5 Ways iOS is Better than Android:

Note: This is a point-counterpoint article style.  If you want to see 5 ways Android beats iOS, click the link at the bottom of the article.

If you want to start a flame war on the Internet, there are a few topics to try bringing up.  One of these is iOS versus Android.  Even just a news article about a minor update or rumor about one OS or another is likely to summon anger and hate.  That being said, there are a few ways iOS is better than Android.  Here are 5 of them.  These reasons do not revolve around downloadable apps except where it applies to the debate.  Also, the arguments are not listed in order of importance or effectiveness.  Jailbreaking and/or rooting is also not being taken into consideration unless explicitly stated otherwise.

     SECURITY:  McAfee certainly finds iOS more secure than Android.  For better or worse, Apple tightly controls the experience of iOS, including the flow of apps into the App Store.  Apple’s examination process means increased security against malicious apps making it onto your iDevice.  We have seen proof of concepts where the App Store has some security bugs or apps have gotten through Apple’s screening process, but overall nothing like the malicious attempts against Android.

This goes deeper than just apps though.  Apple has the Find My iPhone app available for all of its iDevices in case yours gets lost or stolen.  I can’t tell you how many times in my job I have used or have seen this used to track a student’s stolen iPhone.  Of course you can get free or paid third-party options in the App Store and some of them offer more features.  But Apple’s own offering provides a very simple experience that you can access from any computer or iDevice that allows you to track your phone, send messages, or erase your entire phone.  Android has no solution of its own for this.

Both stores have apps that sometimes grab things that they probably shouldn’t be meddling with (why do some games need access to my contact list?), but with the recent iOS 6 update, Apple has allowed finer controls.  Now apps that want to access your Address Book, Location, Facebook or Twitter account, among other things, have to actually ask permission to do so.  Admittedly this whole thing started after a few scandals, but better late then never.

     MULTITASKING:  iOS multitasking was implemented before Android got their own solution and has done it better since day one.  Just a double tap on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch’s home button brings up the multitasking bar.  You can slide through all of your open apps, or slide to the left and get access to your music controls.  Pause, play, fast-forward, and rewind, or jump straight into the app playing the audio be it Pandora, your Music app, or whatever.  You also can control your iDevice’s AirPlay streaming controls and whether to lock the screen’s rotation.  iOS users also got the ability to kill apps from that multitasking bar, even if they didn’t actually need to.

Android users get most of the same multitasking features like background audio or voice calls, but application switching didn’t get any native solution until Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”.  Android users had been using app-killing solutions from the Android Marketplace, but it took Google until Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” to actually implement that feature natively.  Admittedly the way Android 4.0 does it looks pretty slick, but it seems like something that could have been included so much earlier.  And speaking of apps…

     APPS, APPS, AND APPS!:  If there was one thing any smartphone or tablet has to have these days, its apps. While Steve Jobs may not have initially liked the idea of iOS apps, it’s pretty safe to say that he was wrong.  Today, Apple’s iOS has the largest marketplace for apps of any mobile OS (and maybe even some desktop operating systems).  iOS has over 600,000 apps with almost half of them for the iPad.  If you’re looking for an app, chances are you’ll find it there.  Apple does place some restrictions on how apps may function, some of this for security while others seem downright controlling, but as a whole, the Apple experience works fluidly, and many developers have figured out how to use the rules of iOS to their needs, especially with the lack of a file manager like Mac’s Finder.  On the user end, many people are leaving the standard computer for the iPad, including the elderly, students, young children, and more.

Some of the limits also factor in to quality control.  Apps on iOS seem better built, more stable, and less resource intensive than their Android counterparts.  This certainly seems like a factor in why iOS users are more willing to retain apps than Android users.  To be fair, some apps are great across platforms, while others are coded badly no matter the platform (I’m looking at you Facebook), so Android and iOS are not completely responsible for apps or their entire quality experience.  It’s also fair to note that the amount of free apps on Android is greater than iOS.

This also affect developers too.  Many developers publish an app hoping to make some money for the time they put into it.  This varies from developer to developer and the reason the developer makes an app may not be solely for profit.  It’s not uncommon for popular apps to come out on the iPhone or iPad first before making the leap to Android.  Why?  Android developers don’t make the same amount of cash as iPhone users do.  Macworld reports about how developers make less on Android than iOS.

