails from your inbox...

        Actually, maybe y

  • That's not to say that the operating systems are mirror images of one another, but in terms of aesthetics and functionality, they'll be at near-parity for most users, albeit not for those users who enjoy customizing Android and hate Apple's "walled garden."

    What's with the pointless troll of Apple users? If they want to compare that's fine but why be a dick about it? If you like Android then use it. If you like IOS use that. Picking one or the other doesn't make one a better person but flinging monkey poo at someone who made a different technology choice doesn't speak highly of one's character. (yeah go ahead - insert "you must be new here" comment here)

    Want to talk parity? Android is a walled garden too - just with different types of walls. There are co

    • Re:Why the troll? (Score:4, Informative)

      by dave420 ( 699308 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @11:26AM (#48378535)

      That's a strange definition of "walled garden" - network crapware? True you can't uninstall some of it, but you're still free to install whatever you want, and from non-Google stores with absolutely no effort what-so-ever... Hell, some of those devices don't even come with Google Play installed by default, so if it is a walled garden, those devices aren't even in it.

      And complaining that people have a choice in what level phone they want? Jesus.

      • network crapware? True you can't uninstall some of it, but you're still free to install whatever you want

        Which means non-Nexus devices will have fewer GB of available internal storage than advertised. Some carriers have been caught shipping a multi-hundred-megabyte game in the unmodifiable partition.

        • Which means non-Nexus devices will have fewer GB of available internal storage than advertised.

          What shipping device (including iOS and Windows devices too if you like) has as much GB of available internal storage as advertised?

      • True you can't uninstall some of it, but you're still free to install whatever you want, and from non-Google stores with absolutely no effort what-so-ever...

        If you don't have root access available to you straight out of the box and supported by the manufacturer then it is a walled garden pretty much by definition. The only question is how high the walls are. Saying the walls are lower than the one's Apple has is pretty much the definition of damning with faint praise.

        True you can't uninstall some of it, but you're still free to install whatever you want, and from non-Google stores with absolutely no effort what-so-ever...

        Those devices invariably come with some phone vendor version of a walled garden that is even less attractive than Google's version. See Amazon Fire for a great example.

        And complaining that people have a choice in what level phone they want?

        Who complained about that?

        • Those devices invariably come with some phone vendor version of a walled garden that is even less attractive than Google's version. See Amazon Fire for a great example.

          The last time I tried a Kindle Fire tablet, it had the same "Allow installation of applications from unknown sources" checkbox that virtually all* Android phones and tablets have. All an app's publisher has to do is make the app available as an APK. Is Fire Phone more restrictive?

          * Except for the first few months of AT&T-branded Android phones. And even these tend to have an OTA update to restore the checkbox, a CyanogenMod port, or both.

    • Re:Why the troll? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @11:31AM (#48378591)

      Android is a walled garden too - just with different types of walls. There are countless Android devices that are locked by the manufacturer to older versions of Android, loaded with crapware which cannot be removed and otherwise effectively turned into a walled garden. Google does little to prevent this from happening and in fact largely facilitates this abuse of users via indifference.

      Aside from Amazon devices (which use a forked version of Android), pretty much all Android devices are not a walled garden. Yes many are locked to a carrier, or have preinstalled apps you can't delete. But on the vast majority of them you can simply go to the settings, check the option to "allow installation from unknown sources," and you are outside the walls.

      • But on the vast majority of them you can simply go to the settings, check the option to "allow installation from unknown sources," and you are outside the walls.

        Until you want to do something which requires root.

        And then you realize the walls are still there.

        If it's so damned open and free, provide me with a factory method of rooting the device.

        I'm not quite ready to risk bricking my tablet. And I'm betting the latest update will make it even harder to root, not easier.

        And, really, having preinstalled apps

        • You'll be arguing that lack of access to the baseband also constitutes a walled garden next. Come on, dude. You have to be smarter than the bullshit argument you're making. I have faith in you.
    • Want to talk parity? Android is a walled garden too - just with different types of walls.

      Exactly.

      Sure, my Nexus 7 tablet will allow me to sideload apps.

      But there are some apps which want to give me functionality Google won't which would require me to root the device. Like granular permissions control.

      Sorry, but if I have to risk bricking the device in order to root it, where's this vaunted openness of Android? It isn't there by default if I don't already have root access to my phone.

