Apple, HTC Ink Deal: No Cloning of Apple Experiences

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By Vittorio Hernandez | December 7, 2012 12:01 PM EST

The Apple and Samsung legal battles continue to be fought across the continents, with neither side emerging the apparent winner. While one judge may favour the California-based tech giant, another magistrate thousands of miles away may issue a different decision in favour of competitor Samsung.

Among the areas which the two tech rivals have battled in courtrooms is the cloning of user experience in mobile devices especially smartphones.  

Deceased Apple founder Steve Jobs in the following YouTube video emphasised the value of providing technology users the experience to hook them on a new device.

In November, an agreement between Apple and HTC about patent forbade the Taiwanese company to make and sell mobile devices that copies what is described as Distinctive Apple User Experience, explained further in the following video.

With the deal, the two tech companies settled their most outstanding patent disputes in a settlement that includes a 10-year agreement with current and future licenses and patents between each other.

One deal that the tech world is looking forward to is a truce between the makers of the iOS and Android. Apple and Google has been waging an eternal war for dominance in the world of mobile devices and both companies continue to slog it out in courts over patents and licenses.

Deciding these disputes needs Solomonic wisdom because both OS platforms have close similarities on usage, looks, and interface.

Similarities Between Android and iOS

There are things to consider for developers when creating applications for both platforms. These include best design of native applications, looks of UI components, behaviour of the UI components, and standardisations between the two OS.

1.     Application Structure

Both OS platform have been programmed using C/C++ and their OS family belongs basically to UNIX, the basic flow of information between these two can be very difficult to define. So defining both architecture in bits and pieces is hardly rare.

2.     List-based Navigation

Both platforms use a tree-based format for task-based applications and users navigate an application through a series of lists and tables. The interaction of these lists and tables are unique between applications but how iOS and Android navigate through them are very similar. An example is the Messaging application which both looked basically the same regardless of colour and themes. The conversion list between the sender and recipient is identical which are at the left and right of the message screen.

3.     Wayfinding

Wayfinding encompasses all ways people orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place. Both iOS and Android should have visible screen titles that indicate the users where they are as they navigate the device. This also pertains to where they have been which could be an app or a screen and where they would go next on each screen. Smartphones have advance system and improved visual elements compared to normal mobile phones which make them so complicated, making Wayfinding an important aspect of both platforms.

4.     Functionality of UI components

Between the two OS platforms, tabs, sliders, pickers, text fields, checkboxes, switches and buttons are very similar, but their design treatment and placement of these UI components may vary. Differences in possible location, colour, themes and icons vary and create the distinction between iOS and Android, but their functionality is relatively the same.

5.     Gestures

Interacting with devices running iOS and Android are now accessed through "gestures". Certain gestures in both platforms include tap, drag, flick, swipe, double tap, and pinch are typically used to perform actions and these actions are very similar across iOS and Android. Android has one gesture move iOS doesn't have, the tap and hold, which is commonly used to reveal other actions of a certain element like a link or application icon for it be moved to a folder.

Differences Between iOS and Android

1.     Display sizes and resolutions

iOS smartphones have two screen sizes so far, 3.5 inches from the first generation up the iPhone 4s and 4.0 inches of the sixth generation or the latest version. For resolution, iPhone have three over the course of its six generations, 480x320 for the first, 2G, 3G, and 3Gs, 960x460 for 4G and 4S, and 1,136x640 for the iPhone 5.

In Android, screen size ranges from 2.8 inches up to 5.0 inches or even more while the display resolution ranges from 240x320 up to 1080x1920 and all of these are supported by Android. The open application capacity of the Android OS allows manufacturer to modify the platform to support such displays or resolution one way or the other.

2.     The Back Navigation

In iOS applications, the back UI element is place on the upper left hand corner of the navigation bar of an application which only directs it backward within the defined screens of whatever application the user is currently on. In Android OS, there are two back options, one is the up located at left-hand side of the top action bar which navigates backward within the application and two, the back button itself which goes back in history across the entire device.

3.     Tab Navigation

Tab Navigation is used to navigate through primary functions within an application. The iOS tabs is represented through a tab bar at the bottom of the application. Android, on the other hand, placed it at the top of an application. iOS holds 5 tabs to display at a time, while Android uses the scrollable tabs to display more tabs that can fit in the viewable screen.

4.     Data Views

For sort order and groupings, iOS and Android use different components. The iOS used segmented control in which a bar is divided into segments and each represents a selectable option. Spinner is the version of Android which is a dropdown menu of options that is accessible via the application's action bar at the top.

5.     Action Lists

Certain commands may be hidden from the user unless accessed by pressing or navigating something. iOS uses the action sheet to display a list of actions available, while Android uses pop-up dialog boxes activated by tap and hold gesture.

6.     Search Control

iOS uses a standard UI control for searching and it is placed at the top of a searchable screen. Android has several approaches on how to access search options. It could be a search dialog at the top of the screen, pressing the search button, or even a search widget.

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