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Android L vs iOS 8: first look

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Android L vs iOS 8: first look

One of the most fascinating rivalries in modern history is that between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. Both men are known for inventing a multitude of products and for pioneering new technologies, many of which are still in use to this day. The opinions of Tesla and Edison on certain matters, however, differed drastically, which resulted in a decade-long "war" between the two innovators.

Today, over a century later, we have the rivalry between Google's Android and Apple's iOS. Much like the aforementioned inventors, the two platforms fueled a revolution. iOS played a key role in defining what a modern smartphone OS should look and act like, while Android won the hearts of many with its openness and brought the smartphone experience to a broad array of price points. But at the same time, Android and iOS are different on so many levels that opinions on which one's better can be highly polarized – those who favor one despise the other, and vice versa. 

The releases of iOS 8 and Android L in the fall isn't likely to change anything, and the iOS vs Android flame wars will surely go on. This, however, won't stop us from comparing the two platforms side by side and from commenting on their traits and peculiarities. To do that, we have the iOS 8 beta running on our iPhone 5s and the Android L preview release installed on our Nexus 5

Lock and home screens


Our first stop is the Android L lock screen, which has undergone some notable changes. First and foremost, notifications are now displayed at a glance, right in the middle of the screen, as opposed to before, when we had to pull down the notification panel in order to read them. That's a welcome feature, albeit seemingly inspired from the way iOS handles lock screen notifications. On Android L, tapping twice on a notification launches the respective app and a swipe to the side dismisses it. On iOS 8, a swipe can be used to reply to an email or mark it as read. Both solutions work just fine.

Some might like that a notification causes the screen of an iOS device to light up for several seconds, thus letting the user read it instantly. This won't happen on Android L, but instead, a phone or tablet's RGB notification light will go off, if available. 

The Android L lock screen has one thing that iOS lacks – a shortcut to the Phone application. This lets the user dial a contact's number in as little steps as possible. What's present on both platforms' lock screens, however, is a camera shortcut. 

Now would be a good time to mention that in Android L, support for lock screen widgets has been abandoned. We're kind of left with mixed feelings about this as there were some great ones out there. But on the other hand, lock screen widgets weren't very intuitive to set up and use. Perhaps Google wanted to reduce the lock screen clutter, or to simply free up room for the new Phone shortcut. Ironically, iOS 8 will support third-party widgets in the notification panel, and these will be accessible from the lock screen by pulling the said panel down.

Once on the Android L home screen, we see that everything is as it was in KitKat, pretty much. We got our screens for app shortcuts, folders, and widgets, our app drawer, and Google Now is at a swipe's distance. The iOS 8 home screen hasn't changed either and is as minimalist and intuitive to navigate as before. As they say, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. Naturally, Android L will appeal to those who enjoy personalizing their device, while iOS 8's personalization features are limited for simplicity's sake.

Notification panel, quick controls, multitasking


The overhauled notification panel is one of the significant improvements brought by Android L. We love how important notifications are now pushed up to the top of the list, while non-important ones are pushed down – email alerts appear at the top, for example, while app installation notifications are given low priority. Apple's approach to notifications in iOS 8 is a bit different. Pulling down the panel from the top displays the Today tab, which lists the user's daily schedule and the weather forecast, whatever widgets have been activated, and other bits of information. Notifications are in their separate tab, grouped by application, and the order in which these are listed can be changed from the settings menu.

Android L includes a redesigned Quick Controls menu, which is placed in the pull-down panel, as before. However, Google has chosen to abandon the two-finger swipe-down gesture for accessing the controls easily, which is odd. Anyway, the new panel is not only better looking. It is more functional with the added display brightness slider and, finally, a toggle for locking the screen's orientation. The iOS Control Center is no less awesome. Accessible from any screen, it lets us easily set the screen brightness, toggle Wi-Fi on or off, control music playback, and more. On the downside, one has to be careful not to pull it up by accident, while scrolling down a web page, for example.

With Android L comes a redesigned interface for our recent apps. On one hand, it definitely looks better than before as it now presents recent apps as a stack of cards, not sorted in a boring column as before. But on the other hand, switching to a particular recent app can be a bit cumbersome as no more than 3 cards can be displayed at a time, meaning that we're required to do more scrolling than usual. The recent apps list in iOS 8 is a great one and we like it better. It is simple, yet functional, with apps listed chronologically along with their respective icons on a separate row. What's more, the menu contains a list of our most frequently used contacts, which can be extremely handy.