     RESPONSIVENESS:  This is where we get a little technical.  Hardcore Android users love to talk about the hardware specs of their devices.  These can include 2 gigs of RAM, quad-core CPU and graphics, NVidia chipsets, etc.  For any tech geek, those are fairly impressive mobile stats.  Here’s something Android users never seem to talk about though: why does iOS run just as smooth, if not smoother, then the majority of Android devices while having generally lower stats (save for the graphics processor and the resolution of the screen on the latest models)?  Android and iOS users can play the same games, like ShadowGun, but iOS tends to play it so much more cleanly than Android.

Let’s look also at touch response.  The response time of an iPhone or iPad is consistently faster, more fluid, and better tracks your finger’s motion than Android.  This is what it breaks down to: iOS was created from the very beginning to be a touchscreen system, meaning that responsiveness to your touch needed to be a top priority.  So iOS sets a user’s touch command as a “real time priority”.  When you touch your iPad or iPhone’s screen, the device puts your touch and the corresponding commands at the highest priority.  It focuses all its attention on you like a puppy on a new toy.

When Android was first developed, it was competing against BlackBerry, so Android originally used a physical keyboard and mouse like BlackBerry.  Then the iPhone came out, and Android had to adapt.  But they implemented touch as a “normal priority”, treating it the same way as all the device’s other processes rather than the most important.  Google could fix this, if they wanted to have almost every app in the Google Play store rewritten to support the change.  Chances of this happening in the near future are pretty slim, so Google and manufacturers will likely keep sticking with more powerful hardware.  You can read more about this at Redmond Pie’s article.

FRAGMENTATION:  OK, I saved this section for last because it’s a very sensitive point in the debate and is probably the most detailed.  This argument also tends to be the go-to argument when people comment on the negatives of Android and I wanted to show there were other legitimate reasons before coming to this one.

With that out of the way, Android has a huge fragmentation problem, partially as a result of its openness and partially because of Google.  Android is available on many different devices running different hardware specs, screen sizes, and versions of Android.  It’s only recently that Google has tried to reign in on Android’s fragmentation problems.

Let’s start with the user interfaces.  You get a different user interface per manufacturer: Motorola has Blur, there’s HTC’s Sense, the stock Android experience, etc.  If you switch manufacturers, say to the Samsung Galaxy series from a Motorola phone, you have a little bit of a learning curve.  Some of these interfaces are downright ugly, though that’s a comment directed at the manufacturers rather than Android.  Different user interfaces aren’t a problem if a user chooses it because that’s their choice, but it’s a different story when you can’t customize that (which has always been a strong point for Android).

While we’re on the subject of manufacturer differences, let’s talk about stock apps.  Every OS comes with stock apps, such as the browser, calendar, etc.  But Android, like Windows on the desktop, generally has extra apps that the manufacturers put on the devices to make extra money and they have the right to do so.  However you don’t hear Windows users cry out in the same way that Android users do over third-party stock apps.  Why is that?  On Windows, you can always uninstall these apps, but not on Android.  If you want to uninstall the third party stock apps like security services, office software, etc., you have to root your device.  Plus, mobile phones don’t have the hard drive space that a full computer does.  You can eventually uninstall these apps, but you have to wait until there is a way to root your device (basically putting you in complete control over your device), and these aren’t always stable activities and can end up breaking your phone if you use the wrong one.  It’s one thing for Google to have their stock apps, but it’s different from those apps that a manufacturer puts on there.

Apps are also a problem on Android.  I’m not talking about the quality or range of apps on Android, I’m talking about not being able to install apps.  Let me explain: there are apps on every operating system, desktop or mobile, that won’t install on certain versions or devices or lack of requirements.  Some apps don’t update and require older operating systems, while some are new and don’t support older versions.  Likewise apps aren’t capable of running on some systems because of the lack of hardware requirements (this is especially true for media intensive apps like games).  No use using a camera app if your device has no camera.  So why am I picking on Android?  It’s the way Android handles this issue.  If I run into an app that I can’t run on my iPhone or iPad (which is rare indeed), the App Store will tell me that this app isn’t compatible with my device.  On Android, I don’t get this pop-up for incompatible apps.  In fact, I don’t get anything.  If an app isn’t compatible with my device, looking it up on my device won’t tell me that.  It just acts like the app doesn’t exist.  I have to go to the Android Marketplace website to see this for certain.  I want to be clear here:  I’m not talking about screen size limitations.  There are apps that are only available on my iPad that aren’t available on my iPhone and vice versa, and this isn’t something I hold against Android.  This is specifically when I’m look for an app on two different Android devices the app will show up on one device but not others.

