iOS versus Android debates have sparked many conversations, arguments, and may even have ended friendships. It is one of those topics we forbid at dinner tables mainly because it turns the food sour. But, at Android Authority, we allow healthy and constructive debates of this kind.

We love Android, but we can’t also deny the fact that Android and iOS each has its own set of features that make one better than the other.

We compared Google Android 4.2.1 (running on the Nexus 4 and Nexus 10) with iOS 6.1 (running on the iPhone 5 and the iPad 4) to check just how different these two operating systems are. So, how different are they? In what ways are they alike? Which OS is better than the other?

Read the rest of this review and find out. Or, watch our video comparing Android 4.2.1 and iOS 6.1.


Let’s start off by comparing the two operating systems’ interfaces.


Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Uses Virtual buttons
  • Virtual buttons change position when switching to landscape or portrait
  • Virtual buttons change to dots or auto-hide as needed
  • Virtual buttons placement and style are app dependent
  • Uses physical Home button

Starting with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, navigation in Android has shifted from physical or capacitive buttons to virtual Back, Home, and Recent Apps keys. These keys are dynamic, rotating when switching orientations, turning into dots when viewing photos, or auto-hiding when watching videos.

Meanwhile, iOS 6.1 doesn’t have virtual keys on a navigation bar. Instead, it has a Back button usually appearing at the upper-left portion of menus. In addition, iOS devices such as the iPhone 5 and the iPad 4 have a navigation bar with only one button — the Home button — which performs multiple functions:

  • Wake the device
  • Go back to the main homescreen
  • Open search page on the homescreen
  • Launch Siri
  • Launch volume controls and music player on lockscreen
  • Open App Switcher


Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Screen elements shown (top to bottom): centered digital clock, day and date, lock icon, user icons below lock icon (for multi-user feature on tablets only)
  • Hour digits on clock set in boldface for greater visibility
  • To unlock, drag lock icon to outer ring
  • No app shortcuts on outer lock ring
  • Google Now can be launched from lockscreen by swiping dotted circle upwards
  • Multiple lockscreens; allows lockscreen widgets; lockscreens can be rearranged
  • Notification Shade and Quick Settings menu accessible from lockscreen
  • Camera accessible by swiping right screen edge towards left (for phones only)
  • Mini music player appears on the lockscreen while playing music
  • Screen elements shown: status bar on the top edge; time with day and date (without year) below status bar; unlock slider at bottom; Camera icon beside unlock slider (phones only), Photo Frame button beside unlock slider (tablets only)
  • Slide unlock slider to unlock device
  • Double tap on Home button brings up music control buttons; music controls at left side and volume slider at right on tablets; music controls and volume slider below music title on phones)
  • Drag Camera icon upwards to launch Camera app (phones only)
  • Photo Frame button beside unlock slider (tablets only)
  • Hold down Home button to activate Siri
  • Notification Center not accessible on lockscreen
  • Notifications appear on lockscreen by default; swipe app icon of notification to unlock device and jump to app
  • Bar for currently playing music appears in center when music is playing

The lockscreens on both Android 4.2 and iOS 6.1 are simple: you can find the time, day, and date on both lockscreens. Both also have lock icons, but in different forms: a ring icon on Android 4.2 and an unlock slider on iOS 6.1.

To unlock Android 4.2’s screen, drag the lock icon to the unlock icon or to any part on the outer ring. In the case of iOS, slide the unlock slider to unlock the device.

In addition to unlocking your device, you can also launch the camera, launch Google Now or Siri, check app notifications, and control a mini music player. But, between the two, Android 4.2 offers more access by allowing lockscreen widgets and the multiple user feature on tablets.

In Android 4.2, you can add widgets — such as Calendar, Gmail, and Messaging — to the lockscreen so you can check for updates without unlocking your device.

On tablets running Jelly Bean, icons for the multi-user feature are also shown. Tap a user icon to load your account before unlocking the tablet.

The only unique feature I found on the lockscreen of iOS 6.1 for tablets is the Picture Frame icon, which lets you view a slideshow of your photos directly on the lockscreen.


The homescreen is your personal space where you can access your apps, access the device’s features, and place a beautiful background. On the two platforms, you’ll find a status bar at the top edge and an App Dock/App Tray at the bottom.

Each version also features a search app on the homescreen: the Google Search bar in Android 4.2 and the leftmost Search page of iOS 6. You can launch Google Now or Siri from the homescreen.

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Homescreen elements (from top edge to bottom): Status Bar, non-removable Google Search, analog clock, dynamic virtual navigation buttons, Favorites tray (also called the App Dock)
  • Default Favorites Tray app shortcuts (on phones): Camera, Chrome, App Drawer, Messaging, and Phone
  • Default Favorites Tray app shortcuts/folder (on tablets): folder for Google apps, Google Chrome, Gmail, Google+, App Drawer, Google Maps, YouTube, Play Music, and Google Play Store
  • Tablet interface similar to phones
  • Tap Recent Apps virtual button to view recently used apps
  • Maximum of 5 homescreens only
  • Edge of last homescreen glows when attempting to overscroll
  • Customizable homescreens
  • Widgets can be placed on homescreen
  • Homescreen elements (from top edge to bottom): Status Bar, square app icons on homescreen, App Dock, physical Home button
  • Default App Dock shortcuts (on phone): Phone, Mail, Safari, and Music
  • Default App Dock shortcuts (on tablet): Safari, Mail, Videos, and Music; can take up to six app shortcuts or folders
  • Tablet interface similar to phone
  • Left-most homescreen page for Search; tap Home button to instantly open Search page
  • Rearrange app icons or group them into folders; long tap icon to enter editing mode
  • Double tap Home button to access recently used apps (also known as App Switcher)
  • Tap and hold Home button to launch Siri
  • Swipe App Switcher to right to access Quick Controls
  • Can’t use widgets on homescreen
  • Number bubble appears on app icon to represent notifications
  • Displays ribbon on newly installed app

Jelly Bean and iOS homescreens differ vastly in style and use. Android 4.2 has a customizable homescreen where you can place widgets and/or app shortcuts, and group them into folders. Installed apps are all stored in the App Drawer. You can also use a live wallpaper on an Android homescreen.

