Android vs iOS Part III: Behind the Lens

The second installment of the Android vs iOS series  may have convinced some of you to pick up a Droid. A two-way cloud sync app or Torrents app may just be that one killer app you are looking for. Personally, it would not have convinced me. The fact that you can actually turn your Android phone into an automaton, well that scares the bejeezus out of me. Suffice it to say, I am not an uber smartphone user.


Android Smartphone vs iPhone: A look into the camera app

Okay, the smartphone techie elite are gone. After reading the second installment of this article, they would have made a beeline for the nearest store to pick up a Samsung Galaxy S4 or Google Edition HTC One. That just leaves us, lesser mortals, to continue the discussion. But seriously, some of us just want a smartphone, and not a handheld version of the Cray.

In the first part of the Android vs iOS series, I discussed the elements of the iOS and Android user interface. Apple rolled out a very simple user interface and gradually adds more features each year. It is almost like they gave us a bike with training wheels. Android, well thanks to the intense competition among Google’s partners, have thrown in every conceivable feature, including the kitchen sink. For the past two years, Google has been working on streamlining the experience, with its partners being somewhat cooperative. Despite a lot of convergence in features, the two are still worlds apart. You have to decide which world you want to belong to.

Let us look at this aspect again, in a microcosm. Instead of looking at features which appeal to the really hardcore, let us go to one of the most basic features of the modern smartphone: the still camera. Really, how different can a camera interface be?

Keeping it really simple: The camera. Apple iPhone 5 has an excellent camera. A simple point, tap and shoot can produce excellent stills. The interface is very clean but basic.


The camera has three modes: standard, HDR, and panorama. If you stick to the basic camera mode, you also have the ability to toggle the flash between on, off and auto. Face detection technology is on by default, and there is no way to turn it off. Keep your finger down, and you can take a fast succession of shots.  That is really all you can do. Just enough for the camera to produce excellent stills, in the typical situations.

A picture speaks a thousand words. Different Android manufacturers use different software for their cameras. Still most every mid-priced and high end model, have a camera interface approaching that of a prosumer camera. You could of course ignore everything and just point, tap and shoot.

For comparison, I will use the stock camera app of a Samsung Galaxy III, since it was the model released in the same year as the iPhone 5.  It is pretty much the same as the one on the Galaxy S4 anyway.


Not every picture is a self portrait to be posted on Facebook, so the Galaxy’s camera app lets you disable Face Detection. Now, If every picture you do take is a self portrait for Facebook, the Galaxy makes it simpler. Just point, smile and let the phone do the rest.


It would take a small handbook to take you through all the features of the Galaxy camera app. Given that I do take photos with a traditional camera, it has the familiar old tools I look for. It has two focus modes, standard and macro, for shots really up close.


It allows me to select image quality with ISO settings.


Then there are the exposure settings allowing to compensate when the backlighting is too strong, or when my subject is obscured by shade.


And yes, keeping your thumb down will also have it rattling away shots like a machine gun. These are what I need to get good photos even in less than ideal situations. As for the other features, well, I really do not use the rest.  With all this though, there are still things missing like aperture and shutter speed control. I suspect they may be coming soon.

Now, I am not saying that you should decide between iOS and Android based on a camera application. I chose what would seem to be a simple enough app, to highlight the main distinction between the two.

When you go into areas like customization of the look and feel, and even the ability to change the manner of operation, the amount of system information displayed to the user, the ability to share and transfer files, and pretty much every other aspect of a smartphone, the chasm is just as wide as it is with the camera apps. The apparent similarity in the use of home screens, icons, wallpaper, and notification panels, ultimately, it is all just skin deep.

So, which world do you belong to? Only you can answer that. The iOS provides an Apple-curated user experience, prepared after hours of study on what “the best” way of doing something is. Android lets you do it your own way, often providing multiple ways of accomplishing the same task. Do it the way you want, and ignore the parts that you do not use.

Look at the screens again above. If after the first one you feel overwhelmed, head over to year nearest Apple Genius. On the other hand, if you see interesting possibilities in the layers of menus and options, Android is the one for you.

There really is no one best operating system for everyone. Those that insist that there is, will be debating for a very long time.

Our companions take a well deserve rest while we have a family supper.
Our companions take a well-deserved rest while we have a family supper.

Between Android and iOS, and the others in between, the good news is that there is something out there that should just fit.