iPhone vs. Android app UI

iPhone vs. Android app UI

Android Gripes, which I'm guessing is an homage to the terrific Adobe UI Gripes blog, has posted up some screenshots of iPhone apps side by side with their Android counterparts.

When I use an iPhone and an Android phone at the same time, I often find that apps from the same company look a lot different on these two platforms - the ones on Android usually look much worse.

There are without a doubt some well designed, great looking Android apps (Google makes a lot of them) but it is strange to see the same apps from the same developers simply not as well rendered for Android as they are for iPhone. Either Interface Builder in Xcode is even more magical than the iPad, there's some constraint in the Android development tools, or Android users simply aren't demanding the design level they deserve.

(There's a joke that if an app has an ugly icon, iPhone users won't download it. That same joke should exist on Android.)

[Android Gripes via @mdflores]

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, Vector, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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iPhone vs. Android app UI

87 Comments

I find this very true,coming from a HTC Desire,the android equivalent of most apps r uglier and little more confusing perhaps devs rushed them. I do believe google should set a standard across the app Market to truly compete with apple on an app levels. One of the strongest reasons I came back to an iPhone is the app store cos there was certainly nothing wrong the hardware of android phones. Android on the whole is just although more fuctional uglier,more tacky than iOS. If google does improve this matter then I would consider android again but for now I'm just put off!

I'm agreeing with you 100%. The app stop on iPhone was such a strong pulling factor for me to switch from Android to iOS. Facebook for example again, the Android app for it is so buggy and took them like a million updates to get semi-decent. Also, many apps on the Android market are kinda pointless, very unfurbished and unusable since Google ain't assuring app quality like Apple does.
Anyway, well done me for getting an iPhone.

Yep. The quality of the applications on iOS are far superior. These are the trenches where the phone OS wars for my money will be fought and won. I think this is what happens when you have to write applications for the lowest common denominator of a vast array of Android hardware capabilities.

I blame the developers/designers on the project. Peep Words with Friends. It is spot on for both iOS and Android. The only area it changes is in the alerts, etc it shows [which are native to each OS].

Although they look the same Word doesn't offer an Android paid app. So you are forced to view the ads.

My girlfriend has Words with Friends for her HTC EVO 4G, and I have both the paid versions for my iPhone and iPad. The Android app is buggy, loses games, and is flaky as can be--plus forced to watch ads, yuck! Mine works great, never crashes and I don't lose games. A perfect example of how a curated app store = better quality and consistent experience.

The FaceBook example is about the same but missing some of the functionality of the iPhone FaceBook app, but ya a lot of the Android apps that have iPhone counterparts made by the sane team don't look nice but the perception is that android users care about functionality not looks.

Someone finally said it right. I am an iOS user with my iPhone, and I have been hungry to go back to android for that reason. Sure the facebook app looks better but it performs far worse and the one on iPhone doesn't tie into the OS. On android, if I want to share a pic on facebook right after I take it, I can just press two buttons right from the camera app and share my picture on facebook. Easy. Functional. On iOS, I take the picture only to exit my camera app, go into the facebook app only to once again go back into the camera app to choose the photo I want to share. Looks good....... not so functional. There are many things like this about ios. And they are all frustrating. Its a slow system to get around with.

You chose a bad example. In Facebook for iOS, you just go into the Facebook app, and then right next to where you put a status, there's a little camera button where you can either take a new photo to post, or choose an existing one. I know what you mean with Android, where you can post directly from the photos or camera app, but I think how you can do it iOS is just fine too.

Yeah what Tim said it's true, you used a bad example. It's just a matter of learning how to use your apps and not blame the iphone entirely or it's OS.

So now you're navigating around your home screens in order to more directly complete the task? What if FB isn't on your main page but your camera app is? Just face that iOS' intergration is lacking compared to android.

It is true, I will hesitate on downloading an app if the icon looks like crap. A little time and effort in icon and UI design can go a long way. I, as an iPhone user, do very much prefer my apps to look as well as they function.

i noticed this also but i always assumed it was because of the limits of the very small app memory that android uses in their devices. i figured devs had to shrink the app as small as they could get it so you can have more than 2 apps on your phone at one time. which would obviously cause you to lose features and polish.

