Apples to Androids Part Two: Application Compatibility

Apples to Androids Part Two: Application Compatibility

App Store

Apples to Androids is a series on the site that goes through and breaks down what you need to know if you plan on switching from iOS to Android. Looking at it from an analytical standpoint to help you decide if the switch is right for you. View the introduction post here.

 

People ask me all the time about making the switch from iOS to Android. Being an Android enthusiast, I guess my knowledge of the OS and development makes me an easy go-to for others wanting to learn more. Perhaps the biggest thing I get asked about is application compatibility. Will my apps be available on Android, and if not, are there comparable alternatives?

App History By the Numbers

Apple was not the first company to have an app store. Both Microsoft and Palm were already there. But it didn’t take long for Apple to outpace the competition to become the most used app store with 100 million downloads in its first 3 months. Android would be introduced the following year in 2008 and it would take six years before the PlayStore would carry more apps than the Apple AppStore. Growth for both app shops have been steady over the last few years and Android maintains its lead as it has become the most popular mobile platform.

App Store Comparison
Image via AppFigures

Developer’s Take

Though Android remains the most popular mobile platform to date, you will still see a lot of apps come out for iOS long before they are available for Android. This isn’t some conspiracy or an attempt by Apple to pay developers to develop for them first. iOS is actually easier to develop for, and success of an app, especially in the terms of revenue generation, can often hinge on how well it does in the App Store.

iPhone is generally seen as more of an attractive accent to someone’s life than an Android phone. Users on iOS are more likely to pay for apps than those on Android. A lot of this is due to the open source nature of Android, users with root access, and the easy ability to side-load applications. Either way, if you want to make a name as a developer, you judge your success on iOS sales, and therein lies a major focus.

Major Production Apps

In this part of the post I want to discuss compatibility between iOS and Android with a focus on major production apps. What do I mean by that? We’re talking your big name, everyone has them on their smartphone applications. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. I’m also going to include most of the major productivity apps like Gmail, Outlook, Evernote, and If (formerly IFTTT). When it comes to the bulk of your mainly used applications, you are going to find them in both application stores.

Proprietary Applications

ios 11
Image Courtesy of Apple

This is where things get a little… Well, a LOT different. Proprietary software, in this case apps that are owned by the respective manufacturers of a mobile device, are things that you won’t find cross-platform. Apple is well known for its features that include its proprietary iOS software. Apps such as iMessage and Facetime have become absolutely second nature to iPhone users. And what makes these kind of apps better, for Apple anyway, is that they are available across devices like iPhone, iPad, and iPod.

Android is a bit different. Most of Google’s major apps are also available on iOS. Where you end up with proprietary applications comes from the individual device manufacturers. Samsung, LG, HTC, and others have their own apps that you will usually find pre-installed on your Android device. However, most of these apps are seen as annoying as opposed to beneficial.

Comparison and Contrast

Now, at this point in the post I figured it would be good to use a visual of some kind. Below I have constructed a table. In this table you will find apps you probably use on iOS, their availability on the Android platform, and if there is no availability, the apps that have the closest comparison to them.

App NameAndroid AvailabilityAndroid Alternative
Facebook/MessengerYes
InstagramYes
iMessageNoGoogle Allo
WhatsApp
FacetimeNoViber
Google Duo
iTunesNo (Note: Music can be moved from computer iTunes to Android device)Google Play Music
Spotify
SnapchatYes
SiriNoGoogle Now (Assistant)
Cortana for Android
Find My iPhoneNoAndroid Device Manager
Apple MapsNoGoogle Maps
Apple NewsNoFlipboard
TwitterYes
EmailNot the stock iOS AppOutlook
Gmail
Alto
NotesNot the stock iOS AppGoogle Keep
Evernote
iMovieNoVidTrim

I can add more apps to this list as they are pointed out, but this gives you a basic look at some of the most used apps on iOS, and whether or not they are available on Android, and the alternative to them.

That’s it. That’s your quick look at app compatibility between iOS and Android. Hopefully this gives you a bit of a glimpse into what you will be looking at when making the switch from iOS to Android.

 

 

Apples to Androids Part One: Security and Privacy

Apples to Androids Part One: Security and Privacy

Privacy and Security

Apples to Androids is a series on the site that goes through and breaks down what you need to know if you plan on switching from iOS to Android. Looking at it from an analytical standpoint to help you decide if the switch is right for you. View the introduction post here.

Welcome back to the first post in the Apples to Androids series here on the site. This series aims to take an analytical approach to determining if the switch from iOS to Android is right for you, and what you should expect if you do make that switch. Today we are going to take a closer look and comparison at security and privacy between iOS and Android.

There are a couple of things to look at when comparing security and privacy between iOS and Android. First, encryption. What do the two companies do to encrypt files stored on the devices? Next we have to look at data privacy. How do these two companies handle your private data? Finally, we look at security vulnerabilities. How have Google and Apple handled patching their operating systems in the face of new attack vectors?