Keyboard, Dialer, Contacts


The redesigned keyboard included with Android L (and available as a stand-alone app, by the way) is fast and accurate. Visually, it meets the principles set by Google's newly introduced Material Design. Yet from a functional perspective, the L keyboard doesn't seem to be much different from the stock Android keyboard that we know already. As before, it supports word prediction, auto-correct, and gesture typing à la Swype. Emoticons are also present. With iOS 8, Apple is adding intelligent word predictions to its stock keyboard. These follow an algorithm that takes into account the conversation's context and learns from it to provide better predictions. But in case for some reason you aren't happy with Apple's solution, third-party keyboards for iOS 8 are coming with the platform's release.

The Phone app in Android L has a fresh new design, and it looks like things have changed for the better. Starred contacts are organized in a more compact list, and their placement closer to the screen's bottom edge makes them easier to reach with a single thumb. The contact dialed last and the search bar are on top. As before, searching from the Phone app yields not only results from our contacts, but from nearby businesses, restaurants, and hotels as well. This works the other way around, and if you're getting a call from a business that's in Google's directory, their name will be displayed on your screen. Neat! The iOS 8 Phone application hasn't really changed much from before. It is still the minimalist, black-and-white list of contacts, favorites, and recently contacted numbers. Sure, it gets the job done, but lacks in character. Yet points go to Apple for enabling us to block calls and texts from certain contacts in iOS.

Contacts in iOS 8 are displayed in a single alphabetical list. Perhaps it would have been nicer if a picture was shown next to their name, but our guess is that Apple didn't want to include the option as many of those contacts would't have one assigned anyway. Profile pictures are displayed for contacts on the Favorites list, however. On Android, the contacts list has been made more compact, with smaller profile pictures and less empty space between names. 

Search, voice commands


Android 4.4 made it possible to initiate hands-free searches and commands with the "OK, Google" voice trigger, which worked from any home screen. Now, thanks to an update for Google's Search app, we're able to use the same voice command to search from any screen, even from the lock screen. Actually, this update should land on Android phones before Android L is out, and those who don't want the "OK, Google" command to be on at all times are free to turn it off. Similarly, Siri in iOS 8 has gained the ability to listen for voice triggers. "Hey, Siri" is the command she (or he) responds to, but there's a catch. You see, the hands-free commands in iOS 8 work only when the device is plugged into a power source. Otherwise, "Hey, Siri" won't do anything unless the Siri interface is open on the iPhone or iPad. The next iPhone iteration might enable the trigger to work at any time, but that's just a guess.

But our guess is that you'll be typing in whatever it is you're searching for most of the time. On Android L, the Google search bar is placed permanently on the top of any home screen, just like before. While it does occupy precious screen space, it lets us search the internet, find a contact, or search for an app installed on the device. Spotlight search in iOS 8, which is accessible with a swipe down gesture in the middle of any home screen, is no less versatile. In fact, it can be used to search the internet, the user's inbox, contacts, installed apps list, and will also display results from news outlets, from Wikipedia, and the iTunes store.

Cameras, photo gallery


Android L uses Google Camera as its default camera application. Yup, the same app that you can download from the Play Store. Overall, it is a great app that shines with its ease of use. Photography buffs won't find manual exposure, ISO, and shutter speed controls, but ordinary folks should be satisfied with the built-in camera modes. These include Lens Blur, Photo Sphere, HDR, and Panorama. You can read our Google Camera review for more details. On iOS 8 we find a camera application that also has a few tricks up its sleeve. iOS users now have the option to shoot time-lapse videos and the freedom to control focus and exposure independently. Plus, a self timer has been included. Compared to Google Camera, the iOS 8 application is about as easy to get the hang of.

Photos in Android L are viewed from the Photos application. They are organized in two separate tabs – one containing all images and another labeled "Highlights". As the name implies, the latter organizes select images in albums and arranges them by date. The Photos application can automatically back up your photo library so that your photos are never lost. As for its editing tools, there's a lot at our disposal – from basic Crop and Rotate to image filters, frames, and effects. Best of all, you don't need any image editing skills in order to use the app's tools effectively. When it comes to features, the Photos app in iOS 8 has almost as much to offer. Images can be easily sorted by time and date taken for easier management and backed up to the cloud for safe storing. We don't get quite as many image editing options as we do with Android's Photos app, but whatever iOS 8 offers is simple and intuitive to use.

