One of the podcasts I listen to regularly is Andy Ihnatko’s Almanac. His latest episode was great. About what Apple needs to add to iOS to keep up with Android. However he also goes through a lot of the things he likes about his Samsung Galaxy. A lot of his complaints are ones I’ve mentioned here before. Some of the things he likes about the Samsung I’m more “meh” about.
One thing he likes is using NFC (near field communication) tags to set settings for your phone. So you could put a tag in your car and tap it with your phone to turn off wi-fi, connect to your car stereo with bluetooth, etc. I have to admit NFC tags seem a bit gimmicky to me – and certainly not usable by the average user. The basic idea is interesting however really the underlying problem is more Apple not providing quick and easy ways to turn on and off basic settings like wifi, bluetooth, etc.
As Ihnatko notes though on Android at the top of its notifications there are a set of icons to turn these things on and off. Now I’ve long griped about how hard it is to change basic settings in iOS. Fortunately, if you are willing to jailbreak it’s trivial to add SBSettings or even NCSettings which adds the controls to notification center. (That’s what I use) I think Ihnatko probably should have mentioned jailbreaking. Most of the types of modifications he makes to Android can be easily done with Cydia apps.
Admittedly jailbreaking your phone is a little bit harder than using the Android app store. (Now Google Play) Honestly though, it’s not that much harder. The only real downside to jailbreaking is the delay of a few weeks between when the new version of the OS is available and when the jailbreak is available. On the other hand it’s far, far shorter than the delay between when an Android version is available and when you can actually install it on your Android phone…
All that said though it does seem clear that Android does some things better. Here’s a list, partially informed by Ihnatko’s list.
1. Better control of camera – Android give much, much lower level control of the camera than iOS does. This allows camera apps to do more interesting things. Yes iOS has things like Filmic Pro and Camera + but Android really offers a lot more simply due to the API. This is something I think Apple could easily provide but for various reasons doesn’t.
2. Quick settings – not just particular settings but having profiles tied to various locations that you can quickly access. As I said most of this is easily added via a jailbreak. However if Apple doesn’t like jailbreaks it should add this since I’m convinced a significant number of people (myself included) wouldn’t bother jailbreaking were this part of the OS.
3. Interapplication Communication – right now you can “share” items such as pictures via what Apple has put in the system – primarily Twitter and Facebook. Many particular applications allow one to share to Instapaper, to Chrome, or to other particular applications or services. However those are hard coded by the developer. It’s not at all uncommon to find that the service you use isn’t supported. A general solution really is needed. That way if you buy a new application other applications will automatically support it. Both Win8 and Android support this quite well. I’m convinced Apple will add this. Hopefully in a well thought out fashion. But it has been a big limit for some time now.
4. Batteries – you can get a Mophie or some other batter charger. A battery charger is not the same as a battery though. It would be nice were Apple to have a “pro” version of its devices with lower volume and higher cost that is simply bigger to support those people with higher powered needs. (I think it ridiculous that the Pro line for Mac doesn’t do this too – let the Airs be the thin models)
5. More stylus support - I’ve discussed this before. I don’t think Apple needs to provide a stylus but it would be nice to have at least the option. Right now the touch screen is too low resolution and there’s no way to provide for extra controls on a stylus. While the Samsung Note has a slew of problems ranging from poor build quality to poor software I really like the idea. (Of course you could argue the poor build quality is trying to add this feature and maintain a price point – something many people don’t seem to acknowledge) This isn’t a huge issue but I sure wish there were a more stylus friendly iPad available.
There are other things but to me those are the main ones. What’s interesting is that most of these Apple could fix without much trouble. Really only the inter application communication is a hard problem and that only if you really want to think out a good, solid general solution. (i.e. do more than what Android provides) Well the stylus is probably a non-starter due to volume and price point issues. But one can dream.
The other things people usually bring up such as more customization of the lock screen or widgets for your icon list are to me more “meh.” Further you can get all those things easily right now with a jailbreak for those who want them.