Android 5.0 Lollipop vs iOS 8.1: the best, compared

Among the multitude of things that can get a geek genuinely excited are the major updates for his or her gadgets. First comes the hype surrounding the software's announcement, then there's the excitement of exploring its new features, and after that arrives the enjoyment of actually using the features brought by the update. This is what iOS and Android users have been or are about to go through. Apple launched its iOS 8.1 update last week, and Google is about to release Android 5.0 Lollipop in a matter of days. Both software releases have been enjoying a lot of attention, and they're worthy of it given what they have to offer. This calls for a comparison between the latest and greatest Google and Apple have come up with. 

Before we dive into our comparison, however, there's something we have to clarify. As far as the Android part of this article goes, our impressions are based on the stock Android 5.0 Lollipop experience – the experience delivered by Google's own Nexus and Google Play edition smartphones and tablets. That's important to note as the majority of Android users won't get to enjoy Google's platform in its pure form, the reason for that being the custom interfaces pre-loaded on a huge fraction of brand-name smartphones. These custom UIs are likely to adopt Lollipop's numerous improvements, but will differ from what Google uses as a reference as to what the software on an Android device should look and feel like. With this out of the way, let's go over the platforms' key features and their execution.

Lock and home screens

We interact with our smartphones' lock screens more often than we think, and it isn't always for the purpose of unlocking our phones. They give us the time, they list our missed calls and unread messages, they let us access certain apps in an instant. The Android 5.0 lock screen, in particular, strikes a good balance between functionality and ease of use. It hosts a large, easy-to-read clock in the middle and shortcuts to the Phone and Camera applications in the lower left and right corners respectively. These shortcuts are triggered with an inward swipe from the respective screen edge, which makes them convenient to use. But most importantly, Lollipop puts your pending notifications in the middle of the lock screen for quick and easy access – kind of like what iOS has been doing for some time. Double-tapping on a notification launches the respective app, a swipe down expands it (to show the first few lines of an email, for example), and a swipe to the side dismisses it. On the downside, lock screen widgets are no longer supported in this new Android version, but we don't think these will be sorely missed.

The iOS 8.1 lock screen shares a lot of similarities with the Lollipop one, both in terms of functionality and presentation, and we like it just as much. As in Android, a camera shortcut is present in the lower right-hand corner, and we find it rather easy to trigger with a thumb – just swipe up to launch the camera app. The chance of accidentally pulling up the Command Center panel, which it is activated with a similar gesture – a swipe up from the middle of the screen – is minimal to non-existent. Notifications are presented in the middle of the screen, and interacting with them is smooth and intuitive. Swiping to the side gives you various options for interaction, depending on the type of notification pending. With new texts, for example, you're given the option to send a quick reply, which is neat. Some might like that a notification causes the screen of an iOS 8 device to light up for several seconds, thus letting the user read it instantly. This won't happen on Android 5.0, but instead, a notification LED light will go off, if available. 

Once past the Android 5.0 lock screen, we're taken to the platform's home screen, and anyone who has ever used an Android phone would be feeling right at home at this point. We have multiple screens for app shortcuts, folders, and widgets, our app drawer, and Google Now is at a swipe's distance. Some things have changed, however. The UI has been given the Material Design overhaul we expected, characterized with flat and minimalist presentation, smooth animations and elegant transition effects. As a result, Google's designers have given Android the personality that was mostly lacking in previous releases. The platform feels familiar, yet fresh. It is engaging, but does not distract you from whatever it is that you're doing. And no less importantly, it is consistent in its visual presentation. You'll have a hard time finding a menu or screen that feels out of place (although the UIs of some apps are still waiting for an update).

The iOS 8 home screen can be described as minimalist and intuitive to navigate. Unlike Android, it lacks a separate drawer for all our apps, which minimizes redundancy and the chances of user confusion. The parallax effect applied to the wallpaper brings the interface to life and the translucency effects seen with certain UI elements and screens look pretty cool indeed. Yet overall, the interface has stuck to this colorful, childish look that iOS 7 introduced. While we've long grown used to iOS's visual presentation, we still find it somewhat uninspiring, especially compared to Android 5.0 and its Material Design philosophy. 