Apples to Androids

Encryption

Encryption is the process of converting information or data into a code, especially to prevent unauthorized access. With computers, there are two main types of encryption: Full Disk Encryption (FDE) and File-Based Encryption (FBE). I’m not going go into the technical detail of each, you can find that easily online. So how do the two powerhouses of mobile computing implement encryption?

Apple iOS

Apple has been using File-Based encryption with iOS since iOS 4 with different encryption keys at different security levels. This gives iOS an advantage because app creators can create apps that work when the phone is locked, while still providing security to other sensitive files on the phone. It also gives users more control over what level of encryption they want with three basic types: Complete Protection, Protected Until First User Authentication, and No Protection.

Google Android

Starting with Android KitKat (4.4)  Android used full-disk encryption to add security to their devices.  While it was their first attempts at adding encryption to devices, it was still a dirty way to do it. Since then, Android has been getting much better. Starting with Android Nougat (7.0) Google moved away from just an FDE approach and introduced a more FBE approach. They support two types of encryption: Credential encrypted storage and Device encrypted storage. Credential encrypted storage protects data under the user pass-code and is not available until the user enters they pass-code, but only once. Device encrypted storage is just encrypted by by the hardware, and is available without having to enter a pass-code.

Data Privacy

This is perhaps the BIGGEST topic of conversation for the usual end user when it comes to mobile technology, and technology in general. People want to know that their data isn’t being sold to the lowest bidder at every chance, and that it’s hard for criminals to get their hands on this data. How do Google and Apple do with this?

Google Android

A lot of people look at Google and search and the information that they need to drive ads and they think  “These people are just giving my data away” and that wouldn’t be a true statement. In Google’s privacy policy, they let users know that information is not sold or given away without consent of the user. Why would they want to drive away users when the whole brand depends on keeping people online and connected?

Using Google products like Gmail, Docs, Chrome, Android, and more, keeps your data in a centralized location. It’s not spread throughout a multitude of applications and databases. This can be viewed as a better way for your data to stay secure, granted you use the right password protection to your account.

Apple iOS

Apple is also known for their strict security and privacy of user data. However, they may not be as prone to ask you for your consent. While you can change settings for different services through Apple, they state outright that they may share your information with third party vendors to “provide products or services, or that help market Apple to customers.” No opt-in option for this one.

Apple loves themselves and loves to promote themselves whenever possible. Of course, this isn’t a bad thing necessarily. It is business and a business can’t grow without marketing and securing new customers. However, it is unsettling that they do not make the option of having data given out available like Google does. I honestly found this information a little shocking considering Apple’s reputation for things like backdoors for government agencies.

Security Vulnerabilities

Vulnerability is defined as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed. When it comes to smartphones, these are usually loopholes that security researchers or those with malicious intent uncover in the firmware. From the appropriately named Stagefright vulnerability that struck so many Android devices, to the Israeli NSO vulnerability that could capture encrypted messages. The ability for people to take action against a device, and the prevention of, are highly looked at components of security comparison.

Apple iOS

Apple has long been good at addressing major security vulnerabilities in their operating systems. iOS is definitely no exception to this. Patches often come quickly as major vulnerabilities are discovered. What makes Apple be ahead of the curve when it comes to this is the fact that they will update many old devices at the same time. This means a 2 year old iPhone has the same chance of being on the latest update, and therefore patched.

This keeps in line with how Apple markets newer products and drops older products on a regular basis to keep users upgraded. This can be expensive, but at the same time, it is a wise move for the user. Newer phones in general tend to get upgrades first. And those upgrades are guaranteed.

Google Android

Android has had its time in the spotlight as a very vulnerable operating system. It’s an easy target for hackers as it is open-source and easy to see where code can be exploited. The fact is also there that Google’s checking of apps in the PlayStore has suffered in the past and allowed more than its fair share of malicious apps. This being said, Google has done much better at eliminating these apps and even being able to verify apps that are sideloaded to the phone.

Android also has a regular release schedule, though it can be a bit more difficult than simply waiting for the next month’s security update. Those with Nexus and Pixel devices usually see the updates on a monthly basis. However, being fragmented like the operating system is, not all manufacturers and carriers seek to push out security updates as fast. So when choosing an Android device, this is something to heavily consider.

Wrap-Up

It’s a little long, but here you have it. A more detailed look at privacy and security factors to look at when you are trying to decide if you want to switch to Android from iOS. Security and privacy should always be a major factor in deciding what smartphone and platform is right for you. Do the research before you make your decision and know what you are buying into.

Apples to Androids will be back next week and we will be focusing on application compatibility and how you can transition from apps in the Apple App Store to apps in the Google Play Store.