      My wife's Nexus 5 phon

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > My wife's Nexus 5 phone? The only texting app is Google's hangouts .. which means I assume all text messages are handed off to Google

        Ignoring for a moment all the hundreds of text messaging apps in the Play store, your assumption is wrong.

        In fact, pretty much everything you said comes down to "I have no idea, but I assume...", followed by an incorrect assumption.

        • yup. lots of texting apps. Just like lots of flashlight apps. All of the ones in the first 10 pages of results want access to your address book, text messages, wireless settings, blah blah blah ...

          I have both a Nexus5 and an Iphone 4S... It's not all peaches and cream over here in Android-land and it's not all fuzzy slippers and hot chocolate in iOS land either...

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And then there's the constantly trying to get me to change my account to Google+. I don't want Google+ either, stop trying to shove it down my throat.

        If you actually tried an Android phone, you would realize how laughable everything you said is. Literally not one thing you said is true. Congratulations.

      • Certainly, since you have a Nexus, you're well aware that the bootloader is unlockable, and relockable- presenting precisely 0 risk of bricking it.
        Now, feel free to explain to me how that is not freedom, and how the competition is?

        Troll harder.
    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      Android devices have walled gardens, and it is up to the customer to choose how high the walls are, and if they get a key to the gate.

      On one hand, you have the flagship Samsung phones which for even just root, it took a bounty and a heavyweight iOS jailbreaker to just punch a hole past Knox... and that's not even a bootloader unlock. On the other hand, you have the Nexus line of devices which allow full access with just a "fastboot oem unlock" command, and HTC devices which unlock with a key obtained from

      • Android devices have walled gardens, and it is up to the customer to choose how high the walls are, and if they get a key to the gate.

        Really? I'm not aware of a single Android device that gives you root access straight from the manufacturer. If you don't have root then you don't have complete choice regarding the height of the walls. If a jailbreak of the phone is ever required to do something then that is pretty much de-facto evidence that a walled garden exists.

        One has to do a little bit of research buying a device. GPE (Google Play Experience) devices tend to be unlockable, and run with minimal crapware.

        Minimal barriers != No barriers. You might have some extra choices available to you but let's not pretend Android is FOSS.

        • Really? I'm not aware of a single Android device that gives you root access straight from the manufacturer.

          Really? The guy just explained that the manufacturers support custom firmware installation on several classes of device, and you're still trying to twist it into your walled garden argument? Quit being a tool.

  • How long did it take Apple to allow custom keyboards?
    Widgets, does Apple (finally) support them?
    What about widgets on the lock screen?
    Did Apple stop using rectangular icons with rounded corners?

    And well, it sure goes both ways:
    When will Android ask me about an App trying to access my contact list?
    Did Google start always asking for a password when buying/installing things like Apple does?

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      And where can I obtain this "tat" people speak of?

    • A great example of how competition drives improvements for all. As consumer demand evolve and new ideas are tested, all mobile OS's will follow suit one way or another.
    • When will Android ask me about an App trying to access my contact list?

      Is this a trick question? "Now".

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      The ironic thing is that with either CyanogenMod or XPrivacy installed, Android will prompt on first use of a permission (contact list, phone, camera), and even allow it just for a certain period of time.

      I think both ecosystems feed from each other. Android's NFC is useful since HID card readers can use it, so it can be used either instead of a badge, or as a backup in case someone forgets their ID.

  • Haters Gonna Hate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tekrat ( 242117 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @11:19AM (#48378461) Homepage Journal

    I have an iPhone, but I also have an Asus Android tablet. I find advantages and flaws in both, and I use each device to its own strengths.

    I also need to say that I was recently in an Apple store and found the iPad mini's screen to be very nice, much sharper than my Asus, but then again, the Asus was very cheap.

    For casual browsing and making snide comments on facebook, it's perfectly fine. With a blutooth keyboard, it's even a nice SSH terminal. I don't do high-end computing on my tablet, and my phone is pretty much relegated to text messages, phone calls, photos, and the occasional need to access an app in an emergency. I'm not glued to my screen like most other people I know.

    Android and iOS are both 'ok' -- neither is perfect, but frankly, the religious wars about operating system on your phone reminds me of the chatter between Atari users and Commodore users on Bulletin Board systems (showing my age here!).

