For many users, the reason to adopt the iOS platform is the simplicity in the ecosystem. With an Apple phone, you know everything is baked right in. You have your phone, internet device, and multi-media device all rolled into one. You can make calls, send texts, check your email, and listen to music or watch movies without having to make use of an additional device or exit the iOS platform to do this.
What makes this magic happen? We all know the answer to that question — interoperability within the ecosystem. Apple has truly perfected that idea. But for those who opt out of the Apple way (as did I a very long time ago), are we missing out on a uniform, logical ecosystem? Do we have to carry around multiple devices to enjoy what iPhones offer?
Not even slightly. In fact, I'd go so far as to say the Android ecosystem one-ups the iOS ecosystem. How? Modularity. Android has multiple interchangeable pieces, whereas iOS does not. Let me give you an example.
- With iOS, you have iTunes for music and video (there are also third-party music players to be found on the App Store)
- With Android, you have: Google Play, Google Play Music, Amazon Music, Amazon Instant Video, and more
Each one of the Android apps plugs seamlessly into the ecosystem, allowing you to easily enjoy multi-media from different sources on your device. You can listen to songs from the cloud, download them to your device, quickly shop, and much more. The difference? In some cases (as with Amazon Music), you have to actually install the app from the Google Play Store. For some users, the challenge there is knowing that they must install an app and then figuring out what app would best fit their needs.
This may come to a surprise to many of the Android naysayers, but Google's mobile platform is just as seamless as Apple's. The big difference is that Android's seamlessness can be had via many different (and varied) apps and services. If you don't like purchasing your music from Google Play or playing it through Google Play Music, you can opt to go with Amazon and play that music through the Amazon Music player. Or maybe you prefer to manually manage your music by dragging and dropping music into your device's Music folder and using the player of your choice (there are plenty to choose from on the Google Play Store). You can even open up your Amazon Music app, download the music to your device, and then play said music through, say, Fusion Music Player, which includes an equalizer and visualization (Figure A).
The Fusion Music Player on a Verizon-branded Droid Turbo.
But this seamlessness isn't limited to multimedia. Maps, browsing, Google Now, camera, productivity, files... everything works in harmony, similar to iOS. Yes, there may be instances where the UI doesn't fit perfectly (such as the case with some of the music players), but everything works together.
Sound familiar? It should.
This is not to say that one or the other does a better job of expanding their ecosystem. Both iOS and Android offer a fantastic experience, especially when looking at how the connective pieces work together. The major difference between the two is that, with Android, the pieces are more like an interactive, interchangeable machine.
So, if you assume that the iPhone is the only device that can serve as your one-stop shop for productivity, communication, and entertainment — your assumption is incorrect. Android can do that, and it can do it in a way that perfectly fits your needs, habits, and aesthetic preferences.
Of course, to some users, the interchangeability of the Android ecosystem is a bit much. If you prefer fewer options, less configuration, and limited ability to tinker, you should certainly buy in to iOS.
What makes you choose one mobile ecosystem over the other? Share your thoughts in the discussion thread below.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.