It’s no secret that both Sebastien and I purchased Nexus 7 devices from Google. We may have differing reasons for our purchases, but one reason we share in common is the desire to see how Google is performing in the tablet space. This is especially so with the Nexus, since it’s the flagship that’s guaranteed to run stock Android with no additives or preservatives.

The Nexus 7 is the first Nexus device I’ve owned, and I’ve come away quite impressed; read my thoughts on the Nexus 7 for more details on that. I’ve even been able to identify a few things that Google is doing well, and that Apple could stand to learn from. Items like widgets, and offline dictation, to name just a few…


Widgets have been a key differentiating factor between Android and iOS from a very early age, but I always felt I understood why Apple avoided them. a). They tend to looked cluttered and messy, and b). Who really needs an Android styled clock widget when you have a clock on the status bar?

But the Nexus 7 made me realized that Widgets are more than just ugly clocks littering the Home screen just for the sake of claiming customizability. Widgets could actually be extremely useful; for example, the RSS widgets. Those are ridiculously nice, and I find myself using them all the time. As much as I’m always hitting up Reeder on my iPhone to stay updated with the latest feeds, having live updates right on my Home screen makes me a little jealous that this feature isn’t available on iOS.

Offline Dictation

Offline dictation is nice, because you’re not always online. But it’s also nice because it makes dictation faster and more responsive.

Battery Life Analysis

Having detailed readings on battery life puts end users in more control over managing their battery life, it’s as simple as that. I don’t expect Apple to start offering CPU usage readouts and graphs and such, but it would be cool if they allowed me to see which apps sucked the most juice.

Recently Used Apps

The App Switcher is horrible when it comes to gaining a quick mental snapshot of your recently used apps, let alone their current state. This is easily done on Android using the Recent Apps feature.

Google suite

There’s no question that the App Store is leaps and bounds above the feeble morsels offered by Google Play. Any objective person can see that. But the most compelling reason to use Android is the fact that it encompasses the entire Google ecosystem, with the absolute best offerings on a mobile device. Apple has definitely made strides in this area with iCloud and the like, but until they create email that rivals Gmail, or a decent RSS reader for that matter, then I will always keep Google’s apps in my peripheral vision.

While I don’t claim to be an Android expert at this stage in the game, these are just a few of the things that I was able to quickly identify. What do you think that Apple could learn from Google? Do you agree with the aforementioned items? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

  • Eric Armstrong

    Ooh I like this article, I think all these features would be good for the iPad, but completely rebuilt by Apple. You should do this type of thing more often, I know it’s a Apple blog, but it’s nice to compare different products to Apple products.

    • billypuntove

      couldn’t agree more!

    • Sadly, I doubt Apple will add any of those features because they’ll fear being sued for “copying” the features from Android.

      • Which is a good argument for why iOS would never add anything like a Notification Centre…oh wait………..

      • Even the sms app of Android looks familiar to me… Even the whole interface, once ios came out, changed a bit…

      • JRomeo

        Apple already copied the android drop-down notification bar.

  • For me personally I don’t really mind the widgets as it takes some time and knowledge to get a consistent and good look which the same shaped icons on iOS do fine. I think it’s more the need for glance-a-ble info, which doesn’t have to be widgets.

    For me, what i’d like from iOS would be Androids sharing menu, which is done much better than iOS & Android’s multitasking, which actually keeps apps open much longer and better than iOS. Also a file system, it doesn’t have to completely free, but being able to drag and drop .txts, pictures and miscellaneous stuff is a convenience that really should be there.

    • Will Walker

      A file system does exist on iOS devices, but Apple want allow you to have access to it.

    • EpicFacepalm

      Well, in your case you can use Phone Drive but it is limited due to Apple’s policies.

  • Widgets look very simplified and if apple were to create widgets on iOS, they would make it vey nice

  • Eric Armstrong

    Actually I disagree with your last comment, about how Apple should make their own email, calendar, etc better, “so I don’t desire to use other Apps”. I think that is one of the great things about Apple, you can come from ANY ecosystem, like Google, you can still use the iPad, and get apps for whatever you want, like Gmail. –>If buyers thought they would have to switch to Apple email, apple this and that, they wouldn’t be as likely to buy an iPad. Instead, they know that they can buy and iPad, and continue to use all of their other favorite brands.