    • Android and iOS are both 'ok' -- neither is perfect, but frankly, the religious wars about operating system on your phone reminds me of the chatter between Atari users and Commodore users on Bulletin Board systems (showing my age here!).

      But did Atari or Commodore actively attempt to prevent people from creating and running programs on their computers? If I recall correctly, both Commodore and Atari shipped with BASIC interpreters that could CALL native code. Apple's code signing policy resembles that used by Atari for its 7800, Lynx, and Jaguar consoles, not that used for its 400, 800, and ST computers. Just as unsigned carts for the 7800 ran in 2600 mode, unsigned apps for iOS run in Safari.

      • by Brannon ( 221550 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @04:34PM (#48381487)

        The manufacturer of my microwave actively prevents people from creating and running programs on it--that doesn't stop me from eating popcorn.

        There are reasonable reasons to want a walled garden device (do a Google image search for a pie chart of the percent of mobile malware out there by platform, iOS doesn't even show up) and there are reasonable reasons to want something you can tinker with. Guess what? the market provides both choices and you get to pick one. Isn't this supposed to be about choice?

  • When anything become a commodity with little room for innovation like we have now between iOS and Android, something invariably pops up.

    Hurry up Firefox OS

    • by jbolden ( 176878 )

      Little room for innovation in phones? Given the speed of improvement what would lots of innovation look like to you? Me thinks your expectations need to be reset a tad.

      • Not just phones, but there's plenty of room for innovation in almost any commodity. RAM has been a commodity for a long time now, but there's still a ton of innovation going on - the new DDR4 standard bringing on faster speeds, LP and LV RAM lowering power requirements, manufacturing process improvements leading to lower prices, etc. Apparently those kind of extremely complex feats of creative engineering are just too boring to notice.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Today its more about the ecosystem then what OS is better. I have used everything from Android, Windows mobile, IOS and even some RIM devices. All of which work well but of course some lack apps or services that people need. When I bought my iPhone I had already chosen not to succumb to being locked into another ecosystem. I came from Android and yet much of my applications, backup, and services were very much separate from the OS. They were also platforms neutral and when I switched to the iPhone they all

    • One thing I wish more devs would do is the universal IAP unlock. I have a couple games that have this and its awesome. Instead of having to buy the game outright on apple/android store, you get the free version. Then log in to your games account from android/ios/web/pc/whatever version you have, pay for the IAP to unlock the full version which then gets associated to your game account, and your done. Now you have the full version available on any platform

      Any time I see that option on a game/app even if I

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        One thing I wish more devs would do is the universal IAP unlock.

        This use of in-app purchases appears to be forbidden by Apple's App Store Review Guidelines [apple.com]:

        11.1 Apps that unlock or enable additional features or functionality with mechanisms other than the App Store will be rejected
        11.2 Apps utilizing a system other than the In-App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an App will be rejected
        11.3 Apps using IAP to purchase physical goods or goods and services used outside of the App will be rejected
        ...
        11.13 Apps that link to external mecha

        • Yea Ive had some dev's say that, and then those exact same devs turn around and do that exact thing. I.e. ticket to ride. The IAP's for android and steam activate together based on your TTR account, the iOS does not. However their game smallworld2 had IAP from another bundle (just like TTR) that activated based on game account and so activated on all products.

  • Every review I'm reading for devices capable of running Android 5.0 complain about the devices themselves. The new Nexus 9 tablet? Flimsy plastic feel to it ... nowhere near as solid with the sense of quality of construction you'd get with a new iPad. The Nexus 6 phone? Much more expensive than previous versions and again, that cheap feel to it that makes you wonder if it's worth the price.

    I think it's great we have options that both compete to ensure they're not leaving out good features. But right now,

    • I don't know, my Nexus 7 2013 feels pretty goddamn solid compared to my iPad Mini- though definitely not as ridiculously solid and heavy as my iPad 4. There are certainly cheap Android devices out there, and not really cheap Apple devices... But I have to say, overall, I like my higher-end Android devices better in terms of build.
  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Thursday November 13, 2014 @12:19PM (#48379073)

    > Whether or not you agree with their choices, they're the cutting edge of mobile UX design.

    As an UX expert, this "flat design" is NOT cutting edge. It is retro gaudy.
    i.e.
    Windows 1.0 vs Windows 8 [amigaspirit.hu]

    It is like these idiot UI/UX designers tossed _everything_ we have learnt about WIMP for the past 20 years right out the window.

