The large displays of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus fulfill many long-awaited wishes of many willing smartphone users. But there are many more reasons to switch from Android or Windows Phone to iOS.
Apple’s iPhone or a smartphone with Android operating system are not just a matter of taste. The iPhone has many features and benefits that make it safer, more convenient and easier to use. In a detailed guide Mac & i shows when it is worth the entry or change.
Is Apple’s price too high?
At first glance, the comparatively high prices that Apple demands for its iPhones scare off potential hikers. In fact, a similarly well-equipped smartphone with Android or Windows Phone usually costs significantly less. But the price is just one aspect that should influence the buying decision. In many other ways, the iPhone stands out from the competition.
So Apple provides its devices with updates for three to four years. As a result, customers are less likely to need a new device than their competitors to stay up-to-date with features and security. The latest update iOS 10 brings many new features that fit seamlessly into the clear user interface: advanced notifications, a further improved mail client, new Siri features and face and object recognition in photos.
Already with iOS 9 and iOS 8 previously held other exciting features in the iPhone, including the family release. It allows purchased content – be it music, films or apps – to be shared with up to five family members on request (see Mac & i Issue 6/2014, p. 128 ). Via “Extensions”, apps from the store can finally hook into the message center and, just like Android widgets, display live information at a glance without having to call up the app.
Updates for old iPhones
Of all smartphone manufacturers, Apple has the best update balance. The iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4 remained on the current iOS stand for four years. The three major updates filled security holes and brought new features like iMessage and iCloud. So they helped make it possible to use these devices for a long time, even if they felt a bit slower. iOS 10 is still running on the old iPhone 5 yet. One may assume that Apple will maintain the new iPhones for a similar length of time.
It looks very different on Android. In general, only Nexus or Google devices that run a “naked” Android without vendor-specific customizations receive updates immediately after completion. Many other Android smartphones get no or only a big update. The fact that they are even allowed to take along two large operating system versions is extremely rare. This is the unfortunate side effect of the wide range of Android devices actually pleasing to buyers, because all other manufacturers first have to adapt the newer releases to their own often numerous models. However, the costs are usually saved by the companies.
How to update Microsoft
What Microsoft’s update policy will look like in the future is an open one, but so far Redmond’s balance sheet does not look good. For example, none of the devices with Windows Phone 7.5 or 7.8 had an update to version 8. O2 customers had to wait longer than others for the update of Windows Phone 8 to 8.1 for the current generation of devices. Since the network operators have little say in Apple in this regard and Apple distributes the updates themselves, such waiting times on the iPhone is not known. After all, Microsoft lists on a website which of its Lumia models should receive an update to Windows 10 Mobile.
Full platform control instead of fragmentation
For developers, the described fragmentation of the Android platform is causing headaches: Because of very different combinations of hardware, display size and operating system in the market, it is virtually impossible to publish an optimized for all devices version of an app or game. Lack of optimization then manifests itself in low performance, hangers or even crashes.
A graphic example of how Android biodiversity works in practice comes from game developer Fishlabs, who wanted to release an “All-Android version” of Galaxy on Fire 2 some time ago. After investing a lot of time and money, the team finally supported different models in 1974, but even that was just over half of the then 3234 different Android devices on the market.
Hard- and software directly from Apple
At Apple, hardware and software come from a single source and are perfectly coordinated. Compared to the Android clutter, the product portfolio is from the developer’s point of view almost easy: Even if you take all devices supported by iOS 10 as a basis, you come to only seven iPhones, eight iPads and an iPod touch – some very similar hardware use. In addition, Apple provides developers with tools to use different resolutions with an app.
Apple’s control of the platform is also noticeable on the software side. Thanks to strict guidelines on how user interfaces should look in iOS, users can quickly find their way into new apps, because they work as intuitively as the entire operating system. Although there are also design guidelines for Android, they are by far not implemented as strictly, so that the operation is often different: some apps rely on buttons or hardware buttons, others shift the controls into the app. That is not consistent.
One of the plus points of the Android platform is its adaptability: For example, users can set up their devices largely using their own ideas via alternative launcher. Manufacturers may pre-install apps. Unfortunately, some of these offerings are half-hearted gimmicks rarely used. Annoying so that they can not delete in many cases, or only about the detour of the root access from the device, in which the user grants the same as the iPhone jailbreak full administrator rights, but also a potential security breach tears.
