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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Why Android Sucks? Why iOS is better?

Prior to the reasons I depict to prove a point here, I would want to confess that neither do I blindly follow the cult of apple nor do I hate android based on sheer ignorance. The musings I share here are out of daily observances, experiences and a little bit of drilling into the technical aspects of Android as an OS and more.

I have been a heavy user of android on my HTC wildfire for a while. I find that Android does do what a smartphone ought to do but it doesn't do it with elegance. There are way too many shortcomings and glitches buried down deep into the sheath of the Android eco-system. On the contrary my experience with apple iOS has been limited only to iPod but I must admit the immense pleasure that it gives me and about how it provokes me to lay my hands on it again and again unlike my HTC Android that makes me moan about why I even considered buying it in the first place.

Initially, I was under the presumption that support for multiple hardware was cool but what I eventually realized after drilling in to details is that support for multi-hardware comes at a cost. If I were to design a gallery app for an android mobile or a tablet, I need to ponder over how to get the rendering right on different hardware at different resolutions. This is one reason why many apps on android are not compatible with all kinds of hardware. Take angry birds for instance, it doesn't run on all mobiles and tablets as it ought to. This is annoying both to the developer and to the user as well. On the contrary, within the apple world, all these complexities boil down to a simple fact that I am designing an app for a single target hardware that only runs at a given resolution(s). Because of this streamlined atmosphere to code, my psyche as a developer will subconsciously adhere to deliver THE BEST app for a single hardware rather than delivering a DECENT app that supports all hardware in the world.

Another interesting observation, Every new release of Android version makes me realize how crappy its predecessor is. On the other hand, every new release of iOS would make me realize how awesome the newer version is. There is a wide difference between the two in spite of seeming same. The focus on developing a newer version of Android is more towards rectifying the bad things in the current version and making it better in the newer version. In the iOS scenario, the focus of developing a newer version is to rope in newer features that never existed before. For example : It has been around eight months since I had bought a HTC wildfire running Froyo Android 2.2. Looking at the newer ice cream sandwich version, I whine about how atrocious Froyo is in its speed and performance compared to the latter and how good the newer version of HTC wildfire IS. Whereas if I had bought an iphone 4, probably the only thing that I would be whining about is that I do not get to use the SIRI but I would never be whining about its performance in what it delivers to me as a smartphone. So the key point that I would want to highlight here is that newer versions of Android or its supporting hardware would seem awesome only because the former versions were bad whereas newer versions of iOS and hardware would seem awesome because of their added innovation into every new release or update.

On an other note, the power of a smartphone would be realized to a maximum extent by the apps that run on it. As far as I know, Android is probably the first and foremost entity that can be credited for indirectly being responsible for the injection of infectious malware at a tangible level on a Linux based system. I mean, though not impossible to do it, a Linux core by default is highly resilient to such stuff and with all the malware and antivirus crap that are evidently used in the Android world could only mean one among these two things. Either Android could not exploit the strengths of a Linux core or the hacker/developer is way too smart, which I think the case is certainly the former.

Adding to that, it is way too easy to develop an app consisting of malware and releasing it into the Android market. Of course, Google continuously scrutinizes the apps submitted but that is not just good enough to prevent the damage. Forget malware, Nothing really stops me from writing an untested low quality lameass hello world android app and release it into the market whereas if I were to develop an app for iphone/ipad, I need to ensure that it is thoroughly tested and it literally takes 3 to 4 weeks for iStore to approve the app after submission. This is an example that depicts the spirit of apple, precisely the spirit of Steve Jobs to give the deepest attention to minutest of detail to develop something impeccably tangible.

