Android vs iOS: which mobile OS is right for you?

While Android isn’t without its benefits – including a level of versatility and customisation options that Apple can’t match – iOS’ security pedigree, ease of use and gorgeous design make it the better option for businesses considering a platform for their corporate devices.

A spiritual successor to the Mac versus PC debate that still rages today, the question of whether Android or iOS is the better operating system is a tricky one. While Android users criticise Apple for its pricey hardware and locked-off operating system, iOS users have similarly taunted Google fans over Android’s occasionally-clunky UI design and security woes.

For businesses, picking the right operating system for employee devices can be a crucial choice, and one which can have a profound impact on your workforce’s happiness and productivity. So which one should you pick?

Android vs iOS: Hardware choice

One of the most obvious benefits to opting for Android over iOS is that Android offers infinitely more choice in terms of what hardware you can deploy. The Android ecosystem is huge, with devices to suit every taste and budget. For those that want a best-in-class premium flagship, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is the best device on the market, while mid-range offering from the likes of Honor and OnePlus promise strong performance without breaking the bank.

On the other hand, while Apple lacks the vast range of devices that the Android family has, there’s still a fair spread of options. Between the regular, Plus and SE variants, the iPhone covers pretty much every size you could want, as do the various members of the iPad family.

With that having been said, though, it’s simply impossible to beat Android’s colossal catalogue of devices. Apple may offer a fulsome range, but iOS is still significantly more restrictive than Android in terms of hardware.

Android vs iOS: Design

There’s no doubt about it; iOS is simply miles better looking than Android. Google’s operating system has come a long way since the days of Android KitKat, but even the comparatively slick and attractive Android Oreo is simply no match for the gorgeous user experience of Apple’s mobile software.

Not only is it easy to navigate, but it’s intuitive, too – iOS has caught on in a big way and one of the main reasons is that even people with no tech experience have absolutely no trouble getting to grips with it. Google’s OS, on the other hand, can often be opaque and confusing.

The downside of this simplicity, however, is a loss of functionality. For the experienced user, Android devices offer a wealth of customisation options and hidden settings, allowing you to tweak the device to meet your specific needs. You can even set up automation sequences to perform tasks based on certain criteria.

However, while this is impressive, Apple’s software wins out in the design category on the basis of its beauty and simplicity. For the vast majority of users, Apple’s software lets them do everything they need to do with a minimum of fuss, and it looks good doing it.

It’s even more impressive on tablets, where Apple’s powerful multi-tasking features and desktop-style dock turn the iPad into an almost laptop-like experience. Android tablets just can’t match it.

Android vs iOS: Compatibility

The iPhone is the most popular device in the world, so it’s absolutely no surprise that software makers and accessory manufacturers generally choose to prioritise it over Android. This means that if you’ve got an Apple device, you can all but guarantee whatever app, platform, plugin or attachment you want to use with it will be supported.

Android, by contrast, is much more of a gamble. Samsung is pretty much the only major manufacturer whose devices are routinely supported as a matter of course, but even that’s restricted to the flagship S-series handsets.

Another potential issue for some users will be the fact that Apple has chosen to remove the headphone jack on later devices. This isn’t a major problem, given that there’s a Lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter supplied in the box and Bluetooth headphones are widely available, but if you’re dead-set on having a headphone port, an Android device may be a better choice.

Android vs iOS: Security

Mobile security is too often overlooked by businesses, but if you’re issuing devices to your employees, you should make certain that they’re as secure as humanly possible. The list of vulnerabilities, exploits and other security flaws that have been discovered in the Android OS is long and extensive, as is the list of malware-riddled apps found on the Google Play Store.

iOS benefits from a better reputation, but it’s far from unhackable. Recent notable flaws including the HomeKit bug and the Meltdown/Spectre debacle.  instances of major exploits in Apple’s devices are much, much fewer than on Android, however, and it benefits from faster software rollouts, too. Apple can push updates to all of its handsets directly, whereas Android users must wait until their phone maker has implemented a version of Google’s update that works with its own Android skin.

Android vs iOS: Verdict

Android has millions of fans around the world, and with good reason; it’s matured into a powerful and versatile operating system, with heaps of functionality. However, for business devices, the fact is that Apple’s software remains king of the hill.

iOS is slick, easy to use, good-looking and with absolutely stellar security. While it’s not without its flaws, the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages, and for corporate devices, iOS should still be your first port of call.