  • I think they also could allow you to be able to remove apps that you don’t use like the news stand and iTunes etc. Android allows this and you can do it if you jailbreak. So I say Apple take note if we don’t use them we should be able to remove them!

  • Guess Apple could use these features on iOS. The last time Apple “learned” from Android, it was the Notification Center. And let’s be honest, it was the killer feature on iOS 5. And obviously, Apple don’t just learn, it learns and IMPROVES.

    • Nabil Jaser

      How exactly did they “IMPROVE” their notification center? Android’s use of the notification bar is light years ahead of Apple’s. Have you seen Jellybean’s notification bar? Puts iOS 6’s to shame. Apple’s problem is that they created a great mobile OS and released it in 2007 but have done very little since. Whereas Android has been improving in a huge way over the years . Look at Android 1.5 Cupcake and then take a look at Android 4.1 Jellybean. Night and day difference. There’s a reason to why Google’s OS has been increasing so rapidly whereas iOS is stagnant at best. Apple relies too much on repeat customers who are blindly buying into their “one device per year” ideology when the rest of the world continues improving on a daily basis. Why would anyone upgrade an iPhone 4 to a 4s when they are so much the same? That’s what Apple is betting on. Ppl buying whatever they’ll release. Unfortunately for them not every iOS user is willing to dish out hard earned cash for something marginally better than its predecessor. Articles like this make you see what the competition can offer which in turn gives you more choices. As far as I recall more choice was never a bad thing.
      Sorry for the long rant lol.

  • Android has stepped up their game and regardless of this being a 7″ tablet, it is right up with the iPad (perhaps not the NEW iPad).

    • Interesting statement, so if they are not “right up there” with the new iPad, does that mean they are still 1-2 years behind Apple?

  • CollegiateLad

    I think Apple knows all about widgets… See OS X.

    Offline Siri would be awesome.

    Battery analysis would be ok… But there are countless battery apps on the App Store.

    Recently used apps? Apple has this, it’s just implemented different than Android.

    I don’t use Google’s email, but wish YouTube would be updated.

    • But the 3rd party battery apps have to be running all the time, which is not the case in Android (it is a sub-process of SystemUI which cannot be stopped longer than a few seconds)

  • Flash

  • IOS could still use a lesson or two from android. Notification center being one, it’s still not utilized how It should be. Social integration being second. On IOS its basically non existent. You can snap a photo on android and share with every social app on the device. Video playback needs to support more video types. A bigger screen is needed to even think about widgets. Data monitoring, multitasking, and the ability to connect a usb on the go.

  • By the way I own a Galaxy s3 as well as a 4s

  • I just figure out that there’s no way to recover your 4 digit lock password on an iPhone, something so simple as sendit back to your email like android does !!!! i will add this to the list, i can’t believe that iPhone users have to restore their phones just to unlockthem…

  • Although I’m a iPhone user,I agree that Android is nice to use.I have tried my friend HTC One X it’s awesome!

    Person who jailbreak their iDevice will enjoy using Android device!

  • Donavan Asmawidjaja

    Apple had to improve ALL the native apps in iOS 6. The YouTube app; too horrible, no CC or Captions.
    Further iThink, widget aren’t good for the iPhone, too small screen. I also had Dashboard X, but it’s doesn’t work that fine as on an iPad (more space). But they can be very handy.

    • Hope I’m not the only one that giggles when they read iThink -cute-

      • Donavan Asmawidjaja

        Thanks xD

    • Fast forward 10 days and look at where we are now…. What’s your take on this “No YouTube App outrage” *shakes fist for no apparent reason because that’s what all the cool, ignorant kids are doing at the moment.

  • well none of these would apply to me:

    why the hell would I want widgets for, too messy;
    offline dictation, well, Jack or Jeff what is it?
    battery life analyses; a very nerdy function, iOS users aren’t nerds in genera
    recently used apps, well it’s there just in a different version
    Google suite, what idiot would use a suit by a company which abuses privacy as a business model…

    no thanks, it’s fine as it is.

    • There’s a reason why Android OS is not smooth/fluid. They got too much useless junk eating up all the ram. I’ll stick with the super speedy iOS.

