BirchTree

Talking tech since 2010

“Android had it First.” “Well iOS had This First!” And Around and Around we Go

I was going to write a long article about each new thing in iOS 14 and whether each feature has been in Android already, but then I trashed the doc. I was getting bored writing it myself, so I can’t imagine how bored you would have been reading it.

Features like home screen widgets, cycling navigation in Maps, and picture-in-picture on your phone may seem like familiar features to Android users, but here’s the thing…

Here are some new features in Android 11 coming this fall:

  • Screen video recording
  • Uniform media controls in quick settings
  • New smart home controls
  • Airplane mode doesn’t turn off bluetooth
  • Pixel 4 face unlock can require eyes open
  • Better voice control
  • Allow location access just once
  • Auto-set dark mode based on a schedule
  • Scrolling screenshots (maybe)

There’s some other stuff there, but that’s a good chunk of the new features, and iOS users will probably already know where I’m going with this…all of this has been on iOS for years.

My point is that iOS and Android are mature operating systems and it is unreasonable to expect each platform to add new features that are totally unique. At this point, we can expect some new features, but a lot of the work is on filling holes (aka doing things the other guys have done for years) and refining the experience as a whole. Snarky tweets about “heh, heh, Android/iOS has had this for years 🤓” get likes and retweets, but they’re not particularly insightful commentary. If you just want to be snarky, that’s cool, enjoy! Let’s just not pretend that this commentary is anything more than fanboy bait.

I think the new widgets in iOS 14 look better than anything I’ve seen in Android widgets in 13 years and it’s stupid easy to make them look good on your home screen, but they’re also less capable and less flexible than what Android can do. The same goes for picture-in-picture, which Android has had for a little while, but iOS is adding a new ability to hide the video off screen and bring it back on demand. They caught up and then took the lead in this feature.

“Android had it first” and “iOS had it first” are mildly interesting data points now, that’s it.

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