Good artists copy. Great artists steal. Artists with body guards brag about it.
Or something like that. But in the world where three major operating systems have reached a level where they’re all perfectly fine, and if the other two disappeared for whatever reason, most people would be able to carry on with the remaining one. But let’s face it, no one platform is really perfect. There are things that other platforms do better than others, and that’s true for all three. So we decided to put our heads together and tinker a little bit with our platforms of choice.
So I asked each editor to declare their preferred platform and what they’d steal from the other two, given a chance. Let’s see what they (and I) had to say.
Platform of Choice: Windows Phone
I don’t have a favorite platform so much as a platform du jour. Like Anton below, I feel perfectly comfortable on every platform now that I’ve carried them all. Right now, the only reason I’m on Android is because of smartwatch technology. I have a Pebble, and I ordered a Pebble Time, so I’ll be on Android until Windows Phone wakes up.
That being said, Windows Phone is my favorite platform and the first thing I would steal is the ability to work with smartwatches from Android or iOS. Don’t talk about the Microsoft Band. Just don’t. I would love to have Android’s actionable notifications – and actually the whole notification shade from Android as well. While BlackBerry isn’t technically in “the other two” I would also steal BlackBerry’s word prediction flicking-mechanism for Windows Phone.
As for what I’d steal from iOS. The control center is nice. Wouldn’t mind having that on the bottom of the phone.
Platform of Choice: Windows Phone
My favorite platform is Windows Phone because of the glance screen, animated live tiles, 41 megapixel RAW camera support, and unsurpassed MixRadio music service. If I could, I would take two (or three) things from Apple’s iOS though. I’d take the one-handed usability “reachability” feature which aims to fix the horrible usability design that many app developers have adopted where important navigation buttons are located at the top of the screen where you can’t reach them while holding the phone with one hand. Sure, it’s a hack, but since it looks like even Microsoft won’t be designing their apps for one-handed usability anymore, we need something to make up for the obvious oversight.
I’d also take iOS’s ability to switch between apps instantly. On Windows Phone, there is frequently a slow “resuming…” screen where the phone has to do some processing to get back to where the app was when you left it. This seems like it will be greatly improved in Windows 10 though. So as a bonus, a third thing I would take from iOS is the accessory support. More specifically, I’d like support for wireless headphones that also include a heartrate monitor like the Jabra Sport Pulse. Everyone seems to make their accessories work with iOS first.
Anton D. Nagy
Platform of Choice: All of the above
I don’t have a favorite platform per se, I do feel at home on all three: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. That comes with the job.
However, I’d love to port over Windows Phone’s keyboard accuracy and overall ease of use to Android. The iOS keyboard does a pretty good job. I’d also like to have the great camera features from Denim-enabled Lumia devices (and, heck, why not, the entire camera, but that falls under hardware not software) to the other two. And the customization options from Android to iOS; that would be pure medicine against the boring icons.
Platform of choice: Android
I don’t think you’ll find anyone who’ll argue that I’m a dyed in the wool “Android Guy”, and unapologetically so. Android is the platform that offers the single most customizable and diverse platform offerings. All that having been said, I’m also the first person who will come to the defense of diversity and freedom of choice.
You see, the more competition we have in the free market, the more choices we have. The more incentive to innovate there is. Ultimately, with options comes better prices, too.
As OEMs innovate, their competition sees what they’re doing and tries to one-up them, all in the name of market share. Features from one platform are massaged and reimagined, then injected into a competing platform. This causes the first to react – hopefully with further innovation rather than litigation.
So far, in my opinion, Android is in the lead as far as features are concerned. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t like to see some features from other platforms adopted in my first choice.
Having spent some time with the BlackBerry Passport, coming back to Android I really missed the unified BlackBerry Hub where all my pertinent communications were aggregated. This reminded me of a “life stream” concept that was played with back in the early 90’s, where instead of an app-based UI, the experience was centered around events. Emails, calendar events, even documents were all organized not by app or by subject, but by time. It was an interesting concept back then, and one that’s hinted at in BlackBerry Hub.