Good point. Maybe that does have something to do with it. Right now I have about 2gb in apps on my iPhone

Low memory is still an issue. I have 10GB of iPhone apps, mostly due to large games. A modern Android phone with 2GB app storage is still not enough.

I use both Android and iOS, for the most part I agree. However the screenshot of the facebook app is missing something- that sort of awkward empty space is for the photo stream. Previews of pics posted to your wall etc.

Android itself is ugly. And super jerky. Like the little green robot keeps hitting the brakes when you try to scroll through contacts or a web page. It's been out for years and the whole OS still looks like a beta version. I've had several Android phones by HTC and Motorola and they all look like the iPhone before it was polished and brought out of the lab. Android the very first beta version of iOS back in 1746 when Steve Jobs first designed the iPhone while ignoring Benjamin Franklins political ranting and raving! LOL Steve threw it out in the 1980's and started building what is now the iOS that we know and love! That Rubin guy found it in the landfill where he was sleeping a few years ago and the rest is history. Yeah..that's what happened! LMAO!

ummm i kind of agree with this post. Android does have a beta feel to it and feels unfinished but on the flipside IOS feels relatively dumbed down and the OS, while greatly polished and works great feels like it has been neutered

I joke about iOS being little more than a shelf for icons, but it's basically true. It is more polished but it seems that Apple has achieved that by focusing strictly on the polish while going painfully slow on the features. My phone stays on me always and serves so many purposes. I feel so restrained and limited when coming from my Android device and could never use an iPhone as my mobile phone until they take the training wheels off.

Really? Android feels beta? How could an operating system that seels WAY more than iOS be sooooo bad like you say? Yes Android is on a ton of phones but if the software was so bad like you exclaim then people wouldn't buy it or keep it very long. Android functions extremely well and saying that it's beta is pure ignorance.

Buy one get one free my friend... or 99 cents from amazon... Do you really think the majority of people are buying android because they absolutely WANT an android phone.... no. They buy it because the sprint rep says... "its like the iPhone, but better, and 1 dollar if you sign a contract". But people know what they are buying when they buy iPhones, and they still do!

Very weak argument when you post up a long out of date shot of the facebook app and fail to fill the bottom with pics. Of course a current shot in this particular case would make it seem that Android has taken the lead over iOS. No matter, enjoy your garden while reality passes you by.

Yet he has a point. Meebo hasn't been updated since 2009 because other apps (Yahoo, Trillian, eBuddy, etc) has surpassed Meebo in functionality and UI. Facebook screen grab is basically almost a year old because they don't have the Chat, Places, and Groups icons added onto it.
The author of that post is using outdated items to try and prove a point. While it does exist, I rather him use more truthful ways of showing it. Not these smoke and mirrors tactics.

Very blinding. To think that Android isn't a buggy, beta experience is to close your eyes and put your head in some sand.

Here's the thing: the author used old screenshots for Android facebook, but what if he also used a year old iPhone screenshot? The UI difference would still be there. From my experience, while his examples are bad, it is very true that Android apps are lacking UI-wise.

I agree with this post. Android and IOS share a lot of the same apps however the apps are more polished on IOS. I do like the App store vs Android Market because it is visually more attractive and a lot easier to search through than Android. Android Market has it's strengths though. For one, there are way more free apps or cheaper Apps than IOS and I do like that. While I don't mind paying, free is great.
Facebook for Iphone vs facebook for Android...Hands down the IOS version is much better. I grow so tired of having to use Facebook for Android. But luckily the UI of Android(Motoblur, Sense, timescape) pickup a lot of the weaknesses of Android.

This site is great. The iPhone industry is now a multi-billion industry. I’m sure the millions of users of the world will always need more information, developments and news iPhone apps. The current development is amazing and more and more iPhone developers from all over the world also enjoy their creations because of the great potential to sell to the billions of users.

Id say a lot of it has to do with the time devs have put in on making the apps.. a lot of the android apps have been rushed out because devs couldnt forsee that android would gain market dominance so quickly.. it has nothing to do with magic.. id say the icons look a lot better (and widgets, etc) on my xooms screen then they do on my ipad.. i use both iOS and Android daily for the last few years and one thing is certain, android is evolving and nnovating at a much greater rate then iOS. Apple only seems to want to innovate or include features when they have too, where android seems to want to give us the new features and even gives us the option to try them before thet are ready so we can provide feedback to make it even better..

