How does iOS8 change things for Android? Is Apple a bigger threat now?

June 6, 2014
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This week Apple announced the biggest update to its software platforms in a long time. With iOS8 and OS X Yosemite, Apple did its best to plug some of the gaping holes in its defense against Android, and then some. Cupertino’s fantasy were in ecstasy when Craig Federighi announced custom keyboards, widgets, and cross-app sharing, but even Android fans had to admit that some of Apple’s announcements were very impressive.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, and we all had time to ponder, how will Android be affected by Apple’s improvements to its platform? Is the new iOS a real threat to Android? What impressed you the most? What do you wish Google had come up with instead of Apple? What annoyed you?

Join us in our Friday Debate, sound off in the comments, and vote in our poll.

Joe Hindy

It has been one touchy subject this week hasn’t it? It’s almost mind boggling how many people have taken personal offense to Tim Cook’s ravings on stage and it’s even more boggling as to how many people have taken personal offense to the improvements that iOS has made.

Nevertheless, there are some things about the announcement that I downright envy. The last couple of updates to Android have been very under the hood in nature. A lot of security enhancements and business-oriented things like cloud printing. Meanwhile, Apple is getting new consumer-level features that do actually look appetizing.

The feature that stuck out the most to me is the integration between OSX and iOS. The operating systems have the capacity to operate with or around one another on a level we’ve never seen between a desktop OS and a mobile OS. The ability to interact on that level and have it be a native feature instead of the result of a number of third party add ons or plugins is very attractive to me.

This stems from being a root user and a Windows user. Installing drivers is tedious and it doesn’t always work the first time which requires troubleshooting. Getting ADB drivers to work is an exercise in patience.

To put it bluntly, Android integration with desktop operating systems is terrible. Sure there’s HTC Sync or Samsung Kies, but those are like putting band-aids on a gunshot wound. It’s simply covering up the problem, not solving it.

Even though iTunes itself is a bloated piece of trash, the concept it represents is something I’ve always very much wanted on Android. I want to buy music on Google Music and download it. I would love a desktop application that allows me to manage my Google services outside of a browser. I would absolutely enjoy plugging in my Android phone to my Windows PC and have an elegant interface to manage it, my goodies. It would be even better if I could connect my phone to this interface and answer texts, emails, and phone calls using my computer.

The integration and evolution of computer-to-mobile is something Apple absolutely owns and truth be told, when I heard about the OS-level integration that lets you do even more with your iPhone and your laptop/desktop, I was quite jealous that I don’t have anything even close to that on Android.

Oh and Tim Cook can’t count apparently. That was kind of annoying. Otherwise, good for Apple. They’re catching up and they’re introducing features that catch them up to Android and with stuff like the OS integration, actually adding features that Google doesn’t have. Bravo, I hope Google responds at least a little bit.

Oh and the 4.7″ and 5.5″ iPhones. That’s going to be interesting.

Robert Triggs

There’s nothing about iOS8 that could possibly annoy me in the way that it seems to have riled up some people. Competition over software is a great thing for consumers, as hopefully it will encourage Google and the Android OEMs to up their game once more.

However, Apple’s continual condescending attitude towards Android is hard not to find contemptible. Especially when Cook tries to talk about emerging markets like China and spews utter nonsense about malware or innovation. His comments have shown him up to be a corporate stooge rather than a visionary, I can’t take him seriously after that performance.

Looking past the cringe worthy presentation, which too many companies are guilty of these days, and the painful Dre cameo, iOS8 seems like a well-rounded update which finally brings iOS in line with many existing Android features, and actually makes one or two improvements over Android. The closer integration between OSX and iOS is probably my favourite touch. Then again, I’ve been using AirDroid for the past few years to do virtually the same thing. I don’t care for gimmicks like Samsung’s SHealth, so Apple’s HealthKit is equally lost on me.

On a more positive note, HomeKit sounds a little more forward thinking, embracing smarter homes is a great idea. Although, if Apple locks compatible hardware behind its own proprietary systems, as it usually does, then I won’t be interested.

Overall, iOS8 is a big meh from me. There’s nothing revolutionary in there, but it’s sure to keep Apple users happy and Google on its toes.

