Does iOS 7 Raise the Bar for Android 4.3 or is Apple Caught Just Doing Chin Ups

With yesterday's announcement from Apple of the new iPhone 5s sporting its latest iOS 7, it is inevitable that we compare it with the latest Android 4.3, announced on July 24 at "Breakfast with Pichai." Currently the flagship OSs from both Apple and Google, we must look at how they are different, but also how they are similar to one another. Has Apple really shown us anything new in iOS 7 that we have not already experienced in Android 4.3, or even 4.2? There was a time when Android was scurrying to catch up to iOS, but this is no longer the case, as Apple's critics clamored to add more Android-like features, like notifications and true multi-tasking. Let us look at how well Apple has answered those criticisms in iOS 7 and the new iPhone 5s.

While Android 4.3 was more an iterative upgrade, iOS 7 is a total reworking of what was an aging operating system with a fresh looking icons and interface. Apple executive, Jony Ive, the designer of the iPhone and iPad, is a fan of translucent elements layered on top of one another, as well as "flat" icons had much input in its design, and it shows. With Android 4.3, Google intended to polish their "Apple" into a feature-rich operating system to earn the respect of their critics. Let's look at some of the changes Apple made in iOS 7 and compare them with Android 4.3:

Interface

This is the first thing you see when you turn on your phone and Apple took great pains to update its aging interface, basically the same one used since 2007.

One look at the iOS 7 and you can see both similarities and differences between iOS 6 and Android 4.3.  The colors and icons used in iOS 7 are certainly more vibrant than before, the home screen still looks like "Apple," with the four icons docked at the bottom and all of the icons neatly lined up across the screen.  Android's home screens can be customized by the use of wallpapers, widgets, and the manufacturers' "skin" added on top of Android's OS.  I still think the colors and transparency look a little childish to me, but that is strictly my personal opinion.

Notifications and Widgets

Here is an area where Apple was really lagging behind - the notifications and lack of widgets in iOS put Android way ahead in this area.  Did iOS 7 really make enough improvements to be on par with Android 4.3, or even 4.2?

Apple is still refusing to allow users to add widgets to the home screen, and here, Android has a clear advantage.  Weather and clock widgets are a must, as well as the capability to add calendar, email, music controls, favorite contacts, and so on.  Why Apple did not included them in this new iOS 7, which was started from scratch, is beyond me.  Notifications, though improved with fancy colors, offering more information, is still not integrated or on par with Android's Google Now app that uses several card notifications appearing on one screen for a quick review of day with reminders for just about anything you choose.

NFC and AirDrop

Google has used NFC so that two Android devices could simply "touch" each other to share pictures or files, as well as the capability to make purchases with merchants that have NFC equipment. We were hoping that Apple would finally add NFC to its iOS 7 to legitimize it, so to speak, so that vendors would step up to the plate and start using it more.

Apple choose to use what they call AirDrop to allow exchanges between iPhones without having to use email or iMessenger, but it relies on a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connection. This is a feature that I am sure iPhone users will welcome, but wouldn't NFC been a whole lot easier to exchange files, as well as adding future capabilities?

Multi-tasking

Multitasking has long been a thorn in Apple's iOS and it was a slightly convoluted to accomplish, but now has taken Android 4.3's approach and lists the app thumbnails where you can simply swipe to switch to that app or swipe it off the screen to remove it.

Browsing

The browsing area in iOS 7 added some welcomed features to their already great safari browser - most notable is the ability to have a combined address and search bar.  In Android 4.3 the browser is dependent on the phone manufacturer, with the ability to use Google's Chrome browser or to download and use the one you like best.

Miscellaneous

  • iOS 7 and the new A7 chip brings in support for OpenGL 3.0 and the terrific graphics capability, but that was already introduced in Android 4.3
  • Apple introduced iTunes Radio that is very similar to Android's Google Play Music All Access
  • Apple is talking about their M7 co-processor that monitors the motion sensors inside of the phone - sounds a lot like Moto's X8
  • Apple included a fingerprint sensor, but has it locked out so the app developers do not have access to incorporate it into any of their applications
  • The fact that iOS 7 is built as 64-bit system, will be great for future use, but has little added value at this point, but Apple was wise to prepare for the future as smartphones will be expected to handle more computer-like functions

For years Android was forced to ride on Apple's coattails, with Apple always being the standard by which all other OSs were judged.  It is nice to see the tide finally turn as we watch Apple play catch up to Google's Android.  Google has worked long and hard to make our user experience second to none - it started with Jelly Bean's Project Butter and with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean has shown the world that one can have their butter and toast too.  As we move on to Android KitKat, we can only imagine what Google has in store for us.

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About the Author
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Cory McNutt

Senior Staff Writer
Cory has written for Androidheadlines since 2013 and is a Senior Writer for the site. Cory has a background in Accounting and Finance and worked for the FBI in the past. From there he pursued his Masters in English Literature. Cory loves Android and Google related technology and specializes in Smartphone Comparisons on our site. Contact him at [email protected]
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