App icons on iOS 6 can be rearranged, too. However, you can’t use widgets on iOS 6.1’s homescreen, nor add a beautiful live wallpaper. It also doesn’t have an App Drawer. All the things you need on iOS 6 devices are accessible on the homescreen.

Status Bar, Notifications, Toggles

Both platforms employ some form of notification system for alerting users of items that need attention or that need to be acted on.

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Notification Shade shows digital clock at left; day and date (no year), Clear All Notifications button, and Quick Settings button (on phones only)
  • Mobile network name displayed at bottom of Notification Shade (on phones only)
  • Expandable/Collapsible notifications
  • Notifications grouped by app; swipe left or right to dismiss notifications
  • Certain notifications are actionable; e.g., missed call notification has buttons for Call Back and Message
  • Quick Settings accessible by swiping down from right side of Status Bar (tablets only) or swiping down with two fingers from Status Bar (phones only)
  • Quick Settings menu shows profile photo thumbnail, button for Brightness setting, shortcut to Settings menu, shortcut to Wi-Fi settings (shows SSID), shortcut to Data Usage screen (shows mobile network name), auto rotate button (on tablets only), shortcut to Battery status screen (shows charge in percent), toggle for Airplane Mode, toggle for Bluetooth, and shortcut for creating a bug report (if Power menu bug reports is enabled in Developer options).
  • Swipe top edge down to open Notification Center
  • Displays Weather and Stock widgets by default (on phones only)
  • Notifications grouped by apps; dismiss notifications by tapping X button
  • Can set Alert style (banners, alerts, or none), choose which notification to display, set the number of items for each app notifications (1, 5, or 10 for phones; 1, 5, 10, 20 for tablets), set unique notification tone for some apps, and view notification on lockscreen
  • Tap notification to view and launch the app
  • Facebook and Twitter widgets on the Notification menu

Android’s Notification Shade and iOS’s Notification Center have one thing in common — they group all your notifications and alerts. While both notification systems have similar functions, Android offers a more accessible menu by adding Quick Settings. This feature allows you to access and toggle important shortcuts from the Settings menu. iOS doesn’t have a Settings shortcut, nor can it expand notifications on the Notification Center. Some notifications are actionable, allowing you to share screenshots or reply to a missed call directly from the notification menu.

Managing notifications also differ on both versions. In Android 4.2, you can easily remove a notification by flicking it to the left or right. There is also a button that clears all notifications in one go. In contrast, you will need to tap the X button to remove all grouped notifications of an app in iOS 6.1.

In terms of customizability, though, iOS offers more options to personalize your notification alerts. You can set unique alert types for certain notifications, adjust the number of notifications displayed, and even assign a tone pre-set for stock apps.

Where the iOS homescreen cannot use widgets, the Notification Center can. You can place the Weather and Stock Exchange widgets on the menu. The Facebook and Twitter widgets also appear on the Notification Center when you log in to your accounts. These features are not available by default in Jelly Bean.

Text Input and Keyboard

Both Jelly Bean and iOS 6 feature simple keyboard apps that offer multilingual support, voice-to-text input, word prediction, and auto-correction. Each of them has something that makes it stand out.

Android 4.2’s keyboard has the following:

  • Offline voice-to-text feature
  • Gesture typing (works like Swype)
  • Next-word selection
  • Personal dictionary to add your own words or jargon
  • A small selection of smileys

In iOS 6, you can enjoy the following:

  • Online voice-to-text feature
  • Emoji keyboard
  • Split keyboards on tablets
  • Custom word shortcuts


Android 4.2 carries over most of the accessibility features from Android 4.0 and Android 4.1, and adds a few more:

  • TalkBack — provides voice feedback and navigating by swiping gesture with Explore by Touch feature
  • Magnification gestures — magnifies the screen with swiping gestures
  • Large text — enlarges font size
  • Power button ends call — uses the Power button to end calls
  • Auto-rotate screen — auto-rotates screen orientation
  • Speak passwords — speaks out your passwords
  • Accessibility shortcut — instantly accesses accessibility features with a button and touch combo
  • Text-to-speech — sets text-to-speech output
  • Touch & hold delay — adjusts touch and hold delay
  • Enhance web accessibility — installs scripts from Google to make the Web more accessible

In iOS 6, accessibility features are conveniently grouped according to disability: Vision, Hearing, Learning, Physical & Motor, and Triple-click.

Under Vision, you have the following features:

  • VoiceOver – provides voice feedback and notification through gestures
  • Zoom – increases text size
  • Large Text – increases text size for Mail, Contacts, Calendars Messages, and Notes
  • Invert Colors – inverts colors for less eye strain while reading text
  • Speak Selection – text-to-speech output
  • Speak Auto-Text – speaks out auto-corrections and auto-capitalizations while typing

For people with hearing losses, the following options are available:

  • Hearing Aids — connects your device to supported hearing aids
  • LED Flash for Alerts (on iPhone 5) — flashes the LED flash when receiving new alerts
  • Mono Audio — enables mono audio and adjust sound balance between the left and right channels

And, for those who have learning or physical and motor disabilities, the following options are available:

  • Guided Access — keeps the device in one app and control which features are available; triple tap Home button in the app you want to use
  • Assistive Touch — assists you if you have difficulty touching the screen or if you need an adaptive accessory
  • Home-click Speed — adjusts the speed for tapping the Home button to enable double and triple-click Home
  • Triple-click Home — triple tap the Home button to access enabled accessibility features (VoiceOver, Invert Colors, Zoom, and AssistiveTouch)

Communication Features

Both OSes have communication features that allow you to interact and connect with family and friends.


Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Backs up contacts data to Google Account
  • Can also sync contacts from Google+ account
  • Can store contact info locally on phone
  • Has separate tabs for Groups, Individual Contacts, and Favorites; swipe to switch tabs
  • Contacts can be imported, exported, or shared
  • Different ringtones can be assigned to different contacts
  • Contact page has shortcuts for dialing, composing SMS, or composing email
  • Tap contact number or email address to call or send an email to a contact
  • Backs up contacts data to iCloud
  • Store contacts locally on tablet and phone
  • On phones, contacts are merged in the Phone app
  • Allows importing SIM contacts
  • Contacts can be synced to different Apple devices via iCloud
  • Contact page has buttons for sending message, sharing contact, FaceTime, and Add to Favorites; tap on email address to send email and tap number to call contact
  • Different ringtones can be assigned to different contacts
  • Preset vibration patterns or personalized vibration patterns (phones only)
  • Facebook integrated in Contacts and Calendar events

I particularly like the magazine-like theme in Android’s People app with its big text and big pictures. In iOS, the Contact app is just a plain and simple virtual contact book. All your contacts are listed on simple alphabetical list.

Google Android 4.2 primarily uses Google services, which means your phone’s contacts are stored by default in your Google account. This also means that you can sync your Google+ contacts to your phone. iOS 6.1, on the other hand, uses iCloud and iTunes to backup and sync data. iOS’s recent integration with Facebook allows you to add your Facebook contacts to your contacts’ list.

You can view contact information, call, send a message, or send an email from a person’s contact page. In iOS, you can also call a contact through FaceTime via the contact’s info page.

Android offers more ways to keep in touch with your contacts. Aside from the People app, the homescreen is also another way — if you place widgets for your contacts.


Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Has separate tabs for Dialer, Call Logs, and People; swipe to switch tabs
  • Simple Dialer interface; tapping Dial button without entering number brings up last called number
  • Dialing screen shows contact info and call control buttons (e.g., hangup, loudspeaker, mute, hold, conference call)
  • Call Logs tab can be filtered to show all calls, only missed calls, only outgoing calls, or only incoming calls
  • Incoming call screen shows ring icon with shortcuts to answer, decline, or reply with message
  • Incoming call screen also shows Google Now shortcut (dotted circle)
  • Has separate tab for Favorites, Recents, Contacts, Keypad, and Voicemail; tap to switch to tabs
  • Simple Dialer interface
  • Dialing screen shows contact name and control buttons (e.g., mute, keypad, speakers, add call, FaceTime, contacts, and hang-up button
  • Recents tab shows history of received and missed calls; list can be filtered to show missed calls
  • Video call through the Internet with FaceTime
  • Incoming call screen shows contact info slider to answer call; swipe Phone icon upwards for more options call handling options

The Phone app on each platform are essentially the same. You can make a call, view call logs, and view your contacts. The dialing screen also displays the contact information and the usual control buttons for phones.

iOS 6.1, however, integrates its FaceTime feature with the Phone app, so you can call fellow FaceTime users via the Internet. You can also perform calls on tablets with FaceTime. The call logs in iOS only allows you to view missed calls; in contrast, Android 4.2 lets you filter missed, outgoing, and incoming calls.

The incoming call screens differ a bit, too. In iOS, slide the slider to answer the call. You can also swipe the phone icon upward to reveal additional functions. In Jelly Bean, drag the center icon to the outer ring.


Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Displays SMS and MMS messages sent and received
  • Can send messages to multiple contacts
  • Character count indicator appears when message nears 160-character SMS limit; message split into multiple SMS if character limit is reached
  • Can attach photos, videos, audio, or slideshows to MMS
  • Messages displayed as conversation threads; cannot lock conversation threads
  • Messages shown inside text bubble with contact’s picture beside it
  • Hold down message balloon to copy, forward, lock, delete, or view details of single message
  • Direct Message widget for frequently messaged contacts can be placed on homescreen
  • Messaging widget on homescreen shows list of SMS and MMS messages
  • Limited message deletion option: either individually or all messages at once; cannot select multiple messages/threads for deletion
  • Cell Broadcast option for receiving emergency alerts (e.g., threats to life or property, child abduction emergency bulletins, etc.) and test broadcasts from the Earthquake Tsunami Warning System and the Commercial Mobile Alert System
  • Gesture Typing
  • Messaging widget for lockscreen; shows list of SMS or MMS messages on lockscreen
  • Can auto-delete old messages when defined limit is reached (default of 500 SMS per conversation and 50 MMS per conversation); maximum limit for either SMS or MMS is 5,000
  • Displays SMS and MMS messages sent and received
  • Can send messages to multiple contacts
  • Character count indicator disabled by default; can be toggled in Settings menu; character counter appears on the 28th character
  • Can attach Photos and videos to MMS
  • Messages displayed as conversation threads; can select multiple messages to either delete or forward; can clear all messages in thread
  • Messages displayed inside color-coded message balloon
  • Hold down message balloon to copy text
  • Can send SMS and MMS to iPhone, iPad, iPod, and Mac via Internet with iMessage
  • Message notification appears on the lockscreen and Notification Center; can change notification alert style and notification settings

Both operating systems display your messages as conversation threads with text balloons or text bubbles. In iOS, the text balloons are color-coded.

Green text bubbles indicate messages sent via your phone’s carrier. Text bubbles in blue are ones sent via iMessage. With iMessage, you can send a text, photo, or video to an iPad, iPod, or to a Mac. You can also send videos and images as MMS in iOS. Meanwhile, Android lets you send also audio and slideshows as MMS.

Android lets you instantly access your messages from the lockscreen and homescreen with the help of widgets. In iOS 6, though, you can enable message notifications so you can instantly open messages from the lockscreen.

Android also auto-deletes old and unlocked SMS and MMS. It also has a Cell Broadcast feature that allows you to receive important alerts. I did not find these or similar options in iOS 6’s Messages app.


Both platforms have stock apps and support for email. Google Android 4.2, however, has a dedicated email app for Gmail which encourages you to use your Gmail account as your primary email account. A stock Email app is also provided for other email accounts. Meanwhile, iOS has only its Mail app for all email services such as iCloud, Gmail, Yahoo!, AOL, and Hotmail.

POP3, IMAP, SMTP, and Exchange protocols are also supported by the native email clients on both platforms.