A recent article on Google+ posted by Dianne Hackborne, an Android developer at Google, throws light, complaining the inefficiency relating to the Android's methodology of hardware acceleration to render graphics. Reading the article one would be convinced that Android fares well only under the availability of considerably high end hardware. One doesn't have to go all technical to comprehend the disabilities of Android. Pick up a HTC or Samsung smartphone, open up around 10 applications one after the other, the performance of the 11th or 12th application that you open up will certainly not be as smooth as the first few. Typically iOS does this task brilliantly. No matter what, most of the RAM will be used only by the opened/active process in the Apple tablet or mobile. Only one application can run at a time on the screen which gives a tremendous performance hit. Android does a similar job in a crooked way, somehow temporarily suspending the inactive process but that doesn't restrict an inactive app running in the background eating away my puny little RAM. For this reason, I even see task managers and process killing apps on Android. Geez! For Christ's sake, I am running a phone, not a super computer! Yet again, Apple proves its best in technical brilliance without compromising performance. With all the brouhaha that surrounds the Galaxy tab's 1 GB RAM and hardware excellence, I wonder if the users of the tab did ever make it a point to notice how iPad 2 does all this process magnificently better than the former within a bare minimum of 512 MB RAM.

From a techie's viewpoint, though the core of Android is written in C and C++, all the APIs and applications that surround it are built on java. There is all this dinosaur conversion of bytecode in dalvik's understandable dex format and other humongous stuff which certainly can never beat the iOS's simplistic approach of limiting all complexities to a mutually compatible C, C++ and Objective C. Anything that involves java usually sucks blood in performance. No matter how awesome the Samsung's hardware is, god knows how many hundreds and thousands of method calls are gone through in java to understand and process the multi-touch event. And again, one doesn't have to drill through all the technical crap to understand the complexities and disabilities of Android. Go ahead, Take a delicate bird feather and compare the touch sensitivity of an iPhone vs an Android phone or an iPad vs any other cog-in-the-wheel tablet you know of, You will get a hang of what I am trying to convey here.

In spite of all its internal flaws, more and more newer and better versions of Android may come up in the near future but it all accounts to mere band-aiding. What's the point? You got your basement built on wooden sticks and lay concrete pillars on your higher floors! Technically, an Android can never beat the brilliance of an iOS in its flawless design and architecture (both hardware and software). Who cares about the numbers in market? After all, it is okay for Galaxy tabs and the rest to be content about being second runners but in reality Apple is running a different race altogether.

EDIT: This post was written when Android devices were running 2.2/2.3. With the advent of ICS, things seem to have changed where in a lot of changes have been made to the Android code base (some portion completely re acrchitectured from scratch) to make it scalable on tablet devices. Also to admit, Off late Apple is just not able to pull out something innovative. Android is certainly moving up the ladder with almost 50% of tablet market conquered. Looking at the circumstances, Android is a clear winner especially when it comes to appealing to the eyes of a user.

PS: As I have quoted before, I am not an Apple fanboy. I am a technical person and I tried to throw some light on fineness of iOS as a whole when compared to Android. I never intended to compare the complete eco system of Android devices and Apple devices. In fact, to be honest, I'd never ever dream of buying an iPad over an Android tablet, for I know it is just a toy, completely ungeek and strict in user customization despite its flawless OS.


iRaviATeja said...

Brilliant one mate. Couldn't have put it better myself.. :)

Vamsi Emani said...

Thanks bro :) Glad you liked it :)

Aditya said...

Thoroughly researched and well done.

Apple's products are too costly. They'd hardly fit the budget of someone who eventually buys an android. In that sense, one could say that Android phones are poor man's iPhone.

Therefore, it is important not to lose sight of what android has done to the market. I may sound like I am defending it here but in a country like India, if a man can own a smartphone for Rs.6000, I think it has been possible only because of Android. There's a wealth of information out there and because of cheap hardware that can now be ported to android, there are many who have access to it. And that was not what Steve Jobs ever dreamed about.

Keep writing.

Vamsi Emani said...

I totally agree to the brilliant point you have raised here. This is by far THE best valid argument that I've ever seen from an Android supporter. I do believe that in the future, prices of tablets will fall down steeply and they might eventually replace the mobiles we use today and if such a day is going to arrive, the credit for attaining that can be given to Android just like Tata Docomo's pulse rate plan. :D

As I've said in the start of the post, I am agnostic towards this debate and only tried to throw light on Android's reality. It is probably good enough considering the price at which it is rated and that's one reason why I do not hate Android even if it sucks big time.