Apples to Androids Series Introduction

Apples to Androids Series Introduction

Google Android

 

Apples to Androids is a series on the site that goes through and breaks down what you need to know if you plan on switching from iOS to Android. Looking at it from an analytical standpoint to help you decide if the switch is right for you.

The time has come again at last. Your contract is up, or it’s time to upgrade your smart phone and a debate as old as, well 2008, pops up in your mind. Do I choose Apple and iOS, or do I go with Google and Android? Which one is the best? What company reigns supreme? Who would win in a best of five rock, paper, scissors match?

IDC: Smartphone OS Market Share Chart

If you look at the numbers, Android has an overwhelming command of the market share from 2014-2016. But does this really tell us anything? No, not really. Apple has always maintained proprietary ownership over its software and hardware. Only Apple makes iOS and only Apple makes the iPhone and other related device. Android is a different beast. Android is an open-source mobile operating system, meaning that anyone can compile the source code and build it for a device. Well, not just any device, but that’s technical talk for another time. Because of this open source nature, Android has many different manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Huawei, Sony, HTC, and more.

This gives Android a bit of an advantage in the numbers game when it comes to market share and units sold. But this doesn’t give us a clear picture of which one is truly better than the other. When you break down other aspects of comparison, let’s use security for an example, Apple has a decidedly better platform. If you look at user interface and the ability to customize it, Android holds that award without question.

Both sides of the Apple versus Android debate have their fan boys and girls behind it. They will applaud anything that goes on with their respective operating systems and be quick to put down the other. Hey, we’ve all done it at some point, myself included. But what about those who are on the fence? What if you have used Android for a long time and are thinking about switching to iOS? What if it’s the other way around?

Apples to Androids

Apples to Androids is a new series that is coming along here on my site. It will help answer some questions about the switch from iOS to Android. I don’t know much about Apple products because I’ve never used one outside of an iPod Nano. But I know a lot about Android and I get asked a lot about my opinions, experience, and advice for newcomers. In the Apples to Android series, I will take an analytical approach to the challenges, benefits, and detriments of making the switch from iOS to Android.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when the are shopping for a new mobile device is that people often just look at size and appearance before choosing a device. While that certainly will play a small role in making the decision, it definitely shouldn’t be the biggest role. The first question that needs to be answered when you are phone shopping is this: “Does this phone provide the functionality that I need?” A mobile phone, and even computers and tablets, are only as good as the satisfaction they bring to the end-user. And the end-user is you.

Apples to Androids will break down the switch into different parts that make up the functionality of a mobile device. Security and Privacy, Application Compatibility, Data Storage and Backup, and finally Performance and Specifications. I will get into the definition of these different parts as the series moves on. But that should give you a little bit of a glimpse into what this series will cover.

My personal experience with Android has been amazing. As a fan of open-source software in general, that was my initial draw to Android. That, and the fact that it is based on Linux. It didn’t take long before I started into rooting my Android devices and running custom firmware. I spent a couple of years as a device maintainer for different custom ROM developers. I also spent about a year doing theme work for another. I loved it. And I still do.

During my years as an Android enthusiast, I have watched the frustration of those making the switch from iOS. The confusion of learning a new system, the painstaking task of transferring contacts and other information from one device to another. And of course, the frustration at the fact that there are some apps for iOS that simply don’t exist for Android. There are many apps and features that have Android alternatives however, and when it comes to switching, the time just has to be taken to do a little research.

So there it is. An introduction to the upcoming series Apples to Androids. I know this little intro doesn’t provide a lot but I do hope you’ll stick around to see what is to come. I don’t believe we need another “Five Reasons to Switch to Android Right Now!” kind of post in this list driven internet world. What I do think is we need a good comparison, a good analysis, and a good look at whether the switch from iOS to Android is right for you.

**For those of you who have made the switch from Apple to Android, what do you wish you had known going into it? How did you find the experience? Let me know in the comments!**

Let’s Talk About the Essential Phone

Let’s Talk About the Essential Phone

Photo from Essential

 

That beautiful piece of mobile technology above the Essential Phone. Brought to you from one of the co-creators of Android, Andy Rubin. It’s sleek, it’s beautiful, it’s durable, and it’s…. Just not what we need in a newly announced flagship phone. When I originally decided that I would write a bit about the Essential Phone, I thought I was going to go on and on about it being completely awesome and stuff. But after discussing it more with a friend and taking a better look at the specs versus current flagships, my mind changed. And now, I am kind of disappointed.

Essential Phone Basics

The Essential Phone is model number Essential PH-1 and it will run Android Nougat 7.1 The phone is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 and a Kryo 280 octa-core CPU. The GPU is an Adreno 540. It will boast 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage on board. The screen is a 5.7″ 2560×1312 QHD 10 finger multitouch. The shooters on the Essential Phone PH-1 are a rear 13MP Dual RGB+Mono and a front-facing 8MP. Capable of capturing 4K at 30FPS. The battery is an unassuming 3040mAh.  You can read the full specifications here.

