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Definition: iPhone vs. Android

This is a brief summary of some of the differences between the Apple and Google smartphones. People get used to operating a device and tend to upgrade to a new model on the same platform. Another reason not to switch is the inconvenience of swapping contacts, photos, music, videos and apps, which in the latter case may mean purchasing some of the software again.

Both platforms are relatively straightforward. Tapping an icon to launch an app, changing volume, pinching and expanding to resize images and turning the unit on and off are the same. Although both devices can be configured to do similar things, the settings menus are very different.

For rank novices, the best choice has more to do with getting help when necessary. If co-workers or family use Apple, an iPhone might be the best choice. Likewise, if most people you know have an Android phone, it makes more sense to choose a Samsung, Motorola or Pixel phone or any of the many other brands that use the Android operating system. There is a much greater variety and many more entry-level phones in the Android camp.

Like Mac and Windows
As it does with the Mac, Apple controls the hardware and iOS mobile operating system. Like Microsoft, Google controls the Android OS that numerous vendors use with their own hardware. Also like Microsoft, Google offers models under its own brand (see Pixel phone).

All iPhone OS versions have the same interface, whereas Android phone vendors as well as the carriers often add their own set of apps and different interface features. See app launcher.

There are only a few current iPhone models, while several dozen current Android models are available. iPhone users tend to upgrade to the latest iOS release within a short time, whereas Android OS updates are distributed by the phone vendor if there is an upgrade at all, resulting in hundreds of combinations in use (see Android fragmentation). This may not affect the average user, but it drives Android app developers to distraction.

iPhone Advantages
iPhones are a bit easier to use because the user interface is more consistent between OS versions. However, there was a big change with iOS 7 in 2013. In addition, Apple initially did a stringent job of testing the apps deployed in the iTunes app store; however, Google has since beefed up its app verification. Apple also rejects software it deems objectionable, although nothing stops people from retrieving X-rated content from their Web browser. See iPhone.

Android Advantages
Users love the Android's dedicated and always-available Back button. No matter which app is running, pressing Back on an Android device takes the user back one step. There is no such dedicated button on the iPhone or iPad, and each app must be designed with its own Back icon on every screen. A Back button is a huge convenience.

Android phones have an "app drawer," which lists all apps alphabetically. Users can drag icons from the app drawer to customize their home screens however they wish, but the app drawer is always available as a separate entity. In addition, third-party app drawers offer users a choice of interfaces. Android users can also download apps from numerous online stores rather than only one. See online app store and Android.