Aditya said...

Hey Vamsi, great one mate... but, just like you I have been using both the OS for past 7-8 months... and I sincerely dare to disagree.. If you go for higher end Androids like sensation and S2, you will really feel the elegance. Trust me (thats the S2 owner inside me speaking;)) .. All the apps run really to their best. Although I agree to the fact that Android store needs a great standardization system.... And yeah coming to the Indian point of view, for 28 K you are getting a btter hardware than 4S which is 44k..... I think the best combo would be the one I am using ;)

Vamsi Emani said...

Thanks man! :) After all, we all have our own views :D

Anonymous said...

comparing a htc wildfire to an ipod? c'mon this article makes no sense. The only thing to be said is that they both are crappy!

Anonymous said...

Ive been using an ipad for a few months now and the truth is, i cant stand it, I dont see how anyone can call this better than android when you dont even have USB support or access to the file system. I regret my purchase every time the professor passes arround the files needed for a homework assignment or research project on flash drives and i watch android tablet owners copy files over to thier tablets and begin the assignment while i have to lug out the old laptop to do this. iOS is a toy.

Vamsi Emani said...

@Anonymous1 It is not about the devices. It is a comparison between the operating system Android vs operating system iOS.

@Anonymous2 And again I want to confirm my stance here. My intention of this blogpost is not to emphasize on the features that devices provide. I was trying to compare the technicalities of the operating systems and their environments as a whole.

If Apple is willing to, an iOS device can obviously include a USB feature. Apple has deliberately excluded it, it isn't a shortcoming of iOS!

Anonymous said...

@vamsi so your telling me iOS is better because Apple deliberately crippled its OS by excluding basic features? Access to the file system and USB support is a pretty big feature of an OS to just exclude, how does excluding these basic OS features make iOS better?

Vamsi Emani said...

Features are what you provide on top of the operating system. I meant to say that iOS has an architecture with a cleaner design (as in terms with code base). iOS does allow access to filesystem except that it is restricted by its sandbox mechanism. Emphasis here is not on features per se but more on the way these OS are built. Android is not as cleanly built as iOS. One reason why in ICS they had to redo many things including designs because they were just finding it hard to scale 2.3 and lesser versions to higher end tablets and devices. The Android folks know that too. You can read this article written by Dianne Hackborne, an Android developer at Google talking about some of the shortcomings of Android.


I hope I made my point clear. The fact of the matter is, I am not an Apple fanboy. I do hate the restrictions on features in Apple devices.
Nevertheless, one must admit that however minimal the features that Apple devices provide, they are clean and perfect.

Anonymous said...

@Vamsi i can agree with that, sort of. Apple needs to get on the ball with adding support for these features or they will continue to lose market share to android and even possibly the upcoming abomination known as Windows 8. Its not the OS I hate, its Apples retarded restrictions. I see why jailbreaking is so popular for ios devices but for those of us with 5.1 all we can do is wait and be miserable. I can live without flash, i guess i can Iive with limited access to access to the file system, but for gods sake let me have access to my files on a usb thumb drive or sdcard other than pictures!

Marvens Dorcelian said...

You know, they both have pros and cons.
I have to give props to apple for the apps that it comes with:
Where's my iPhone Android~Lookout
Gamecenter Android~Openfeint
But i am an Android supporter. Hardware especially matters on android. Iphone can't get any faster than it is now, so i Bet the iphone 5 is going to have quad-core... UNNESSARY! Not to mention the prices :O~
Android, you can find an android that fits your needs. Keyboard~Quality~Price
Iphone only has one~ The IPHONE!
But this statement will kill you, but is true.
There are more android phones out there on diffrent companies sold that there are on iphone. Android Vs. Iphone? Android Case Closed
P.S. HOW DARE YOU COMPARE WILDFIRE Vs. IPHONE? WILDFIRE SUCKS! Try picking the htc sensation or the heavy duty phones >:)

Anonymous said...