    There is _nothing_ wrong with skeuomorphism when it is used in balance.

    This flat design so that users no longer have visual clues as what is a (dynamic) button and (static) text is idiotic and retarded. The primary job of a UI is NOT to help, not hinder.

    The gaudy colors are just the icing on the rotten cake.

    • > The primary job of a UI is NOT to help, not hinder.

      Obviously, it should read:

      > The primary job of a UI is NOT to hinder, but to help.

    • Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

      A button is no longer a button because it was never a button in the first place.
      UI design was mouse-focused for about 25 years, and the UI design of smartphones just used it as a starting point. I'm glad to see it move on.
      When I poke at a word I am poking a word on a screen with my finger, not a button. Why should it be dressed up in the clown makeup of a button? Position, context, color, precedent, and the name of the thing itself are all strong indicator

      • Because you missed the point about _good_ UI.

        *Good* UI doesn't conflate the issue between Signal and Noise.

        if your brain wastes time trying to figure out WHAT you can and can't click on the UI designer has fucked up.

        We use color, textures, drop-shadows, and skeuomorphism to all help provide _visual clues_ for the user.

        • by garote ( 682822 )

          Actually, from my point of view, it's you who is missing the point. UI does not exist in a vacuum, it exists in a context of history, because the end user is a moving target.

          The biggest example that comes immediately to mind for me is in the web browser. Back in the 80's, no one expected to be able to encounter a random place in a document with some stylistic emphasis, that when prodded with a mouse, would cause the computer to display a different document. That functionality was reserved for very clearl

  • I think Lollipop was influenced much, much more by WebOS than it was by iOS. Makes it glaringly obvious why they made that patent agreement with LG a few weeks ago.

    • As a former Pre owner and webOS fan, I'd like to hear more about why you think so.

      • Well, first of all, I have to say that I haven't actually used Lollipop yet (Moto X 2013, so it shouldn't be too long a wait), and I am going off of reviews I have read. There are elements of the new Material Design that remind me a lot of WebOS. The biggest thing is the touch ripple, something I have never seen other than on my old WebOS HP Touchpad. The Lollipop lock screen notifications also look very familiar, and the new Overview function, with it's stack of cards, is practically ripped out of WebOS

    • by mjwx ( 966435 )

      I think Lollipop was influenced much, much more by WebOS than it was by iOS. Makes it glaringly obvious why they made that patent agreement with LG a few weeks ago.

      I would agree with this, but the comparison between Android and IOS is more to do with IOS looking more and more like Android in the last 4 releases.

      IOS 3 and 4 looked and behaved radically different to IOS 7, I would not be supprised if we find the IOS 9 or 10 UI had more in common with Android 4 than IOS4.

      My sister changed jobs last month, handed in her Iphone 5 to her old job and got a Galaxy S5 at her new job... She had no difficulty moving between the two as the UI's perform the same these days.

  • I want to preface this with: I'm an Android user/developer of 5 years, and have no interest in Apple devices. I don't mean to offend anyone, and I apologize for the long-winded post.

    Sadly, I find Android is heading in a very bad direction.

    Google has captured most of the top of the market, leaving little opportunity for growth, so it appears they've started "simplifying" the UI to capture those with little/no interest in mobile computers, those with less mental acuity or those unable/unwilling to spend a fe

  • I had forgotten how featureless the stock launcher is. Gads. I feel crippled. I also really liked CyanogenMod's Privacy Guard feature.

    I will not miss the bugs of CyanogenMod, though, that's for sure.

    I'll be searching for a replacement launcher ASAP. Any recommendations? I used to use ADW back in my Gingerbread/Froyo days...I'll have to see if it's been updated for Lollipop/ART.

  • Holy crap, doesn't any one realize that the high resolution displays don't need shading and dithering to make objects look nicer. That was a necessary evil for low resolution displays to make things look nice and pretty. Tiles and objects on UI's are still the same size, but the resolution has double/tripled/quadrupled in some cases. So we don't need rounded, shaded objects any more. Flat designs look like crap on low resolution displays because we see the jagged edges, so shading was used to soften edges.

I have never seen anything fill up a vacuum so fast and still suck. -- Rob Pike, on X.

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