Android or Apple? Finally a way to say which is better

THE world of technology adores its platform wars, where users of one system denounce competing systems and refer to anyone who dares to disagree with them as a blithering idiot, or worse.

The inexorable rise in smartphone and tablet usage has probably established the platform war of this decade as iOS (Apple) versus Android (Google) - and in terms of sales, it's one that Android is winning effortlessly. In the third quarter of 2012, Android shipments accounted for 75 per cent of the worldwide market, with iOS in second with a 14.9 per cent share.

Sales aren't everything, of course; the question of which of the two systems is actually the better is hotly debated. But a company called uTest has developed an application, Applause, that compares the quality of apps in the two stores - Google Play and iTunes - by mining user reviews and ratings.

The stores have a similar number of apps (800,000 each, though Google's is rising much faster) but iOS apps are (he said, tentatively) generally considered to be of higher quality.

Firstly because of the stringent controls imposed by Apple over submissions to its store, and also because the fragmented nature of the Android ecosystem makes it tricky to guarantee performance over a huge variety of devices.

Applause backs up this hunch: the mean score for apps on iTunes comes in at 68.53, with Google's trailing at 63.34.

Of course, you could argue that basing a metric on ratings from the angry or biased users of app stores is ludicrous, and that the data from Applause can't be trusted - but hey. That's part and parcel of the platform war.


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