Apple-made smartphones and Android-based smartphones are the two most widely used smartphones in the world, but one way to really tell them apart is by seeing which is easier to use. That means turning on an iPhone or an Android-powered device and measuring which software system is easier to navigate and figuring it out just by playing around with it for a little while.
There are plenty of online tutorials and help files to get you the answers you need, but ease of use could be a major factor because now so many people are purchasing smartphones for the first time. Until 2011, most new mobile phones purchased were so-called feature phones, not the snazzy touchscreen devices like iPhone. As we approach the holiday shopping season, most new mobile devices purchased are of the smartphone variety.
Apple prides itself on creating devices that are stylish yes, but also easy to use, or 'intuitive.' That means, a person can pick up an iPhone (or iPad) and be able to reasonably make sense of what they are looking at and perhaps how to use it. Conversely, as Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at the Web 2.0 conference in October, you need to be a computer scientist to use the Android powered devices. Ballmer's Microsoft is in direct competition with Google, so that statement needs a bit of context, but he was alluding to the fact that the Android OS may not be quite as intuitive as the Microsoft system (or Apple's).
Apple's mobile software system is called iOS and it runs everything on iPhones, iPads and iPods. Google's system is known as Android and runs on many, many tablets and smartphones. Unlike the Apple system, however, Android is open-sourced so people can customize their displays and make their home screens look however they want. Perhaps that mindset has led Google to make the Android phones less intuitive, but the newest update, Android 4.0, should address that issue. That's not to say it will be as intuitive as the iOS interface, but because the Android system is so popular, it has forced Google to address these kinds of issues instead of focusing on things like app development, for example (which is also important, of course).
By refining things like one-touch word selection and even how to copy and paste, both systems make using the devices they run more intuitive. Once the Android 4.0 system is in place it will be easier to see which is easier to use, but when Apple rolls out the iPhone 5 next year, the discussion will continue.
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Tell us in the comments if you think a smartphone should be easier to use or if it's not a big issue for you.