Widgets and customization

For the longest time, widgets have been an Android enthusiast's trump card in a flame war against the iOS fan base. And for a good reason – they let an Android user make the most of their home screen real estate. With iOS 8, however, iPhone and iPad users can enjoy third-party widgets as well. In fact, they're better in a way – iOS widgets are placed in the pull-down panel, which makes them accessible at any time, from any screen. On the downside, the selection of iOS widgets is limited at this time compared to Android's rich widget arsenal. 

Speaking of personalization, Lollipop is as flexible as we'd expect it to be. Launchers, icon packs, custom lock screens, beautiful live wallpapers, and other goodies are at your disposal for tweaking the platform's interface to your liking. In this respect, iOS 8.1 is still a bit limited, allowing us little beyond the options to rearrange items on our home screens and to change the wallpaper with a static or a dynamic one. There's a positive side to this limiting approach, however. There's less that can go wrong, while the stricter control over modifications retains the simplicity and consistency of the platform. 

As we mentioned, both operating systems let us group apps in folders. But for some reason Android allows us to have no more than 16 apps per folder, while iOS folders are virtually unlimited. It's not a biggie, but it scores a point for iOS 8.1 in our book. 

Notification panel, quick controls, multitasking

The overhauled notification panel is one of the significant improvements brought by Android 5.0 Lollipop. 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, yet no less effective. Notification bubbles appear on the icons of apps that have unread notifications, and that's a neat trick Android might want to learn from iOS one day. In addition, pulling down the panel from the top displays the Today tab, which lists whatever widgets are enabled – our daily schedule, our reminders, the weather forecast, to give a few examples. Notifications are in their own separate tab, grouped by application, and the priority by which these are listed can be changed from the settings menu.

Speaking of notifications, both platform support the so-called actionable notifications. These give you various options for interaction when they pop up – to dismiss a reminder or to shoot a quick answer to a text message, for example. Android 5.0, however, takes a better approach to incoming call notifications. Instead of occupying your entire screen, thus hiding your active app as iOS does, Lollipop displays a pop-up window with "Answer" and "Ignore" buttons at the top of the screen without sending your active app to the background.

Android 5.0 includes a redesigned Quick Controls menu, which is placed in the pull-down panel. The menu is highly functional with its toggle buttons, which also include a display brightness slider and, finally, a flashlight shortcut and toggle for locking the screen's orientation. As before, you can get straight to your quick controls with a two-finger swipe-down gesture. 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 up a web page, for example.

With Lollipop 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 with large snapshots of the app's recent state, not sorted in a boring column of tiny thumbnails as before. But on the other hand, switching to a particular recent app can be a bit cumbersome of a process. No more than 3 cards can fit properly on the screen, meaning that we're required to do more scrolling than usual. The recent apps list in iOS 8 is the better solution, in our opinion – it is simple, yet functional. Apps listed chronologically along with their respective icons on a separate row below, while a list of our recent and favorite contacts is placed at the top. The latter is a unique feature and can be extremely handy.

Dialer and phonebook

The Phone app in Android 5.0 Lollipop isn't just good. It is one of our favorites, and it wins our hearts with more than just its fresh design. When launched, it opens up a compact list containing our starred contacts – the contacts we're most likely to want to reach. Above them are conveniently placed the number dialed last and the search bar, which yields not only results from our contacts, but from nearby businesses, restaurants, and hotels as well. This works the other way around, too – if we're getting a call from a business that's in Google's directory, their name will be displayed on our screen. Neat! A simple swipe to the side takes us to our recent calls and a second swipe lists our phonebook. We like how the contacts list expands as we scroll down and how a profile photo or initials are displayed next to each name. 

In comparison, the iOS 8.1 Phone app is simple to the point of being boring. It gets the job done, there's no denying that, but it lacks character. All you get is a simple black-and-white list with your contacts, and a profile photo is displayed only if the person is in your contacts list. On the bright side of things, the fact that our favorites and recent contacts are conveniently placed in the recent apps screen means we don't have to access iOS's Phone app as often. Also, thumbs up go to Apple for letting us block calls and texts from certain contacts. Android 5.0 lets us only block texts from a particular number. 



