With both the major mobile OS makers, Apple and Android, making the next iteration of their popular iOS and Android respectively, this is the most exciting time of year for smartphone lovers, waiting for the software update to hit their Androids, iPhones, and iPads in the coming months. Mobile app development is about to get a lot more exciting.
Although both iOS 11 and Android O are in the development phase, the iOS 11 Preview and the Android O Beta were released during WWDC 17 and I/O 2017 respectively for developers and enthusiasts to test and generate feedback.
I installed the Android O beta on my Nexus 6P and borrowed an iPhone 6S installed with the iOS 11 Preview from a co-blogger.
Compatibility of Android O Beta
Anybody with a Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, or Pixel device can install the Android O beta on their device. Android app development is going to be action filled with so many new features to include.
These are the Android devices on which you can install the Android O beta right away:
* You may need to sign up at google.com/android/beta with your Google account to receive the OTA. Some apps may not be fully compatible with the Android O beta yet.
Compatibility of iOS 11 Preview
Likewise, you need to accept the Apple beta software program agreement during the sign-up process to install the iOS 11 preview on your device, provided you own an iPhone 5S or an iPhone or iPad released after it.
Surprisingly, the iPhone 5C is not compatible, though the 6th generation iPod Touch is. The complete list of compatible devices is in the table below.
iOS app development is still possible for devices other than those, although apps may lack support for APIs introduced with iOS 11.
These are the Apple devices on which you can install the iOS 11 Preview right away:
You may need to accept the Apple beta software program agreement with your Apple ID to receive the OTA. Some apps may not be fully compatible with the iOS 11 Preview yet. The iPhone 5C will not receive the update.
What’s New: Android O Beta
1. Background Limits
Android didn’t limit the number of apps that can run in the background until Android Nougat. Actually, Google grew tired of reviewers and vendors asking it to optimize Android for battery life. If you remember, it received heavy criticism during the Kit Kat and Lollipop time.
Google O will put further restrictions on what apps can do in the background, particularly their most battery hogging features: broadcasts, background services, and location updates will get fewer attempts, so expect better battery life out of your Android devices after this update.
Apple: iOS is very conservative over what apps can and can’t do. There are heavier restrictions that often frustrate iOS app developers.
My view: While Android O is trying hard to bring Android’s battery life on par with that of iOS, it is nowhere near it.
2. Picture-in-Picture (PIP)
In YouTube for Android, when you move away from watching a video without leaving the app, the video shrinks to the bottom right of the screen. The video keeps playing there unless you drag it off or play another video.
With Android O, Google is allowing developers to keep playing a video, in PIP mode, even after you exit the app; not just YouTube, but any app can enter PIP mode. Google is in the process of issuing fresh instructions on how developers can enable PIP mode in their existing apps.
Apple: iOS iPad has had PIP video support for third party developers since iOS 9.
My view: PIP will make people moving from iOS to Android less alienated.
3. Autofill APIs
If you already use a password manager app like LastPass on your Android phone, Google is bringing native support to password managers on Android. That means you can choose a default password manager app just the way you choose the default keyboard app or browser on your phone. You’ll need to remember fewer passwords and spend less time filling forms—entering information like name, phone number, and email every now and then.
Apple: Apple is very considerate about which kind of apps can replace the default apps on it. For example, Apple allowed third party keyboards support in iOS for the first time in iOS 8. Android has had this feature since Android Froyo.
My view: Apple must stop letting down its deep-pocketed users in the name of security.
4. Custom Icons
With Android O, Android app developers can decide the shape of the app icon. They can make the icons round, square, curved edges, or whatever shape they desire. Moreover, sources at Android Police speculate that icons now support notification badges.
Apple: Apple provides the template for app icons. Everything else gets cropped down to a square with rounded edges.
My view: Apple is possessive of the overall look of the iOS and may never allow designers to hinder its brand equity.
5. Better Notification and Dots
Android O groups notification into channels. Channels can be technology, social, or video and are pre-defined, although users can control a channel’s behavior. Users can now snooze notifications the way they snooze alarms. The notification reappears after the snooze time.
Notifications dots tell you the number of awaiting notifications in the drop-down bar you may attend to.
An individual notification or a channel can be tweaked for seven criteria:
- Importance (High/Medium/Low)
- Sound (Yes/No)
- Lights (Yes/No)
- Vibration (Yes/No)
- Show on lock screen (Yes/No)
- Override do not disturb (Yes/No)
What’s New: iOS 11 Preview
1. Drag and Drop
Select a piece of text in your browser, drag it out, press the home button, open the Notes app, and drop it in. The selected text will be posted in the Notes app. Remember, the first iPhone did not even have copy-paste functionality.
My view: Android lacked this support until Android Nougat.
Siri has been around since the iPhone 4S. Siri on iOS 11 can translate between two languages and sounds less robotic and much more natural.
My view: Google translator attached to Google assistant is a much more powerful tool than Apple’s voice assistant is. However, only a few Androids are shipped with Android assistant, while Apple will have this feature available to most of its devices within a few months.
3. Augmented Reality (AR)
iOS 11 introduces ARKit, a new framework that brings augmented reality to hundreds of millions of iOS devices by allowing developers to easily build unparalleled AR experiences.
My view: Google’s Project Tango could be the biggest thing to happen to smartphone technology in years. However, Android phones tend to have inferior hardware to support AR natively, which makes Apple a better contender with its ARKit.
4. New File App
File includes iCloud and the number of third-party cloud storage services, including Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and Google Drive.
My view: While Android lacks a common file manager, most vendors ship a file manager. Moreover, there are many File clones on the Play store that may put Apple’s File app to shame.
Verdict: Android is learning a lesson or two from iOS and vice-versa. This is a story that’ll go on for many years to come. Until then, neither of them is emerging as a clear winner.
Meanwhile, users of Android and iOS can delight over new features, which their smartphone will bring every year. Didn’t smartphones make your life easier?