But by far the worst thing about Android fragmentation is updating the OS.  In the iOS world, so long as your device is at least 2 years old or younger, you’re guaranteed to get the latest version of iOS.  You may be lacking some features due to hardware or Apple limitations, but you still get the majority of the patches, features, and fixes for your device. The latest version iOS (6.x.x) already is on a majority of iOS devices.  If you’re waiting for an Android update, join the club.  The current version of Android (Jelly Bean, 4.1-4.2) is still only about 10% of the market.  The hardware manufacturers are doing a pretty lousy job at upgrading their devices, even their latest devices.  They aren’t making the grade.  The only devices that consistently get the latest and greatest Android updates are the Nexus devices running the stock version of Android.  Those are released yearly and are run almost entirely by Google, who also controls the design of the Nexus devices, though they outsource the actual manufacturing to one of their hardware partners.  Funny, does this sound a little like Apple?

CONCLUSION:  I’m not an Apple fanboy, despite what you might think.  There are things I sincerely like about Android, and some things I wish would change in iOS.  All that aside, I know that my iDevices will always have the latest software for at least a few years, have a wider and better selection of apps, and will work when I need them too.  Apple and iOS aren’t perfect, but this is a case where the vertical integration style of Apple just works, and that’s what I really need.   If you care to hear 5 ways Android is better than iOS, another post will come out soon detailing 5 ways Android is better than iOS.  I encourage you to read both sides of the debate.

In the comments below, we want to hear what you think.  Was there something I missed, something I got wrong, or just have your own take to add to the debate?  Tell us in the comments.  You can check out more on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  And check out our Google Plus.  Thanks!

App of the Week: SyncMate

With the advent of smartphones and tablets, calendar and contact syncing has become more important than ever. You can use iCloud on Apple to sync these things, as well as bookmarks, mail, and more just by plugging it up to Mac. But what about if you want to sync these things up to a non-iOS device? You can use a service like Google, but many people may not want to send all their stuff to the cloud, may fear Google’s new privacy policy, or just want to stick to using their desktop apps. Or maybe these devices don’t have an alternative. Is there a middle ground? How about SyncMate?

SyncMate is a tool that allows you to sync a lot of stuff from your Mac to a variety of other devices. You can sync your Android phone or tablet, Windows Mobile phone, BlackBerry, PSP, as well as flash drive, another Mac, or Windows computer. You can also sync your information to web services as well, such as Dropbox, your Google Account, and SyncMate’s own 50 Meg online storage service. Personally I think 50 Megs is small these days compared to other services, and they could really bump this up.

SyncMate is fairly simple. Install it on your main computer, and set up what information you want the app to sync. Then select the devices or accounts you want to use as well, and provide any needed login information. In the preferences, you can select what file types for video, music, etc. that you want to sync, how often to remind you to sync, and even what IP

Screenshot of Eltima's SyncMate

ports you want the app to use. Then all you have to do is hit the big “Sync” button to begin the syncing process. If you’re syncing to a mobile device like Windows Mobile, Android, or iOS, you’ll need to download the SyncMate mobile app. Otherwise you’ll have to plug in the device to sync the information.

There are two versions of SyncMate. The free version syncs your basic personal information, like contacts and calendars, and you manually have to sync your devices. Then there is the expert version, which allows you to sync to more devices, like the PSP, but allows you to sync your devices automatically, sync Firefox and Safari Bookmarks, sync Mail and notes from Entourage, Outlook, & Apple Mail, and encrypt your data, among other things. You can read more about the differences here: http://mac.eltima.com/sync-mac.html?tab=3

While I think the ree version could really use some more features, they’re all added in the expert mode. I do find the reminder pop ups very annoying, especially if I haven’t been using the app for a while. You can download the app at http://mac.eltima.com/sync-mac.html. There is the limited free version, or you can upgrade to the paid version for $40.00, which gives you licensing or two computers. The download of the apps are free otherwise. It is available for Mac’s running OS 10.5 or higher, as well as Windows XP and higher, and a variety of mobile systems. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen. You can also check out my Google Plus Page. Thanks!

App of the Week: join.me

More and more, meetings are being held over the Internet as a cheaper and more efficient way to get projects done and share ideas.  Likewise, screen sharing is becoming a greater part of these meetings.  And while some apps have screen sharing built-in, such as Skype, they just don’t hold up as well as dedicated screen sharing apps, which tend to cost a bit of cash.  So when I need to teach a lesson with screen sharing, I use join.me.

