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Tip 7: Notifications are on a par
It shouldn't take long at all for Android switchers to get to grips with Apple's Notifications Centre, given that Apple took its cue from Android in some respects.
There are superficial similarities between the two, including that notifications in both OSes are accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen. But Apple broke up notifications into Today, All, and Missed tabs, while Android has a unified dropdown from notification icons in a bar at the top of the screen.
While Android notifications are in some ways easier to access and clearer than in iOS, in iOS it's been possible to access notifications from the lockscreen and control which apps appear there by toggling the settings of each the app listed in Settings —> Notifications Center.
Android L, Google's new OS to arrive expected later this year, will also enable access to notifications from the lockscreen, so the difference is somewhat neutralised.
Historically, neither Android nor iOS allowed replying to messages from within notifications. In each, the app would launch from notifications for any followup action.
This will change in iOS 8, with the ability to respond to messages directly within notifications for Apple and third-party apps like Facebook (as pictured above). The main advantage of responding to messages within notifications is that you don't have to leave the app you're in. Actions include accepting calendar events and replying to email.
Android L will deliver a similar capabilities in the Heads Up notification system, however. For would-be Android to iOS switchers, instead of icons and Android's pulldown screen of notifications, they'll see 'banners' drop down and quickly vanish or 'alerts' that pop up in the centre of the screen and require an action to clear. Users can select which type appear in Settings —> Notifications Center. This is also where users can select which apps appear in notifications, enable sound alerts, and set up whether to show alerts on the lockscreen.
iOS offers more options to customise notifcation settings than in Android, yet Android notifications seem more intuitive and a larger part of the overall experience.
An advantage of iOS notification customisation becomes apparent for email, which lets the user select contacts they want to appear in notifications.
Another feature Apple borrrowed from Android for iOS is Control Center, which offers shortcuts to various settings including Aeroplane Mode, wi-fi and Bluetooth as well as flash light, clock/timer/alarm, calculator and camera. In iOS, it can be accessed by swiping upwards, including from the lockscreen.
Image credit: Apple
Tip 8: iOS privacy controls are a boon for anyone that misses App Ops
For all its customisation features, permission controls for apps are missing entirely in Android. For the prospective Android to iOS switcher, there's a lot to gain here by moving to iOS 7 and even more in iOS 8.
Per-app privacy controls were once available through App Ops, but Google removed the feature in Android 4.4.2 because it was unintended for consumers. Android also has poor visibility into new permissions that apps can gain thanks to Google's recent effort to simplify the update process, which seemed to ignore the possibility that good apps can go rogue.
When it comes to privacy controls, Android has other shortcomings. Moving to iOS 7 opens up the choice to approve location services on a per-app basis by going to Settings —> Privacy —> Location Services. There are also controls in Privacy for apps that have access to Contacts, Calendars, Reminders, Photos, Bluetooth Sharing, and Microphone.
A key privacy control to inspect, tucked away at the bottom of Location Services, is System Services. As per ZDNet Apple watcher Jason D O'Grady's advice, people that care about their privacy should disable Diagnostics & Usage, Location-Based iAds and Frequent Locations (not in iPhone 4). Discreetly placed at the bottom of Privacy is the Advertising setting, where iOS owners can enable Limit Ad Tracking and Reset Advertising Identifier. This won't stop ads, but it will make them "less relevant".
iOS 8 introduces a new, simpler way to manage privacy within the settings for each app. Instead of managing an app's access to things like the Location, Contacts, Calendar, Reminders, Photos and so on through privacy settings for each element individually, all of those settings will now become part of the app's setting page.
iOS 8 also notifies the user about apps that are running location services in the background, giving them the opportunity to revise permissions.
Another important improvement to privacy in iOS 8 is Apple's choice to randomise MAC addresses, a move that should thwart marketing efforts to track users' location in places like malls.
Image credit: Apple
TIp 9: There's no place like the home button
Android to iOS switchers will find Apple's home button easy to grasp, since the two OSes offer variations on the same theme.
iOS lacks Android's back arrow (to go back to the last open app) and the multi-window button, but in terms of efficiency, only the back arrow offers Android a real advantage.
Apple improved the usability of its double tap on the home button in iOS 7 with the introduction of new thumbnail images of each open app, and the ability to re-enter the app in the state it was left.
And if you just can't stand the physical home button, there's a feature in iOS called AssistiveTouch that's actually designed for people who have difficulties pressing buttons.
AssistiveTouch is an interesting way of navigating an iPhone without a physical home button. It can be switched on through Settings —> General —> Accessibility —> AssistiveTouch. Enabling the feature will produce a translucent soft home button that is always present but can be placed anywhere, and provides all the functionality that the physical home button otherwise would, from multitasking to volume controls.
Another Accessibility feature, if customisation takes your fancy, is Invert Colours. It does make for easier night reading than dialling down brightness by minimising the white light emanating from the screen.