Which Mobile Operating System is more “geeky”

david

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day about the future of smartphones. Our talk drifted from the different available smartphone models and how much the use of smartphones impacts our everyday lives. It was in the middle of this conversation that my friend suddenly asked me, “Well, what do you think would be the ideal mobile operating system for a typical geek?”

Simple Phone UI

The question, though simple, might be quite difficult to answer. In fact, if you analyze it well, you would realize that the answer depends on how you define a “typical geek”. Considering all the different smartphone operating systems that we use today, it is easy to determine that IOS and Android are the biggest contenders (mostly due to their respective user bases and the size of their online stores).

At this level, the competition gets really tough. Both Android and iOS are unique in their own ways. Our “typical geek” now has to make a clear choice among two primary factors:

Customization: When it comes to user preferences and customization, Android has always been on top. Even without rooting, Android devices can be made to look and feel in any way the user wants it to. Geeks who love to modify devices and change usability features would mostly prefer Android over iOS. With Android, the customization possibilities are endless. You can use (or create) custom home screens, widgets or launchers, and configure your own usage settings. If that isn’t enough, rooting an Android device will unlock many additional features.

Usability and Resource Management: iOS might not be as customizable as Android (at least before Jailbreak), but it certainly knows how to handle available resources in the best way. Compared to Android users, iOS users seldom complain about compatibility issues and other usage problems. This is primarily because iOS is deeply integrated into Apple devices. iOS apps on the App Store are also manually tested for compatibility issues before they are allowed for user installation. This means iOS provides full support to the device hardware and the applications running on it.

Deciding a “sure winner” is extremely difficult on the above mentioned grounds. Preferences vary from user to user. Some people like to customize the device’s look and feel; while others give more importance to user experience. The end user (our geek) may be either of the two.

Customizing look and feel (Android)

In our previous articles, we have demonstrated how to fake the iPhone and Windows Phone look on your Android powered device using simple customizable components and apps. The open architecture of Android allows many such customizations to be applied to your device. Users often like to personalize their contents and access them in their own ways.

Resource Management issues

But a major area where Android has to improve immensely is the memory and power management features. It’s a known fact that Android devices are power hungry beasts; and you will be lucky enough if your phone lasts an entire day after carrying out your essential daily tasks (like checking emails, guided navigation, a bit of web browsing and of course, the occasional phone calls or text messages). A similar thing can be said about Android’s memory management. Run some background apps (especially the ones that sync data) and suddenly you find that most of your available RAM has been used up!

Killing an app can also be a problem as well. Android usually makes use of the entire available device memory for running apps; and it won’t shut down apps unless it needs to. Once an app is killed, it will automatically restart within a few seconds. So, you literally have no control over app management.

Better management – Better Performance (iOS)

Amazingly, with an iPhone, the situation is totally different. iOS apps have been well optimized to use the minimum resources – be it battery or memory. The average span of a full charge cycle of an iPhone battery is much higher than that of an Android battery. Battery Doctor is an excellent app for iOS that can further help to enhance the performance of your iPhone. It provides timely notifications about when to plug-in the charger and when to stop charging. Battery Doctor is available for Android too, but it is not as feature-filled as the iOS version. And yes, Battery Doctor is available for free for both iOS and Android.

The beauty of iOS is in the way it manages memory usage. You can run multiple apps (not two or three) simultaneously without seeing a hint of any lag. It’s difficult to say the same thing about Android. Battery Doctor  for iOS has an utility to free up available RAM by closing background processes and apps. But unlike Android, it does not kill the apps permanently; instead, the app data is preserved and just the memory is released. Confused? Well read on. Perhaps the next paragraph will be able to clear your doubts.

The Proof

We tried running several high memory consuming apps and games simultaneously on our iPhone. (To name some: Flipboard, Facebook, Messenger, Maps, Rope Escape, Subway Surf, Temple Run, Temple Run 2, Infinity Blade, NFS Shift and Real Racing 3). At this stage, Battery Doctor indicated RAM usage of 95% (of course the iPhone was still running as smooth as ever).

We ran the RAM Cleaner utility of Battery Doctor and immediately saw results. The memory usage was down to 37 %  instantly. So, did it close all the running apps? Apparently not. Back on the home screen, double tapping on the home button revealed all the apps in running state; and when we selected any of these apps, it resumed just from the point where we left it off.

This might have been possible due to Apple’s innovative way of saving (caching) the apps’ progress and releasing memory when it needs to (or in our case, when battery doctor forced memory release). In fact, it’s not actually necessary to clear the RAM forcefully, if the device needs more memory, iOS will automatically make space (and you won’t even realize!). When it comes to performance and resource management, iOS does it better than anyone else. In short, resource management of iOS is truly awesome and it performs!

So if our geek prefers usability over customization, iOS should be his definite choice.

What would you choose:  Better customization or better performance?

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