Fight for the top: Android 4.4 KitKat vs iOS 7


Technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and the software powering our beloved gadgets isn't an exception. With each new release, mobile platforms are growing sleeker, faster, and more versatile than ever before. That's mobile OS evolution we're witnessing, and we're calling it evolution not only because software is constantly being improved, but also because the fittest are the ones that survive, while those who can't keep up eventually meet their demise. So, which is the best survivor of them all? The ultimate mobile operating system? Well, that's one of those questions that seem simpler than they actually are. Many would give Android 4.4 their thumbs-up, while others are really into Apple's iOS 7. In reality, these two platforms have become quite similar on many levels and there's a lot to like about them. However, there is a number of things that make them different – things that make one of them better than the other in one way, or inferior in another. Allow us to elaborate.

Lock and home screens


Simplicity is the fundamental concept, around which iOS 7 has been designed. This becomes evident as soon as an iOS device is picked up and turned on – the first thing displayed is a seemingly basic lock screen, inviting you to “slide to unlock”. We said “seemingly” because the iOS lock screen is a tad more advanced than it appears to be. A swipe from the top displays the Notification Center and a swipe from the bottom brings forth the Control Center menu. There's a shortcut for the camera as well. And that's what makes the iOS lock screen so great – it is intuitive and uncluttered, but highly functional at the same time. 

The Android 4.4 lock screen is just as straightforward to interact with – pull the ring in any direction and you're good to start using your device. Yet functionality hasn't been sacrificed. The slide-down notification panel is accessible, and so is Google Now with a swipe up from the bottom. A camera shortcut hasn't been forgotten either. That's pretty much all that a typical smartphone user would require, but for those who are serious about personalization, Google has added a handful of useful lock screen widgets. With their help, the user has near-instant access to their notes, their email inbox, social network updates, and more. What's even better, new ones can be downloaded from the Play Store. A small downside to Android's lock screen widgets is that setting them up can be somewhat unintuitive, but other than that, we love the functionality that they add.

Once past the iOS 7 lock screen, the user is introduced to a minimalist home screen menu with large, easy to hit icons and clearly legible labels. Again, Apple is keeping it all as simple as possible, meaning that even first-time users can get the hang of the system's UI in no time, while experienced owners have quick, hassle-free access to their apps. Android, on the other hand, puts the highlight on functionality and personalization with its option to populate home screens with widgets of all shapes and sizes. Downloaded and pre-installed apps are listed in a separate drawer, which leaves more room on the home screens for widgets, shortcuts, and folders. Speaking of folders, we tend to like their execution in iOS 7, where there's no limit to how many apps we can place inside one. Android 4.4 lets you place no more than 16 apps inside a folder, which is okay, yet somewhat limiting.

Search is deeply integrated into the UIs of both platforms, which is great to know considering how people love to Google anything nowadays. In iOS 7, a swipe down on any home screen displays a search bar for looking up stuff online and for finding a specific app or contact – an elegant solution that doesn't occupy any screen real estate, but is always there when you need it. In Android 4.4, a search bar for apps, contacts, and Google queries is permanently affixed to the top of any home screen. Some might find this annoying as it eats up more space than it probably should, although we don't thing that its constant presence is too big of a deal.

Appearance and customization features


Apple's iOS 7 was launched to mixed reviews, regarded by some as fresh and stylish, but dismissed by others as flat, too childish and cartoonish-looking. In our opinion, the appearance of the platform is more than acceptable. In fact, we're perfectly fine with the way it looks now that we've grown used to its interface and layout. Stacked against iOS 7, Android 4.4 looks pretty lifeless with its black and gray theme. But there's a number of neat things about its UI as well, including the translucent status bar and the redesigned icons.

Customization is, without a doubt, one of Android's major advantages over iOS. And that's not only because of the widget functionality we mentioned above. Android users are free to use third-party lock screens, on-screen keyboards, live wallpapers, and launchers that alter the way the system's UI is organized. In other words, if you've grown tired of its plain old look, or if there's something about Android that you don't quite like, a replacement for it is likely available at the Play Store. We must mention that with Android 4.4, Google is making it even easier for users to switch back and forth between launchers with a new “Home” option in the settings menu.

