Open Source Android vs. Closed Source iOS: Why the Difference Matters

You have probably been using Android and iOS for years now, but there is still a lot that you may not know about it as your focus is more on their features and price and less on their technical makeup. You may not care if your smartphone is running on an open source operating system or a closed source as you don’t know much about these two variants of source codes. This indifference most likely stems from the fact that you are not are of how source code can affect your user experience, security, data safety, and much more. Let’s find out what an open and closed source is and its impact on Android and iOS.

Understanding Open Source and Closed Source

Android is based on a code taken from the Android Open Source Project. This makes it an open operating system, as the code is open to the public. This means that anyone can pick that code and make changes to it in order to create a more customized software. All the smartphone manufacturers are doing the exact same thing. They pick up the Android source code and make changes to it as per their liking, and the result is a new software that has unique features, look, and efficiency. This also means that all the devices running on Android may not be fully identical in their features and performance. iOS, on the other hand, is closed source platform. This means that no one can alter this operating system. This lack of freedom is not necessarily a bad thing as it ensures a uniform user experience across all devices running on a particular iteration of the OS.

How it Affects You as a User

The fact that Android is open source and iOS is closed source affects customers at different levels. If you are planning to purchase an Android or iOS device, then you must take various factors into considerations.

Security: Android is open source, which makes it easy for users to download and install third-party apps on devices running this software. The option to download apps from unofficial app stores makes the platform susceptible to a significant degree of risk as the apps available there may not have undergone any kind of security evaluation and scrutiny. The open nature of the OS also makes it relatively easier for developers to create malicious apps, or sneak a malicious code into a harmless looking app. On the other hand, the closed source nature of iOS creates a thick barrier around the platform, protecting devices from most intruders. Even the apps that are developed for the platform are passed through strict security checks before getting approved. The support of unofficial third-party apps is absent, unless you jailbreak the device. So in this case, closed source OS wins over open source.

Customizability: Security may be a serious issue in Android, but its flexibility and customizability attracts people towards it. It’s sharing feature allows apps to communicate with each other and most of its app can get access to the device content. In addition, there is an ability to run an app over the other. In other words, Android users can customize their device. On the other hand, iOS is more limited in nature. Although Apple has made changes in its mobile OS to make it more flexible and customizable, it is still nowhere near the flexibility offered in Android.