I have a love/hate relationship with Windows’ Live Titles. Some tiles are animated and glitzy just for the sake of being able to do so. Others provide pertinent information when and where you want (and need) them. These are similar to widgets on Android, but are the link into the app itself. I would love for Android’s icons to be more like Live Tiles – but only those that provide useful information without requiring you to even open the app.
Last, I absolutely hate proprietary ~anything~. We have standards for a reason. I completely hate Apple’s Lightning Connector. The only products that use it are made by (or licensed by) Apple. The EU even passed legislation prohibiting proprietary connectors some years ago, forcing everyone (except Apple?) to go with microUSB. Alas, now we have another “non-standard” standard. But the thing I hate most about it is how much I love it. Every time I plug in anything via microUSB I have to fight and futz over it. Not so with Lightning, it works either way you plug it in. Sure, USB has a new reversible standard that’s been adopted – but no one it using it yet! Until then, I’m still envious of Apple’s Lighting Connector.
Chief News Editor
Platform of Choice: Android
I don’t know that I have anything useful to contribute to this. I use Android and Android alone; if the other platforms had things that I really liked – even little things – I’d use them too, but they don’t, so I don’t.
That said, I can play a bit of devil’s advocate. Apple may have had an advantage when it comes to apps in the past, but Android’s matured to the point that I never find myself hurting for software availability. I like my home screen straightforward and static (and correspondingly light on its power requirements), leaving me uninterested in copying any Live Tile jazz.
None of this is to say that Android’s perfect, but the sort of things I wish it did differently are very much the opposite of what the other platforms are doing – I crave finer-tuned customization options and more powerful low-level access to system settings. If anything, picking up features from iOS or Windows Phone only seem like threats to make Android worse, more dumbed-down in the misguided effort to “streamline” things. I don’t want your cloud, I don’t want your sync, I don’t want your connected ecosystem of services, I just want a pocket-sized general purpose computer. And Android’s the closest I’m getting to that, by a long shot.
Platform of Choice: Android
My favorite platform is Android, but it’s nowhere near perfect – not for me, not for anyone else I know. There are a good amount of other features I’d take from other platforms, though, mainly from iOS. The first thing I’d take is app stability. This isn’t really a feature of iOS per sé, but as a rule of thumb iOS apps work better than they do on Android. To be frank, I’m tired in 2015 of apps on my smartphone (a superphone specs-wise) still hanging, refusing to open at times, and otherwise being slow and janky. It’s an issue that almost everyone can agree exists, and although it’s not one that keeps me from using Android given the fact that it’s a relatively minor issue on the high-end devices I interact with, it’s one that still irks me.
I’d also take iMessage, because all my friends use it and it’s still a social annoyance to not be included in the group messages the rest of the world seems to be able to participate in. And rounding out the iOS features I’d take update frequency. This isn’t quite a feature, and it applies a bit to Windows Phone as well, but having Android phones updated anywhere near as soon as on iOS could make the OS a bit of a holy grail. My DROID Turbo, a powerful Motorola phone from months ago, still doesn’t have Lollipop available to it. Neither does my HTC Desire EYE – and mind you, neither of these are mid-range smartphones. This needs to be changed, but the fundamental structure of Android doesn’t really allow for it to be much of a possibility.
From Windows Phone I would take exactly nothing. I say this not to bash Microsoft, but simply because of the fact that most (if not all) Windows Phone features are available on some of the various Android phone models out there, nothing from the Microsoft camp is particularly appealing to transfer over to Android.”
Platform of Choice: Yours!
So, that was a fun little exercise. But it’s not over yet. We haven’t heard from you yet. Surely you have a favorite platform and – unlike a certain chief news editor I might mention who scoffs at the rules – surely there is something that another platform has that you’d like to your incorporate. This isn’t an admission of superiority, just a desire to do something a little different. So, don’t be shy. Hit us up in the comments below. Declare your platform of choice, and then say what you’d like to see from one of the other two on your OS.
Leader image source: Gethuawei.com