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09-10-2013, 06:05 PM   #1
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A die-hard Android fanboy finds iOS far easier to use - Google needs to do better

I love my 2012 Nexus 7, and as much as I am an Android fanboy, I sadly have to say that iOS is far easier to use than Android from the standpoint of a new user, to the point that Android is unusable in comparison to iOS.

When I first got my Nexus 7, I had little trouble activating the device. However, usability became questionable as soon as tried to configure the tablet. The Settings app is not on the home screens and is hidden in the midst of many other apps in the All Apps menu. The user doesn't have any obvious idea as to how to configure the device until after several minutes of exploring the device. On the other end, iOS puts the Settings app right on the first home screen.

Free of extraneous apps or modifications, the Nexus devices represent Android as Google intends it, and yet it is pretty hard to use from the standpoint of a new user. I can only imagine how difficult a skinned Android device with non-uninstallable carrier-mandated apps is to use...

I much prefer my Nexus 7 to an iPad, and despite my limited experience with iOS, it is clear that Android is effectively unusable for a user not familiar with computers. iOS is pick-up-and-play.

I now know my way around Android, but if Google is to get more users onto the Android "mobile technology platform", they need to take usability more seriously. These sorts of usability problems are driving people away from Android.

--DragonLord

Edit: More instances of usability problems:
  • With iOS, core apps are always on the first home screen. With Android, system apps may not be immediately visible on the home screen(s) - out of the box, key Google apps such as Chrome and Maps are often hidden in folders that are not clearly marked.
  • Aside from the universal power and volume buttons, iOS has fewer control points, with a single physical Home button. Android has at least three main control points: Home, Recent Apps, and Back. There may also be a Menu button depending on the app or device. This can lead to confusion for beginning users.
  • Menus in Android are more difficult to navigate than those in iOS. iOS menus are well-structured and have clear delineations between groups of items, while Android menus don't separate groups of items well, making them harder to read. In iOS, groups are visually shown as rounded rectangular containers with headers outside these containers. In Android, menus are little more than flat lists of items, making it difficult to find a desired item. The following images are from the Nexus 10 and iPad, respectively.

  • With iOS, the home screens are the list of all apps available. With Android, the home screens are containers for widgets, and the list of all apps is accessed through a separate menu. This menu can be very difficult to navigate if many apps are installed, and although Android's home screens offer far more customizability, it leads to clutter that generally does not occur with iOS.
  • Despite significant improvements in UI performance with Android 4.1's Project Butter, it still does not match iOS in smoothness. The iOS UI runs at a constant 60 fps, generally without any slowdowns even with complex animations. When consumers compare, the Android device will always look inferior to the iPhone or iPad, even if the Android device has a faster processor! Android needs to have better hardware-software integration and optimization - newer versions of iOS run very smoothly even on older iPhones.



Last edited by bwDraco; 09-10-2013 at 09:25 PM.
09-10-2013, 06:35 PM   #2
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The standard setting on your Nexus isn't necessarily the fault of Android. Some phone companies just setup and handcuff the way phones operate.

You could try rooting your Nexus and install an "improved OS". i.e. on my very low end LG C600 the OEM setup is pretty bad. Once rooted I installed Cyanogenmod 7 and boy what a difference. More control for me. Phone is still low end, but runs much better.
09-10-2013, 06:51 PM   #3
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You came to this conclusion just because the settings app is not on the main homescreen? Reading the thread title, I was expecting more specific use cases where iOS outshines Android, but I got none. It's a known fact that iOS is much better compared to Android when it comes to usability, but it's not unusable like you put it.
09-10-2013, 08:20 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RonakG Quote
You came to this conclusion just because the settings app is not on the main homescreen? Reading the thread title, I was expecting more specific use cases where iOS outshines Android, but I got none. It's a known fact that iOS is much better compared to Android when it comes to usability, but it's not unusable like you put it.
I have updated the original post to add specific examples.

--DragonLord

09-10-2013, 08:35 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by DragonLord Quote
  • Aside from the universal power and volume buttons, iOS has fewer control points, with a single physical Home button. Android has at least three main control points: Home, Recent Apps, and Back. There may also be a Menu button depending on the app or device. This can lead to confusion for beginning users.
I find the Android system of having a Home/Back/menu button to be extremely intuitive, it makes sense that pressing home take it all back to the standard screen, and back goes back by one screen, and menu opens a menu.

Where the Apple version I may open something and wish to just undo that thing, press the button and it goes to the home screen and I have to open the program again which then just opens to where it previously was and I need to hunt around and remember weird finger combos to go back one.
09-10-2013, 08:51 PM   #6
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Added more information on menus. Groups of items in iOS menus are placed in contrasting boxes, making separate groups of items easy to identify visually. Android menus do not have this clear separation between groups, making them flat and difficult to navigate.

This is something Google can easily fix in Android 4.4. Given the estimated release date, they have about one to two months to do this. I want to file a bug against the Android system for this, but I don't want to expose my email address to spam. If you want to, you can use this link to report a bug in Android; please provide a link to the report if you do. I will eagerly follow the progress of the bug fix.