      • get your facts right, the reason why android wasn’t smooth because the cpu and gpu doesn’t work together at the same time. now with Android 4.1 and above, it is buttery smooth cause the cpu and gpu works together and more battery efficient. go ahead and try android 4.1. you’ll be surprised how smooth it is now compare to your so smooth iOS. lol

      • No, you both are wrong. The reason why iOS, WP and Blackberry are smoother than Android is that they stop certain processes during UI animations to make them appear nicer. E.g. when you load a page in safari and scroll while it is loading, it stops loading until you release your finger, just for the simple reason that scrolling is more beautiful like that. Android is trying to do an “OK” at both scrolling and loading the page. This is also the “true multitasking” on Android which iOS does not have.
        Now if iOS would implement project butter with vsync and all that stuff I don’t know about, it would be even smoother (which is not really necessary).

    • Benny Green

      Widgets – save u from entering the menu everytime – far from messy

    • Nobody gets it, in case apple would add widgets, you could stil have a homescreen with nothing but square icons and if they stole the battery tracker, you do not have to use it!

  • u r totally true ^_^

  • Jason

    I tried to use Android ICS solely for a few weeks on SG2 and at the end of it I wanted to throw the phone against the wall. I’m sorry but it just annoyed me beyond belief. I hated the clunky stock apps and couldn’t find anything to match the elegance of apple’s stock apps (with the exception of weather but I use weather pro anyway). I guess Apple patented those parts. To get any battery life I had to disable widgets, auto updates and syncs, and install a battry saving app, root and underclock it, and … it still didn’t last as long as my iP4s let alone my iP4. You shouldn’t have to do all that just to nt have to carry a charger for a phone?!

    I think on a phone, unless its a phablet, widgets are a waste. On a tablet they could be useful if done correctly, as long as they dont fry the battery.

    The most useful thing, for me, apple could do is add direct access on notifcations to enable/disable wifi, bluetooth, 3G, etc, etc.

    • Will Walker

      I had the same issue with my HTC Inspire 4G. But I have the GS3 now, and I don’t have any of those issues.

      • Jason

        I’m pleased you like our SG3. I looked at an SG3 but IMHO its a phablet and too big for my belt pouch that I use (the sg2 would barely fit), plus I felt silly taking calls on the SG2. My favourite phone (size wise) was the Nokia 8310 and I can quite happily use a Nokia 5530 size screen as it makes a nice size phone. Even the iphone is a bit big IMHO. I ideally want a smaller device (hence a smaller screen).

        Something I always find very funny about phones is it takes a multi core ARM 9 clocked up 1.o GHz or so to run a mobile O/S and yet Acorn manged to run a desktop OS on an 8MHz ARM 2 chip LOL. In fact the original Arm cpu and instruction set were designed on an 8 bt BBC Micro. Now that’s being frugal wity resources LOL

      • Jason

        I should add that I also find Amoled screens give me a headahe (yet I can use a LCD screen all day and night – odd yes I know), just as 3D films do, so that cuts out all Samsungs, most new Nokia’s, HTC’s, etc. Amoled is still a maturing technology so I expect it to be much better in a few years time.

      • Will Walker

        I must say the amoled screen is one of the things I don’t like about the phone.

      • Jason

        Give it 5 years and we’ll all be wondering how we managed without OLED screens LOL. Maybe by then they’ll have made stress and glassses free 3D that works for everyone!

      • Will Walker

        Maybe so, but right now I’m not a big fan of 3D anything.

    • some widgets come in handy. For example having Ncsettings or weeToolbox, sbsettings set as widgets is very comfortable. They are small and let you do essential tasks.

      • Jason

        Yes, I agree. I think Apple could add short cuts or a widget to system esssential switches such as 3G, Bluetooth, GPS, etc without you having to jailbreak to get this. For me it would be more useful to have this in iOS 6 than ‘deep’ Facebook or Twitter integration. For me I’m quite happy using the Apps. I don’t need more clutter.

        But many widgets are batty hogs, so you disable auto updates or syncing and then there’s not much point in having them!

        My big concern is that on the phone side they could be in danger of losing the simplicity and elegance of the original iphone by trying to ‘compete’ by bunging more stuff in. And that isn’t the Apple way of doing things.

      • I would say that apple should stick to their original design, which is simple and elegant…but then let users decide whether they want to use many widgets and clutter their phone or keep it elegant in an apple way. After all, it is your personal phone and you are using it, not apple. You should be in charge what you want to have on it. Macbooks are a great example where apple tries to be more custom friendly, tons of tweaks and apps to add, however it is only up to you if you decide to install them.

      • Jason

        I thought thats why Google created Android (actually not for that reason but thats another story) LOL. If you want an open iOS you have to jailbreak (its easythese days LOL).

