We are hearing from ages from Apple fan-boys (since Android became popular and started to become a real threat for the ever popular and industry benchmark mobile OS namely iOS) that Android graphical interface suffer from lack of consistency that starts from the core OS applications and extends to 3rd-party applications as well. And that is not just about inconsistency in terms of the visual elements on-screen but also from a usability point of view (as compared to the iOS). And then comes the discussion about the “smoothness” of the interface in Android vs iOS. It’s a general believe that for the most part iOS has much smoother animations, while on Android experience can be a bit jerky even on high-end phones such as Samsung Galaxy S2 (SII) at least occasionally. While iOS stays smooth even on very old iPhone 3GS etc. Regarding the smoothness of the iOS as compared to the Android we have already written a nice article.
In this article, idea is to give you a visual side-by-side comparison of the on-screen interfaces both on Android and iOS in some core OS apps such as SMS, Dialer, YouTube, Calculator, Calendar etc. Point is to give you an idea of what to expect from both currently dominating mobile operating systems and different GUI design decisions taken by Apple and Google not only visual design stand-point but also hinting at the usability factor of both interfaces. This side-by-side GUI comparison of Android and iOS has only been done for the core OS apps for the sake of this article. Extending this comparison to the other 3rd-party apps such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter and other popular Apps is a topic for an other future article provided that we found sufficient interest from our readers.
Now before heading to actual visual comparison, I would like to mention that this comparison is based on the Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) installed on Samsung Galaxy SII and iOS 4.3 on iPhone 3GS. We will extend this comparison in the future to more recent Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and iOS 5 on the Apple front. So, now all the usual background introduction and explanation out of the way lets get started to the real visual head-to-head comparison of Android and iOS!
In my personal opinion SMS App on my Samsung Galaxy S2 looks crude with this yellowish color tune as compared to the more eye pleasing and gentle gray tone for the message bubbles on iOS. Also, take note of the text area to enter the message on Android which is not as eye-pleasing as on iOS.
Stock Calendar app on the Android is actually good. Notice the key difference that how all different pages of the app (Month, Week, Day, List view) can accessed by clicking on the respective tabs on the top. While on iOS buttons to access different Calendar views appear on bottom and for this reason don’t seem as distracting. While the interface in iOS on the top side of the page is clutter free which can’t be said for the Calendar interface on Android. You can notice generous use of darkish colors like black, gray in Android with a white font for text on top. While Apple took a different route in iOS where lighter theme colors are used for the interface and on top a font with a dark color. This is again a difference that you will witness extending in almost all parts of the OS in both Android and iOS. Personally, I prefer the lighter theme colors as in iOS as compared to a lot of black as we see in Android GUI.
Not much to say here except that buttons look flatter on Android in the Calculator App as compared to the 3D look that you get in iOS version of the Calculator. Both are nice!
One thing that I like about the Gmail in iOS is that how multiple accounts are integrated and all the emails messages are accessed in the same combined view as compared to Android where if you have configured multiple accounts then you have to go the inbox of each account to check email. Note that how email date in color-coded in iOS and message snippets are in light-gray color that allows the email title and sender to become more prominent. On the Android Gmail interface these fine visual details are missing. I also like the fact that yon can quickly refresh the inbox as well compose new message right from the on-screen buttons on iOS.
Extensive use of the blacks in visual styling of Android continues. Chances are either you will love it or hate it. In my case I don’t like such dark interfaces. Android version of the Music App does show album art which is missing in iOS.
In case of Internet browser, I like that how you can easily & quickly select all the important features using on-screen buttons in mobile Safari such as navigating forward/backward, new window, all windows view. On the Android stock Internet browser you have to access these options from a context-menu.
Main Settings Page
Settings pages in Android really looks awful compared to iOS, I think most people will agree with me on this at least. Compare it to eye-pleasing Settings applet in iOS.
Not so much to say here. Again notice how all different parts of Contacts App can accessed by clicking on the respective option in the top part of the interface on Android. Similar accessibility is available on iOS but from the buttons accessible at the bottom part of the interface.
Extensive use of blacks in the Android visual interface continues. As we noticed in some other apps many useful features in YouTube are directly accessible from the on-screen tabs/buttons in the bottom of the iOS interface. While on the Android these features have to be accessed from contextual pop-up that is usually activated through physical a context-menu button.
Now we have provided a visual tour of the graphical beauty of both Android and iOS. Which one is best and more eye-pleasing. Well, that is really subjective and depends on personal user preferences. If you ask me, honestly I prefer the iOS interface which is apparently more mature – not only from aesthetic point of view but also from usability perspective. But we should also note that Android is younger as compared to the iOS and is evolving rapidly both features-wise and visually. So, it should be able to catch-up with the iOS really soon. Who knows! may be it already has in the form of Android 4.0! In a future article, we will do a similar comparison for the ICS/Android 4.0 and iOS 5.
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