Is the apples juicier this side of the Walled Garden?

I have known of Android’s existence but never fully understood what all the hype was about, I knew amongst my gamer friends, Android was King and anyone with Apple was ‘conforming to the futile existence of the mundane, the mainstream and buying into corporate America’. So this week I finally got around to finding out what all the fuss was about.

Firstly, I noticed that there are distinct differences between the two companies’ operating systems and their corporate philosophies. Apple embraces a closed system while Android embraces an open operating system. What is the difference? Well put simply ‘closed’ refers to an operating system that is tightly controlled by the vendor, meaning that the vendor has control of the platform; the content and the way users interact with the system. What I found interesting about Android was the fact that is was not only open and completely customizable but the fact that anyone could create and install any software onto the device (Roth 2008).

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For me there was a perceived risk with all this freedom, this was regarding the security and safety of using an Android system. Due to Android systems not being as controlled of an ecosystem as iOS, they would not being able to respond to security flaws as quickly. So how prone Android devices were to hackers and viruses? This called for some research.

In August this year Android announced that it will issue monthly updates to protect devices from hackers following the “Stagefright” security incident, in an attempt to reassure users of the system’s security (Stone 2015). What became clear was the fact that the fragmented nature of Android’s operating system, coupled with having to deal with all the different players and differing operating systems; equals a complex ecosystem to secure. This in turn meant that Android’s security measures were a far cry from iOS’s regular and widespread updates that Apple facilitates throughout the year, leaving Android devices more vulnerable to cyber attacks. A side effect of all that freedom and customisability.

Apple isn’t without incident, in fact over the years the company’s iOS system has been compromised more times than I was aware of (image below).

ios-threats-timeline

That being said though its clear that Apple’s walled garden for the time being has won the battle for security (Evans 2011 ; Trend Micro 2014). However this does present one with an ethical consideration, freedom or convenience, author Jonathan Zittrain makes a point when he states that we need to focus on “preserving our freedoms, even as the devices we acquire become more attractive and easier to use” (Zittrain 2010).

With all that being said I will not be running to get an android device and customizing my way into the sunset. Don’t get me wrong the utopia that is Android is appealing however it doesn’t suit my needs. See I am not great at IT and I am not very tech savvy, all I need is a device that can do the basics in a way that is easy, simple and looks great. That is exactly what Apple offers, so I am safe and comfortable behind its walls, but believe me if my needs change or if it was different I would definitely be joining the Android train. In the end its all about meeting your needs, so really the war between the users of the two companies in essence is pointless as each system caters to different customer types.

References

Evans, J 2011, The Walled Garden Has Won, accessed 10 September 2015, http://techcrunch.com/2011/03/12/the-walled-garden-has-won/

Roth, D 2008 ‘Google’s Open Source Android OS Will Free the Wireless Web’. Wired, accessed 9 September 2015, http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/magazine/16-07/ff_android

Stone, J 2015, Android To Get Monthly Security Updates, But Apple iOS ‘Walled Garden’ Likely Still Safer, accessed 8 September 2015, http://www.ibtimes.com/android-get-monthly-security-updates-apple-ios-walled-garden-likely-still-safer-2044405

Trend Micro 2014, Before Masque and WireLurker: iOS Threats That Cracked the Walled Garden, accessed 9 September 2015,http://www.trendmicro.com/vinfo/us/security/news/mobile-safety/before-masque-and-wirelurker-ios-threats-that-cracked-the-walled-garden

Zittrain, J 2010, A Fight over Freedom at Apple’s Core, accessed 9 September 2015, http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fcabc720-10fb-11df-9a9e-00144feab49a.html

Image sourced from: Stone, J 2015, Android To Get Monthly Security Updates, But Apple iOS ‘Walled Garden’ Likely Still Safer, accessed 8 September 2015, http://www.ibtimes.com/android-get-monthly-security-updates-apple-ios-walled-garden-likely-still-safer-2044405

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