Gary Sims

As I don my flame proof suit and start typing, I am wondering if there is any way I can write about iOS 8 without using phrases like “Apple is touting old ideas as new features” or “It only took 8 major version releases for iOS to get predictive typing.” I will try my very best…

But let’s start with what is good about iOS 8. We must recognize that iOS is used by millions of people on a daily basis. Anything that Apple does to improve their daily smartphone and tablet experience is a good thing. And iOS 8 will certainly do that.

There are a couple of features which actually look quite good. If Apple manages to implement the new continuity features and make them usable, then that could be quite cool. Also the quick access to key people feature is nice. Having a list of favorite or starred people isn’t new, but putting it in such a prominent place in the UI is neat.

That was the good points… I often ask myself, has Apple lost its mojo? Steve has gone, Tim Cook is just businessman. He is an excellent CEO in terms of his business acumen, but he ain’t Steve. Is Sir Jonathan Ives going to fill the gap? I just don’t know.

But one thing is for sure, when I watched the iOS 8 presentation I was left with the dreadful feeling that Apple just doesn’t have “it” any more. I mean just look at these so called new features: Interactive notifications, yes I have had those on Android for a long time. Predictive typing (or QuickType in Apple speak), again Android had that a looooonnnnngggg time ago. iCloud and iOS 8 photos with “Smart Editing”, I am not even going to comment.

I don’t have a problem with Apple adding these things to iOS 8, it should. Photos, Cloud Storage, Interactive Widgets, Predictive typing, these are all things that have been available for a long time on other platforms including Android, Linux and Windows. And not just from Google, but from a whole range of different suppliers.

Where I have a problem is that Apple makes such a big thing about it. They should just quietly add these features and then go on to announce the new stuff, the innovations, the stuff that will push Apple forward.

For example, at one point Craig Federighi was talking about the iPad’s email app. Up pops a photo of Sir Jony Ive, sporting Craig’s hair! “This would be a good time to demonstrate the quick delete feature,” says Craig. Just swipe the message across and it is deleted. Wow! Where did they get that idea from? True innovation! But the photo of Ive was funny, I must admit!

Here is a direct quote from Apple’s iOS 8 preview site: “What makes iOS 8 the world’s most advanced mobile operating system? It’s the details. The innovations. The complete experience.” Who writes this stuff? Apple adds Dropbox/Google Drive/OneDrive/Copy.com to iOS, and then tweaks its messaging app to act like Whatsapp and the company has the cheek to say, “It’s the details. The innovations.”

What is even more worrying is that Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 6 later this year. If all Apple can do is copy what is already out there then I dread to think what the iPhone 6 will be. It can see it now. “The iPhone changed the smartphone and now we have gone one step further, now it has a big screen.”

Having said all of that, there is one area where Apple continues to be head and shoulders above the rest – its marketing. Only Apple could add old ideas to a new release of iOS and call it innovation. Brilliant marketing.

Bogdan Petrovan

Apple just took a huge leap forward in my opinion, and with the larger phones that are reportedly coming this year, it will really give Android a run for its money.

I don’t care much about who stole what and who was first. Truth is Android owes a lot to iOS, even if it’s been on its own way for the past couple of years, and I don’t see a problem in Apple borrowing features for its own use, from Google and from developers in the Android ecosystem. I am however annoyed Apple’s insistence to dis Android (and other rivals) on stage, which is hypocritical, dishonest, and sometimes downright silly. Plus, it really makes them look insecure.

Back to the features, I would focus more on the new stuff that Apple added to its platform, then on custom keyboards and sharing between apps, which are just ways for iOS to catch up with Android. The continuity stuff and the voice calling from Macs looks super interesting, and features like these will go a long way cementing Apple’s ability to lock users into its ecosystem.

Is Android in danger? Not really, but I do see Apple gaining some ground in the future in market share, especially in North America.

But Android is still the stronger, more feature rich platform in my opinion, and with Google I/O coming in two weeks, I think it’s only going to get better soon. The cross-platform multitasking (Project Hera) could be Google’s alternative to Apple’s continuity, and besides that, I think Android Wear will really make the Android ecosystem more powerful and more attractive. Not to mention Google’s ever growing lead in cloud services, which is Apple’s biggest weakness in my opinion.

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