1. Micah007

Posts: 266; Member since: Oct 09, 2014

Let them fight.

7. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013


12. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2279; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Android is the world's most advanced mobile OS as mentioned before. Nothing comes close. WP is the only mobile OS that can heat up Android but the rate that WP is, Android's chilling in the park.

18. technosiastic

Posts: 33; Member since: Sep 18, 2014

Xperia fan. Can u please elaborate that what is new in lollipop. Ios is still superior in terms of speed, design, gaming, surfing web.

20. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2279; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Speed (browser) is negligible. Some YouTube videos show different results for speed. As for gaming, they look better on bigger screens. Design of Android can be changed (to me, iOS looks like a finalised kid's colouring book. That's just to me).

83. technosiastic

Posts: 33; Member since: Sep 18, 2014

As for gaming looks better on bogger screen ? Fyi iphone 6 & 6+ has bigger screen Ios looks like a finalised kids colouring book? Fyi. Lollipop copied the lock screen design from colouring book. Lollipop has nothing new all these thing that they are offering are already there. They just add some animation and changed the icons. Tell me a single ground breaking thing that they have introduce thus year..

94. pulkit1

Posts: 354; Member since: Jul 03, 2014

lol do a little research before posting . with lollipop google has introduced 5000 new api and not to mention ART .

114. curbthepain

Posts: 1; Member since: Nov 06, 2014

lol "Fyi iphone 6 & 6+ has bigger screen", well here not only does the Note 4 have a 5.7-inch QHD Super AMOLED display (which is way way way stronger than your plain old IPS display and also has almost twice the pixels) it also has a quad-core 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805 processor, 3 Gigabytes of RAM, and a Adreno 420. Which all in all against the iPhone 6 Plus and its 1.4 ghz dual-core processor, 1 Gigabyte of ram, and PowerVR gpu scores a 3272 in Geekbench vs the iPhones 2917. That's a 355 score difference! You think just cause your thin bendable piece of metal and glass has a 64-bit processor that it is the future in comparison to our beasts. Android users can choose from single core processors all the way to octa-core processors and they have a multitude of customization options for the multitude of phones they have to choose from. Android takes nothing from apple BTW. the lock screen is really not all that different from kitkat. It just has new animations, new notification ribbons on the lock screen and a new "material" feel to it. If you want to argue about ground breaking, choose an operating system that has tons and tons of developer communities that dedicate their days to making android better. An operating system that has more than just one company working on it full time. We have Samsung, Lg, Motorola, ZTE, Sony, Xiaomi, and many more. You have apple. We released 5000 api's in our new os. You released around 4000. Get up to speed. Android is next gen. iOS is just our competitor that just cant keep up in the race. Open-source vs Closed-source. (since the beginning) there is no comparison.

27. Planterz

Posts: 2120; Member since: Apr 30, 2012

I can't make comparisons to iOS, but Lollipop is fast and smooth. I can't really quantify it, but 5.0 just feels more "pleasing" than older iterations of Android. Not a big fan of the stock colors though. This is based on my tinkering with the L dev preview ported to the Nexus 4.

38. vincelongman

Posts: 5724; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Speed Nope, "laggy" TouchWiz on the Note 4 is faster than iOS 8 on the 6+ Lollipop is far faster than KitKat, mainly due to ART, but also to other things like improved RAM management Design Totally personal preference Gaming Hard to say, personal preference again since: iOS has great exclusives, such as BioShock and Bastion But so does Nvidia on Android, such as Half Life 2 and Portal Also Nvidia has GameStream and GRID And Sony has PS4 Remote Play But iOS also has Metal API which reduces driver overhead like Mantle Surfacing the web Again personal preference iOS has Safari which is the fastest browser (see browser benchmarks such as Octane & SunSpider) But the difference is negligible in actual usage. And Android has browsers with more features, e.g. third party multi window browsers so you can leave it loading in the background and for multi tasking

42. Neo_Huang

Posts: 1067; Member since: Dec 06, 2013

Android obviously wins design, because you can easily make the UI look however you want it to.