--DragonLord

Last edited by bwDraco; 09-10-2013 at 09:07 PM.
09-10-2013, 09:37 PM   #7
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I'm pretty sure the latest 4.3 have folder with Google Apps on the home screen; not sure about settings icon. The only thing a new user needs to be taught is the notification really.

I'll never consider iOS homescreen to be better than Android. It's same clutter when you have many apps on both platforms, except you have more ways to deal with it on Android.

Android framework is flawed and crappy so it will never perform as well as iOS' native code. There's pretty much no way around it unless they start over.
09-10-2013, 11:23 PM   #8
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Well I bought a Ipad2 two years ago and and as a windows pc user took a while to work out how to use it, it was a while a while before the penny dropped that it only syncs and you can't drag and drop to it like PC to PC or PC to storage device , that i had to cretecfolders for itunes to find and sync to and so on, badly worded but I'm sure you understand, however I after much debate I this month went for a new nexus 4 phone rather than a IPhone and I found the nexus totally logical and all the Menu,'s and settings to be where I would expect them to be as a PC user.
Just my pennies worth on the subject

09-11-2013, 08:42 AM   #9
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I bought a Retina iPad this spring and I must say, I'm impressed. It works very well and has exceeded my expectations. I have a 2 yr old Android phone which gets me so aggravated sometimes I want to throw it against a wall. I'm sure the newer ones are better and I can come up with several reasons to go with Android over Apple but I agree with DragonLord. iOS works smoother and is very easy to get working with. My main motivation for getting a tablet was for viewing my photos when away from home. I was previously using a Windows XP netbook. Right off, Apple offers more memory, up to 128 GB. I find the 64GB suitable for my needs but a photographer shooting with a D800 will want more. I can load my RAW files directly and view them. On a recent trip to Maine, I shot around 1000 shots and was able to view them on one of the finest screens made. The battery life is incredible. It's a fantastic travel tool to have along. Can you do it with Android? Yes, but not as easily.

I also find the apps I use on both platforms work smoother and better on iOS. Some of that can be blamed on the app because I have some Android apps that work very well. My Android phone syncs better with my Windows computer but as a stand alone device I consider it a poor performer. I'm in need of a new phone so I now have a choice to make. The new Android phones are larger, important to me as my eyesight isn't as good as it once was. My current Android (v 2.3) is about as stable as Windows 98 which means it completely freezes on occasion. If a notification come in while I'm listening to music, it will sometimes re-boot and about once a month, I have to open it up and remove the battery for a few minutes. I complained and the phone store guys said "yeah, that happens, but it's getting better." This reminds me a lot of the old advice about re-installing Windows every 6 months so it works right. This is BS in this day IMO. Maybe it's Android, maybe the phone manufacturer but iOS just works.
09-11-2013, 09:13 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
I'm in need of a new phone so I now have a choice to make. The new Android phones are larger, important to me as my eyesight isn't as good as it once was. My current Android (v 2.3) is about as stable as Windows 98 which means it completely freezes on occasion
I was in the same position with a Galaxy phone 3 years old and slow as Hades, I got a new Nexus 4 from Google and so far very happy, if you read the dozens of test posts and reviews that are on the net you will see that most honest reviewers who don't have bias say its pretty 50/50 between the new Nexus4 and the new iPhone 5.

To me the fact that Google have history of updating the android system and giving you that latest version for free is what pulled me rather than the Apple buy a new one every 2 years attitude.
09-11-2013, 10:54 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by adwb Quote
I was in the same position with a Galaxy phone 3 years old and slow as Hades, I got a new Nexus 4 from Google and so far very happy, if you read the dozens of test posts and reviews that are on the net you will see that most honest reviewers who don't have bias say its pretty 50/50 between the new Nexus4 and the new iPhone 5.

To me the fact that Google have history of updating the android system and giving you that latest version for free is what pulled me rather than the Apple buy a new one every 2 years attitude.
The reality of today is that the technology is changing so rapidly with mobile devices, you need one in 2 years anyhow. A great annoyance of mine is that my phone isn't upgradeable to a newer version (at least without hacking it) a a lot of apps no longer work. I also have Verizon and a lot fewer phone choices.
09-11-2013, 07:06 PM   #12
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I've had more tablets and phones than I can count, including two Ipad 2's. I thought they were all good and the Apples were buttery smooth, but my latest, Google Nexus 10, is every bit as nice as the Apple offerings. The 2560 x 1600 screen is brilliant and razor sharp. I like that Google updates Android on a regular basis, so I have the the latest Jelly Bean 4.3. It is very smooth also and this tablet has lots of horsepower under the hood. Android gets better all the time. I find it very intuitive just as I did with the Ipad, but they're different. Not in a bad way though.

Apple is hot. I just got back from ebay and couldn't believe the bids going off on pre oders of the latest Iphone 5s. I just don't understand paying over 1000.00 for a phone that the seller doesn't even have yet. Apple sure seems top have a loyal, captive market.

Larry
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