Apple iOS 7: Android copycat?

Apple iOS 7: Android copycat?

Summary: Actually, Apple's forthcoming iOS 7 isn't so much an Android clone as it is a mashup of everyone else's mobile operating systems.

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Some people think Apple's forthcoming iPhone and iPad operating system iOS 7 is awesome. Others think it's awful. I think it's a derivative copycat not only of Android but of almost every other major mobile operating system out there. 

IOS 7 Has Become Android
I thought I'd seen this operating system before! (Credit: Dustin Johnson)

Let's start with the iOS 7 front-end. To me, it looks like they took Microsoft's Windows Phone 8 (WP8) — don't ask me why Apple used that for inspiration — to produce a flat display with large fonts. Oh wait, didn't I see something like this before in Microsoft's Zune interface? Why, yes, yes I did. Oh well, at least Apple didn't include WP8's annoying tiles.

Apple's iOS 7 hands-on, in pictures (gallery)

Or, is iOS 7's interface more like the new BlackBerry Z10's display with its two-dimensional, pasted-on-the-wallpaper icons? In both cases, copying is not the sincerest form of flattery. It's hitting fired iconic iOS designer Scott Forstall's once lovely design with an ugly stick.

Looking more closely, I can see Apple using a copying machine on Android for the iOS lock screen with its large digital clock, the date, and a slide-to-unlock region at the bottom a la Android. The iOS 7 lock screen also now has better handling of notifications.

Now, where have I seen that before? Oh, right: Android.

There are other Android copy-and-paste examples throughout iOS 7's interface: the calendar's color scheme, Safari's look-alike Chrome style Web page panels, and the marked resemblance between iTunes Radio and Google Music. Then, there is iOS 7's use of cards to present information.

Wait. While Google is implementing a card metaphor to share information from Android to Google+, that user-experience idea goes to the late, lamented WebOS.

I'm also amused to see that at long, long last Apple has added swiping gestures for deleting or archiving e-mail to its built-in e-mail client. Of course, Google just stumbled by switching the message swipe default in the Gmail Android client to archive, but that's easy to fix.

Looking behind the interfaces, we find Apple playing catch-up in such fundamental technologies as auto-application updates and multitasking. At long last, iOS will be aware that the apps you use most often are the ones that should get more of the processor love. That's nice, but that's so last year's Android and Windows Phone. Adding insult to injury, iOS 7 won't even be showing up until some time this fall.

Make no mistake about it, Apple iOS is now officially in catch-up mode both technically and in the marketplace. Apple people love their iPhones, but Android phones out-sell them four to one.

I wish Apple had spent more time fixing the bugs hiding in iOS rather than radically reworking its front-end for no good purpose. I mean, the last time I checked, iOS 6 still has Wi-Fi and battery problems. There's nothing exciting about repair work, it just makes a better product for users.

Still, as my writing colleague Wayne Rash put it, "I was really disappointed in the iOS 7 announcement. I was really hoping that we’d see something that’s new, not just new to Apple." That would have been nice, wouldn't it? 

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Topics: Mobility, Android, Apple, iPhone, iPad, Linux, Mobile OS, Smartphones, Tablets

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122 comments
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  • If you can't beat 'em - as the old saying goes.

    But the changes just look better on an iPhone and the majority of US smartphone users agree since they own iPhones.

    Well, if Steve wishes to play the sales card, he at least should try to explain the US sales figures that show Android sales lagging behind iOS sales once and awhile. Grin.
    kenosha77a
    • Actually, I was being somewhat facetious with my first post

      As most of our ZDNet readers might surmise.

      But, speaking of sales figures, I wonder what the breakdown analysis of smartphone sale figures would be for Canada?

      Canada is, after all, the ancestral home of BlackBerry. And their population has a more cosmopolitan character to it than the US population, IMO.

      Canada would be a good country to gauge the relative merits of each smartphone if sales figures indicate a preference for a buyer's desires for value and other positive attributes in a smartphone design.
      kenosha77a
      • Hmm

        Canada is hardly more cosmopolitan. Have you lived in a small Canadian town? They're no different than the US.
        MathieuLLF
        • Canada is more cosmopolitan than the US - not better, just different

          True, small towns in Canada are very much like their counterparts in the (Northern) US, but the majority of Canadians live in cities that are more cosmopolitan than most US cities. I don't think this is either good or bad, just different - and that's why the OP may have a point.
          The Shovel
      • This has to be a joke!