Expectations


Android L and iOS 8 – coming this fall

Android L and iOS 8 – coming this fall

We can't draw any final conclusions as to which is better overall, Android L or iOS 8, as the two platforms are still in beta. Both will surely undergo further tweaking and improvements before they're launched later this year. But even if they were in their final state, we would have probably ranked them at the same level. Either way, we're mostly pleased with what we have seen so far and that both updates are worth being excited about.  

Android L brings along more than just a visual redesign. We really dig the new Quick Controls menu, the improved Phone app and how notifications are now being sorted by priority. Also, it is nice to see that Android has learned a few tricks from iOS, and the way lock screen notifications are handled is a good example of that. Similarly, iOS has assimilated some ideas from Android, such as the options for having third-party widgets and on-screen keyboards – nothing wrong with that, if you ask us. 

So all in all, both OS releases are expected to be of huge benefit to users with all the features and improvements that they'll bring. Whichever camp's side you're on, with Android L or iOS 8, you'll have even more reasons to stick with your platform of choice.


98 Comments
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posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:19

1. jaytai0106 (Posts: 1200; Member since: 30 Mar 2011)


I wonder when the two companies will merge together.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:27 11

4. Iodine (Posts: 166; Member since: 19 Jun 2014)


They were wery good partners.... Until google ripped them off with android.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:07 44

13. T.Law (Posts: 125; Member since: 10 May 2014)


*until Android surpassed iOS both in terms of functionality and market share.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 17:35 2

66. NinjaBanana (Posts: 24; Member since: 20 Apr 2014)


Definitely not functionality...

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 21:57 5

67. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Android has been better than iOS with functionality since the Android Donut days....

posted on 04 Jul 2014, 19:42

86. NinjaBanana (Posts: 24; Member since: 20 Apr 2014)


Apple, the company of simplicity. Beats Android by far in terms of all that.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:52 18

21. Nexus4lifes (Posts: 61; Member since: 13 Feb 2014)


or Until apple's growth was dented by google with an overall superior and more functional OS...

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:57 3

23. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Grow up buddy :)

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:59 16

25. boosook (Posts: 914; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


Until Google allowed people who couldn't afford to spend seven hundred euros to own a smartphone as well.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:45

41. kabhijeet.16 (Posts: 628; Member since: 05 Dec 2012)


Agree

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:09 1

33. Liveitup (Posts: 914; Member since: 07 Jan 2014)


PH needs video reviews of devices. Id like to see a comparison of the top four operating systems.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 14:30 1

61. akki20892 (Posts: 3276; Member since: 04 Feb 2013)


RIP resolutions of nexus 5 below Expectations title.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:22 11

2. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


I kinda want to use Windows or BlackBerry now.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:43 6

17. blackberry_Boy (Posts: 104; Member since: 27 May 2014)


Both windows and blackberry are two great dependable platforms just struggles on apps if your a person who loves productive apps and smooth none buggy UI either one is great I've been a blackberry fan for years and now wishing I still had my Z10 becaue I don't even use the raw power of my note 3 I have now I just use one screen of apps and all of them of day to day productivity apps.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:50 4

19. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Yeah. Android has tons of features but now that I've had the Z2 for a while I realised that I don't really need all of them. I mean I have a PC for real feature rich use. It's not even convenient to use a smartphone for all the work.

I love android though but I just wish I could use an other OS on my Z2. Maybe the Jolla launcher will change things a bit. But I think WP would look great on Sonys hardware

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:58 4

24. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


So you are just a Sony fanboy. Doubts cleared.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:04 2

28. Jinto (Posts: 309; Member since: 15 Jan 2014)


You know what would be great, a Sony WP flagship or a real Nokia android flagship

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:10 1

34. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Lol. They should switch places :)

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:11

35. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Umm. Jeez where did that come from? A short explanation would be useful here...

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 12:34

48. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7450; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Your love for Sony is probably the most potent of all users on this site.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 13:04 1

54. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


That might be true. But I think it's more like love for Japan and since Sony is kinda the best international Japanese tech company, it become my favourite. Still not a blind fanboy though.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 13:20

55. PapaSmurf (Posts: 7450; Member since: 14 May 2012)


Your comments on this article proves otherwise, especially the one I called you out on.

http://www.phonearena.com/reviews/Camera-comparison-LG-G3-vs-Samsung-Galaxy-S5-Galaxy-Note-3-iPhone-5s-LG-G2-Sony-Xperia-Z2-HTC-One-M8_id3728

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 13:39 2

56. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


You mean #116?