Join.me is a free screen sharing solution made by LogMeIn, so the quality of the app is exceptional.  To share one’s screen, the presenter must use the free app.  Upon launching the app, you are presented with two large buttons: one says “Share” the other “Join”.  Hit the share button, and then you can share your screen with anyone by giving them a 9 digit code listed just above the settings.  The viewers (you can have up to 250 viewers at a time) can then enter the code on their own app, or go to the website and enter the code in there.  Likewise, the code is in the form of a link that you can email or post for anyone to click and view.  Note that you can only view from the website, all sharing must be done from the downloaded app.

The app keeps a very sturdy connection.  I’ve used it for many presentations with an active Skype video call, Preview, as well as Mail, and my Twitter client open at the same time with no crashes or lagging in the presentation.  The presentation is very clear, clear enough for people to read the text on my screen.  Join.me also allows you to pause the

join.me presenting my screen

presentation at anytime, as well as share files over the connection, use a text-based chat, switch the presentation between multiple monitors, and more.  By upgrading to the Pro version, you also get the ability to switch who’s presenting with one of your viewers, meaning that multiple people can share multiple plans from multiple places.  You also get access to international and conference lines, a scheduler, and more.

As for problems with the app, they are really minor.  The app does not fit the Mac style, but the look is very simple, and still looks great.  In this case, I’m glad for a less Mac-ish feel.  Plus, this helps it stick out from the other apps, helping to remind me that the app is running.  Of course, I can’t forget that it’s running because it sits on top of every window on every desktop on my Mac. While I don’t mind that I always know when it’s running, it doesn’t help that I have to move it if I want to access to a browser tab, a button, a setting, etc.  There’s really no way around this, expect maybe to make the window fade into more translucent state when not the selected app.  But as I said, this a minor grievance for an app that does its job very well.  I would say it needs VOiP capabilities, but those are currently in beta testing.

If you’re looking for a cheap yet effective screen sharing solution, give join.me a shot.  Join.me is a free app for Mac OS 10.5 and higher, as well as Windows XP and higher.  There is an app for iOS and Android, but it only functions as a viewer not as a presenter.  It is made by LogMeIn and is available for download at join.me.  If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus Page  Thanks!

App of the Week: DoubleTwist

If you use an iPhone, you probably use iTunes.  If you use Android, you use…well, what?  A lot of people simply drag their media to the Android device like they would a flash drive.  Other phones use the manufacturer’s own app, much like Samsung.  But Android doesn’t have just one dedicated iTunes-like app to sync media between your computer and device. Rather, there are actually multiple apps that can do this, DoubleTwist being one of them.

When I first got my Android media player (the Archos 3.2) I started looking for something like iTunes to make syncing easier, and DoubleTwist was one of the highest rated apps.  The app looks a lot like iTunes, and even has similar settings for the look and feel of it.  The app will look through your Mac and find all your photos, videos, music, and podcasts and allow you to sync them all of selectively to your Android device.  You can also view all of the above that DoubleTwist can find on your computer’s hard drive, as well as on your phone or tablet’s drive.  You can also create and import playlists from iTunes.  These

DoubleTwist in the Android Marketplace

playlists can then even be moved over to iTunes if necessary (the same is true for Windows Media player on Windows). It has some trouble with DRM’d media, especially if you’re looking at movies and shows you purchased from iTunes.  But it has no trouble playing media that is not copy-protected.

But if this was all DoubleTwist did, it wouldn’t be much different from any other media playing/syncing app.  On the top of the sidebar, you’ll find that you can use DoubleTwist to download apps from the official Android Marketplace, music and videos from Amazon’s online service, and podcasts from a variety of sources.  The podcast list is not as extensive at iTunes may be, but the ability to have this is greatly appreciated.  The addition of the Android Marketplace and Amazon’s services more than make up for this discrepancy.  However, you can sync RSS feeds to download media, as well as a variety of media links through the main menu.

Of course, DoubleTwist has it’s own Android app that is simply beautiful.  It looks similar to the tiled interface of Windows Phone 7.  It plays any of the media that is synced from DoubleTwist (I’ll explain more about this in a minute).  The app also has the ability to stream internet radio, which I find very nice.  I did find on occasion that the app would freeze up, but it seems to have gotten better in recent updates.

Lastly, the apps sync with each other via your phone connection cord for free.  But for $4.99 you can get the AirSync app to go with it.  AirSync allows you to sync your media over wifi with your computer.  It also allows you to stream your media to your Apple TV through AirPlay, and to other ANdroid devices that support near field communication.