While iOS is pretty neat in its scheme of things, with just one device for just one OS, where everything is supported, there's clearly lots of stable stuff that is going to come out of it.

Most of the arguments against android phones that I've heard are usually of the following sort:

- The iPhone is clearly better than the Sanyo Zio!

You can't compare a state of the art phone to a shitty phone, that's just not right. You could conclude that the device itself is shitty, but you can't discredit an OS. If you bought yourself a MacBook bro a bunch of years ago and install mountain lion on it, it's not right to complain about how your transitions are laggy.

- "The transitions are laggy"
Apart from Jelly Bean's now announced project butter, what I don't like is how people base that as a good enough reason to discredit a phone.

Is your phone more functional than an iphone?
Does it do more utile things like giving better navigation support, and does it let you start a conversation on one device and continue it on any other device with the internet?
Though hey, when you scroll, the screen might jitter.

Logical, right?

I was pretty game for the iPhone, until iOS 5 came out. iOS 5 was pretty great, the notifications thing certainly made iOS more utile. Siri was fun to play around with; what upset me about the iPhone was that Siri wasn't supported by the iPhone 4 because of 'hardware issues'


An amazingly built phone with the capability to have an OS embedded video chat over the internet can't use Siri because of 'hardware issues'?
Can it seriously not record audio and send it over the internet, and wait for some text to pop up again?

That's a fucking lie. Recently, Apple has only been about making the money. This was clearly a ploy to make more people get the 4S, which wasn't too much of an improvement from the previous version. (The only perceptible difference I noticed was the worse battery life).

It's fair to say that since Steve Jobs' departure from Apple, the company isn't doing much to innovate. I was excited for both ICS and iOS 5. I'm still excited for Jelly Bean, and not for iOS 6. Everything iOS 6 promises, ICS can already do. Jelly Bean though, takes it further.

I too have used both OSs, and will educatedly say that android is a better choice as an Operating System. If you're going to bring me shitty devices that have Android on them, I too will tell you that an iOS device is better.

The thing is, the iPhone used to be ahead of its time 6 years ago.

And over the past few years, nothing significant has changed.

Anonymous said...

And you don't want to get me started on how restrictive iOS and its devices are.. The iPad is such a great device, so severely limited by the shitty Operating System.

I'd pick the Microsoft Surface over it any day (and probably install another OS on it). The iPad can be SO much more, but it's made to do so little.

Also, the lenovo thinkpad tablets are fucking great. No idea why no one pays attention to those pieces of amazing, amazing beauty.

Anonymous said...

So Android is like windows... big woop. Windows went through the same phases with some people. Vista vs Windows 7 was a great example of seeing how much a POS vista was once you did a rebuild with a fresh copy of 7.

Anonymous said...

Iphone is Iphone. Let it suck but we like it because Iphone is Iphone. Until I can boast around in society I will use iphone.

li0nh3art said...

I really don't understand why are you not using Nexus phone when you're comparing an Android to iPhone.

You gave me a few 'not so good' reasons why ios is better. I throw thousands of reasons why Android is superior!

You really need to see these videos and then you'll know why Android has an upper hand. iOS is past. Android is future


Anonymous said...

Android is way better than ios. I cant even explain all the reasons. The only reason ios is successful is because it is simple and being simple is easier for the stupid Americans to understand. Android is more complex and is for the "elite" and smarter Americans. Ios also copied many features of androids in their updates. I have used both aneroid and ios devices and android is way better. Before you apple fanboys critize me for stuff, look at an android with ics and then prove your points evev though you won't find any good ones.

Anonymous said...

Despite saying that you prefer Android over IOS, I have to throw something out there. You say IOS is flawless....... Let me invite you into a little reality of that garbage system. It crashes apps 400% more than any android device or system. I have been an owner of 7 smart phones and 3 idevices. Those idevices (iphone 4s, ipod 4th gen and ipad 2) have done nothing but shut down my games and apps out of, what appeared to be, nowhere. I had the SAME games and apps for android and "BAM!" not a single damn problem. Ran smoothly and efficiently without the ridiculous bugs and instability. IOS is like a silver turd - it may look good but underneath its still a piece of shit.

