Introduction to Computing A Review of Google Android OS and Apple iOS Mobile Platforms
This paper presents a review of Google Android OS and Apple iOS mobile platforms. Comparative analysis was applied in order to examine the similarities and/or differences between the two. This paper provides a comprehensive review by analyzing Android OS and iOS based on the following criteria: (a) Major features and functionalities; (b) Advantages and disadvantages; (c) Popularity and market share; and (d) The role of application developers.
Results of the review show that both mobile platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses. There are instances when Android is marginally better than iOS; however, there are also cases where iOS prevails. For example, Android is praised by developers for its use of Java language, which allows for more freedom and creativity. On the other hand, iOS is preferred by many developers because of its stable development platform and the royalties received from developing Apple apps. Taking these into consideration, the role of application developers is obviously very important. Application developers are the backbone of the mobile industry and the future of mobile devices depends highly on them.
In terms of market share and popularity, the latest reports from market research companies show that Android is the current market leader in mobile operating systems for smart phones. This is due to the fact that the Android OS is available in various smart phone brands compared to iOS which is only available in iPhones.
Google Android and Apple iOS have emerged as two of the most popular operating system platforms for mobile devices, particularly for smart phones and tablets. Both are supported by rich development and application systems (Dix 2012). Both have impressive functionalities and features. And both are capable of growing their systems to even more exciting heights in the future.
Since the launch of these two mobile platforms, tech analysts and experts have intensely debated the pros and cons of each. Some advocate for Google Android because of its object-oriented architecture based on Java language and for being open-source (Baliton 2012). On the other hand, supporters of Apple iOS praise its enterprise functionality, especially its security and corporate-friendly features (Berthiaume 2012).
With these in mind, this paper aims to investigate the similarities and differences between Google Android and Apple iOS mobile operating system platforms. This paper presents a comparative analysis of the two platforms by providing a comprehensive review based on the following criteria: (a) major features and functionalities; (b) advantages and disadvantages; (c) popularity and market share; and (d) the role of application developers
Findings and Analysis
In order to meet the primary objective of the paper, comparative analysis was used in reviewing Google Android and Apple iOS mobile platforms. Comparative analysis involves the comparison and contrast of two things (Walk 1998). It involves a side-by-side examination of two objects to determine whether they have a common-ground, equivalence, similarities, or differences (Business Dictionary 2012). The review was conducted based on specific criteria. Below are the results of the analysis.
Major features and functionalities of Android OS and iOS mobile platforms
In order to achieve an objective review of Android and iOS, the discussions regarding the major features and functionalities of both mobile platforms are analysed based on two major elements: (a) Development Features and (b) Applications.
Android OS mainly uses Java, which is the common programming language used by most developers. As such, developing applications are easier for majority of developers. Moreover, since it is open-source, developers can easily access it and make applications for the Android platform. Java’s flexibility also allows the Android framework to be run on a wide range of hardware, including devices from various manufacturers (Viswanathan 2012; Baliton 2012). On the other hand, iOS uses Apple’s Objective C language. Developers who are familiar with C and C++ will be able to understand it because of similarities in the language. However, because it is proprietary, some developers may find it difficult to use, especially if they are not very proficient in C and C++ (Viswanathan 2012).
In terms of application development platforms, Android offers developers open development platforms and allows them to use third party tools for app development. Android developers are also provided with free development tools and documented libraries. This helps developers to play around with their apps, as well as add more functionality to them. (Viswanathan 2012; Baliton 2012). In contrast, for the iOS, Apple has stricter developer guidelines. Developers are given a fixed set of tools to develop apps and they are not allowed to use third party tools that are not approved by Apple (Viswanathan 2012).
Android is highly versatile and allows developers to create dynamic apps for multiple purposes. However, the Android’s multi-tasking ability and its fragmented platform pose some challenges to Android developers. As such, amateur Android developers often have problems in learning, understanding, and mastering the platform. For iOS, on the other hand, Apple provides a more stable, exclusive platform for app development. Apple clearly specifies tools and defines their potential and boundaries to make it easier for developers (Viswanathan 2012).
The iOS is being commended by its supporters for its enterprise abilities. iOS supports Microsoft Exchange accounts and ActiveSync, which allows contacts, calendars, and email hosted on existing Exchange servers to be loaded on to any iOS devices. Email attachments (e.g. Excel, PowerPoint, Word) can also be viewed without having to download additional software. Additionally, iOS apps are restricted from accessing data from other apps in order to prevent malicious third-party apps from accessing sensitive information (Berthiaume 2012). In terms of number and quality of gaming apps, it is undeniable that the iOS has a bigger and better library of available games than Android. However, the downside is that consumers have to pay for iOS apps; while Android users get most of their gaming apps for free (Fox 2012).