Yes in that I express how I love Sony. If it gives the idea that I'm a blind fanboy who accepts anything from Sony and hates everything else, then I wrote it in a wrong way. I mean I accept Sony's flaws. They're not that good in marketing. They're not the best in software development. And I agree that in the previous decade even their hardware quality wasn't on the level it was originally or is now. But overall I have so much good experience of their products and love the design that I can't but love them.

But Sony is not the only one I like. I would probably get a Sharp TV if I was buying a new one now. And in phones HTC M8 is very tempting too, but the low res camera and not being waterproof are major things for me. In consoles I actually prefer Nintendo to Sony.

And TBH if I lived in Japan, I probably wouldn't have much Sony products. There are so many other stuff you can't get anywhere else.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 14:03 2

59. mistertimi (Posts: 72; Member since: 28 May 2014)


You're both sad f*cks. ArtSim might love Sony, but his original comment was a pretty fair comment, he likes their hardware, but I guess that's only acceptable to say if the M8 is being talked about right? And papsmurf stop constantly arguing with him, why does the fact he likes Sony so much annoy you lol? How old are you?

You gotta love PhoneArena, it's a bunch of 15-25yr olds who get so annoyed that someone a thousand miles away has a different favourite manufacturer. So sad.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 14:26 2

60. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


I like that first sentence. Saying things straight :)

posted on 3 days ago, 11:18

101. sgodsell (Posts: 908; Member since: 16 Mar 2013)


If you like WP so much, and I know you do. Then just install a WP launcher. This way you have the best of both worlds. Android with its vast ecosystem and the look and feel of WP. The power of Android.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:25 2

3. ihavenoname (Posts: 1281; Member since: 18 Aug 2013)


I like both, but prefer Android L.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:34 28

5. Antimio (Posts: 129; Member since: 11 Nov 2013)


"Yet points go to Apple for enabling us to block calls and texts from certain contacts in iOS."
Sorry to correct you guys but Android also offers that option under the contact list. Please make sure what you're writing

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:50 14

10. Vexify (Posts: 194; Member since: 16 Jun 2014)


Exactly. Uneducated author. Also read my post below where he missed something.

posted on 02 Jul 2014, 06:39 4

76. Nick_T (Posts: 141; Member since: 27 May 2011)


Hi there and thanks for commenting. Note that the preview is based on stock Android, which lacks the option. Custom interfaces like Samsung's TouchWiz have blocking options out of the box.

posted on 02 Jul 2014, 07:46

79. Vexify (Posts: 194; Member since: 16 Jun 2014)


Sorry for putting you in the fire like that. Thanks for the clearification.

posted on 02 Jul 2014, 08:24 2

81. Nick_T (Posts: 141; Member since: 27 May 2011)


Not a biggie. We're kind of used to it :)

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:38 5

6. Quezdagreat (Posts: 413; Member since: 05 Apr 2012)


wow look at that lockscreen. huge ripoff of ios 7

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:44 12

8. hafini_27 (Posts: 234; Member since: 31 Oct 2013)


We can discuss all day how both OSs "ripoff" each other. Upcoming iOS8 or android L. Users benefit the most from that. Get over it, choose a side or use both, seriously.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 12:48 5

53. darkkjedii (Posts: 10138; Member since: 05 Feb 2011)


I use both, I love both. +1

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:08 15

14. T.Law (Posts: 125; Member since: 10 May 2014)


which, itself, is a ripoff of Android 4+ lockscreen.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:00 1

26. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Ouch! That must have hurt, LOL.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:50

20. adecvat (Posts: 117; Member since: 15 Nov 2013)


Font is totally copied

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:02 5

27. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Meh, Roboto has been used in Android since ICS(2011). So shall we say iOS 7 copied fonts from Android 4.0 :)

posted on 02 Jul 2014, 07:08

78. illusionmist (Posts: 91; Member since: 29 Jan 2013)


Wow. Are you seriously saying that Helvetica Neue copied Roboto? Please stop embarrassing yourself.

posted on 03 Jul 2014, 01:28

82. pulkit1 (Posts: 80; Member since: 03 Jul 2014)


but roborto has changed on android 5.0. i think both os's have copied each other but iOS takes a lot of heat because they used to sue everyone else .