Sonja Luedi said...

No file-manager, horrible media codec support to force users in using the iTunes store (my Galaxy Note II plays everything without ever touching Google Play to add additional features), multitasking is half baked (pauses the program in the background, retarded), transferring files onto an iOS device is maddening, Sand-Boxing is highly overrated and hinders inner-app relationships, no way to access my NAS or Samba servers so I can stream media, no DLNA (I can stream any media file to multiple Android devices, awesome), no Bluetooth file transfer (my 13 year old Nokia can do that), besides changing the wallpaper there is no customization's, notifications are the bare minimum and are but a shadow of what is now available for Android, no internal Mini SD card support (so your stuck a whatever memory size you buy). iOS is so restrictive but it seems it is what people want because the sheer amount of apologists for iOS devices is staggering. For every missing iOS feature comes the excuse that it either hinders the UI experience or a simple shut-up is blurted out followed by Android has malware, sluggish and Google stole the UI. Even though I have never had a malware problem nor have I met anyone in real life who has. Lack of apps is another retort but the truth is that all major apps are available for Android, all. At the end of the day iOS hasn't changed signifactly since it's release in 2007, it's locked down tighter then a dolphins butt and it's only purpose in life is to extort as much money from people as possible by forcing them to use iTunes and shutting down any other method of getting media onto the device. iOS suck!

Anonymous said...

you guys serious? i used both ios and android...hate the ios cus you can't do shit with it. i only use my ipad to play games and watch netflix or hulu plus.

yes it is smooth and better looking but with the new android out there today you can't barely tell the difference.

ios are for the non-tech savvy and simple minded users...that 1 button thing is so annoying. there so many thing i wish i could do on my ios but can't because it's not allowed.

Anonymous said...

Where is the author? Gone into hiding. Do you still have to say Android OS sucks? Mind It !! :-)

Anonymous said...

Ios vs Android (HTC Wildfire), seriously?
Its like comparing a 1983 Car to a 2006 car, get a life.

Anonymous said...

apple is (still) doing a pretty unique job in the desktop/client/mobile devices consumer market... mac os x (and ios as a derivative) is the only certified unix system for this market, offering enterprise level stability (RAS) and high level of integration (HW-SW, devices between themselves etc.) android is a fun tool to play with, but not reliable in production. most of the apple customers are not geeks (like we all posting here), but people who might be brilliant in other fields (business, medical, art etc.) and mostly IT illiterate/agnostic. these guys, the vast majority of the users, need devices that just work. they don't need a tool that needs to be tweaked and twisted 20 times a day, also they dont use the device as a goal in itself, it's just a means to an end (internet, email, music etc.) i work in IT, but when i get back home, i need a device that just works; i dont want to be wasting my precious time customizing user interfaces, i spend most of my time at work in the command line (unix), it's enough; when i go on a trip with my friends or family and want to make some pictures or a movie, the devices HAS to work, i'm not gonna start tweaking it there and then just so the others can see how cool (or stupid?) i am; that's childish; android (and linux, on which it is based), has no clear design philosophy, no dedicated hardware platform to be developed on etc. read eric raymond's cathedral and the bazaar, that's what it comes down to; ios is a cathedral, from a design architectural viewpoint; android is a bazaar; like the author says above, it's a castel made out of cards or sand; you lay a random foundation, just to get things going, without thinking too far ahead of time about features you may want to implement later on, and then, as you are working on the 4th floor already, you remember you still need a kitchen and a garage in the basement; that's why it's the hotch-potch that it is, that will probably never change (unless android mutates into some sort of ios... dedicated HW, SW integration etc.) integration vs fragmentation, that's what it comes down to; the fact that google itself came up with the antifragmentation initiative, and that they offer apps with 24h money back guarantee, is the proof that they are aware of those shortcomings, and silently agree that apple's approach is better

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