Apps and Widgets

Apps are the lifeblood of all smartphones, which is why every operating system has its own set of stock apps to make it stand out. Android and iOS are no different. In fact, Android 4.2 and iOS 6.1 have certain apps that make your experience of each OS unique.

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Latitude app integrated in Google Maps app, unlike in Android 4.1
  • New Clock widget design
  • Includes stopwatch and timer in Clock app
  • Has Digital Clock widget
  • Google Play Store is default source of app installations
  • Sideloading (i.e., installing from unknown sources) allowed but needs to be toggled
  • App’s APK can be installed through Android Debug Bridge
  • Requires Google account password before purchasing app
  • List of required permissions shown before installing app
  • App uninstallation from App Drawer (i.e., long-tap on shortcut then drag to Uninstall button)
  • Can clear data, clear cache, force stop, uninstall, and toggle show notification of app (via Apps section in Settings)
  • App and widget icons arranged in grid inside App Drawer
  • Separate tabs for apps and widgets in App Drawer
  • Cannot rearrange apps and widgets in App Drawer
  • Existing homescreen widgets move automatically to make way for new widgets or shortcuts
  • Swipe to clear apps on the Recent Apps menu
  • Removed Google Maps and YouTube apps
  • Features its very own Maps app; now includes a Report a Problem button
  • Features Passbook app (phone only)
  • App Store is primary source of apps
  • Doesn’t allow sideloading of apps by default
  • Requires user password before installing app
  • Asks for permission before running apps
  • App can be uninstalled from the homescreen by long-pressing on icon and tapping X button on icon; can also uninstall apps from the Usage option, under the General menu in Settings.
  • Apps arranged in grid on the homescreen
  • Doesn’t use widgets on homescreen
  • Apps can be rearranged and moved to different homescreens
  • Existing apps move automatically when another app icon is placed before it; placing app icon over another automatically creates folder
  • Recently used apps can be cleared from App Switcher by long-pressing on icon and clicking red button on icon

Apple has removed some apps and added new ones in iOS 6. For instance, Google Maps and YouTube have been removed. Apple has also added its very own Map app and the Passbook app on some devices. Meanwhile, very little has changed in Android 4.2’s bundled apps. The Clock app got a design overhaul, and the Digital Clock widget is brand-new.

Android 4.2 and iOS 6 have their own official repositories for apps: the Google Play Store for Android and the App Store for iOS. Users enjoy secure downloading with Android 4.2’s improved Permissions feature and iOS 6’s password-enabled app installation.

Installing apps is permission-based, but vary on how each OS implements it. In Android, you can view a list of all the required permissions before you install apps on your device. On Apple devices, however, you won’t find a list of permissions on the App Store. A newly installed app will only request permissions when you run it for the first time. Granting access allows the app to run.

Web Browsing and Search

Web Browsing

Android 4.2 has abandoned the stock Android Browser. In its place is Google Chrome as the default Web browser, especially on Nexus devices. iOS 6.1, meanwhile, still retains Safari as its stock browser.

Features Google Chrome Safari
Multiple tabs unlimited tabs max 24 tabs on tablets and 8 tabs on phones
Tab list yes; tab thumbnails shown as deck of cards yes; tab thumbnails shown as scrollable tiles
Dismissing tabs from tab list swipe gesture or tapping on X button tapping on X button
Private Browsing incognito tab Private Browsing option Safari Settings menu
Offline Reading preloaded content can still be accessed even if offline saves pages for offline reading (on supported devices)
Text scaling yes yes while in Reading Mode
Plugins not supported not supported
Inverted rendering none none
Reader mode none yes
Syncing open tabs to or from other device (e.g., desktop, another phone) yes yes
Add Bookmarks yes yes
Sync Bookmarks from other devices yes yes
Full screen view none yes on some devices
Quick controls none none
Mobile version of page yes; default cannot be toggled
Desktop version of page yes; can be toggled cannot be toggled


Each operating system has its own way of locating items and files. Android features the integrated search tool called Google Now while iOS 6 has its own default search app.

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Google Now
  • Integrates Google Voice search, Google Goggles, and Google’ other search services
  • Flashes results in flashcards
  • Launch Google Now from homescreen, any app screen, or lockscreen
  • Performs local search for Apps, Chrome, People, and Play Music files
  • Google Now gets data from your Google Account and automatically flashes results about weather, traffic, flight schedules, and more
  • Can perform voice commands such as launching apps, composing text, calling contacts, and more
  • Default search page located as leftmost page of homescreen
  • Lets you search terms via Web or Wikipedia
  • Voice-assisted search through Siri
  • Performs local search (also known as Spotlight); searches for contacts, applications, Music, Podcasts, Videos, Audiobooks, Notes, Events, Mail, Reminders, and Messages
  • Siri can now provide information on sports leagues, movie reviews and showtimes; shows restaurant information nearby; launch installed apps; can send tweets and update Facebook status; read items on the Notification center; purchase movie tickets via Fandango app (USA only)

Google Now can be accessed in a variety of ways:

  • Swiping its dedicated icon (dotted circle in the middle of bottom screen edge) on the lockscreen upwards;
  • Swiping the virtual Home button upwards; or
  • Tapping the search bar on the homescreen.

You can also enable Voice Search by saying “Google” or tapping the microphone button.

In iOS, you can access the search tool by:

  • Swiping to the leftmost-most homescreen page; or
  • Pressing the Home button while on the homescreen.

You can also launch Siri anywhere on the screen by long-tapping the Home button.

One of the big updates of iOS 6 is Siri. Siri has been improved, providing better search results and better integration with apps. Additional languages have also been added. Compared to the previous version, Siri did not find it difficult recognizing my English accent.

Both Google Now and Siri can perform voice commands. But, between the two, I find Siri more flexible than Google Now. Talking to Siri feels more natural.


For mobile photography, both Jelly Bean and iOS provides basic Camera apps, quickly accessible from the homescreen or lockscreen.