        I know why Apple chose that route. Commercial reasons. To prevent carriers from putting crap on the phones and devalue the experience (so many folks I know complain about this but dont have the know how to get rid). Partly to please enterprise which likes a locked phone. I’m sure there are others.

        You pays your money and you takes your choice.

  • widgets? No, thx. I tried Dashboard X and put some more or less useful widgets on my iphone 4 but in the end Ididn’t really use them and ended up banishing all widgets.
    The only thing that I would like to see from apple is some kind of Lockinfo clone, I like the rssfeeds on the lock screen.

    “…but until they create email that rivals Gmail” WTF? are you serious? whats wrong with the imap email service that apple gives you with the iCloud? You can even login at and you have almost the same experience like the native, what could you possibly want more?

    The only jellybean feature that I really would love to see is the offline dictation to speed up the damn thing.

  • blah blah blah .. another new android device and its 5 minutes of fame then 2 months form now we will not hear about ipad and iphone are king

    • Joe … I am an Apple fanboy, I won’t deny that but as @EricArmstrongg:disqus mentioned early, it’s always a good thing to compare what’s out there and in the marketplace at the moment.

      How else will you know if iOS is better then Android (or vice versa) beyond the “It just is” argument without knowing things like this and while I wouldn’t touch an Android device, at least someone out there is willing to do the hard work for me, so I thank the writers for doing so.

      Besides, your arrogance only makes you look like a tosspot.

  • M Last

    I think that iOS doesn’t need these functions at all
    battery usages ? so what?
    for example I see push mail is using %20, so have to turn is off?
    come on guys ,we don’t need these stuff on iOS
    this was offline dictation? Jack :)LOL

    • I think the most wanted feature is the system file explorer, which android offers. The time of itunes would come closer to an end.

  • 1. Yes
    2. Useless.
    3. YESSS !!!
    4. No.
    5. No.

  • I think apple definitely needs to step up its game. I’m still with apple but the android phones are coming out very nicely. I hope the iPhone 5 is not a disappointment..

  • maurid

    Double “both” in the first sentence, just pointing that out.

  • The thing about widgets is that originally, apps were meant to be widgets essentially. And frankly, with widgets you go to the home page, scroll till you get to it, and there you go. The only difference with no widgets is that you have to add a tap to that process to enter the app. And once you do you get the full screen and more content. I like using small apps for simple purposes more than having those things on my home screen. The only thing I’d like as a widgets-like thing would be allowing an app to change its icon to a different static icon (calculated with Core Image API stuff so as to keep the screen from looking way too wild and animated) when the app receives a notification or something. That way i could get a tiny bit of information and let me know if i need to go into the app.

  • I was using the HTC one X for a couple of weeks and there are plenty of things i like and dislike very much.

    overall, all the stock apps on iOS are MUCH MUCH better than androids stock apps. but yes, the google apps are much better, besides chrome, on android than on iOS.

    widgets are OK at best. not as entirely useful as i thought it would be. weather and music widgets are the only useful ones for me.

    I rooted and installed a better rom onto my phone so i actually had the ICS feel rather than the clunky shitty sense interface and its much better. I totally agree that the multitask on android is better, to a certain degree. What is good about ICS multitask is that some apps continue going but sometimes the entire app needs to reload again when you go back to it. in most cases, i just wished the apps would freeze like they do on iOS.

  • seyss

    No Bluetooth file transfer (OBEX)? I’m always put to shame when people want to send me a photo quickly. Then I bought Celeste from Cydia…

  • I think the one of the most wanted feature is the system file explorer, which android offers. The time of itunes would come closer to an end

  • I agree with most of this.. But I never use gmail. I’ve never been a fan of it. Id use yahoo over gmail. But I really love using iclouds mail.

  • Wael Abdo

    agree on all but widgets. and encourage further evolvement of the notification center.

    • widgets should be implemented but in a smart way. Try to play with Dashboard X and AnyLock and you will see they are user friendly.

  • Android interface gives me headache! It’s just too messy unlike iOS. Never will settle for droyd products even if im alone with Apple’s…

    • vir ingens

      Well, because you are used to it. As someone who only used Android for a year now (iOS before), iOS suddenly seems like a big mess and its interface looks illogical to me.

  • Wmaldo1

    For normal people like me (no geeks wannabe) iOS is simpler, faster, leaner, STABLE and friendly than Android OS up to now.