The beta’s face off! How does Apple’s iOS 10 compare to Google’s Android Nougat?
As we approach the tail end of Summer and head towards Autumn (Fall if you’re American), the set of expected high-end handsets has narrowed down to a small handful; but crucially this handful includes amongst its number several key devices which will debut brand new versions of Google and Apple’s major OS software platforms: Android and iOS.
Google will release two handsets this year but unlike previous years they WILL NOT be called Nexus phones; no, this year Google is switching things up and launching a brand new phone brand — the Google Pixel phone brand.
This move is apparently part of a wider initiative inside Google where it will play a closer role in the development of hardware. We have already seen what Google is capable of in this regard with the awesome Chromebook Pixel and the rather underwhelming but very good-looking Google Pixel C.
A Pixel Phone, therefore, feels like a natural successor and while it is sad that Google’s Nexus brand is effectively over, the idea of Google taking a more hands-on approach to the creation of its phones definitely has its positives. This year’s Pixel phones will apparently feature a bunch of exclusive software features that other Android phones will not get. Also, Pixel phones will always get updates first — just as Nexus phones did before them.
HTC is making this year’s Pixel phones, but after that Google will likely undertake the OEM duties itself with a partner like Foxconn.
Apple will release its iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus handsets in September. The iPhone 7 will launch on September 7 with key updates to the camera, display tech, CPU and storage options — 256GB is expected on the Plus model and the 16GB entry model will be discontinued with 32GB taking over as the base model.
iOS 10 and Android Nougat (7.0) may not be out yet, but due to the way both Apple and Google conduct their OS development both have been released as beta builds for long enough now that there is plenty of official information and details out in the ether, picked and catalogued from the beta programs by hordes of eager developers.
It’s often been noted that as the operating systems have matured, both iOS and Android have “borrowed” key features from one another, with the end result being the two different OSes becoming more similar.
The availability of Android Nougat for current Android phones is a hot topic of debate on account of the platform’s fragmented nature. Update cycles are typically terrible, for the most part, in the macro Android space with newer, flagship handsets often being the only phones to receive the update. Older handsets — i.e. anything over 18 months old — tends to get left out in the cold.
This isn’t Google’s problem, per se, as it rests with the manufacturers to push out updates to their hardware. And because Android OEMs are hellbent on selling new hardware, they often neglect older handsets and this, of course, leaves the vast majority of Android users — like 90% — languishing on older software.
Basically, to get access to the latest and greatest version of Android you either A) have to update your hardware once a year, B) install custom ROMs on your phone, or C) get a Nexus phone. For the vast majority of users, none of these options are considered and this is why the newest builds of Android, more often than not, take longer than a year to hit 10% adoption in the wider Android ecosystem.
Apple, of course, runs its phone business very differently. Having complete, top-down management of everything in its ecosystem enables Apple to control the flow of new software onto its hardware. Similarly, iPhone/iPad users are accustomed to getting access to new builds of iOS as soon as they’re available. This is why adoption of new iOS builds is always so high.
But could either one become more distinct? Do the latest betas suggest one might come out on top (at least for this year)? That’s what we’re here to decide. Now let’s take a look at all the major differences—if any—between iOS 10 and Android Nougat.
iOS 10 vs. Android Nougat: UI and notifications
While it’s fair to say that iOS and Android have been moving towards missile ground as far as a design aesthetic goes, both iOS 10 and Android Nougat sees them taking slightly different approaches to achieve the same design aesthetics as the other. For starts with Android Nougat, notifications have now been redesigned. They are much easier to read, have minimalistic borders, occupy the width of the screen, have smaller fonts, and can be tacked together based on app. In other words, they resemble iOS notifications more.
But iOS 10 is taking cues from the Android design department as well. It’s no bringing widgets to the home screen, although implementing them differently. Thanks to 3D Touch, now when pressing on an app’s icon a widget will appear—such as the current temp for the weather widget. This allows iOS 10 to gain home screen widgets, while also lets it keep them out of sight most of the time.
iOS 10 vs. Android Nougat: deleting stock apps
Both iOS 10 and Android Nougat allows you to now delete some stock apps. “Delete” is a little misleading, because you are actually just hiding the apps, not truly removing them from your device. And both iOS 10 and Android Nougat doesn’t allow you to hide all the stock apps—just some, those that Apple and Android’s handset manufacturers allow you to.
iOS 10 vs. Android Nougat: photo app
In iOS 10 the Photos app got a major improvement. It now uses machine learning to identify people, places, and objects inside your pictures and allows you to sort and search photos by those parameters. For example, Photos now knows which of your pictures have water in them. Search “lake” or “ocean” and it will return pictures of lakes and oceans. The app also now creates automatic slideshows and videos of your best pictures. If all this sounds familiar it’s because it’s what Google’s Photo app has been doing for almost a year. As you can see, now the Photos apps on both Android and iOS are tied feature-for-feature.
iOS 10 vs. Android Nougat: music app
Apple’s new Music app in iOS 10 has gotten a HUGE makeover. It’s now got a more simplified, easier to navigate interface. This is primarily so more people will give its Apple Music streaming service a try. But the music app on on Android, called Play Music, is still better. Why? Because Play Music is built around both streaming and individually downloaded songs, meaning it really cares about music fans no matter how they like to get their tunes.
iOS 10 vs. Android Nougat: updates
Though not really a feature, it’s worth noting that Android seems to get more updates pushed to it faster, than iOS does. This has been true for a while now since Android has been untethered for longer from its stock apps than iOS has been. Most stock apps have long been available on the Google Play store meaning Google could concentrate on just releasing updates for the main OS, instead of having to update every default app at the same time. It’ll be interesting to see if updates to iOS 10 speed up now that you can delete/hide stock apps from the OS.
iOS 10 vs. Android Nougat: personal assistants
Perhaps the biggest feature in iOS 10 is Siri is massively improved. Not only is the personal assistant getting improved features, it’s now being opened up to third-party developers so they can link into Siri—making her usefulness grow exponentially. Siri’s big competitor on Android is Google Now. for years Now has been better at Siri thanks to Google’s algorithms. But with iOS 10 it’s possible Siri could overtake Now as the best personal assistant out there yet.
iOS 10 vs. Android Nougat: verdict
It’s never an easy call when comparing to mobile operating systems. Who wins this time? It’s safe to say that iOS 10 has more big features and improvements than Android Nougat. However, taken as a whole, both operating systems are closer in features to each other than ever before.
Apple has a few key areas where it needs to catch up to Android, with the most obvious being Siri. Compared to Google Now, Siri feels practically remedial and this is why Apple opened up Siri to developers. It should have happened a lot sooner, though. Like, two years ago sooner, as it would have evolved Siri in a significant manner, adding in new features and abilities all the time.
Siri will also likely feature heavily in Apple’s push towards more automated home appliances and, of course, its car. AI well be the next big thing to hit the tech world and once it lands in earnest, the net results in years to come will be enormous. Google Home and Apple’s HomeKit are just the start.
Either way, both platforms will be great additions to the space.