45. diehardnokian

Posts: 148; Member since: Apr 27, 2014

woah both the operating systems are becoming very identical to each other...just look at the dialer and the lock screen. :O

131. iHateFanBoys

Posts: 4; Member since: Jan 17, 2015

The lock screens are completely different. On lollipop, you swipe UP to unlock and you also have the phone and camera shortcuts by swiping left or right. iPhone doesn't have all of that on their lockscreen and you unlock by swiping right.

107. skyhaunter

Posts: 7; Member since: Mar 15, 2013

The shield trumps all and any dreams Apple has about games or performance.

50. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Android may be most popular bug many of the features and looks like the lock screen animation, the three dot menu, the alphabetized contacts list, the different themes of text messaging apps, the Tiled based contacts apps, in app purchases, app trials, the Flat minimalistic UI, the new widgets looks etc are all inspired by WP, pretty soon Google will use sorely Live based Tiles on the homescreen and call them widgets, just a matter of time, Samsung Iconic UI, HTC Blinkfeed they are all looking up to WP UI so yeah Google may be chilling with market share but its new OS is MS inspired.

51. T.Law

Posts: 423; Member since: May 10, 2014

Again the same BS! Yawn..

60. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Not crap its the truth.

66. androidwindows

Posts: 216; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Delusional wp user is delusional. I suggest that you go to a shrink. You seemed depressed.

72. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Well tell me what was delusional about what i said, its easy to call someone names its another thing to prove them wrong.

65. androidwindows

Posts: 216; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Lol you're the most delusional wp user I've ever encountered on the internet. And my God just stop with the everybody is copying WP UI.

67. shuaibhere

Posts: 1986; Member since: Jul 07, 2012

Again utter BS.... Flat =! WP... Btw material UI is not flat it's gives importance to small things which metro doesn't...material UI uses shadow metro doesn't...material UI strikes balance between function and form....metro gives importance to form.... The base of material UI us laid in honeycomb 3.0...and various google apps and didn't happen all the sudden....

74. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Of course Material UI is Flat, the problem is the disingenuous people like yourself cant give credit where ts due, look at WP in 2010, look at Android in 2010 now look at Android today its clear that its WP influenced.

78. androidwindows

Posts: 216; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

Just because an obscure writer from an obscure blog says that android is inspired by wp ui doesn't make it true. Again android lollipop isn't flat. It shows layers through the use of shadows. Wp ui is flat and ugly.

95. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

Cause that look does so much for WP no? You are only fooling yourself, an maybe other WP fans but that would be about it.

61. ishan.heru

Posts: 69; Member since: Aug 31, 2014

Android and iOS are "Brothers from another Mother" :)

113. MrOmkar

Posts: 13; Member since: Mar 08, 2012

I agree! but most android fans don't think so, they are becoming more and more like iSheeps!


Posts: 106; Member since: May 04, 2012

Unbiased Review Well done Phonearena +1

71. irbaaz

Posts: 175; Member since: Mar 27, 2014

At some point I like the ios, but most of the time I liked Android UI..

88. dorfoz

Posts: 156; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

iOS = 3 phones (iPhone 4s, 5, 6/6+) Android = Too many to list For iOS, its a conspiracy that they ALWAYS lag the oldest model so that you buy a new phone, but overall you're dealing with 2 variants. Android has hundreds of phones with multiple spec variations. To sum this crap up, each OS is only as good as it's BEST phone, in iOS's case, the 6+ and for Android it's (Insert your most biased phone preference here). Then battle. Until then, this is an ongoing war between two fanbases that will never end. In my case, I'd rather have some techs of Sony, Samsung, and Motorola and slap an iOS on that sucker and call it a day. (one can dream right? lol)

2. Liveitup

Posts: 1798; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

Honestly its good that they updated their OS visually but the way i see it being a WP user ive been used to what other have been enjoying or is now going to be enjoying on Android or iOS, that's the nature of trends i guess.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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