More than a billion smartphones were sold around the world in 2019, with almost all of them running either Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating system. At this point the majority of us have picked a side and stay within one ecosystem or the other, but millions of people do make the switch each year – why?
Both Android and iOS are mature platforms with thousands of apps and games for users to enjoy. But the two platforms have some unique features and limitations that results in people making the jump between the two, even if that does mean having to buy all those apps and games for a second time. Here are the top four reasons to make the switch:
Both operating systems are essentially “free”, with neither Apple or Google charging for their use. However, you will only find iOS on iPhones, which tend to be at the more expensive end of the spectrum, whilst Android runs on almost every other smartphone on the market from the latest £900 Samsung S20 Ultra flagship to a budget £100 Xiaomi Redmi 9.
For some people, iPhones are still seen as a status symbol and so whilst they may have had a budget Android smartphone in the past, when they start to earn more money they decide to invest in the smartphone equivalent of an Audi – an Apple iPhone. And similarly on the other end of the spectrum, for those looking to tighten their belts, when they need replace their phone after three or four years they may choose to spend their money on something much cheaper like a budget Android device than a “premium” iPhone.
The latest versions of iOS and Android a pretty straightforward for new users to understand, but historically Apple’s platform has been the easiest for the less tech-literate to get their heads around and that reputation has stuck.
When people decide to buy their grandparents smartphones so they can keep in touch, then if budget allows they will get them iPhones. Apple’s iOS “just works”, and whilst the “vanilla Android” experience of Google Pixel phones may be just as straightforward, the numerous skins, variations, and bloat added by each Android phone manufacturer (hello Bixby) makes the user experience on Android far more variable.
Freedom via APK
Both platforms will let most people use their phones as they like, but for more advanced users or those that want a more open system then they may be converted to the open source Android.
Apple’s iOS is arguably more secure than Android, but part of the reason for that is that they make it near impossible to install apps from anywhere except via the official Apple App Store (where coincidentally Apple takes a 30 per cent cut of all revenues).
Google certainly pushes people towards using its Play Store to download their apps and games (where it also takes a cut of revenues), but there are competing Android app stores such as the Amazon Appstore and the Huawei App Gallery – all of which you can install on the same device.
More critically, after flipping a switch in settings, Android users can also “sideload” apps by directly downloading and installing APK files without an app store at all. For example, those looking to play Mega Pari can get the app from here and install the app with a few clicks. Downloading apps from anywhere than an official app store obviously comes with risks, but it also means that Android users have access to a wider range of apps, such as those banned by Apple’s overly strict rules.
Most big-name apps and games are available on both iOS and Android, but many independent developers still design for iOS first and Android second thanks to the fact that iOS tends to generate far higher revenues from its userbase. Much of their differentiation is thanks to Apple’s userbase that skews heavily to wealthier countries, but if every support request needs to be treated equally then developers on tighter budgets will go where the money is.
Apple also manages to convert people to its platform by only making its messaging (iMessage) and video chat (FaceTime) services available to users of its ecosystem. So if you want to video chat with your grandmother who has just got a new iPhone, then you might be persuaded to buy an iPhone rather than try to explain to her how to download and set up WhatsApp or Google Meet.
Would you make the switch?
Photograph by ParampreetChanana