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Should you choose Apple or Android for a new phone?

Tech Talk

 

September 1, 2018

Greg Cunningham.

Smartphones running Android by Google, or iOS by Apple, have borrowed (or stolen, see Apple Inc. v Samsung) so many features and design elements from each other that most phones look basically the same. So if you're buying your first phone, which should you choose? If you've already got a smartphone, you've already chosen either Android or iOS, but is there any reason to switch?

Here are a few things to help you decide.

Security

Security in iOS vs. Android is about the same as it is in Macs vs. Windows PCs: there are more devices running Android so there is more malware that targets Android. Malware apps seem to get through the Google Play store (where you download apps for your phone) because the approval process for apps isn't as strict as Apple's.

iPhones aren't invincible and can be infected with malware too, all apps written for iOS are reviewed and approved by Apple before they make it to the App Store.

System updates are slower in Android than iOS because both the phone vendors (Samsung, LG, Motorola, and others), and the carriers (Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and others) have to test and approve each new version of Android before rolling it out to their customers. Apple is the only party involved in iOS updates.

Security and functional bugs do appear in both Android and iOS, but the longer test and approval cycle for Android means fewer bugs make it to your phone, while Apple can fix bugs and roll out updates immediately.

From a security perspective, Apple's iOS is the winner.

Privacy

Apple and Google treat your user data very differently, at least in their privacy policies.

With Google, you are a product. They collect as much personal information about you as they can to personalize their services. This makes Google Assistant more useful to you, makes your Google search results more meaningful and lets Google recommend YouTube videos for you. The more they know about you, the better their recommendations for you will be. You can read the whole Google privacy policy here: policies.google.com/privacy.

Apple has taken a public stand for privacy in recent years and its iOS claims to store less of your data in the cloud and more of your data on your device. Apple also doesn't seem to want to collect as much data about you in the first place. Maybe that's because they don't have as many products that need your data?

Apple says that much of the data it collects on you is aggregated and anonymized, so it isn't specifically traceable back to you. Apple uses this data to look for usage patterns and not specific user information.

Apple's privacy policy is here: http://www.apple.com/legal/privacy/en-ww/.

Google collects more information about you, but they promise to be careful with it. Apple collects less info, but also promises to make the data not user-specific.

No clear winner here on privacy.

Compatibility

Apple grudgingly supports some apps (like Apple Music) on Android, but Apple really wants you to use Apple hardware and software together.

If you've already got an Apple TV or a MacBook, life will probably be easier with an iPhone-your choice of other gadgetry and cloud services goes a long way toward your choice of smartphone OS.

If you don't have a lot of Apple devices, compatibility-wise there isn't much difference between Android and iOS.

Switching from Android to iOS is easy. Use your Google account for your Apple ID, download and sign into a few Google apps and you're done. Switching your email and calendar from iOS to Android works fine, but Apple-only apps like iCloud, Apple Photos and (sometimes) iTunes movies won't work on Android.

No winner here either, but it's not really an operating system problem.

Apps

Malware can be dangerous on Android devices because of how much access apps have to the operating system. But this access also allows you to change just about anything on an Android phone, while you can't change your default SMS app on an iPhone, or record a call on the phone itself, or open a link from an email in anything other than Safari, or change the icon and wallpaper theme with a couple of taps. Apple's control over what apps are allowed to do on your phone lets Apple say it provides a more stable and secure operating system.

As far as app availability, most apps are available on both Android and iOS, but not always at the same time. iOS still gets some apps first and Android catches up later.

It doesn't have to be Android or iOS...

"I went into the Verizon store the other day, and the salesman was pretty excited. He was like, 'Hey Dierks, what can I show you?' I said, 'The cheapest, lowest-tech phone you have.' I think he was disappointed. Everybody else was running out for the new iPhone 6, but I got a flip phone." –Dierks Bentley, American country music singer and songwriter.

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at greg@tech-hachapi.com.

 
 

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