7 Things Android can learn from iOS 7

Android's good, but by learning a few things from iOS 7, it could be much better...

Now, we know that a comparison between iOS and Android is a source of contention, and even flame wars sometimes, but we can’t help but think that Apple has outdone itself with iOS 7. Here are a few things that Google's Android should pick up from Apple’s latest operating system.

Google has its own search bar that’s omnipresent at the top of any home screen. One of our major annoyances with previous versions of iOS has been the ever-present Finder window on the left-most home screen as well. Now you can simply use the downward-sliding gesture on any home screen to get access to the Finder. With iOS 7, Apple has solved a pet peeve of ours, of having any search windows be completely out of the way: not eating up extra space at the top or the left.

Camera UI
Android’s camera app has gone through much iteration, from its basic interface in the Android 2.2 and 2.3 days, to the more advanced Android 4 camera app. However, currently, the Android camera isn’t very intuitive to use. Most of the camera’s options are hidden behind a radial menu, blocking off the ability to quickly switch between settings. Sure, Google’s camera app gives more options, but iOS 7’s camera interface is just easier to use, with its simple sliding interface where you can switch camera modes with a simple swipe.


The camera interface is easy to use; everything's right there on the screen instead of being hidden behind menus


Per-app location settings
iOS has had this option for a long time now, but the point still stands. Google’s location settings are very difficult to manage, and to most, “managing” location settings will simply mean turning GPS on or off. Digging out the per-app location settings in Android will need you to go through a myriad of steps, whereas on iOS, it’s simply available in the Privacy pane of the phone’s settings. Not only does this help with privacy, but it also saves battery, since you can manage what apps get access to GPS and what apps don’t.

Bigger capacity folders
Android has a hard limit of 16 icons per folder. iOS 7 has revamped folders, and can now hold as many icons as you like, thanks to the sliding pane interface in the folders. Since Google has a larger amount of things you can add to the homescreen, including app-specific shortcuts and widgets, we hope Google introduces an improved framework for folders which at least increases the number of objects a folder can hold. Maybe some day, Google will also add the ability to have widgets in folders. I’m not sure what the use is, but it’d still be a step forward.


The improved folders and accessibility menu of iOS 7


Android’s accessibility settings are very app-dependent. Sure, every Android has basic accessibility features, such as bigger fonts and text-to-speech, but any extra functionality you might want has to be acquired through third-party apps from Google Play. iOS has a more feature-complete accessibility window, with options like zooming in, inverted colours and the ever-popular AssistiveTouch, which adds a home button and some extra goodies on to the screen. It ends up being useful for everyone in some capacity, thanks to features like favourites and gestures.

App Store
This has been a bone of contention between iOS and Android users for a long time. While Android’s Google Play has grown quite a bit from its Android Marketplace days, it still lacks many of the high quality games and apps we see on the iOS App Store. Google will hopefully improve Google Play’s catalogue of apps and games by offering incentives to developers, maybe by having better DRM to prevent piracy.

No, we don’t mean the annoying desktop software that we’re forced to use to sync with our iPhones. That’s one place where Google has Apple beaten. Instead, we’re talking about the music store. Sure, this might sound like an overall comparison between the two companies, but Apple has the upper hand here thanks to the iTunes music and movies store actually being accessible in India. Google has been slow to roll out its Google Play services, such as Play Movies and Play Music to India, and we still don’t have any idea when the company will make its full suite of Play services open to India. Until then, Android will always be an incomplete ecosystem.


Google has some catching up to do with iTunes and the App Store



We know that most of these supposed "issues" are solved by using third-party apps (again, another strength for Android), but we truly believe that these should be out-of-the-box for a feature-complete operating system. This doesn't mean Android doesn't have anything over iOS, though. A better sharing framework, a fully-featured file management system and the ability to use a smartphone as mass storage give it an upper hand over any other mobile OS in the market right now.

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