There isn't much about iOS 7 that a user is free to modify. Sorry, that's just Apple's way of doing things. Looking at it from the bright side, the company's tight control over the feel and appearance of iOS prevents customization apps of sub-par quality from affecting the user experience in a negative way. There are things one can change, of course, and make their phone or tablet more personal. iOS 7 brought a few new personalization features, including dynamic wallpapers – animated background that behave a lot like Android's live wallpapers. Sadly, no new ones can be downloaded from the App Store, at least not for now. Still wallpapers have been spiced up with a so-called parallax effect, which shifts the background image depending on the angle, at which the handset is being held. That creates an illusion of depth and the effect is really nice in our opinion – pretty, yet unobtrusive.

Quick controls and notifications


Apple did the right thing by adding a menu with quick controls and toggles to iOS with the platform's seventh major release. Called Control Center, it is easily accessible by swiping up from the bottom of the screen – this gesture works from the lock screen, on any home screen, even while running a game or an app. But while this feature is a major and welcome advantage to iOS, it has been available in third-party Android UIs for quite a long time. Even the stock Android 4.4 interface has a menu with toggles and shortcuts accessible from the notification panel. However, we don't find it neither as pretty, nor as functional as iOS 7's Control Center.

The overhauled Notification Center in iOS 7 now takes the user straight to their agenda. That's very convenient for people who actually use the Calendar app. Those who find it too crowded in there are free to pick what notifications are to be displayed – stocks information, unread email, Game Center alerts, reminders, and more. While the Notification Center is not too bad of a solution as a whole, it leaves room for improvement. For example, we see no benefit in having the weather forecast displayed there in plain text – text that we actually have to stop and take a few seconds to read – when a simple weather icon with a digit for the temperature would do just fine. Android's notification bar is a bit different for it doesn't display much if there aren't any pending notifications. If there are new ones, they can be easily dismissed with a swipe to the side, or tapped on, which takes the user to the app that displayed the notification. A neat improvement brought by Android 4.4 is the option to access the notification panel even when a full-screen app is running, meaning that you can read notifications without exiting that game you're playing. In iOS, the Notification and Control Centers work in a similar fashion.

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131 Comments

1. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Both are awesome. Please no retarded hate comments.

3. NexusPhan

Posts: 632; Member since: Jul 11, 2013

Speaking of hate comments. http://www.r-word.org/

6. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Sorry...

119. jdot104

Posts: 95; Member since: Jun 17, 2011

Thank you so much for posting this.

26. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

"those who simply aren't sure what they want, would be perfectly happy with a device running iOS 7." Truer words have never been spoken. I know what I want. I want Bluetooth file transfer, a voice search assistant that can access my apps. I want to be able to choose my keyboard and my sms app. I want USB otg capability and a native file system. I want restricted user profiles for when I let my children play with my tablet. I want full control over my software and hardware. IOS offers none of these features. I want android.

51. GeekMovement unregistered

lol you beat me to it.

58. darkkjedii

Posts: 31258; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Are you trying to convince us, or yourself dude? We're techies too, you don't need to tell us these things on PA, we already know em. Copy your post, and paste it on soccermoms.com.

63. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

What?

66. darkkjedii

Posts: 31258; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

See post #26, then see post #58.

67. squallz506

Posts: 1075; Member since: Oct 19, 2011

Hmmmmm?

131. BurritoBear217

Posts: 1; Member since: Jun 08, 2014

Darkkjedi, one question. what exactly qualifies you to be a "techie", or whatever name you like to call yourself? Tell me if you've ever touched a linux command line, or if you know at least one programming language, be it something ridiculously simple like python, or even applescript, and you have my respect. I've seen so many people on the internet automatically qualify themselves as "techies" after figuring out what a filesystem is....

89. JakeLee

Posts: 1021; Member since: Nov 02, 2013

You forgot to mention that you also want people you don't know to transfer your personal data to their servers, don't you? Of course, you don't have to know whether, when, to whom, and how many times. You also don't have to know what they do with your data. That I call self-service par excellence. The sad thing is though, you pay the transfer cost.