Fragmentation issues with Android and Windows
Windows Phone suffers as a platform, although far less fragmented than the Google competition, because Microsoft from the outset made strict hardware specifications. Since the manufacturers lacked the opportunity to differentiate themselves based on the technical data, they also brought only a few devices on the market. Even with his own Lumia models, Microsoft could not do much about that.
As far as customization is concerned, Windows Phone has little to offer. The user can select an image for the lock screen, arrange the tiles of the home screen, and select a background image that shines through the tiles, as long as the developer of the respective app allows it. Since you can not put apps in folders, the more apps are installed, the more confusing the start screen becomes. Windows Phone 8+ and Windows 10 Mobile can handle folders that can be named. Dynamic Wallpapers also does not know Windows Phone, but they would also fit badly to the tile approach.
iPhone processing at a high level
You can argue about design, but not about quality. Apple is known for its perfectionism, which is reflected not least in the choice of materials and the processing of its devices. Everything fits perfectly and looks just like the iPhone 7 with its rounded edges from a piece. But even the former entry level iPhone 5c with polycarbonate shell pleases tactile and brings color into play.
The cheaper competitors can often convince little in terms of processing. The plastic used is cheaper and less stable, buttons crackle or wobble in their recesses. Only in the higher price ranges above 400 euros, other manufacturers begin to approach Apple’s level, which puts the beloved price argument into perspective.
Quick help with defects
In smartphone service surveys, Apple performs much better than its competitors. There are several reasons for this: For example, Apple customers have a direct point of contact with the Genius bar in Apple stores, which in many cases can help on the spot. The service staff were always friendly, helpful and accommodating in our incognito test (see Mac & i Issue 1/2014, page 8 ). Once they did not know what they were doing, a colleague could help. The good service is rewarded, and Apple recently received the Customer Satisfaction Award from JD Power for the ninth consecutive year.
Apple also replaces broken iPhones usually against new or refurbished devices, instead of tedious repair like Samsung, HTC & Co. The refurbished devices usually have a new case, a new battery and a repaired motherboard. So you feel like new and have full warranty, but still applies from the purchase of the original device – so the period is not extended by an exchange.
As part of the one-year warranty and the two-year warranty, Apple exchanges defective devices for free. After expiration of the guarantee or with self-inflicted damages one pays with the iPhone 130 to 170 euro with defective display and 80 euro with battery problems. For the iPad, the service costs between 200 and 380 outside of the warranty, the battery replacement 99 euros. Other defects such as water damage cost depending on the model 170 to 350 euros. This seems expensive at first glance, but even in these cases, Apple usually provides replacement devices instead of repair. For comparison: A Samsung authorized workshop takes 200 to 250 euros for the installation of a new display in the old device.
iCloud: Everything in sync
The iCloud serves as a central collection and comparison point of various data and content. Contacts, e-mails, photos, calendars, back-ups of devices, documents and the keychain that contains all the passwords – all this and much more is stored on the Apple servers on request. All devices registered with the same Apple ID sync across the iCloud, keeping them up-to-date.
With iCloud Drive introduced with iOS 8 and Yosemite, users can store any file in the cloud, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive. Users get 5 GB of storage space for free, 50 GB for 99 cents a month.
Apple is committed to privacy
The privacy of its users is very important to Apple. That’s why we also offer two-factor authentication for the iCloud . It offers better protection of your own data than a simple password. In addition, iPhones already come with various privacy features. The messaging service iMessage, for example, encrypts every message like the much-praised but chargeable Threema, so even Apple can not read it. You do not need to enable or configure this end-to-end encryption; it is firmly installed. In contrast, according to a recent study, 87 percent of all Android devices are vulnerable to security vulnerabilities.
Apple stresses: encryption and more privacy
On every smartphone you should set up a lock code, but the touch ID fingerprint sensor of the current iPhone makes data protection more convenient: the owner simply puts his finger on the sensor, already the device is unlocked. The file system’s automatic hardware encryption also makes it very difficult for casual thieves and other bad guys to read data without the passcode. In addition, iPhones safely and quickly erase memory when needed because iOS only has to discard the key. Once the iPhone is stolen, the owner can even delete it remotely. For Android you have to turn on the encryption partly even on Windows Phone, this is only a policy from the corporate server – private users are left out.