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 22:00

68. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)


Wow...look at many of the features of iOS 6, 7 and 8.....huge ripoff of Android and others.

We can go back n forth like this all day....

As was said, choose a side or both and get over it.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:40 4

7. hafini_27 (Posts: 234; Member since: 31 Oct 2013)


Both are beautiful in their own ways. I prefer the card based ui of android L though. IOS 7 overused the blur effect

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:04

29. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Does anybody have an idea how to blur or give a frozen glass effect to any image/wallpaper? Thanks in advance.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:18

37. ArtSim98 (Posts: 2274; Member since: 21 Dec 2012)


Go to the image editor and apply some blur maybe?

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 12:19

44. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


No I've tried it, not quite the glass effect....

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:20 2

39. hafini_27 (Posts: 234; Member since: 31 Oct 2013)


There is an app called Blur. Search for it

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 12:23 2

46. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Hearty Thanks! Got it.
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.inglesdivino.blurimage

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:49 1

9. Vexify (Posts: 194; Member since: 16 Jun 2014)


Nick T:

In iOS 7 (and 8), you choose which notifications are important to be shown in notification center by rearranging in settings. Not everyone feels certain things are as important or superiorly important to others, i.e Email, fb, etc. You missed that or didnt know about that, but just pointing it out.

posted on 02 Jul 2014, 06:42 1

77. Nick_T (Posts: 141; Member since: 27 May 2011)


Thanks for your comment. I have mentioned that iOS lets you change the order in which notifications are listed. It is just that Android L now does that automatically for you and it works pretty well.

posted on 02 Jul 2014, 07:48

80. Vexify (Posts: 194; Member since: 16 Jun 2014)


Thank you for the clarification. I really liked the article overall.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:51

11. karamelakimo (Posts: 45; Member since: 26 May 2014)


both are great really
but in my opinion in case of a mobile i prefer android cuz of easy file transfer and file manager
and also personalization options
and in case of tablet i prefer ios on ipad , it's way better with apps optimized for it and huge n of apps also
i love the idea to have the best of both systems ;)

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 09:53 1

12. Commentator (Posts: 2296; Member since: 16 Aug 2011)


I can't speak for iOS8, but I've been using the Android 5 Preview for about a day now. While the changes from 4.4 are pretty much limited to the keyboard, settings menu, multitasking UI, nav keys, and lock screen (oh, and the calculator app) I'm not sure I like Material Design any more than I liked Holo. For all Matias Duarte's talk about how great intuitive it is, I can't help but feel they did this just... because.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:06

31. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 2716; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


Same here, I like HOLO more than Material design. :)

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 12:20 1

45. Berzerk000 (Posts: 3884; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)


I don't think they made Material design for improved functionality. They're pushing for consistency and ease of development across all Google platforms, while also making animations for a more seamless experience. Granted they probably could have achieved that while still keeping Holo, but I think the consumers convinced them to give Android a new design this year. Many people (including myself) were saying they were tired of 0.x updates with generally the same look and feel as the previous update. ICS and on has been great, but I don't want Android 4.x to become the next iOS 1-6. I'm glad Google made a new design this year.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:39 4

15. iampayne (Posts: 215; Member since: 12 Aug 2013)


I have to say this is the most civil Ive seen a comment thread when its come to Android and iOS. EVER... Lets keep up the positive route.

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:06 2

30. Jinto (Posts: 309; Member since: 15 Jan 2014)


Apple iGirls are amazed by Android L, they are too stunned to talk

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 11:27 1

40. bucky (Posts: 1299; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)


always a noob in the crowd

posted on 01 Jul 2014, 10:42 2

16. ahhxd717 (Posts: 317; Member since: 08 Dec 2011)


iOS 8 seems to have caught up with features, maybe not all of them, but the ones that matter to me most. I still prefer android, though I haven't tried Android L yet; however, iOS is seeming to make good improvements. I wonder how custom skins will look on the new Android L... Excited for the new iterations of all major mobile platforms honestly

posted on 03 Jul 2014, 01:31

83. pulkit1 (Posts: 80; Member since: 03 Jul 2014)


it is great to see that iOS is becoming a little bit more open .

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