What Sets the Essential Phone Apart from Others

Well, for the most part it’s two things: build quality, and the cutout for the front camera. Seriously, that’s about it. This video from the Essential website shows the device during a drop test. The lack of breaking aside, watch the surface of the phone as it reflects everything around it and take the beauty of it in before I proceed.

 

 

As you can tell, the Essential Phone PH-1 definitely gets the build right. According to the website the phone is crafted from titanium and ceramic. Unlike aluminum which most phones are crafted from, titanium doesn’t give in so easily to scratching, denting and bending. If you look at the Essential website, it will show the results of corner drop tests and the differences between different build materials for different phones.

The Essential Phone also went with a ceramic backing instead of the glass like backing we see on iPhones and other Android flagships. It’s another move designed to combat the constant breakage and scratching on the backs of phones that happen to easily if you do not have a case. Metal phones are bad for getting nicks and scratches in the back, and let’s be honest, how many iPhone users do you know with cracked backs? The Essential Phone will be a lot harder to make replicate those types of blemishes which is definitely a good thing.

I haven’t gotten to hold one of these devices yet, but from what I know of the build material, the Essential Phone is one that should feel strong, powerful, and durable in your hands. It will look sleek, look new, look the part, and it will feel the part too. But what about the major part of a phone that really matters: performance?

Where the Essential Phone Falls Off the Hype Train

The Essential has mainly gained its hype through its form factor and build quality, the funky cutout around the front camera (which I absolutely love) and because of its creator. Andy Rubin is not just a name that people know because he worked for Google and Android. He’s known because, to a lot of people, he IS Android. So when Andy Rubin says he is putting out an Android phone, people in the community pay attention.

But this is where the Essential Phone falls off the hype train. Compared to other flagships and upcoming phones like the OnePlus 5, the Essential Phone PH-1 just doesn’t have it. It doesn’t have that oomph factor that makes it truly something, especially given the price. Now, to be fair, at $699 I don’t think it’s a bad price. The build materials give it just enough extra flair to warrant a price that is up there with what you pay outright for a new iPhone. But what about specs? What about what matters most to an Android enthusiast? Well, for that, let’s compare the Essential Phone PH-1 to the upcoming OnePlus 5 and the newest Samsung Galaxy S8+.

SpecificationEssential PhoneSamsung Galaxy S8+OnePlus 5
Screen Size5.71"6.20"5.50
Screen Resolution1312x2560 pixels1440x2960 pixels1440x2560 pixels
Phone Storage128GB64GB64GB Internal - Up To 256GB External
ProcessorQualcomm Snapdragon 835Samsung Exynos 8895Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Processor Speed1.9GHz octa-core1.9GHz octa-core2.35GHz octa-core
Battery Capacity3040mAh3500mAh4000mAh
Price$699$840$449

The deck is stacked against the Essential Phone in comparison with others. And I could add more to this table if I really wanted to take the time to do so. As far as price, everything is what I would expect when you factor all the parts that make a phone what it is together. Samsung is going to be on the pricey side because they are the only real Android competitor to Apple. Which sucks, because I don’t like Samsung devices. But statistically, they sell the most. OnePlus has been stunning the world since they released their first phone, and the OnePlus 5 is sure to not disappoint. And at almost half the cost of the Essential Phone. The OnePlus also packs a more powerful punch to it. The specs listed in the table above are what most Android enthusiasts are going to look at. The Essential Phone just becomes a bit of a let down in that category.

What’s the Takeaway on the Essential Phone

I’m not here to try to discredit Andy Rubin and the Essential Phone. I do truly believe it is a good device, sleek-looking, and more than likely, it will perform well for most normal Android users. But here’s the thing: Myself and my circle are not what you would call the “normal” Android user base. We’re power users, super users, and we don’t take our devices at face value when they are capable of much more.

While it is nice to see a manufacturer put something a little more professional and sleek-looking like the Essential Phone, what Android doesn’t need is another company trying to mimic the iPhone to draw customers. Android is not iOS and Android devices are not iPhones. Google already went this route with the Pixel line. And while I think the Pixel is a great device, we can’t dumb down to think that from a design standpoint, this was the closest that Google has come yet to an iPhone. The same applies to the Essential Phone.

My final verdict on the Essential Phone is that it is a nice looking device, it is a capable device, and it is a durable device. But it’s nothing special. It doesn’t make me do a dance to think about having it in my hands, and it doesn’t appeal to me as something tht really stands out from the crowd. Nobody is really doing that right now (and that’s a subject for another blog post.) Maybe in due time we’ll see better things, but in the meantime: Stop the train, I want to get off.