There’s a good chance your phone will be receiving a major update in the near future.
Both Apple and Google are gearing up to launch the next versions of iOS and Android respectively. Google finally shipped Android Oreo (version 8.0) earlier this week, and Apple is putting the finishing touches on iOS 11 as we creep closer to iPhone launch in September.
Although neither update has rolled out to phones just yet, they’ve been in beta for months for developers to play with. Now that we’ve had enough time to test them test them, we’re ready to put the two head-to-head to see how some of the most important features stack up. So, here are some of the key features you need to know about.
Multitasking and productivity
In iOS 11, Apple is finally making the iPad a top priority, and it shows. With new split-screen and app-switching features, plus a vastly improved dock, moving between apps has never been easier.
If, however, you’re using an iPhone, you won’t find many new productivity features. Sure, there’s a new Files app, some nifty markup tools, and nice improvements to stock apps like Notes and Mail, but you still can’t truly multitask on your phone the way you can on an iPad.
While Android Oreo doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of multitasking, it doesn’t really have to — because it added a split-screen multitasking for all devices last year with the Nougat update.
Speaking of multitasking, Android Oreo opens up support for Picture-in-Picture to any app (previously the feature was limited to YouTube only for Android). Better yet, it works on phones as well as tablets.
Sure, Apple introduced picture-in-picture for iPads with iOS 9, but the feature still doesn’t exist on iPhones, and it still only works with newer iPads. (Even if you have a fourth gen iPad that was eligible for iOS 9, it doesn’t support PiP.)
If this were an older Android update, there wouldn’t be any question about which platform had the better emoji. But with Oreo, Google is finally, finally redesigning its hideous yellow blob emoji (though they’ll live on in at least once app).
Now, instead of the shapeless, indecipherable lumps, Android users will get actually get a set of emoji that look like they belong in this millennium. Not only that, but Android Oreo comes with 56 brand new characters.
Google is also taking steps to fix Android’s broken emoji problem, so you won’t have to worry about texting all those new emoji to friends who may be running an older version of Android (and, spoiler alert, there’s a good chance that they are).
???????????????????? Happy #WorldEmojiDay! ???? We’ve got some ???? new ones to show you, coming later this year! ???????? https://t.co/xBR9ZJ7l4g pic.twitter.com/fhDrr4J5KG
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) July 17, 2017
All that said, Apple has also confirmed it will have a big emoji update coming later this year, as it will also be adopting the new Unicode 10.0 update. We don’t know exactly when, but the emoji update is likely to go live with iOS 11 in the fall.
Both platforms are getting major updates to notifications, particularly Android. With Oreo, Google is adding a ton of new ways to customize and interact with notifications. For one, they’re borrowing a bit from iOS with new notification indicators on app icons and new 3D Touch-like gestures that let you peek at a notification by long pressing on an app.
Aside from that, there are also notification channels, which lets you control many of the same types of notifications all at once and custom background colors for notifications.
iOS 11 cool and all but I hate how it turns into the lock screen when you pull the notification tab down pic.twitter.com/B0e6EqTiGq
— mar!sol (@mxrisolx) July 27, 2017
Apple also made a few other tweaks that will have a noticeable impact. Apple has removed its old “Notification Center” for good. Now, instead, when you swipe down from the top of the screen, it will bring up your lock screen, though you can still view your push notifications. While the whole interaction is a little awkward, it’s nice to be rid of the hideous Notification Center.
Keyboard and Autofill
Google is adding a much-needed autofill feature, which makes it easier to sign into apps without typing your full password. It’s another feature iOS has had for a few years, but anything that (securely!) makes passwords easier to manage is a win.
On the iOS side, Apple made a small but welcome improvement: the addition of one-handed keyboard layouts, so you can type with one hand without a mess of typos.
So while there are some major differences between the two updates (and yes, some people say we shouldn’t compare them in the first place), in a lot of ways, the two updates are fairly evenly matched. There’s also much more that’s uniques to each one, so be sure to check out our deep dives on Android Oreo and iOS 11.