Apple’s iPhone dominated the smartphone industry for years before Android devices started to catch up. Despite the iPhone’s early popularity, Apple’s iOS features have consistently lagged behind those available to Android users.
Apple has “borrowed” many features that were developed for Android phones first. Here are six important features that appeared in Android devices well before Apple made them available in iOS.
1. Split-screen Functionality
One of the biggest complaints from Apple users is that iOS makes multitasking difficult. iPhone owners can only use one app at a time. That doesn’t fit the way people expect to use modern computers.
Some Android devices have used split-screens for years. A split-screen makes it easy to use two apps at the same time. Some smartphones even let you open several windows that run apps simultaneously.
Apple has finally decided to fix this problem. But it isn’t available until the iPad iOS 9 update, expected in fall 2015.
2. Tap-to-pay Feature
Several Android devices have NFC (Near Field Communication) chips that make it possible to pay for purchases simply by tapping your phone against payment terminals. As long as you are on a reliable network like T-Mobile and using a smartphone like the Galaxy s5, you can pay for items without using cash or a credit card.
This is a feature that manufacturers started putting in Android smartphones in 2012. NFC chips weren’t available in iOS devices until 2015.
3. App Suggestions
Despite their small size, mobile devices are sophisticated computers that can learn your habits over time. Some Android devices include software that lets them suggest apps based on the time of day and your current activities. For instance, if you usually listen to music while jogging before work, your smartphone might suggest your favorite music app.
This feature makes smartphones more intuitive and helpful. Apple plans to include it in iOS 9. It’s already available in a handful of Android phones and has been a part of the Yahoo Aviate Launcher Android app since 2014.
4. Home Screen Widgets
Widgets are extremely simple apps that perform basic tasks like telling you the weather forecast or showing you how much time you have left before your battery dies. Android has used home screen widgets since 2009, making it really easy for users to get quick information without looking for app icons.
Desktop apps have been around for well over a decade. Apple even used them in some of its Macintosh computers. For some reason, the company didn’t get around to creating home screen apps for smartphones until 2014. Perhaps Apple didn’t borrow the widget concept from Android, but it certainly followed Android’s long lead by including them in mobile devices.
5. Third-party Keyboards
It seems pretty obvious that people will disagree on which smartphone keyboard works best. Some people like large keys while others prefer smaller ones. Some users like to tap keys while others would rather swipe their fingers along the keyboards.
Android figured this out years ago, so it opened its software to third-party keyboards that are installed via apps. Although simple, it’s a surprisingly easy way to make small screens more useful.
Apple didn’t understand the importance of third-party keyboards until 2014.
6. Voice Recognition
If you owned an Apple device in 2014 when the company released its iOS 8 update, you probably spent several minutes playing with Siri’s voice recognition. Saying “Hey, Siri” would summon the mobile genie to do your bidding (or just look up driving directions to the nearest coffee shop). You didn’t even need to hold down the Home button. It was like magic.
While iPhone users were mesmerized by this feature, Android users were already accustomed to getting directions and other types of information just by speaking commands out loud. If “Hey, Siri,” felt oddly familiar, that’s because some Android users had already been saying things like “OK, Google” since 2013. Those Android smartphones even let owners choose unique prompts so they could launch apps with any phrases they wished to use.
Some people believe that the key to Apple’s success comes from its willingness to appropriate ideas from other companies. In recent years, Android has started to take over the market, though. Which of these features do you think has helped Android move ahead?