Yesterdays’ announcement of the new Samsung Galaxy Fold might not have been as well executed as a famous Steve Jobs reveal but it was every bit as revolutionary. In the same way the iPhone and iPad completely changed what we expected from mobile devices, the Samsung Fold is poised to change the tech world. But while the hardware looks incredible, it’s the software I want to focus on. In that brief glimpse, we saw how far iOS has fallen behind Android.
Yesterday, Samsung announced a bevy of new phones and devices that will be launching soon, including its new flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone line, fully wireless earbuds, new wearables, and the world’s first foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Fold.</p> <p>For those who want to get in on this new wave of products early, we’ve put together this guide for how to preorder all the newly announced devices.Read more
When iOS, or the iPhone OS as it was called back in 2007, was released, it was a revelation. It was the first time someone had designed a real smartphone operating system that wasn’t just a shrunk-down version of a desktop OS. And while iOS has evolved significantly with lots of new features, the initial user experience hasn’t changed a whole lot. Sure, the icons are nicer, because the hardware is now running at a massively higher resolution and pixel density. But the overall UI is still very app-driven
Look at the first iPhone and most recent models. The same app-driven, rather than information driven, interface has prevailed. Using iOS, as elegant as it is, feels more like Windows 3.1 Program Manager than a 21st century experience.
Multi-tasking on iPads works but limiting it to two apps on a 12.9-inch, high density display on the iPad Pro is like handing someone the keys to a Ferrari but only letting them use half the engine.
In a decade of iOS development, we still can’t do things on an iPad that my PC in the 1990s handled.
But what we’ve seen with Android over the last few years, and in particular yesterday, is how mobile software can deliver a far better experience. The Samsung Galaxy Fold may be a version 1 but its potential is huge.
This isn’t about Apple’s “walled garden” approach per se. It’s possible for Apple to still maintain its highly curated App Store. But it’s about what is increasingly becoming a limited experience.
Watching the Galaxy Fold in action, it’s clear Samsung’s engineers have thought about how people use their mobile devices.
While we still don’t have floating windows on the screen, we can see more than two apps at the same time. And Android 9 Pie, and several of its predecessors, have integrated simple functions such as search and live data on the home screen for years.
Instead of siloing our data into apps, Android takes a more functional approach. Coupled with a decent keyboard, the Galaxy Fold could potentially replace three devices with just one for many people. I’m not talking about power users – although during yesterday’s keynote we heard about Adobe’s plans for powerful video editing software – but folks who live and breathe on email, a web browser and everyday productivity apps.
Instead of a phone, laptop and tablet, a single Galaxy Fold could fill their needs – particularly if it plays nicely with an external display.
The magic here isn’t the hardware. I have little doubt that if Apple wanted to make a folding device – which they’re probably already testing in one of their secret development labs – they could do it. But I think it’s iOS that’s holding them back.
Android’s flexibility and Google’s willingness to allow developers to extend the software in ways the Android’s developers can’t imagine has allowed it to not just leap-frog but leave iOS in its dust.
The Galaxy Fold looks like a wonderful piece of hardware. But it would be limited in its usefulness if it was stuck running iOS. Samsung’s new device has highlighted the widening gap between iOS and Android.