On Android 4.2’s lockscreen, pull the right screen edge towards the center to open the Camera widget and launch the Camera. In iOS 6, swipe the camera icon, beside the unlock slider, upwards to reveal the camera. These lockscreen shortcuts to the camera are available only on phones.

Android 4.2 has an entirely new and improved camera, compared to the ones in Android 4.0 and Android 4.1. The iOS 6 camera also has a simple and easy to use camera app. The camera apps of both OSes let you enjoy the following:

  • Swipe gesture on viewfinder to preview images
  • HDR Mode (on supported devices)
  • Panoramic shot
  • Taking photo while recording video
  • Pinch gestures to zoom in and out
  • Auto-focus and face detection
  • Geotagging

In addition, the Android 4.2 Camera provides the following extra features:

  • Tap and hold on viewfinder to open camera settings
  • 5 Scene Modes and 5 White Balance presets
  • Time Lapse Recording
  • Photo Sphere
  • Changing image and video capture size

In the case of the iOS Camera, you also get to enjoy the following:

  • Volume keys as shutter buttons
  • Grids on the viewfinder
  • Mini preview of recently captured images
  • Photo Booth (tablets only) for instantly capturing images with preset effects

Photo and Video Gallery


Android 4.2 and iOS 6 store captured photos and videos the same way. Both have a stock photo gallery app for browsing and editing photos.

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Photos stored in Gallery app
  • Thumbnails sortable according to album, location, time, people, or tags
  • Swiping image up or down deletes image in Filmstrip View
  • Cannot move images from one album to another
  • Images can be set as homescreen wallpaper
  • Basic image transformations (e.g., rotate and crop) can be performed within Gallery app
  • Photo Editor shortcut
  • Photos can be shared via Bluetooth, Google+, Picasa, Gmail, or NFC
  • Photos stored in Photos app
  • Tap plus icon at the upper-right corner to add new album
  • Long-tap photo to copy and paste to another Album
  • Images can be set as homescreen wallpaper
  • Basic image transformations (e.g Rotate, Enhance, Red-Eye, and Crop) can be performed within Photo app
  • Share photos via Mail, Message, Twitter, and Facebook
  • Enable Photo Stream to store images in iCloud
  • Share photos with friends with Shared Photo Stream feature

Android arranges your photos in albums. You can view your photos on a Filmstrip or Grid. While viewing a single photo, zoom it out to switch the view mode to Filmstrip.

On iOS 6.1 tablets, you can display your pictures as albums or as individual photos. On phones, however, images are grouped into albums and tapping an album reveals individual photos. The Photos app in iOS also allows you to create albums. Android’s Gallery app doesn’t allow you to create albums.

Both operating systems allow you to perform basic photo transformations and editing. However, Android’s built-in photo editor has more features:

  • New filters and effects (punch, Vintage, B/W, Bleach, Instant, Latte, Blue, Litho, or X Process)
  • Custom frames
  • Photo transformation options (Straighten, Crop, Rotate, or Mirror)
  • Image colors and value adjustments (Autocolor, Exposure, Vignette, Contrast, Shadows, Vibrance, Sharpness, Curves, Hue, Saturation, and BW Filter)


Android’s Gallery app and iOS’s Photos app double as video players, too. All recorded videos are stored here. Videos are organized in the same manner as photos in their respective gallery apps.

iOS has a separate Videos app that stores downloaded movies from iTunes. Besides downloading movies, you can also transfer compatible movies from the PC to your Apple device through iTunes.

Android has fewer restrictions in terms of transferring videos to your device. You won’t need any special software to transfer videos from a computer to an Android device. On iOS, all files that you want to transfer to your Apple device need to go through iTunes.

Aside from viewing captured videos, you can also trim recorded videos. Just tap on the video and select Trim from the Android Gallery app’s drop-down menu. In iOS, tap on the edge of the film strip to see the Trim button.

Media Playback

Photo Slideshow

For hands-free photo viewing, run slideshows. Both Jelly Bean and iOS allow you to view images in a slideshow. In Android 4.2, the slideshow button is tucked away inside the menu. In iOS, tap the Play button (for phones) or the Slideshow button (on tablets) to start a slideshow. Between the two, iOS offers more features to customize your slideshow:

  • Select slideshow transition effects (e.g., Origami [tablets], Cube, Ripple, Wipe [tablets], Wipe Across [phones], Wipe Down [phones], and Dissolve)
  • Play background music

In addition, Android 4.2 features a customizable screensaver called Daydream. Activated when your device is docked or is charging, this feature displays your photos in a slideshow or on a photo table. Apart from that, you can also set the screensaver to show the latest Google Currents trend, an analog or digital clock, or a colorful background. iOS 6 tablets can also display photo slideshows on the lockscreen through the Photo Frame feature.

You can sync your device’s screen to a supported HDTV through the Wireless Display function in Android 4.2 and AirPlay in iOS 6.1. Unfortunately, only the Nexus 4 has the Wireless Display feature for now.

Playing Movies and Videos

Video playback is simple and hassle-free in Android 4.2 because of its integrated video player. Meanwhile, iOS 6.1 has separate video players for recorded and downloaded videos. Just like for photo slideshows, you can share your device’s display to a supported HDTV.

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Video player integrated in Gallery app
  • Simple and straightforward video playback controls; includes progress bar and share button
  • Wireless display
  • Simple video player integrated in Photos app for playback of recorded videos; has play button, share button, trash bin button, and a progress bar with mini preview of video
  • Videos app for playing downloaded movies and videos; shows progress bar (without mini preview), scaling button, and playback controls
  • AirPlay

Playing Music

For playing music, you have the Play Music app in Android 4.2 and the Music app in iOS 6.