In terms of mapping/navigational applications, Google Maps puts Android way ahead of Apple maps. However, Android still has a lot of catching up to do with iOS in terms of the quality and availability of other apps. Moreover, although developers have praised the portability of Java environment, issues with hardware fragmentation is a big challenge for most developers. There are many customer complaints about unsupported devices and developers face the daunting task of enabling support for a huge range of mobile devices. Despite these issues, hardware fragmentation also has an advantage. Android’s diversity and portability gives consumers a wide array of mobile devices to choose from depending on their budget and needs (Fox 2012).
Market share commanded by Android OS and iOS
The latest report from market research company IDC (International Data Corporation) shows that Google’s Android mobile OS accounted for 75% (136 million units) market share of all smart phone handsets shipped during the third quarter of 2012. This figure is almost double the amount from the same period last year. On the other hand, mobile devices using Apple’s iOS only grew by 57% (26.9 million units), representing a very low 15% of the market share (Hof 2012).
Moreover, the latest third quarter report from comScore also shows that Android is the top smart phone platform in the US, with 52.5% market share, up by 0.9 percentage points; while Apple’s share is 34.3%, up by 1.9 percentage points (Flosi 2012).
Figure 1. Top Smart Phone OS Platforms (comScore Report)
Top Smartphone Platforms
3 Month Avg. Ending Sep. 2012 vs. 3 Month Avg. Ending Jun. 2012
Total U.S. Smartphone Subscribers Ages 13+
Source: comScore MobiLens
Share (%) of Smartphone Subscribers
Total Smartphone Subscribers100.0%100.0%N/A
Advantages and Disadvantages of both Android OS and iOS
Despite their immense popularity, both the Android OS and iOS have their own strengths and weaknesses. There are some elements where the Android trumps the iOS; while in other cases, the iOS has the upper hand. The table below summarizes the advantages and disadvantages of both platforms.
Google Android OSApple iOS
uUses Java language (free, open source)O Highly fragmented platformuMore stable, exclusive platform for app developers; tools are specified and definedO Uses proprietary Objective-C language
uMulti-tasking: Android can run on many applications at the same timeO Inconsistency and instability in application designsuEasy to use/navigate; user friendlyO Cannot run Flash or Shockwave
uAllows interface and settings customization; more ability to customizeO Less apps than AppleuUnique interfaceO Lack of customization
uEasy access to applications and free download from Android App Market andO Applications are free but advertising can be bothersomeuCohesive applications; more number of appsO Have to pay for apps
uDiverse phone options. Android is available from various smart phone manufacturers.O Not all apps are supported by all Android mobile devicesuTight integration with social networkingO Platform is limited to Apple mobile devices only
uIntegrated Google services uGreat music experience; good for music lovers
uAbility to use as a USB storage device
Sources: Mobilecon.info, iChips Tech Blog, Viswanathan 2012, Fox 2012
The Role of Application Developers
Mobile applications are able to penetrate markets where the PC could not enter. They allow mobile phones to be more personalized and provide more valued added services such as integrated social media networks, games, etc (Aiyedogbon 2012). Developers create these applications; they are the ones who elevated mobile phones to what it is right now. As such, application developers have a very important role to play in the mobile devices industry.
As market demand continues to rise for apps to run on mobile platforms, there is a high demand for mobile development talent. Application developers are the backbone of the mobile devices industry. They create the applications which companies leverage as their unique selling points. Without these apps, mobile devices will be limited to the basic functions of calling and texting. It is the application developers who provide added value to mobile devices and as such, their importance in the mobile industry cannot be underestimated.
For both the Android and iOS, the role of application developers highly influences the growth of these platforms. Android, with its Java-based environment, is praised by many application developers because it ‘promotes market competition, which safeguards against monopolization of the emerging mobile device markets, and spawns creativity among hardware and software companies’ (Baliton 2012, p.1). This openness of Android encourages developers to create new apps in the future.
On the other hand, the very diversity of Android leads to hardware fragmentation and this is a major stumbling block for many developers. Moreover, many experts observe that ‘most developers prefer to develop for iOS first and Android second, if at all’ (Fox 2012, p.1). The main reason for this preference is that iOS developers get paid for development and receive royalties from their apps. This monetary reward is the primary incentive for many application developers’s preference for developing apps for the iOS.
The Android and iOS have pros and cons when it comes to developing new apps. Android’s strength lies in its use of the Java language; while iOS advantage is its more stable, exclusive platform for developers. Android allows developers more freedom and creativity in developing apps; but the iOS provides better monetary incentives for developers. In terms of applications, iOS is commended for its business features and functionalities; while Android is praised because of its better customization and flexibility, which allows it to be used across various devices (regardless of manufacturer).
According to the latest IDC report, Android and iOS account for 90% of the global market share in smart phone operating systems. The two platforms are dominating the smart phone market and are expected to continue their leadership in the business. Google Android leads Apple iOS in terms of units shipped but the release of newer iPhone models are expected to decrease the gap between the two.
Both the Google Android OS and Apple iOS have their own advantages and disadvantages. Both are equally strong competitors and together they are expected to rule the mobile platform marketplace in the foreseeable future, on the basis of their quality and features.
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