I don't think it is a fair comparison. Just remember that Android based phones do come with different screen resolution!

Android Only uses so much space for apps. I think to keep the app small in size the make a sacrifice. Even with their new app to sd only some apps allow you to do this and once you download a few apps android starts lagging. I come from an htc incredible. I loved the phone but iPhone 4 is better faster and sexier. Plus searching for apps was impossible. They were so focused on matching iPhone with the amount of apps they have that they let every single app go on there. And really I think that wallpaper and ringtones should count as apps. Just saying

The difference is revenue, it just doesnt bring that mauch cash (or Attention)to do these apps for Android...

The site in reference lost all credibility when I scrolled down and saw that they are claiming that the map app on iOS is better than the one on Android. Google maps on Android blows the sorely lacking iOS map app completely out of the water. Of course the soured relationship between Google and Apple is likely to blame, but c'mon. Seriously.

While the blog clearly has an iOS bias did you watch the video to see what they were complaining about? Yes the Android version has more features, but it is slower to load new map tiles and zooming in moved the map center so they were complaining about the core functionality.

Well it would help a lot if we knew what type of phone this was being run on, what version of the OS, what version of the app. When comparing software on two different products, these things are critical. For instance, Google moved to vector based apps many months ago vastly improving performance. Froyo brought a major update to Android processing performance. For all we know his test is being done on what could be a two year old Android device running 1.6. While the iPhone could be a a iPhone 4 running 4.3.2. Considering the fact that outdated apps were used for the UI comparison, I wouldn't put this above those running this site. FYI, my Evo is year old technology and it runs Maps with creamy butter smoothness.

What's with these Tumblr blog posts being used as reference now? =\
But getting back to the point. Lets see...we use Meebo, SpeedTest, and Facebook. Really???? Okay, I'll bite.
But lets break it down. As I stated before...Meebo, not really a "popular" app anymore compared to Yahoo IM, Nimbuzz, Trillian and eBuddy. This app was last updated in 2009. Did you read that. 2009!!!!! Yet their using this as a comparison. Strike one.
SpeedTest. It's an app...to test your speed. Why in good heavens of Asgard would you need to have a "pretty app" to test your speed? That's like saying you want the inside of your toilet to look like the royal palace...although only feces and urine will inhabit it...and nobody really looks at the inside of your toilet. Then he adds that their iPhone always goes faster than their Android phone...as if that's some definitive statement for all Android phones. SMH. Strike two.
Last, but most certainly not least...Facebook. Oh Facebook...the bane of hatred for every Android user. How we can go on and on about this damned app. But I'll start by making one easy thought. It's Facebook and Google...not gonna go into some crazy conspiracy theory...but just think about that. Even CT withstanding...this app started with no team, which Facebook even admitted because they didn't really think Android would be this big. Their loss. But also...the app doesn't need to be like that because they don't need to put badges on the icons within the app since there is a notification bar. There's no need to open your app to see how many messages or friend requests you have...all that is in that nifty bar up top. Then the pictures were left out...basically making it seem like there's an empty, pointless space at the bottom. Strike three and you're out.
So while I do agree, there are some ugly apps out there compared to their iOS counter...this article does nothing to prove that. Like a commenter said above, they REALLY lost credibility when they mentioned the iOS Map app and said it's better than the Android...really? Not only does it look better (I'm not here for the "awesome" page flipping to mark stuff and blah blah blah) but it performs better. That's something nobody can deny. Next time Rene, can we use some credible sources. Someone who at LEAST gets paid for a living to do these comparisons...

Well, for one I liked android facebook more they are showing the older facebook UI up there and didn't let the recent uploaded pictures at the bottom load like they where suppose to. But android has a places app inside facebook just like the iPhone. Only thing iPhone has that android doesn't is able to make profile picture from the phone

Now I'm not going to touch the point of him being a troll or not...
But he gets this reaction because of his OPINION about how he uses his phones?
That seems kind of stupid on your part. Everyone doesn't use phones the same way. If he wants to state he gets more done on his Android phone, then that's fine. Who are you to say he doesn't?