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Stores songs downloaded from Google Play Store
  • Songs can be copied from PC to phone/tablet via USB connection
  • Songs displayed according to playlist, artist, album, songs, genres, or recently added
  • Includes 5-band equalizer and equalizer presets
  • Create, edit, rename, and delete playlist
  • Can play music in background
  • Mini music player appears on Notification Shade and lockscreen
  • Stores songs downloaded from iTunes
  • Songs must be copied from PC to iTunes first, then synced to device for songs to be accessible in Music app
  • Separate tabs for Playlists, Songs, Artists, Albums, and More (Genres, Composers, Sort By Artist [tablets], and Compilations [phones])
  • Has equalizer presets but need to be toggled in Music section under Settings menu
  • Equalizer can’t be manually adjusted
  • Syncs songs with iTunes Match and stores them to cloud; can download songs individually from iCloud
  • Shake to shuffle feature allows random track playback when shaking phone (works only in Music app on phones)
  • Create, edit, and delete playlists
  • Can play music in background
  • Display current song clip art on lockscreen; double tap Home button to access music controls

Like videos, music in iOS 6.1 can be transferred from the PC to your Apple device via iTunes. Android provides greater flexibility in this regard by allowing you to copy files from the PC by just using a data cable.


Your Android and Apple device may contain sensitive data. That’s why security features protect your data from unauthorized access. Both operating systems have their own approach on how to better secure data on your device.

Android 4.2 comes with the security features from Android 4.0, plus a few new and improved ones:

  • Slide, Face Unlock, Pattern, PIN, and Password lockscreen types
  • Display owner information on the lockscreen
  • Device encryption
  • SIM card lock for phones
  • Prevents installation of apps not from Google Play Store
  • Built-in app verifier (malware scanner)
  • Improved list of Android Permissions
  • More control of premium SMS
  • Always-on VPN
  • Hidden Developer Options menu
  • Security improvements and fixes

In contrast, iOS 6.1 tightens security with the following security options:

  • password to unlock phone/tablet
  • choice between 4-digit simple passcode or long-string alphanumeric password
  • erase data on device after 10 failed attempts
  • restrict access to some device features and content
  • sends email confirmation if your Apple account has been used on another device
  • privacy menu that allows you to view which apps are accessing sensitive data
  • new Lost Mode feature in Find My iPhone app (locks and flashes your contact number when enabled; you can also remotely erase data and lock the device with the app in iCloud)
  • cannot install apps not from the iStore
  • kernel that is difficult to hack
  • reset the Advertising Identifier

Video Review

See more of the differences between Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean and iOS 6.1 in our YouTube video:


Android 4.2 and iOS 6.1 are different operating systems, but both are good in their respective ways. Going through the full list of how these two OSes differ will surely take a while. This article barely scratched the surface. But, to sum up, here’s a brief list of some of the major differences between the two:

Android 4.2 iOS 6.1
  • Uses virtual keys for navigation
  • Customizable homescreens
  • Widgets on homescreen and lockscreen
  • Live wallpapers on homescreen
  • Uses App Drawer to store apps and widgets
  • Displays alerts on Notification Menu;
  • Quick Settings for quick access to Settings options
  • Twitter and Facebook not integrated by default
  • Google Play Store
  • Sideloading allowed
  • Uses Google services for saving and syncing data to various Android devices
  • Easy to use and flexible Camera
  • Developer friendly
  • Multiple users
  • Doesn’t use virtual keys
  • Navigation buttons appear on app screens
  • chief navigation button is Home button
  • Apps are instantly accessible right from the homescreen
  • No homescreen or lockscreen widgets
  • No live wallpaper
  • Displays alerts on Notification Center; allows you to place Weather, Stock, Twitter, and Facebook widgets; customizable notification alerts
  • Twitter and Facebook integrated in the OS
  • Apple App Store
  • Sideloading not allowed
  • Uses Apple’s services for saving and syncing data to various Apple devices; also uses its own Maps app
  • Easy to use Camera
  • Doesn’t have options for developers
  • Doesn’t create unique user profiles

For users who prefer a flexible and customizable operating system, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is your best bet. You can spruce it up with live wallpapers and functional widgets. You can use third-party homescreen launchers and keyboards. You can make your phone or tablet look and work as close to, if not exactly, the way you want it to.

Despite having limited customization options, iOS 6.1 is also worth considering, especially by those who want tight integration of various mobile content services into the operating system. If one of Android’s mantras is diversity, that of iOS is uniformity. The operating system is designed so that your experience on a device such as the iPhone 5 will differ little when you switch to your iPad 4. Such integration also allows you to sync your data to all of your devices running the same platform.

Yet, despite each platform’s plus and minus points, the final decision of which OS is better still rests on you and you assessment of what you need from your devices.

So, tell us — what do you need from your devices? Which operating system has the greatest ability to serve those needs — Android 4.2 Jelly Bean or iOS 6.1? Let us know in the comments.

(with contributions from Elmer Montejo)

[poll id=”210″]

Alvin Ybañez
Android is arguably the most flexible mobile operating system. Period. I'm extremely passionate about helping Android users around world get the most out of their Android devices by writing how-to guides and tutorials.
  • Bone

    First, congrats on the well balanced and detailed article. I wouldn’t mind getting either for my next devices, especially as IMO iOS is opening up more – at the end of the day you can do your stuff on both.

    So my customer pick is based not on OS experience but bang for the buck, and I prefer the larger phone screens and better price tag of the current Android flagships, where a retina iPad Mini for $300 is as good as it gets, will be an interesting battle between that and a fullHD $200 Nexus 7 (which hopefully will be a Nexus 8).

  • RarestName

    I prefer iOS but I chose Android 4.2 :)

    • kascollet

      I prefer Android 4.2 but I want a small phone !

  • You touched on the necessity of itunes sync on iOS but didnt really talk about how much of a hassle that is. Not only that, android supports SO many more audio and video formats. i have a lot of flac files, and my GS3 has no problem with them at all, but i cant use them on my ipad. same with wma files. I have the first season of Archer on my gs3, but would have to use a video file converter and then import them into itunes, and THEN sync them onto the ipad. The lock screen is better on android, there can be no argument, and the lack of widgets on iOS got old about 3 years ago, but now its just ridiculous. same goes for no expandable storage and removable batteries, both of which samsung fortunately includes. that said, fewer and fewer OEM’s are sticking to that, especially HTC, who stopped including either about a year ago. but anyway, android is better. Unless your hands stopped growing when you were about 8 years old, in which case there isn’t a better android alternative to the baby sized iphone.

