Android vs. iOS – Comparing the two most popular operating systems

December 18th, 2020
Ios vs Android

iOS versus Android is an epic tech battle. It’s been fought for many years without either operating system (OS) emerging the clear winner. Both have their strengths, and more importantly, weaknesses. Let’s dive into both systems to help understand them better.

A little bit of history


Android appeared on the scene in October 2003, long before iOS. Founded by Chris White, Andy Rubin, Rich Miner and Nick Sears, premise for Android was to act as a catalyst for smarter mobile devices.

Originally, the Android OS was conceptualized to enhance the OS of digital cameras. A declining digital camera market meant it needed to switch to another role. Android shifted its attention to mobile OS and has never looked back since.

Google bought Android in 2005. In November 2007, the company launched the beta version of Android 1.0. About a year later, in September 2008, the first phone sporting this OS version was launched – T-Mobile G1. The Android OS has come a long way since then, with Android 11 releasing on September 10, 2020. Through its evolution across various versions, Android has constantly added to it features and functionality and kept up with the changing needs of its target users and and evolving technology. The latest Android version puts the spotlight on privacy and adds to an expanded permissions system that was introduced in Android 10.

But more on the security aspect later.


June 29, 2007. Dubbed the ‘greatest presentation ever,’ Steve Jobs took to the stage to introduce the world to the iPhone and the OS that powered what would become the world’s ‘most wanted phone.’ the iOS 1.0.

This early version of the iPhone OS was far behind its competitors at that point of time – but boy did it evolve! An interesting fact: when it first appeared on the scene, it was called the iPhone OS, and it was only later, with the release of iOS 4, that it was named the iOS.

In July of 2008, iOS 2 was released, which it also heralded the entry of the app store on the scene and the iOS SDK.

iOS 3.2 was released alongside the iPad on April 3, 2010. It sported plenty of customizations needed to align with the screen resolution of the iPad. With iOS 5 came Siri, Apple’s ‘Voice Assistant,’ and with iOS 8.2 came the first version of watchOS for the iWatch.

Today, we have the iOS 14, the most current major release of the iOS and was released on September 16, 2020.

Notable differences between Android and iOS

There is an active rivalry between many users of both operating systems. iOS (Apple) enthusiasts often criticize Android like there is no tomorrow, and there are the Android aficionadas who like to rile up Apple fans by pointing at problems in iOS. The truth is, both operating systems have a lot of things going for them (and not). 

Let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two:

Ease of use is a key differentiator. Early on, the iPhone was the clear winner here, but that was a long time ago. With Android, you are more in control of your system, comparatively, but this difference is minuscule at best. Subsequent versions of the iOS have put enough control of the system in the user’s hands. In fact, iOS 14 allows users to customize their iPhone screen more than ever and it is considered to be stronger than Android when it comes to the search functionality.

Apple’s closed system means the company exercises stricter control over how developers can use the OS. For a very long time, this was the reason iOS was considered safer than Android from cyberattacks. Android, on the other hand, is open source, which makes it easily adaptable and can be implemented for all new hardware platforms.

The security angle

Over a period of time, both mobile operating systems have put in a system of safeguards resulting in marked improvement in data security. But the very nature of Android means it has a large number of vectors that can be leveraged by malware to gain entry into your phones. Vulnerabilities and attacks are par for the course in Android – but let’s give credit where credit’s due. Recent Android versions have done a lot to protect phones from attacks through third-party apps. Features such as one-time access to location, ‘auto reset’ of all app permissions if your phone’s not been in use for a long time, and expansion of Google Project Mainline password manager and more are just some of the security features that are keeping Android users and their data safe and secure.

Recent Android devices support Google’s Android for Work that have specific security features in place to protect workplace applications.

In recent years, even Apple devices have come under attack from cybercriminals, which means Apple’s famed closed system will not make it immune to cyberattacks. If we go through the security features on iOS 14, there is no doubt that Apple has woken up to the realization that it needs to do more to secure its devices.

Features such as making it mandatory to ask for permission to use camera or mic, limiting access to photos and location, password monitoring, and a different MAC address every time your iPhone connects to the internet (discourage device tracking) are just some of the features that are improving the security of the Apple’s devices.

More security is always a good thing

Irrespective of the advancement in security features of Android and iOS, it’s away a good idea to bolster your mobile security. Sophos offers free mobile security for Android and iOS that protects your mobile devices from advanced malware threats.

You can combine these with Sophos Home. Sophos Home offers business-grade security for Macs and PCs, protecting them from the latest cyber threats and ensuring you are able to view and manage security from multiple computers through a single intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard. With advanced ransomware protection and cutting-edge AI malware detection using deep learning, it protects your devices from known and unknown threats.

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