105. iamovie

Posts: 6; Member since: Sep 10, 2013

Lol notice how every other comment above yours has thumbs up but yours do not?? yeah....you know why that is??? Cuz you are literally talking Sh*t

106. SleepingOz unregistered

Oh that's apple you're talking about, aren't you?

117. alienwarex

Posts: 3; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Did you realize that the safari browser allowed Google to do this?

126. adoptop70

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 29, 2013

You have spoken nothing but the truth of highest order, Infact i can't use my hard earned money to buy ios, though it's acceptable if it is dash

40. fanboy1974

Posts: 1345; Member since: Nov 12, 2011

I could no longer take iOS 7 and had to go back to Android this past weekend. I was actually fine with the iPhone 5s (small screen and all) but the OS got plain and boring quick. This was my first time with iOS after being with Android for 4 years. So maybe it was better pre iOS 7 but that doesn’t help the situation today. And I was not too pleased that apps were crashing on me from time to time with “lowmemory” errors in the diagnostic log. I expected things to work and gave iOS/Apple/iPhone a fair chance for 2 months but I’m done with it. I wanted a Nexus 5 and the $30 t-mobile monthly plan but after trying it out on my iPhone 5s for 2 days the coverage was horrible where I live and work. So because I wanted to stick it out with Verizon I did an even trade for my 16gig iPhone 5s for a Note 3 this weekend. I do miss the smaller size and relatively quick performance but everything else about the experience left me unsatisfied and wanting more. I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that I would rather be behind Samsung’s slow updates of Android vs. the quick updates from Apple’s iOS 7; if that makes sense.

59. darkkjedii

Posts: 31258; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Hmmmmm???

64. chemhaz

Posts: 161; Member since: May 04, 2012

iOs7 a hell of a lot more exciting than previous iOS versions. If you lasted short time on it, you would have only lasted a day on iOS6.

122. lilduderob

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

to be honest fanboy I like iPhone because on android I had a lot of apps that had advertisements that come up. You have to check each app to see if you get a virus. Any of them could be. iTunes is the best app store. They say so many apps on android are free most of the ones I have used when I had android devices were not free. I use the reminders on IOS. If you don't have cellular service because of a storm but still have internet. You can text apple devices call them or video conferences. I am not trying to sound like I am just a fan of apple and not changing because I like them. I just thought android had bad battery life. I know people who have had androids but see iPhone with a better battery life. You can text an iPhone for free that is so awesome.

129. charminxtra

Posts: 2; Member since: Dec 19, 2013

Just fyi, if you don't have cell service with an android you can text, call or video chat anyone, not just other apple users. That imessaging crap also hijacks your phone number so even if you get a new phone or you lose yours, texts from other apple users will continue to go to your imessage account instead of your new phone. This was a huge problem I had to help my friend with when he switched from an iphone 4 to an lg g2. It also forces you to send texts to other i,essage users over your data connection, and even if it is a small amount of data, why not have the option to utilize your probably unlimited sms? Also ad's on android are easily blocked and you may want to try third party solutions for your android apps (impossible on iphone without a jailbreak) as I've found my most useful apps outside of the playstore and they're almost guaranteed to be free.

127. adoptop70

Posts: 20; Member since: Apr 29, 2013

You have spoken it all in your conclusion, those that know what they want go for android

78. Pancholo

Posts: 380; Member since: Feb 27, 2012

They even have the SAME date format! Oh, wait...

96. 123Andy

Posts: 7; Member since: Jun 25, 2013

But Android phones are much cheaper : P

2. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Customization vs the worlds most advanced mobile OS that just works.

4. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Both are great on their own way. Lot of pros and some cons.

123. lilduderob

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

The iPhone has things I do not like and so does the android.

10. av911 unregistered

Most advanced that can't do half of what a Note 3 can do.

13. Commentator

Posts: 3723; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Yeah, but Android lags 1% of the time, whereas iOS lags 0.5% of the time. That's a HUGE deal-breaker!

43. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

Lol. And I thought you were going to compare the difference of nanosecond screen responsiveness. Now that was HUGE!

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

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