The One Thing Android Unquestionably Does Better Than iOS

If you ever check either Android Army of Apple Core near the top of either forum you can usually find a post entitled "Why (iOS or Android) is better". Determing which is better is entirely subjective despite people trying to make this seem as if it is objective. I have my preference on the two ecosystems, but one thing I can objectively and unequivocally state is that the on-device app store is fundamentally better on Android than it is on iOS. Allow me to explain.

First example is what promped this article in the first place: purchased apps. Now both the App Store and the Play Store allow you to see on device the applications that you have purchased that may/may not be on your device. The problem is this feature seems to work pretty much exclusively on Android. Here's what happened when I did this on iOS:

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via i.imgur.com

and on Android:

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via i.imgur.com

Now you can see the screen is not loading on the iPhone. Its just not displaying any purchases (yes I have many). This is not an isolated incident, this is not a one time thing. This is the usual, not the exception. In fact the exception is when this feature actually works as promised. And when it does work the experience is usually slow and painful to the point of making the user give up rather than finding the desired app. Why is this important? Because some apps not still be in the App Store, like Tris or Apple's own Texas Hold'Em. So if you want to re-download these apps on the go the only option available to you, purchase history, most likely won't be available to you.

Another feature in its app store that Android does better than iOS is search. This was not always the case, but Apple made a perplexing decision to completely change search how search functions in the App Store on iOS 6 puts the App Store at a serious disadvantage for a couple of reasons. The first reason is simple, the Play Store displays more than one search result at a time. I don't know why Apple made the decision to show one result at a time: my guess is that when you know exactly what you're searching for you want quick access to that specific app. However even this reasoning fails because with the new search algorithms you won't necessarily get exactly what you want when you search for it, and for all those other times when you don't know exactly what you are searching for it becomes tedious to discoverer apps.

There are a few other ways in which the App Store trails behind the Play Store. One is a minor feature that Apple actually implemented in the iOS 6 betas but later removed: free apps being download without entering a password. Again I can only guess Apple's reasoning, my thought is that this is because of auto-downloads w/ iCloud: you want to confirm that someone didn't accidentally download an app or that someone downloaded an app on someone else's account because that app appears across all that user's devices if they have auto-downloading enabled. However its incredibly frustrating to the end user to have to enter their passwords over and over for free apps especially if that user has a long, random password. Another way in which the app stores on Android beat the App Store is subsidized apps. Every day Amazon gives away a paid app for free to Android users, and occasionally Google offers deeply discounted paid apps over several days in the Play Store (as they are doing right now). And these are not crappy apps, they are high profile apps for as little as $.25, and they are diverse. Its awesome for users, and its something Apple absolutely does not do.

The final reason app shopping is better on Android than iOS has nothing to do with the on-device app store, its the browser based app store. Now, Apple does not have a proper browser-based app store, so it pretty much loses by default. It does have a preview if you search for an app in a search engine, but all that does is launch iTunes. This may seem trivial, after all you can launch the App Store on your iDevice or on your computer in iTunes and load apps on your device. But, the Play Store offers the unparalleled flexibility of sending apps to you device (or any device you've signed into) on any computer with a browser. So for ease of use alone and multi-device management this is a objective benefit. Plus, you can choose the device you want the app to download individually from the Play Store whereas with iCloud you do it on a per-device basis rather than a per-app basis.

Its funny to me that usually I see non-descriptive and non-quantifiable reasons why Android is better than iOS, and usually its pretty easy to rebut these arguments. But, as someone who has used iOS and Android side since February and both ecosystems off and on since 2010 this is the most glaring example of an area of Android where it outperforms iOS.

/endrant