        You're talking about the same Canada that has an advertising slogan, "The backwoods have a backwoods...and behind that is a place called Canada," right?
        jvitous
        • Seriously jvitous?

          So you believe all of Canadians live in backwoods towns with just log buildings?
          While I wouldn't go as far as saying Canada is "more cosmopolitan" than the US, we have definitely moved beyond the iron age and on par with the US.
          Are you one the 60% of Americans that can't find Canada on a globe?
          anothercanuck
          • You Missed His Point!

            Point being that Canada has a bigger BIG Problem than the United States, that also has a population distribution problem. You look at map coverage holes in Canada and the equal whole countries. Here in the US they may equal a few counties. So in reality that Canadian is really bragging about it's lack of coverage in the backwoods of their backwoods!

            More Cosmopolitan? Hardly..... even with not considering the simple fact that US has more than 9 times the total population and Canada's total population could fit in two of it's largest cities. US also has a higher percentage of people living in cosmopolitan locations as well. On top of having at least an 8 to 10 times land to people density level as compared to the US. So in reality if you live in Canada, you might as well be living in Siberia as compared to the US. Which also has similar density numbers with "The backwoods have a backwoods...and behind that is a place called Russia,"!!! ;-P

            Key Point being that Apple's market share Globally is on a landslide and they are losing sales 4 to 1 to Android and 2 to 1 to SAMSUNG! lol.... who if I'm not mistaken has been winning the Smartphone race by actually innovating in both hardware and software to the point that globally, means Canada sales of iPhones isn't worth a Backwoods Hill of Beans!!!
            KronJohn
          • Are-you a tech noob?

            The stats you provide are stupidly wrong... samsung phones are android phones! When you don't know what you are talking about, close your mouth.
            electroguy
        • Say What You Want ...

          Canada still has the dankest of the dankest of Kushes in North America!!!
          Samuel Sung
      • Cosmopolitan?

        I suppose. In Toronto you have a city that is so politically correct that they once tried to ban the "Bare Naked Ladies" because of their name, yet their mayor has been allegedly caught in a video smoking crack. In Calgary, you have a city that is a oil fuelled "cowtown" much like any big city in Texas, yet their elected mayor is a muslim. Go figure.
        rfoto
        • Texas Has More Than Oil!

          Houston especially could be said to ahve been built by oil, though these days I think most of the oil it has involvement with is because of its function as one of the handful of big tanker arrivals as well as their refining infrastructure. Dallas, too, benefitted a great deal from it. I suppose we can count Midland as a big city and that's a lot to do as it being a hub for surrounding oil(and natural gas) operations, but Fort Worth, Dallas' lesser known twin city, had a lot of growth due to its heavy involvement in livestock and agriculture. Austin's the capital, so there's that to fuel it some, though it's for quite some time now been a technology hub. Lastly, San Antonio is a bit of a military town and also benefits from being a cultural melting pot mecca in the state.

          I know you were just using the reference as an example to relate some canadian cities to American counterparts, and there's likely a lot more nuance to Calgary as well in the same way I've just spouted off at you. I guess I just had a few minutes to spare and was compelled to yak at you with them. Cheers, rfoto!
          Tynictansol
          • Me generalizing again...

            I really shouldn't do it, especially to places I've never been. :-) I have often heard the comparison based on the oil industry, livestock, prairie landscape, and conservative politics...but which Texas city? Like you say cities are different even in the same state or province.
            Cheers to you as well!
            rfoto
    • I think the better headline would have been

      "Android becomes iOS, which has become Android." Seeing that a good portion of ideas and technology in Android has been lifted from iOS, too. This is the way of a great many things.

      And I dismiss the sentence "Android outsells iPhone 4 to 1" simply because it's isn't related to what he's trying to imply. Sure, if all things where created equal, and All Android phones sold for $199 on contract like the iPhone and still outsold the iPhone 4 to 1, I'd agree.

      Yet for many, a free Android phone is far more affordable, and that's a MAJOR tipping point at the check out line. I can get four Android phones for the price of an iPhone, so that has to account for something, right? I would argue many would love an iPhone, but have to pass over it for something else a little more affordable.

