Why new iPhones look like Android phones?
A new iPhone was recently released. This means that I have been talking about the new iPhone to a lot of people. So much so that I have begun to notice a trend in these particular conversations.
One of the things that came up the most when talking to these people is, unsurprisingly, the size of the screen. When someone picks up my iPhone 6, more often than not they say, “This is the small one?”
The new 4.7-inch display is a huge change from the 3.5-inch and 4-inch screens on past iPhones.
Is this an effort to mimic Android phones? Such devices have had big displays for a long time now. Last week’s Tech Tuesday section featured a story titled “Supersized screens see growing trend in technology,” which gave examples of how big-screened devices haven’t just been around for a while, but have established themselves as part of the future.
People want their phones to do more stuff, so naturally, our phones have grown and adapted to that need.
The smartphone is at an interesting point. There’s not really such a thing as a “bad phone” anymore. Even the phones we carry in our pockets are more powerful than the computer that sent Apollo 11 to the moon. The iPhone 5s, released in 2013, ran at 1,300Mhz, more than 1,000 times faster than Apollo 11’s measly 1.024 Mhz.
This rapid, exponential year-over-year growth is known as Moore’s Law, named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore. According to Intel’s website, the law states, “The number of transistors incorporated in a chip will approximately double every 24 months.” That means processing power would also roughly double every two years.
Software is following a similar trend. Every major mobile operating system has vastly evolved in a relatively short timespan.
Now that Android and iOS have had time to mature, we can see the priorities behind both operating systems. Let’s take a look at the fall updates for each platform and what they mean for the future of mobile accomplishers.
iOS8 is Apple’s attempt to make the software more open to developers. For the first time, apps can “talk” to each other, which means you can share a link to Twitter from inside your favorite news app without actually having to open up Twitter.
iOS 8 enables developers to do more with the operating system than ever before, opening new doors for how we interact with iPhones. iOS 8’s new share window is a first for the iPhone, but Android has had the same feature set in since the beginning.
On the other hand, Android is only just now finally beginning to develop a cohesive, unique design language, which they call Material Design, to be introduced in the newest version of Android.
Android 5.0 Lollipop is the most beautiful, stable and reliable version of Android ever, but keeps the extreme customizability that Android is known for. In the past, Android was notorious for inconsistently designed apps and crashes, even on the most powerful devices.
The iPhone, originally so focused on working smoothly that users couldn’t even change the home screen wallpaper, is now becoming more friendly to developers and granting them more freedom. Android, the bastion of openness, is now focusing on making their platform attractive and consistent in an effort to appeal to non-technical users.
We’ve finally hit the point where both platforms have accomplished their original goals, so now these companies are replicating these features across platforms.
This is a bigger deal than it sounds. Smartphones are quickly reaching their final form. How much thinner can a phone get? How much bigger can a display get? How much faster can the software respond? The answer: Not much.
This means that we’re soon going to start seeing new device form factors. Most people, Apple and Google included, would bet that the next revolution is on our wrists.
Google announced Android Wear, its wearable version of Android, over the summer, and manufacturers have already begun shipping retail units like Motorola’s Moto 360. In September, Apple announced their upcoming Apple Watch to grand fanfare, calling it their “most personal” device ever.
The smartphone is changing, but that’s a good thing. We’re experiencing an information revolution, and the battleground is in the palm of our hands.
Long story short: that’s why the new iPhone kind of looks like an Android phone.
Tyler Gold is a senior studying Information Technology and Informatics. Follow him on Twitter for tech updates @tylergold