    • kascollet

      You can just install another app on each platform to get rid of format limitations (videos and music). That’s no big deal.
      Samsung devices are still the best out of the box.

    • R4

      Google Play has apps which RELY ON PIRACY, iTunes was made like that to reduce piracy.

      I agree the lock screen is way better on android.

      you dont need expandable storage or removable batteries, i just dont see the point of them.

      Admit it… Note’s screen is ridiculously big

  • zgryfx

    With respect to playing music, in Android songs can also be copied from your PC to your phone/tablet without using a cable. You can use Google’s Music Manager PC application to designate folders that contain music files and they will be sync’d to your Play Music library (and thus can streamed or saved to your device). You can upload up to 20,000 songs and it’s free.

    • kascollet

      This is a Google service, available on all platforms.

      • zgryfx

        The Music Manager does not upload to iTunes, only Google Play (as far as I know). That would technically be a means to bypass iTunes wouldn’t it? I doubt Apple would allow that. The equivalent Apple service is iTunes Match, which costs $25 per year.

        • kascollet

          Well, you can stream your Google Music to every device in the browser and many apps exist on iOS, but I don’t know if you can locally download them to the devices (haven’t tried yet).
          Having both platforms, I appreciate having access to the same library.
          And on iOS, you don’t have to plug the device to the computer anymore (full syncing works over Wi-Fi).

          • zgryfx

            Streaming music isn’t always possible, especially if you are on an airplane or if you travel overseas to a country with spotty mobile data. In those cases, you’ll want to save music locally and Google allows you to do this.

            The intent of my original comment was to point out that Google lets you have much more flexibility with uploading music to the cloud and getting it streamed/saved to all your devices, for free. Free storage, free matching, free syncing, and free listening. Google Play will work on any device, as you correctly point out, where as iTunes Match will only work with Apple products and you have to pay $25 for even that privilege.

          • kascollet

            Yep, all true.

  • Marcos Torres

    In a conversation about the OS systems of both apple and android the comparison to buying a car was made. My friend said about the IOS “…if I buy a car I just want to get in it and go.” Which IOS is great in that respect. My response to this was “… that’s all fine and dandy if you are OK with someone else telling you how your car can look, drive and perform. I prefer to have the option to adjust what I use to fit my needs. Not the needs of masses.”
    I am always asked which I prefer. I am an android guy but I also see the appeal and need for an OS like IOS. Not everyone likes or wants to tinker with their phones or tablets. They just want it to work and honestly don’t miss the ability to customize their experience. Some, like myself, need that ability in order to justify the purchase of a device.
    Just Saying

    • tr00don

      I am an Android user and don’t want to customize it. I just want it to be fast, reliable, and worth the money. The iPhone fails the third criterion.

      • jaybear

        As an Android user since the ol G1 days and spending thousands on upgrading or replacing phones .. Premium phones such as the Galaxy S, Galaxy S II, HTC G2, HTC Amaze, Galaxy Nexus .. All have failed me in terms of reliability.. All have failed me in terms of battery life.. All have failed in build quality over a span of time.. I took a plunge nd ordered an unlocked Iphone 5 last year and it was like buying an unbreakable unflappable phone in every aspect ive just mention where every Android phone has failed me.. Yes, I have rooted everyphone Android device that I have owned, Cyanogenmod.. Stock Android all of the way .. I also just sold my Nexus 7 brand new.. Rooted.. WHY? Because it still is slug, and lags too much when compared to my Iphone 5, so in short.. Every app performs almost flawless when compared to Android.. And although stock android shines, and its great.. I cant deal with the baggage.. IOS all of the way for me until the Android experience catches up, tired of wastng money, and Id rather spend it once on a phone. It is a phone!

  • kascollet

    You haven’t talked enough about Cloud oriented features.

  • Charlie

    Do you think android 5.0 is going to get rid of the virtual buttons and use gestures instead?

    • Ivan Myring

      No. Gestures are good with the buttons but not alone.

  • I love iOS ecosystem for the apps. I love Android ecosystem for the OS. :D

  • paxmos

    Great job. Going through the article, I feel like these platforms were just introduced.

  • Justice Seeker

    Android still dominates.

  • vikki

    you forgot to mention the lag in 4.2.1…its like the have killed the project butter….

    • Android 4.2 has project butter………..

    • Yiwei Luo

      did you flash cyanogen on a flip phone? that’s the only way I imagine it could lag

      • rdeleonp

        Galaxy Ace or similar crap is enough to make 4.2 choke.

        What a Gawd-Afwful device… it and all of it’s kin (pretty much every *cheap-ass* entry-level Android phone) should be destroyed, period.

        Thank $DEITY for the Nexus 4.

        • R4

          er, my HTC one lags on it

  • samsung note 2 Just size alone makes it the winner

  • AnTxJeTs

    Half of the features people think are “new” in 6.1, was already in earlier versions of iOS. I swear anything apple says is new people believe it.

    Some including, the lockscreen,homescreen, and the contacts features. The scroll down notification center has been around since the 3GS days via cydia.

  • Agnar Burgess

    The main problem with Android is that it is so flexible that it can sometimes be unstable and also lacks the ‘whole’ experience of iOS.

    Simple example:
    When listening to the audio edition of the economist in iOS, the headphone remote will do everything in the same way as it does for music (single click to play/pause, double to play next, triple to play previous etc. and hold to tell the system that you now want music to play).
    On Android this is impossible so when playing something, the only way to pause is by clicking once (which plays music if Play Music is running or does nothing if it’s not) and clicking again to stop the music. To continue requires unlocking, opening economist app and finding the spot where you left it.
    This annoys the hell out of me.

