Android M vs. iOS 9: A battle of the giants

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Fight! Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac
Fight! Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Friday-Night-Fights-bug-2Google I/O and WWDC have been and gone, and Google and Apple have laid out the plans for their next major platform updates — Android M and iOS 9.

Now that we’ve had a chance to let those announcements sink in, it’s time for Cult of Android and Cult of Mac to battle over which is best in another Friday Night Fight. Let us help you decide which one will reign supreme when they roll out to the public this fall.

Killian-FNFKillian Bell (Writer, Cult of Android): Luke, what are your thoughts on iOS 9? Apple’s made some nice improvements — particularly for iPad users — but do you think those improvements can convince Android fans to switch, bearing in mind Android M is coming this fall?

cartoonluke_360.pngLuke Dormehl (Writer, Cult of Mac): Interesting way of phrasing it, Killian. As an Apple user, I always look at this from the opposite perspective: Is there enough that Android offers that could make Apple users consider jumping ship?

All I can say is that Larry and Sergey are probably going to be waiting (at least) another year, because iOS 9 has the makings of a great mobile OS. It tweaks a ton of lesser features I’ve long been peeved about (lack of lower-case keyboards, for example), but adds some pretty sweeping additions like the new, improved Siri; multitasking for iPads; Apple’s great new News feature, better Maps, and so much more.

Honestly, I’m more excited about this year’s iOS than I have been in ages.

If anything you should be loving this year’s OS, too, because Apple’s making it easier than ever for Android users to switch to iOS. It’s like a time machine for reversing that fatal mistake they made all that time ago.

Killian-FNFKB: It’s great that you can get excited about tweaks to “lesser features” — but I should point out that if you were an Android user, you’d have had almost all of those things a long time ago. Android already has split-screen multitasking on a multitude of devices and lower-case keyboards, and Google Now is much better than Siri will ever be (probably).

But leaving aside those things, there are plenty of reasons that iOS users would want to switch to Android — many of which we’ve discussed before — such as lots more freedom for things like customization and third-party apps. Then there’s Google Now on Tap, which is unlike anything in iOS, and likely won’t be matched by Apple for years.

cartoonluke_360.pngLD: Like Android M hasn’t stolen its share of features from iOS? Without being petty and pointing out additions like the floating cut, copy and paste menu (which I guess I’ve now pointed out), you’d be hard-pressed to argue that Google’s newfound focus on privacy with the apps permission setup isn’t straight out of the Tim Cook playbook.

As for Now on Tap, I’ll admit it looks pretty sweet. Smart assistants have been tragically non-smart since they debuted, and I think this focus on context-aware suggestions is going to be a massive improvement. In fact, any other year I think you’d have a major selling point on your hands, but with Apple adding its new Proactive features, 2015 is all but guaranteed to mark the year Apple finally regains its rightful place on the virtual assistant throne.

Killian-FNFKB: As I use iOS from time to time, I wish I could be as enthusiastic about Proactive as you are. It’s not that I’m not looking forward to it — because I am — but I just can’t convince myself that it will be as good as Google Now. At least not yet. Maybe in a few years once it’s had time to catch up, but certainly not in 2015 — especially when Now on Tap’s going to arrive and make Android’s assistant even greater.

cartoonluke_360.pngLD: We’ll see. But enough beating around the bush, let me ask you the real question it would be intellectually dishonest not to bring up: What percentage of Android users are going to even get to use Android M? 1 out of 20?

Wasn’t it just this month that Lollipop finally made it, spluttering and wheezing, over the 10 percent adoption line? Say what you want about iOS 9, but at least we know that within its first few months alone, it’s going to have the majority of the iOS user base already using it

Killian-FNFKB: I wondered how long it would take for you to bring that up. You make an excellent point, though; if I had it my way, all Androids would be running pure Android, and they’d get the latest updates as soon as they were available. But let’s not forget this isn’t Google’s fault.

If you buy a Google Nexus, you’ll get the update when it launches. But if you buy a Samsung or a Sony or an HTC, it’s up to them to bring it to you, and unfortunately they like to take their time.

You could argue that Google could force its hardware partners into delivering updates to their latest devices within a certain timescale, but that would almost certainly be a bad idea. You’ve seen how many handsets Samsung can churn out; if it had to release updates for everything it launched in the last six months, they’d be half-assed releases full of bugs — and no one wants that.

cartoonluke_360.pngLD: Oh, I get it, I just don’t like it. Still, I’m sure the smattering of Android users who don’t wind up stuck on a three-year-old mobile OS will be happy enough. At the end of the day, I view this as the year that Apple caught up on some of the features Android fans have been clinging onto as their only defense against iOS, while adding some other nifty features like “low power” mode, which will just make iPhones more usable. Best of all, everyone gets to use it!

So is this the year you finally throw in the Android towel and come, hat in hand, to join the beautiful people here on Cult of Mac?

We’ll accept you. Honest.

Killian-FNFKB: I’ll never throw in the towel on Android, because I like to try out innovative new features at least 12 months before they come to iOS. And so do millions of others — which is why Android is by far the most popular platform in the world. It’s great that iOS is catching up, but with Android M coming this fall, I don’t think too many people will be jumping ship to try iOS 9.

cartoonluke_360.pngLD: Ha! You think we’re catching up, when in fact we’re close to lapping you. Don’t worry, it’s an easy mistake to make.

I guess we leave this one up to the readers.

Killian-FNFKB: Lapping us? Laugh. Out. Loud. It seems Apple’s really gotten to you. But yes, we’ll let the readers decide — with their wallets.

Let’s see which platform is king this time next year.

cartoonluke_360.pngLD: Judging by the amount iOS users spend compared to Androiders you’re king of a bankrupt nation. But sure, let’s meet this time next year and you can inform me just how exactly you like your humble pie.

Friday Night Fights is a series of weekly death matches between two no-mercy brawlers who will fight to the death — or at least agree to disagree — about which is better: Apple or Google, iOS or Android?