Siri vs Google Now
Both iOS 7 and Android 4.3 offer intelligent assistance provided by Siri and Google Now respectively. The former recognizes commands spoken in every-day language, so you can ask it to set your alarm clock, a reminder, or even send a text message to a specific contact, or get you driving directions. Moreover, Siri can search the web via Bing, look up things on Wikipedia, or check what's trending on Twitter. Don't speak English? No worries! Siri recognizes input in French or German as well.
Google Now is a little bit different. It is also capable of interpreting accurately your voice commands, but in addition, it attempts to provide the user with relevant information exactly when they need it. For example, driving directions will appear if it is the end of the work day. If you just looked up some place on Google Maps, Google Now will show you how to get there when triggered. If you have a plane trip coming, it will provide you with up-to-date details about your flight. And if you're in a different country, Google Now lists places of interest, currency exchange rates, and other useful information.
All in all, both Siri and Google Now are great additions complementing the overall user experience and can come in handy in all kinds of situations.
Both Chrome on Android 4.3 and Safari on iOS 7 are ideal for surfing the web as they are very fast, with support for multiple tabs and incognito browsing. Also, both can synchronize bookmarks and opened tabs between multiple devices, which is pretty cool for people who have to switch frequently between their desktop computer and a smartphone or tablet. We only wish that Chrome had Safari's Reader mode, which cleans all unnecessary content from a web page, leaving only an article's text and some images for easier reading.
There was a time when Apple Maps was ridiculed for its shortcomings, but things have changed since then. The fact of the matter is that Apple's maps application is now more reliable and has all the features one would expect out of a proper app of this kind. It can give you adequate directions depending on whether you're driving, walking, or using public transportation. Locations can be quickly shared with others or bookmarked for future use. Same features can be found on Google Maps as well. While neither solutions will provide you with true offline navigation in a way that Nokia's maps would, both Apple Maps and Google Maps can cache map data in order to navigate you without relying on internet connectivity.
Camera UI and Image Gallery
The stock camera interface on Android 4.3 leaves something to be desired. For people who aren't familiar with its arrangement, the UI can be confusing and frustrating to use. We assume that Google has tried to simplify its use by making all knobs and switches available at a tap's distance, but that's clearly not a solution all users would be comfortable with. The iOS 7 camera interface, on the other hand, is simple and intuitive. Even a newbie can get the hang of it in no time. The newly added filters make the experience even more enjoyable.
The iOS 7 gallery application has grown smarter now and it can sort your images based on the time and location they were taken at. It also lets you edit the image by adding filters, removing red eyes, fine-tuning the color balance, or simply cropping it in a desired proportion. Sharing photos online, be it on Facebook, Twitter, or via Email, is also an option, although a huge drawback here is that sharing via other apps or services – Instagram, Skype, or WhatsApp, for example – is not available, while Android has had this option for ages. The Android 4.3 gallery app can also edit and share images, as well as to sort them by date or location, so we don't think it is any less functional. It would have been cooler, though, if there were more thumbnail sizes available in grid view.
When it comes to multimedia playback, Android 4.3 does not care how you load your music or videos onto the device. The user is free to hook the smartphone or tablet to a computer and just copy and paste their media onto it folder by folder. Of course, one also has the option to purchase songs or movies via Google Play. With iOS 7, however, you don't quite have as much freedom. The iTunes application is what you must install onto your computer and use to transfer music or video onto the iOS device. Not that it's too bad of a solution, especially when doing so helps to keep your music organized, but some might find the limitation annoying.
If we had to pick between the iOS 7 music player app and Play Music on Android 4.3, we'd most likely go with the former. Apple's solution just feels a bit better organized, although Google's music player is definitely not bad either. Both apps allow one to control music playback from the lock screen, which definitely makes things more convenient. Also, they both come with built-in streaming music services – iTunes Radio for Apple's iOS 7 and Play Music All Access for Google's Android, and offer the ability to stream whatever audio the user has stored in the cloud.
To watch videos on Android 4.3 one has to use the Gallery application. Strange, we know, but for some reason, Android in its stock form lacks a dedicated video player. Fortunately, the Gallery gets the job done, although you might want to browse the Play Store for a proper video player in case you watch a lot of video on your smartphone. The iOS 7 video player is okay as well, with a pretty simple UI and support for closed captions.
It is pretty hard, if not impossible, to say whether iOS 7 or Android 4.3 is better. That would be like saying that bananas are better than oranges, or vice versa. The fact of the matter is that both operating systems are pretty well made. And perhaps we won't be wrong if we say that the two are in their best state to date, although we can't be sure whether the new look of iOS will appeal to all long-time fans of the platform. To wrap it all up, those who favor a clean, elegant, intuitive interface (also the people who aren't sure what they want) would likely be perfectly happy with iOS 7 in its latest form. Sure, it might be limited when it comes to customization, but it is well polished and crafted with lots of attention to detail. And let us not forget that iOS excels when it comes to availability of high-quality applications for download. On the other hand, people who are into tweaks and modifications, those who like the feeling of having more control over their smartphone would be better off with Android. It may lack the elegance of iOS, but it is still a full-fledged contemporary operating system loaded with useful features. Moreover, Google's Play Store tends to be richer in free applications, even though their quality sometimes lags behind that of the software made for iOS.