    • kabhi

      Dude you need to get a good pair of headphones.. It is possible on Android as well; not exactly the iOS way but it does happen. And FYI, its available on every OS out there, Windows, Bada, Tizen, iOS, Symbian…

      • R4

        no, the music widget on iOS is pretty good, i like the notification widgets on android but it doesnt have a toggle to open whenever you want unlike iOS

  • albertow7

    WAW dude!!! nice review, complete!!! Thank u

  • feres13

    i want an iPhone 5 running android and an ipad running iOS

    • R4

      i want an octocore S4 running a jailbroken iOS lol

  • 234t35

    Apple died with Steve Jobs

    • R4

      yeah, iOS really needs an overhaul and OSX hasn’t had a major update

    • HaMxA


  • Yiwei Luo

    lol this is an article?

  • Luis Rodriguez

    I use a mac, and have an i touch. I’d know how easier it’d be to have an iphone 5 but i get bored on iOS fast. I love to customize my S3 and because I’m tall, I have a large hand and the S3 size fits perfect.

    But when it comes to entertainment like music, video, apps, social network iOS is superior. That’s when I mostly use my iPod. Sometimes simpler is better and especially when using a device purely for entertainment purposes.

    When it comes to overall performance Android 4.1 is amazing. I really can’t wait to try out 4.2 on my S3 and 5.0 eventually. Android is only getting better,

    Just wished it made browsing music faster, simpler, better interface, etc. Same with photos and media in general.

  • Tom Mann

    The vote at the bottom seems kinda pointless… This is an Android site after all!

    • kabhi

      Thats the beauty of Android. Everyone is welcome. On an Android site, you are asked to vote which you prefer.. If you are on a site dedicated to iOS/iPhone, there would hardly be any mention of Android; forget asking the readers their opinion. That is what iOS is all about, neglecting the opinion & need of users and forcing their own will on them. You can never get the freedom, ease & features of an Android on iOS. (plus Android comes in all price ranges; its for everyone..Like I said, every one is welcome.)

      • R4

        you clearly havent been to many ios related blogs….

  • Magneira

    Just to throw my 2 cents, the big difference really is that all you can do on ios you can do on Android, but not always the other way around, like widgets on the notification, you can download an app that does that, now in ios you cant change almost anything, thats the beauty of Android in my opinion, not trying to be a fanboy, but just saying why i chose Android.

    Also i hate the fact that apps cant share betwen tthem, to be forced to use safari and to open a link from a email in chrome i have to use workarounds

  • thats all good about the 2,but the iPhone that is supposedly lesser of the 2… probably doesn’t reset cause of bugs like android and ios gets there updates faster when there is a real problem…. seen all that in the last week

  • Im am using both the OS’s for quite sometime now. And Im sure everyone whose used both of them will agree with me: When u require things that you can do with Android Out of the box Android surely is the winner. But when you just want your normal day to day usage things to be done , then what matters the most is the experience or beauty with which iOS does stuff. Hence they both are awesome platforms and truly the right way would be to have an Android Phoen and an iOS tablet.

  • IOS is dead at this point.

  • Guest

    Beautiful article.

  • Dominic Rankin

    Nice choice of music!

  • disqus_epOGoTeFfP

    why would there even be a poll?, this is a android based website

  • tom

    I have a Samsung galaxy note 2 and its my first android phone as I always had iphones . well the iphones is much better in my eyes Samsung has its own issues it has to deal with and there tech support sucks , the iphone is much smoother also

  • Sascha K.

    I prefer the look and feel of Android, especially of stock Android on the Nexus devices. I love that I can make my phone to whatever I want. If I don’t like the keyboard, I can easily download a new one. Same for the custom launcher. That doesn’t mean I think iOS is bad, I actually think some third party apps do look better on iOS. I think smoothness on high end Android devices and iOS is equal nowadays.

  • Just Saying

    I have both… Out of the box Android destroys IOS in almost every way. Once you jailbreak your Iphone is a different story. Nothing beats a jailbroken Iphone.

  • Just Saying

    By the way nice review.

  • R4

    Ill probably get loads of vote downs…

    I had an iPhone 5 and i wanted a change so i got a HTC One. For the first few weeks it was pretty impressive but then came the glitches and low quality… Apps crashed at least 2 or 3 times a day, games lag occasionally and the app qualities were poor compared to the ones from the App Store. When I bought a premium phone I expected it to perform well, but it just doesnt have the quality that Apple does. Yes, Android has more features but frankly most of them are useless to me, i only use a few of them. You can do all the Android features on a jailbroken iPhone and still get good quality performance and apps.

    Google just needs to make their OS stable, raise the standards of apps which are allowed into the Play Store and focus on ease of use.

    • mojandroid

      I bought the HTC One two months ago, and i don’t have apps FC, or lag in games. Best phone ever.

    • mojandroid

      I bought the HTC One two months ago, and i don’t have apps FC, or lag in games. Best phone ever.

    • John Holmes

      Google doesn’t do quality-control on the apps available in the Play Store. That’s the beauty of it – anyone can create and publish an app. It’s up to the users to determine the quality of it and rate it accordingly. Apple is an unfair and stupid with their app quality control, like how they won’t allow any emulators, which are 100% legal and legit. Lots of people love emulators. Emulator devs could make millions of dollars on iOS. Legal ROMs could net some big profits for software companies…if Apple allowed it. Stupid policies like this is why 50% of people HATE Apple. And to think what Apple could have been if they would have done something to fight Android, like release “Pro” version of iPhone/iPad that are unlocked with access to an uncensored, unbias app store. Oh well! Apple can keep the market of young girls & old people (basically those afraid of or bad with technology).

      • R4

        Wow, ive never seen anyone BUYing roms for emulators! They are there primarily for piracy!
        ANDROID EVEN HAS A PIRATEBAY APP!!! I mean, isnt that like encouraging piracy?

        the link you sent me was outdated, heres a more recent one:

        AppStore downloads are faster for me, i think its based on where you live or what time you download it.

        you can get a swype alternative for iOS, and there are alternative keyboards on cydia.

        There is no need to overclock when all the apps would run on your ipad unlike your android.

        And the thing you said about jailbreak tweaks crashing: You probably have a cracked version of it, i have both those and they hardly ever crash. They crash much less than the facebook or tv app on my HTC One.

        I dont see how the display which shows the download speed would help much…