The system has some bugs though.  The desktop app can be a little slow to launch after repeated use, and I wish they could open up the podcast repository a bit more.  I also found that importing media via other methods (such as the drag-&-drop method) wouldn’t show up in DoubleTwist unless I manually searched for them through Android’s file browser.  And as I said before, the mobile app still can be a little unstable.

If you’re willing to have an iTunes like experience with your Android device, then give DoubleTwist a shot.  It supports just about every Android device running Android 2.1 (Eclair) and higher, though it also supports most iOS devices. It also support Windows Mobile, Blackberry, PSPm Sansa media players, and more. It runs on Mac OS 10.5 and higher (Leopard and higher), as well as Windows XP and higher.  And If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus Page at https://plus.google.com/107817518299218190319.  Thanks!

App of the Week: Sleipnir

In recent years, the number of web browsers available for Mac has grown in recent years.  Some have tried to stick to a Mac-like theme, or follow the path of Chrome and take a more minimalist design.  And then some take a wholly different path, like Sleipnir.  Sleipnir is a web browser that has been on Windows for a while and gained a devoted Japanese following in the process.  Named after an 8-legged horse from Norse mythology, it looks about as strange, but has plenty of speed.  Having used for a short while on Windows, and its release just last week from beta (or release candidate as the case may be), I decided to give it another go.

Sleipnir looks completely different from any other browser I’ve yet to see.  It has a really clean interface up top and can integrate well with Lion’s full screen mode.  The tabs are integrated into the top of the browser, hidden inside the title bar with the back and forward button.  Don’t see a URL bar to type you web address?  On the right side the site’s name, HTTPS status, reload button, and a download icon/manager, much like Safari 5.1.  Click on the URL, and the URL bar opens up and lets you get to the site you need.  WHen you’re done, it retracts back to a smaller size, returning a title bar.  I have to say that as strange as it is, it actually feels like a design choice that Apple could have made themselves.  Interestingly there are a couple seeming design flaws in it.  While I had the option to show a bookmarks bar, I never could get it to show up.  Sleipnir also has no Home button, even though you can set a homepage, which is a rather strange setting for a browser.

The browser runs off of the Webkit engine, just like Safari and Chrome, making it quite fast.  In fact, I found that it loaded various pages almost instantly, faster than most Chrome or Chrome based browsers I tried.  This is true for very media intensive pages, which it excelled at.  The Peacekeeper browser test showed it faster than Firefox, but slower than Chrome, though my experience felt different.  But this browser is more than speed or looks.  It has some very Mac like features as well.  It

Sleipnir's look and its Peacekeeper score against other major browsers (longer bars are better, Sleipnir listed as Safari 5.1)

has gesture support for those using Trackpads: a two-fingered swipe left or right takes you back or forward in that tab’s history respectively.  A two-fingered pinch in also shows you an overview of your tabs.  You also can organize bookmarks into several pre-made categories, such as shopping, research, and more.  It also has a read it later feature, which I like but I think should be more prominent.  You can also sync bookmarks using the Fenrir Pass to other copies of Sleipnir, including those on other platforms, like iOS.

The iOS version also has some neat features, like Hold to Go, gestures, and touch paging.  Hold to Go lets you press and hold on a link or bookmark to open it in the background.  Gestures include drawing a circle to reload the page, and S to start searching, and more.  Lastly, the TouchPaging feature allows you to scroll through your tabs by flick left or right.

Back to the Mac version for a minute though, there a several flaws that just put me off.  For example, there is no security settings in the Preferences, which would be nice to have.  And while the Windows version has a few extensions, none of them work for Mac.  Full screen in Flash also still shows the menubar, which I have mixed feelings about.  I also would still like that Home button.

Overall, Sleipnir is a really quick and interesting browser that could shake up the game if it gained traction, but it feels like it is incomplete.  But for quick web browsing and a new browser experience, Sleipnir makes for one heck of a ride.  It is available for  Mac OS 10.6 and higher (Snow Leopard and Lion) & iOS (iPad and iPhone).  It also works for Android as well as Windows 98, XP, Vista and 7 (that’s not a typo, it really can support Windows 98).  You can find the version you want at http://www.fenrir-inc.com/ or check out the Mac specific version at http://www.fenrir-inc.com/global/mac/sleipnir.html.

If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about this or any other topic, leave a comment below or email me at easyosx@live.com  You can also check me out on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube by hitting the buttons on the top of your screen.  You can also check out my Google Plus Page at https://plus.google.com/107817518299218190319  Thanks!