First, I can't believe tipb is actually referencing a blog written by someone that can barely form proper sentences. Second, the Android FB app has groups and chat, and that bottom stripe shows most recent photos. Compare to today's FB on Android and it looks better than the iOS version. Third, the Speedtest app on Android looks better to me. There's no giant advertisement like the giant "58" on the iphone app. Meebo? Who uses that any more? It's amazing that no matter how unintelligible and inaccurate the statements are, if they are against Android, you Apple fanboys will use it as more fodder to deny the fact Android is crushing iOS in market share and innovation.

"(There’s a joke that if an app has an ugly icon, iPhone users won’t download it. That same joke should exist on Android.)"
It's not a joke, it's a fact. ;)

This is rubbish. The screenshot for android is not accurate. It isnt up to date. It is a bigger screen and shouldnt be shrunk to compare. No where is it mentioned that the smaller ios screen had to resort to paging. I think the post icon is better then the +. The search box looks nice on ios but often you have to scroll up to see if there is a search. And the dedicated search button on the device rocks. The menu button on android cleans up an apps ui and is easy to use. In ios you often have to hunt around through pages to find settings or refresh buttons etc. does not work as well as single menu button. Having no dedicated back button is the same problem. At least devs on ios pretty much stick to the same method.

Why does the Android screenshot on the front page have an older rev of the facebook app and why did they not let it update the photo/video stream? Poor editorial if you aren't going to even show the most current edition and not even let it finish grabbing the photo stream.

What a joke. That posted pic of what the FB app looks like on Android is not even correct. There are missing Icons and photos at the bottom of the page. If you are going to run a story and claim Apple has better UI design in apps at least run a picture that is accurate.

About the icon joke: On my iPad I definetly prioritize the apps with good icons over the ones with crappy ones. Its not about how it looks, but its a message they send to the customers about how much they care for designing a great app and paying attention to the detaila.
On my Android phone i dont do this because most icons suck, and most apps suck too. I hope google designers can make a nice HIG equivalent and developers start paying attention soon 'cause I love Android but I agree is too far away from iOS in terms of app quality

Obviously you are the unintelligent one here. iOS is dumbed down. Thats one of the selling points of it and mac in general. It's for people that are either lazy, not smart enough to handle more features, and don't want a bunch of crap cluttering up the workspace. Now I own a mac and an iphone. Ditched the iphone because of how closed it is. I use the mac for personal use and windows for business. Android is my phone os of choice. PErsonally because it's awesome to customize. Swapping kernels, different roms, etc. You can't do that with iOS. You can't even use flash! If you want an easy smart phone that doesn't clutter up and has less functionality then iphone is for you. If you want something that has more functionality, more editabilty(hehe) and not bothered by a challenge, android is the way to go.

About the thread relating to movine apps to your memory card,very few apps actually had updates that allowed this,the biggest and beefiest apps were eating up precious phone memory,the main culprit was surprisingly Google themselves,google maps,google earth etc were not enabled to move to SD,it's laughable really,I really wanted to like android,but there were just too issues like the aforementioned!

I am for one a person that hates ugly icons, I'm not sure why but if its ugly i cant use your app. At least with android you can change an apps icon to whatever you like.
I too changed back to ios because i thought the quality of the apps were better. The only app i have seen to kickass for android was tweetdeck which was written first for android. Soon it will be updated for ios. We will see how well it works for an app coming to ios rather then ported to android.

I have both, so nothing. I like both. I just like honest reporting, which is sorely lacking in articles on both tipb.com and androidcentral.com. Too much bias.

I think the developers themselves and some design decisions by the developers are one of the reasons for Android applications not looking as good as their iPhone equivalents. The Facebook application is one example. The strip below the icons and above the Notification link contains recent videos and photos posted by the contacts. This is unnecessary and makes the overall application look ugly. If they get rid of that, and make the icons bigger and more aesthetically pleasing, the application will look as good as the iPhone one.
Applications for Android developed by Google, like the Gmail client, Google Maps etc. look as good as any iPhone application.

