So you’re buying a new phone or tablet. One of the first things to think about is the software.
Let’s face it, we use our mobile devices a lot: watching a film/reading a book/listening to music; on the train/at work/at home. We can use our phones and tablets anywhere and everywhere to do pretty much anything and everything (being sensible of course). This makes OS choice absolutely crucial - who wants to spend hours everyday interacting with a user interface that they don’t like?
To get the most pleasure and productivity out of getting a new phone/tablet you MUST pick the operating system which is best for you.
The two main options are Google’s ‘Android’ and Apple’s ‘iOS’. Here are some of the main things to think about when choosing between them:
1. Do you want physical buttons?
All Apple devices (iPads and iPhones) have pretty much identical button layouts. You get an on/off button, a screen rotation lock, a volume switch and the quintessentially Apple home button (that’s the big round one just below the screen for anyone who’s been living in a box for the past seven years).
As far as I can see, these buttons look to cover every possible avenue of button clicking that you might want to do. What’s more, they don’t confusingly change their function based on how full the moon is as other smartphones seem to infuriatingly do. This is quite a reassuring feature for anyone new to mobile technology; it’s nice having buttons that are always there that will do one thing and one thing only. That home button is particularly good. No matter what, the homescreen is always just a press away (that might sound like a cheesy failure of an advertising tagline but it’s true nonetheless).
With Google you have much more of a choice. All the hundreds of devices available have different buttons, so it's possible to find the perfect button layout for you no matter what.
True Google devices (nexus branded ones) are somewhat lacking in physical buttons however. The 'home' and 'back' buttons are both just displayed on the touchscreen and this can be really annoying - for example, if your screen is frozen then it's much more reassuring pressing a real button instead of ineffectually pressing on the screen.
2. What will your friends think?
When you buy an Apple product, you don't just buy a piece of technology, you buy into the whole Apple look. People will judge you - for better or worse - so decide carefully what sort of impressions you want to make before you start throwing your money about.
Some use cases and sleeves as 'disguises' to try and remain technologically inconspicuous, but what's the point in buying a sleek, super thin, brushed aluminium piece of beauty if you're just going to cover it up?
Again, with Google, you get so much more choice. Spend anywhere from £60 to £600 and either remain perfectly inconspicuous or have random people bursting into tears of jealousy every time you get your phone out.
3. What apps do you want to use?
This can be a deal breaker.
The whole point of buying a smartphone or a tablet instead of a regular phone is to have the ability to use apps; to do things on the go which you would normally require a PC or a Mac for. So if there's an app which you desperately need to use and it's available on iOS but not Android, that's it. No brainer.
4. How much do you want to spend?
Apple devices are expensive. Out of contract you'll end up paying several hundred pounds for any recent generation gadget.
Android owns the budget smartphone market: you can easily get a fully functional smartphone for well under £100.
This factor is less crucial when buying on contract. Service providers want you to use their phone networks so they subsidise the costs of phones to make for some spectacular deals (always worth looking at when on the hunt for a new phone) and attract in customers.
5. Which one do you think is less evil?
Google and Apple are both vastly succesful, hugely wealthy companies. They also both have some unsavoury things going on behind the scenes.
In buying an Apple device you are supporting a company which uses child labour.
In buying a Google device you are supporting a company with an increasingly disturbing dominance of the internet. The amount of influence that Google currently has (EVERYone uses Google EVERYday) would allow them a fairly good stab at bringing down democracy or doing other similarly horrendous things.
As an individual with conscious thought on your side (for now at least, the machines haven't taken over yet) it's up to you to decide which company you feel more comfortable in supporting with your money.
So yeah, it really is up to you which one you go for. Think through the things mentioned in this article, go to shops and play with phones: find out which OS you like the most.
But in an age of screen culture, where people spend hours and hours glued to screens and questionable technology companies rake in their millions perhaps it's just safer to go with a trusty old-fashioned pay as you go - you can get them for under £10 and they don't gradually steal your soul with hours wasted playing candy crush. What you don't have can't hurt you.