It’s Apple week for us here at Phandroid. Yes, Apple Week. As much as we all love Android here – it’s always good to keep an eye on the competition. Undoubtedly there is no other competitor to Android than Apple. In the spirit of competition, we’re going to be talking about all the things that Android can learn from Apple in order to progress its ecosystem and products. After all, there is always something we can learn from others and here there is no exception.
There is no doubt that part of the beauty of Android is in its diversity. It means that Android is open to everyone’s interpretation and optimisation. However, that inevitably comes with some downsides. Not only does each phone manufacturer come with their own version or skin for Android but those variants have their own pros and cons. This means that you won’t pick up two Android phones from different manufacturers and have it be a truly seamless experience.
It’s in these details that Apple showed off at the press conference this year.
While initially introduced by Samsung it has had a lot of hand gesture controls over the years. It was most highly publicised by the LG G8 ThinQ. This phone party piece was meant to be its Z camera. The idea was that once the phone was able to detect a hand over the screen, it would bring up a gesture control block. You could then use a series of gestures to do things like control music or other functions.
The problem with this is that it didn’t really work.
Apple is now introducing this feature for its Apple Watch lineup, where with a double tap of your index finger against your thumb, you’ll be able to take and end calls. These features will be across a range of Apple apps and not just phone calls. You can use it for taking photos when you’re lining up a group shot. Or if your hands are full with the shopping.
Even these features or something similar have been around for a while on Android. They have rarely been known in a large-scale way, the way that only Apple really knows how to.
Similarly, the Contact Drop has come to the Apple iPhone. This is where you can share your contact details with someone by simply putting your phone close to there’s. There have been some implementations of this before – Razer had the Nabu which once you shook hands with another person wearing a Nagu their contact information would be shared. This was Pre Covid, don’t worry.
But this is a handy feature if you’re at conferences for exchanging personal information. Or even if you are out and about and need to share your personal details. There is no need to call out your number for safety reasons, you can just boop your number straight onto their device.
Some things on iPhone are just better than on Android. Medicine and health apps are the primary reasons why I stick to iPhones for monitoring and maintaining my health. The new Siri integration with the health apps will be a lifesaver for someone as forgetful ass me. This way all I need to do is shout at Siri and tell her I’ve taken my medicine and boom! It will log it and I won’t check back in a week later to log something and be left wondering if I did actually take my medicine. Which, fun fact, I inevitably haven’t.
Another thing that is useful for someone like me is the option to find things. Find My has been useful to me in many situations. I have got a 14-year-old cocker spaniel who has a tendency to run off with my AirPod case. She doesn’t eat them. But she will hide them. So using my iPhone to be able to track wherever she has hidden them is essential.
Finally, the most important thing for my loved ones and I will be ceasing my ability to get lost in a straight line. Find My on the new iPhones will have the ability with their new UltraBand technology to be able to pinpoint people in a busy place. This would be perfect for finding people in a busy airport or train station. Trust me, is going to be something that myself and my family and friends will be using a lot for me. Maybe this means I’ll be able to find where I’m going at Cincinnati airport. Or at least give my friends the ability to find me when I inevitably wander off.
Have you ever tried to talk to your phone carrier or service provider to get your phone repaired? Is it a nightmare? Yes. Nearly always a nightmare. However, Apple at least in my general experience tends to be better than most other service providers. Except for one experience I had where I couldn’t get an express unit shipped out to me even though I needed my iPhone for some medical appointments I had. I had to wait a few days. (Very much a first-world problem.) However, I was always in the loop as to what was going on. I do feel like the Apple support crew in Ireland were always trying to get things handled, and cared for.
Oh boy, I cannot say the same for other manufacturers. We all have our horror stories so I’m sure you can insert your favourite horror story that you’ve experienced in the comments below.
Support doesn’t just mean in terms of manufacturers but also in how the device can help you in difficult situations. Having emergency shortcuts is (thankfully) not a few features. However, a lot of them do rely on an active signal to get help when you need it. Sometimes, we don’t get that luxury. You may live in a more rural area where these things simply aren’t as common. Or maybe your country or area of the world simply doesn’t have the infrastructure for something like that.
Apple is hoping to make these situations easier with Emergency SOS which was announced last year. However, this year, they have expanded this service into a separate app – where you can still need help but not need to engage with first responders. This new service is called Roadside Assist and is being launched in conjunction with American supplier AAA where a signal from a satellite will be sent out to aid you should you have a car malfunction.
This inbuilt native support isn’t localised on Android yet and is something that could definitely be used across the board regardless of your preference for Apple or Android. As usual, Apple has gated this feature off into being free for only 2 years if you buy an iPhone 15 Pro. It goes a long way to being able to be something that may be more universal too. And that is always going to be a net positive.
What does this mean for the future?
The whole Android vs. Apple thing has always confused me. For me, someone who has been in this space for a long time – has always seen these are for two very different subsets of users. Linux, Windows and MacOS have always been the triforce of technology in the computer space with everyone drinking the proverbial kool-aid on why their side is better. But it is no different here in terms of arguments.
Both give and take from each other all the time, it’s an iteration and a process. A lot of it is covered in a great book called Steal Like an Artist. The essence of the book is that there is nothing truly original, that everything has an origin that traces back to somewhere or something. It’s how we iterate and express those changes that make true artistic expression.
This is a nuance in the arguments here that is often missing in these back and forths and a lot of it I feel comes down to the following arguments:
Android could do with more focus, more polish, and more discipline.
While Apple could do with lightening up (although I’ll be the first to admit the Environmental Skit did a lot to humanise Apple) and not being so elusive.
So, why is this always reduced to sound so much like High School stereotypes?