Android M full review
Apple recently announced iOS 9, the next-generation of its iPhone and iPad operating system. iOS 9 will go head to head with Google's Android M at the top of the Android phones and tablets market, so we decided to compare and contrast the two leading mobile platforms, in their next-gen form. Eyes down for an iPhone vs Android face off, in our iOS 9 vs Android M comparison. We compare iOS 9 vs Android M for release date and compatibility, Apple Pay vs Android Pay, and new features in iOS 9 and Android M.
We will be updating this story as we go. And be sure to head to the comments field to let us know of any other comparisons you'd like us to make, or any other observations you have to make about iOS 9 and Android M. (See also: 10 best Android M new features.)
iOS 9 vs Android M comparison: release date
We now know definitively that both iOS 9 and Android M are in the works. What we don't know is when exactly they will launch. But we can make some good guesses: iOS 9 will launch in 'Fall 2015', according to Apple. Apple wasn't specific about the date because it doesn't want to give away the date of the next iPhone and iPad launches which will likely be the same day. But expect a new operating system in September 2015.
Meanwhile Google at I/O 2015 unveiled an Android M Developer Preview, confirming the existence of the next flagship Android OS. The final version of Android M will launch with a new Nexus phone in October or November this year. But unlike iOS we won't then see a rapid roll out to all compatible devices: Android M will first roll out to other Nexus devices, and within a few months to flagship phones and tablets made by third-party OEMs such as Samsung, LG and Sony.
iOS 9 vs Android M comparison: poll
iOS 9 vs Android M comparison: betas
For the first time I can remember, Apple is running a public beta of its iOS update. You can try out the iOS 9 beta in a few months, but you can sign up now at beta.apple.com Developers can download the first beta of iOS 9 immediately, however.
Similarly, if you really want to get your hands on Android M now then you can download the Android M Developer Preview, but only if you have a Nexus 5, Nexus 6, Nexus 9 or Nexus Player. As with the iPhone equivalent, it should be said that developer preview software is really only for, er, developers. Expect bugs and frequent updates, as well as missing features and functions. Buyer beware! (See also: How to get Android M now.)
iOS 9 vs Android M comparison: compatibility
This is one of the fundamental differences between iPhone and Android. Because Apple makes both software and hardware it rolls out its new software in a quick and efficient manner. Thus every iPhone and iPad that now runs iOS 8 will be able to upgrade to iOS 9, the day it comes out. And unlike previous iOS updates Apple promises that this time around the update file won't be as big as your iPhone's available storage. Older iPhones won't all get some features, though. (If your phone doesn't have an NFC chip, you won't be able to use Apple Pay, for instance.)
Android M's compatibility will be more scattered. Because Google can make the software available to its OEM partners, but they are not forced to push the upgrade out to end users. So while Nexus devices are pretty much guaranteed an over the air (OTA) upgrade to Android M, those with phones made by other people have no guarantee. However, if you have a flagship phone from 2014 or 2015 it is most unlikely you won't get the upgrade at some point.
iOS 9 vs Android M comparison: Apple Pay vs Android Pay
Both iOS 9 and Android M share one major new feature: NFC-enabled contactless payments. With Apple Pay and Android Pay you will be able to use your phone like a contactless credit or debit card. (Your wallet will now have a battery life, but at least you have to carry only one device.)
Apple Pay is first out of the blocks, due to hit the UK in July with support from eight major banks and retailers such as Costa, Boots, Waitrose and the London Underground. Apple Pay first launched in the US on 20 October 2014 and now it is coming here. This despite a new set of regulations from the European Union Council of Ministers that some thought could throw a spanner in the works. (These tighter regulations could require additional authorisation processes.)
Despite this Apple says that 70 percent of credit- and debit cards in the UK will be supported by Apple Pay at launch. At WWDC 2015 it showed a graphic which name-checked all the major high street banks. In terms of retailers, the original list includes McDonalds, Lidl, M&S, Boots, Waitrose, Costa Coffee and more.
This is very much a score for Apple Pay, as there is no news as yet as to when Android Pay will make it to the UK. At present all Google has said is that Android Pay will be launching in the next few months, but this will apply to the US rather, with the UK to follow some time later.
At the Google I/O presentation in which Android Pay was announced all of the companies listed as partners - either banks, shops, or mobile phone carriers - were US-based, and there was no mention of a UK or European version. It will happen, but it will take a while. So if contactless payments is your thing, the iPhone is the device for you. (See also Apple Pay UK release date, features and supported banks.)
iOS 9 vs Android M comparison: new features
Let's take a look at some of the other new features that may tempt you into the arms of either iOS 9 or Android M. Key features of iOS 9 include a major Siri update and deep-links in search results.
Apple says it has made Siri more proactive. The new features are intended to give iPhone users the same sort of functionality as Android owners already have in Google Now. And this new proactivity isn't only part of Siri but also of search. Spotlight search will display information such as imminent events from the Calendar app, locations nearby that might interest you, boarding passes for flights you'll be boarding that day and more.
Split-screen multitasking is part of iOS 9, too and there's a picture-in-picture mode that lets you watch videos while you do other things.
As we will see when we discuss Android M features, lots of Apple's competitors offer software-based battery-saving modes for their devices, and Apple will do the same when it launches iOS 9. Apple says its feature should give up to three hours of extra use, on top of the extra hour or so you'll get simply from updating to iOS 9, which is more power efficient than iOS 8 (Apple says).
Turning to Android M and we find something similar in what Google calls 'Doze mode'. Doze monitors when the device isn't being used to put it into a deep sleep which uses less power and can double your battery life - according to Google.
The SystemUI Tuner in Android M lets you customise the Quick Settings to the ones you want to you the most and in the layout which suits you. Another small but handy change is the ability to uninstall apps straight from the home screen. You now get the choice between simply removing the shortcut/icon or actually uninstalling the app from the device entirely.
Google Now is a great feature of Android and it gets even better in Android M. Now on Tap means you can long press the home button wherever you are you call up Google Now. Better still, you don't need to navigate away from the app you're using and it will already have a good idea of what help you need based on what you've been doing - eg. Directions to a location after chatting to a friend about meeting up.
We've already got fingerprint scanners on numerous devices so it might not seem like a new feature but Android M natively supports them. This means you'll be able to use them to authorise payments via Android Pay and confirm Play store purchases. Developers can also use the functionality within their apps.
One annoying thing about Android is downloading app requires agreeing to all its permissions which might include things you don't agree with, like access to your contacts when it's an endless runner game. Well Android M is going to change that with the ability to pick and choose which permissions you're happy with for each individual app. You'll also be able to accept or deny a specific permission as and when an app requests it. (See also: iOS 9 makes Siri more intelligent, adds transit maps.)
If you send links, photos or files to the same contacts then Android M will start adding them to the Share menu to speed up the process. It's a bit like having favourite contacts when you open the Dialler app to call someone.
Not only is Do Not Disturb (DND) part of Quick Settings in Android M, the volume control has been tweaked for the better. You can now easily control the volume of calls, notifications and alarms with three separate sliders - simple but effective.
Ok, it's a hardware feature but Android M supports USB Type C which is good news for future devices – potentially starting with the Nexus 5 2015. You can plug it in either way around, it will charge your device quicker and even allow you to charge other devices. (See also: When will the UK get Android Pay?)
Android M: Specs
- Compatible Android smartphones and Android tablets.