      It's like a Corvette - sure many of us would love a top of the line model in our driveway, but at it's current price, we opt for something along the lines of the Chevy Malibu, or similar, especially if some of the cars we could get cost us little to nothing.
      William Farrel
      • There is something called value

        In India, Apple hardly sells. Samsung phones, which are priced as much as iPhones, sell like crazy. Why? No subsidies on iPhones and hence it has to compete on value and features and Apple lags there. That is why. When it is heavily subsidized, iPhones sell more hence the sales in US. If Subsidies go, iPhone goes down the drain, just like everywhere.
        Prasad Tiruvalluri
        • Value is not the same as price

          Prasad, there IS something called value... but you seem to think that value is a synonym for price.

          Something can have a low price, but very little value, while something else can have a higher price, but a much greater value than the "cheaper" product.

          Some people, make their purchasing decisions based primarily on sticker price. Others like myself, base their choices on value (i.e. worth).
          Harvey Lubin
          • Did you understand any of his comments?

            Prasad specifically states that in india the iphone competes at the same price but doesn't sell as well as samsung. That's quite a simple concept - value conscious indian smartphone buyers don't see as much value in an iphone. Did you miss that bit?

            In the west, people put more value on being cool than the item itself. Not that I would accuse you of that, I was just saying.
            Little Old Man
          • Mindshare is important

            I think Apple has a great grip on the popular sentiment here in the 'States, not just because they have a hype machine or whatever but because for a long time Apple was the underdog, the one spoken of as unjustly ripped off(by Microsoft) in the early days of computing and still popular with the artists and creators with good programs like Logic Pro. Add to that I remember seeing nothing but Apple computers in elementary and high school(with the strange exception being my keyboarding class where we used dilapidated IBMs) so there's a genuine affection for the company and their products. Don't forget that after Jobs returned in the late 90's they also got their design game together and stopped making translucent jolly-rancher e-macs and started making aluminum, ivory white and glass their signatures. Ya know, I'll just throw the link spam on a post I made on my blog where I wrote about this. http://tynictansol.blogspot.com/2012/05/and-now-for-something-completely.html
            Tynictansol
          • in depth & balanced article

            This is more in depth & balanced article http://www.theverge.com/2013/6/11/4418188/apple-ios-7-design-influences
            jPush
          • Brazil too

            My wife's family is from Brazil where a year ago iPhones were The phone to get. Now it's all S3/S4/Android. My father-in-law and sister-law just visited and the first day they were at BestBuy, each one buying an unlocked S4 at around $750 each. The funny thing is too, each one already owned an iphone 5 and planned to sell them when they got back home. Why? Because right now, the top of the line android phones are simply better and can do more than the top of the line iPhones. Better camera, more storage, bigger screen, no iTunes, better notifications, better email apps, better maps, customizable GUI via something like GO-Launcher or heck even that stupid facebook home, better sharing among installed apps (not just one's Apple decides), local file storage (ie, folders like a real computer), SD card options, removable batteries, true multitasking (and sorry folks, there is no noticeable battery drain compared to an iPhone so let's drop that dumb argument), options to turn off/on wifi/GPS/Bluetooth/Data/Sound and options to allow screen rotation (yeah, even the home screens), block sounds after hours... all right on top of the screen with a swipe down. In that same swipe, you can view last email or facebook or twitter post, or other alert, view what you just downloaded, show running apps (like a music player).

            I mean.... it's some seriously good stuff that you can do with Android that you just cannot even imagine on an iPhone.

            I've owned an iPhone since the original 2g when there was no app store, then every model up to the 4s. I switched to an S3 last December and it's really the first phone I've never felt, 1 year after it's actual release, "Gee, I wish it did this better..".
            Eric Holbrook
        • @Prasad

          I wouldn't agree with "Samsung phones which are priced as much as iPhones". I agree that Samsung sells a lot more of phones than iPhone. But which Samsung phone, like iPhone 5, sold at Rs. 46000(~$840)? Even S4 is supposed to sell at Rs. 43000 and you even have the option of converting the payment to 6 or 12 months EMI without any processing fee AND 0% interest.

          Right now, Apple is offering the same, but they started doing it after 3 months of initial sales in India. You could say Samsung copied that idea from Apple by having tie ups with banks as S3 never sold with such offers.

          Not to mention, S4 by itself hasn't outsold iPhones. Even iPhone 4S is selling at the cost of S4 and why would any one buy an iPhone in such cases?

          If subsidies/offers go, Samsung will also go down the drain. If we have to fight about value, I can say that Samsung phones constitute less web traffic compared to Nokia and Nokia only was the best seller in the past and not at present.
          spicycheeks