Since version 8, iOS does not reveal its true MAC address when looking for available Wi-Fi networks, but a fictitious one, and each time others, making it difficult to create motion profiles. In addition, iOS users can individually enable the location feature for each app and lock it at any time. This also applies to access to other features such as the contacts, the camera and the microphone. So far, however, Windows Phone and Android apps do not operate according to the principle or not at all: If you want to install them at all, you have to grant them all the required rights, and they keep them once and for all. This has changed only with Android M, but – together with the newer Android Nougat – only about one third of all Android devices.
Malware makes it harder in the App Store
Therefore, it is above all the user, even before the installation to be careful, whether the desire catalog of an app fits really to their area of responsibility. If you install a snoop or pest disguised as a helpful tool, it already has all the required access rights. For iOS, it would be hard to get it into the App Store right now because the iTunes team is scanning pest-infested code. The only handcountable cases of attacks on iPhones required the controversial jailbreaking of the iPhone, or a hacker-rigged version of Apple’s Xcode development tool, which came from dubious sources.
The business models are also fundamentally different. Where Apple sells products and services and asks for a bit more money, Google always has the uneasy feeling of making itself a commodity by publishing a wide variety of data and motion profiles, thereby involuntarily subsidizing the lower device price.
iOS is simple and powerful at the same time
Although Google has been proven in many places on iOS and Apple has also taken a few loans on Android, Android is not so articulate and thoughtful and therefore less easy to see through. iOS, however, is equally suitable for smartphone beginners and professionals. Beginners get along immediately, because the interface is clearly laid out, shows meaningful icons and most app developers follow Apple’s design guidelines.
Unexpectedly, there are many advanced features under the simple interface: iOS works better with Exchange servers than Android. In addition, iOS lets the user decide which apps are allowed to transfer data in the background. Anyone who is familiar with swiping gestures can send quicker photos, edit mails or answer short messages as an entry-level person. Sophisticated yet easily configurable child protection features help keep inappropriate content out of the offspring and limit functionality when needed.
Thanks to various accessibility features, iOS is better suited for users with physical limitations than its competitors. Visually impaired people benefit from the possibility of increasing the contrast or inverting colors. Voice Over reads screen objects and gives hints on how to use them, while the voice output reads all the screen content – handy for emails, sms or web pages. Texts are dictated by speech recognition, while commands or queries are directed to versatile speech assistant Siri. In addition, iOS scores in the support of Bluetooth peripherals such as Braille displays and input devices and hearing aids. Since iOS 10, the iPhone also serves as a reading magnifier .
Relocation helper for Android users included
Switching from one iPhone to the next is quick and easy: create an encrypted backup in iTunes with three clicks, transfer it to the new device, and you’re done. It then greets its owner with the same apps, the right settings, set up mail servers, all songs and movies and so on.
While Windows Phone with the right settings in the backup proceeds similarly thorough, Android still offers not full backup, but secures alone the operating system settings, Wi-Fi passwords and content from some apps. Chat histories, call lists and the like are not part of the backup. More is only possible if the user has root privileges, which, like the iPhone jailbreak, entails certain dangers: Equipped with such rights, apps can do some damage, and not even maliciously. For example, the backup of a system file created with root privileges on another device can result in a boot loop.
The ideal partner for an iOS device is unsurprisingly the Mac. He has long served as a partner for data reconciliation and as a backup target. Apple is constantly pushing the integration of its two operating systems. When the iCloud Photo Library is activated, photos taken with the iPhone automatically land on the Mac. Conversely, edited on the Mac Pages, Numbers and Keynote documents in the respective iOS program on.
Passing information to the Mac
Under the name of continuity Apple summarizes a whole series of functions, which connect iOS starting from 8 and OS X starting from 10.10 closer together (see Mac & i booklet 5/2016, P. 32). Handoff allows you to seamlessly switch between two devices that communicate with each other via Bluetooth 4.0 and are logged in with the same Apple ID. For example, users can write an e-mail on their way home on the iPhone or work on a Pages document and continue writing on their MacBook or iPad exactly where they left off at home. The Apple apps Mail, Safari, Pages, Numbers, Keynote, Maps, Messages, Reminders, Calendars, and Contacts are all handoff-compatible. The interface is also open to external developers.
Another aspect of Continuity is the ability to use the Mac for classic cell phone tasks. So you can make phone calls simply on the Mac, which remains in contact with the iPhone via Wi-Fi, and sends and receives on the news app of macOS OS X Yosemite on request also SMS (iOS 8.1 or higher). The wireless data exchange via AirDrop has been around for some time. Since iOS 8 and OS X 10.10, data also travels between Macs and iOS devices as long as they are continuity-compliant. If you are traveling a lot with MacBook and iPhone and do not want to go to the nearest coffee roaster for surfing, you should find the Instant Hotspot particularly helpful. Simply start the personal hotspot on the iPhone, the MacBook automatically finds it on the WLAN scan and logs in – without a password.
