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One of the most fiercely fought fights in the entire mobile tech room is Android vs. iOS, and chances are, that will not change any time soon. There are some individuals that love Android completely, others who can’t use anything but iOS, and that causes a lot of back-and-forth.
We’re certainly not here to suggest that Android is objectively better than iOS in any way, but we do want to take a closer look at the new Android 11 and iOS 14 updates. On top of a familiar base, the former provides small enhancements here and there, while the latter presents a full makeover that makes iOS more close to Android than it has ever been before.
iOS 14 is an impressive bit of software that does a lot of things really well, but if you ask us, there are certain things that Android 11 continues to be better at. To explain what we’re talking about, here are five reasons why Android 11 is the better operating system compared to iOS 14.
How it manages alerts is one of the strongest points people make in favor of Android. For a while now, updates on iOS have been really mediocre, and Google took an even bigger lead with Android 11 than it already had.
Android 11 separates your notification tray into three different parts, ranging from Conversations, Updates, and Silent as a priority. In Android 10, Alerts and Silent already existed, and with the introduction of Conversations, compared to anything else that pings your phone, it’s now much easier to see stuff like texts and telegram messages. Stuff labeled as conversation messages are moved to the top of your notification tray and show the profile picture of the person who sent you the message (along with an indicator of which messaging app the message came from).
It’s a small change, but I still feel like I’m doing a great job of keeping on top of updates with the Android phone as someone who carries two phones everyday, one with Android 11 and one with iOS 14. Things are clearly ordered, I can see easily if a new message is waiting for me and I usually feel like I have control of what’s happening.
There aren’t things I can say about the notification management of iOS 14, which all these years later appears to be a jumbled mess.
Chat bubbles – multiple conversation organizer
Speaking of conversations, chat bubbles are another major addition to Android 11. There’s an icon on the notification when you look at a contact notification that expands it out of the notification tray and into a floating bubble on your home screen, aka a chat bubble.
A glimpse of the ongoing conversation is shown by clicking on the chat bubble, enabling you to scroll through previous messages, type a new one, etc. Tapping it again reduces it back to the bubble button, which can be moved on either side of your screen anywhere.
Chat bubbles work with a number of messaging tools, including things such as Facebook Messenger, Google Messages, Telegram, and others. You can have several conversations packed in one chat bubble from various applications, making it easy to hop back and forth between conversations no matter where they take place.
At first, chat bubbles may seem a little gimmicky, but if you’re someone who does a lot of texting on your phone, even if you have a ton of other alerts pouring in during the day, they’re a genuinely nice way to keep things organized and within control. IOS 14 does not deliver anything comparable to chat bubbles, and for the near future, that will probably be the case.
It’s still something we’re going to recommend to take care of your digital privacy, and one of the easiest ways to start doing this is by taking control of device permissions on your devices. When downloading a new app, it’s just too easy to just grant all permissions, but the fact is that most applications do not require access to anything they ask for.
To its credit, iOS 14 has very strong controls on permissions. For any app installed from your Settings, you can look at permissions, with toggles to easily activate and disable permissions as you please. When you open a new app that asks for anything like your place, you will also be asked whether you only want to allow access once or anytime you use the app.
For Google with Android 11, permissions were a major priority, with them seeing a few main changes. The first takes Android up to iOS feature parity, with Android 11 now enabling an app to only give position authorization once. However, Android goes a step further by providing this one-time feature for requests for microphones and cameras, too.
Auto-resetting permissions are something else only found in Android 11. If you have granted permissions for an app that has not been used in a couple of months, those permissions will be revoked automatically. Next time you open the app, you can re-grant them, so it’s a way to guarantee that forgotten users don’t have access to things they don’t need.
Chances are that you have some smart home devices in your house/apartment, whether it’s light bulbs, your thermostat, or a wall socket. It is extremely nice to be able to monitor your lights when you are on holiday or kick on the heater on your way home from work, but juggling a bunch of different applications to do all that is anything but.
Google and Apple have already done a decent job by putting all these controls between the Google Home and Apple Home apps into one central location, but Android 11 makes it even better by making you incorporate your most-used controls right into your power menu.
No matter what you do on your screen, the redesigned power menu will be exposed by keeping the power button down. You still have the normal power controls, but this location is now used by Android 11 to also showcase your favorite Google Pay card and any smart home controls you want. Now it is possible to switch on the kitchen lights or change the temperature by simply keeping your power button and pressing the shortcut you have added.
Thanks to how many items I have related, my Google Home app is kind of a cluttered mess, so it is so much easier to have easy access to my most-used controls this way. With the latest shortcuts in your easy settings, iOS 14 also provides fast access to smart home toggles, but that still includes turning on the device and then swiping down. Being able to click the power button at any moment, regardless of whether the screen of my phone is on or off, is a much easier day-to-day experience.
Without a doubt, the highlight feature of iOS 14 is its expanded customization. You can hide home screens you don’t want to see, there’s an app drawer to view everything installed on your phone, you can set default apps, and we finally have widgets that can be placed on home pages next to app icons. It’s one of the biggest changes we’ve ever seen for how iOS operates, and the execution is pretty darn great.
Apple deserves a lot of credit for everything it changed in this regard, but even with everything that’s new, Android 11 continues to offer more customization options — and by a long shot.
For instance take default apps. You can update your default web browser and email app with iOS 14 now, but that’s it. That’s not possible right now if you want to change stuff like your default navigation or camera app. In addition, if you ever turn your phone off/restart as Apple resets it all back to its own things, you will need to re-enable those default apps. It’s a much poorer experience compared to the default app setup we’ve had on Android for years.
In iOS 14, custom icons are kind of a thing, but for every single app you want to change the icon for, you need to build a Siri Shortcut. And when you build a Siri Shortcut and don’t directly alter the app icon, you won’t see your custom icon in the app drawer or outside the home screen anywhere on the device. Compare that with Android 11 or any previous edition, where it is as easy to change an app icon as downloading a custom icon pack and diving into the settings of your launcher.
On that note, on iOS 14 you still can’t use a different launcher. You can switch about and add widgets to your applications, but that is it. Android has seemingly infinite third-party launchers that in the blink of an eye can turn your entire home screen, enabling you to really make your phone the way you want it. Everybody on Android gets these comprehensive customization choices, no matter whether you have the best Android phone or not.