Many Apple users are OCD-ish about how things look. A much much higher proportion of Apple users are OCD about how things look and feel than the proportion on Windows or Android. It's at every level from Steve Jobs to pedestrian users.
This creates a certain kind of pressure on developers to create UI goodness in Mac OS X and iOS.
As far as the examples from the blog, I've never used Meebo but I think the iOS Facebook and SpeedTest.net apps are crappy as far as UI elegance goes. Don't know about Android versions of the same.

I remembered this movie about an android that developed emotions and fell in love with a girl. Sure he couldn't reproduce with his human girlfriend, but that sure didn't stop him from trying.
I forget what my point was.

coming from android to ios since the release of the vz iphone. I would agree in general that ios hase more polished apps.
But I do believe the argument can be taken both ways. Lets compare some of the apps I used all the time on my android device.
Tweetdeck
Google maps
weatherbug
there might be more...but these were some of my primary drivers.
Eitherway...all of these three apps, look better and some function better on android when compared to ios.
tweetdeck is working on an ios update that might bring it up to speed.
Who knows if an updated google maps might ever make it to ios...I highly doubt it. But anybody who bothers comparing android and ios with the google maps app is out of his mind...there is so compartion...google maps on ios currently is useless.
weatherbug on android just look a whole lot better...
these are some of the apps that I miss on my iphone...or wish they would get some updates...
also I wish for native gmail and google talk apps.

i think the iPhone Apps>Android apps ship sailed a long time ago. Now an Android user for 9 months, there is nothing I miss about iOS.

It's true android apps don't quite match iOS apps but however I think wp7 has the best facebook app in terms of looks. I say looks because in terms of usefulness I think iOS is faster and can do more things than it's counterparts.

What's sad is Rene has both a Android and iOS device. Instead of posting this garbage he could have done his own comparison and not have sacrificed TiPB credibility by posting from a garbage site.

They are rather interesting to read. It just shows how many think they know whats going on. Consider, you know, trying both phones, benchmarking them, and keeping them both up to date rather than saying one is better than the other. Read MAXIMUMPC's October issue they benchmark iOS, Android OS, and RIM OS. There you can see real results with proof behind them.

I must highly disagree with your article Rene. And, also, I highly suggest you talk to Dieter and your counterparts at AndroidCentral. Why? The screen shot displayed here of Android's official Facebook app with the iphone Facebook app is incorrect. The android pic listed is EXTEREMLY OLD. Old as in v1.0 Beta OLD! Here is a link to the REAL Facebook app pics! https://market.android.com/details?id=com.facebook.katana&feature=search...
A serious writer and blogger on a prominent, well respected website CANNOT compare/contrast effectively if he/she has incorrect information or "intel" or just plain lousy 8th grade research! I could do the same thing with a Twitter app from Iphone 2G Original from Early 2008 and compare it with my Twitter App (2011)... which, in essence, is what you did Ma'am (given date and app version changes obviously)... More misinformation and distorted propaganda from the Communistic I-world.. Hail Jobs! pwst! Whatever...

you're right, actually both of screenshots is not current version. i guess it's mid 2010 version.

I'm a beta tester for BlackBerry and the new facebook beta for the Torch actually looks and runs very nicely! I own an ipod touch with the fb app on it too, and I'm finding myself preferring the BlackBerry App now. I would think since BB has this nice update that Android is next in line.

Chris, you make a pretty dumb point: you're swapping kernels and stuff apparently on Android, yet didn't bother to jailbreak your iPhone and unlock its full potential? ....reeks of lame.

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What can the Company that makes Android due to make it stand out? I think they need to focus on Design and functionality now. They need a better looking store. I do love how you can buy online or on the phone. The android phone you should also be able to buy movies like IOS. They need a good looking IDE that can do what the developers need with all the resources in one place. The kicker for Android would be you can develop on apple, windows, and unix/linux. They need to create one OS across the board for all there phones starting with all the high powered phones from 2010 up to now. The difference is front facing cameras and those phones without it. I think if the phone looks good. The interface is sound, functional, and different, and you can make calls without the battery being so taxing they could have a chance. Also make it a world phone since LTE will be common around the world. I would rather have a well built phone and keep it for 2yrs, but have a excellent interface, and they only change the interface within the 2yrs. I would appreciate that more than just keep buying phones every year.