Most continuity features require an iOS 8 compliant Bluetooth 4.0 device. These are all from the iPhone 5, the iPad mini, the iPad from the fourth and the iPod touch fifth generation. On the Mac side are suitable as a peer all types from the model year 2012, all Bluetooth 4.0 have on board. Just talking on the phone and texting on Mac works well with older generations. Many older Macs can be made fit for continuity with the so-called Continuity Activation Tool (CAT) or a Bluetooth 4.0 stick.
More than enough good apps …
The number of available apps has not been around for a long time, only Microsoft has yet to talk about it. More interesting is the question of where the best apps are. And there Apple still has a head start. For developers, the App Store is more attractive, because most users have already deposited their credit card data there – so the inhibition threshold for a purchase is lower. In addition, the device variety at Apple as mentioned is smaller than Android. This allows developers to more easily customize their apps to hardware and deliver new features faster. Despite new form factors are iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for best examples, because only shortly after their market launch, many developers had already adapted their apps for the larger displays.
… and lots of accessories
From the kitchen radio to the car: an iPhone can be plugged in almost anywhere. A few years ago, Apple replaced the dock connector, which was used for a good seven years, with the small Lightning socket, but there is an adapter that can be used to reuse old accessories. The Lightning connector is likely to have a similar high life expectancy, and now there are numerous accessories especially for the iPhone 6 (s) and iPhone 7 from battery cases to game controllers to TV tuners. There are also plenty of speakers and hi-fi Components with AirPlay and sports sensors designed specifically for the iPhone – overall, the range is larger than for Android and Windows Phone.
iPhone as a fitness, media and control center
Apple always understands not only announce additional features, but also to convince developers and partner companies to use them. With each release of iOS come new APIs that allow access to certain services or interface between iPhone, apps and peripherals.
AirPlay, for example, turns Macs and iOS devices into media centers that play content on appropriate receivers. Instead of jostling with the relationship to the iPhone, you send pictures and videos from the last holiday on Apple TV to the TV. The same can be done with feature films from the iTunes Store, Netflix & Co. AirPlay speakers play music over Wi-Fi. Ingenious: With only one iPhone, you can supply AirPlay boxes in different rooms and so sound the entire house. Who works on the tablet, would like to print e-mails and documents as a rule. For this iOS has AirPrint on board, which works completely without drivers. All major manufacturers have released several generations of AirPrint-enabled printers.
iPhone in the car
CarPlay has been in iOS 7 since then, integrating the iPhone into the car. It turns the display of the car radio or on-board Navi to the second display, at which one can start for example over the steering wheel keys or by voice control Apps, contacts call and information can be indicated. Many car manufacturers now offer CarPlay-compatible entertainment systems in their latest model series. If you want to make your car fit for CarPlay, you will need a retrofit kit.
HealthKit serves as a link between fitness apps such as Runtastic or Garmins Connect Mobile and accessories such as heart rate monitors or blood glucose meters (see Mac & i Issue 3/2015 from page 46 ). The apps may exchange data with each other via HealthKit, if the user allows it. If you like, you can then graphically process the data collected from various sources in Apple’s own health app.
HomeKit and the home app in turn make iOS devices the home control center. IPhone and iPad can then conveniently control the light or temperature in the house via compatible devices, but can also allow roller shutters to be raised and lowered. The accessories should be able to react without direct instruction: If the radio weather station reports rain, the windows close in a suitably equipped house. Apple has also attracted numerous partners to HomeKit, including lighting specialist Osram, air conditioning manufacturer Honeywell, home appliance company Haier, and Elgato, known for its Mac and iOS peripherals. Philips has long since released a firmware update for its Hue lights, which hooks into the HomeKit framework.
Pay with Apple Pay
Apple also attracted a great deal of attention with its payment service Apple Pay, which has now been in business for over two years – but so far only in certain countries.
In short, Apple is not resting on its laurels, but looks to the future and plans to expand with existing and new APIs alike the range of functions steadily. However, the focus is not on the technology, but always on the user, the usability. And for the iPhone and iOS to be a platform in and of itself, one of the strongest arguments in favor of a change.