Raging OS Wars: Windows Phone 8.1 vs Android L

By on Aug 11, 2014 in Mobile Design | 0 comments

Operating systems in phones lately have been the epicenter of research and development activities. The way an OS is designed literally dictates all the features that the users can use in his device and the level of ease with which he can do so. The rise of Android ecosystem shut the doors for the manufacturer specific operating systems that were generally based on Java. It also gave birth to the possibility of having access to high end features on a budget phone.

With Google gearing upto launch its latest iteration, Android L and Window’s bringing a cohesive ecosystem with its Windows Phone 8.1 OS, we pit the two together to see which one would make for a better, better-half.

The Android L in the Nexus 5 is a Beta and the Windows Phone 8.1 on our Lumia is a developer’s preview version. Windows 8.1 has taken quantum leap in terms of designing the action center and the Cortana voice assistant inching towards the Androids customer centric design. We will let loose both these Operating systems in the wild and see which one is the most relevant in today’s world.

User Interface

 If we try to draw a line functionality wise, both of the operating systems have the same features but approach and mode of access to these features is differed. Android L employs the usual bunch of home screen with an option to add the widgets, application shortcuts and App drawers. The position of these can be customized and spread across the home screens. The Windows Phone 8.1 on the other hand has a home screen with flattened square icons which is referred to as the live tiles. These live tiles preview some of the things going on in the application. If you have the calendar icon on your home screen it will be beaming with the condensed information of your next meeting in calendar. Windows has a more organized layout structuring as compared to the Android L.

The Windows Phone 8.1 lock screen is simple and yet intuitive. It also lets you choose the list of applications whose notification you want to see on the lock screen.  It has missed call counters, email and SMS counter stacked neatly at the bottom layer of the screen. If you want to open the camera application in a jiffy then hold down the camera physical key and the best part is you can access the Notification center even on the lock screen by just swiping down a feature that is not present in the Android L. The Android has a brightness toggle and Wi-Fi toggle button on the notification center itself.

The Android L has a notification center that is more evolved and automatically pushes the less important updates down thus prioritizing the notifications. The notifications for some of the native applications like the SMS app has an archive or reply to the text. Another good bit is that if you are using a particular application and at the same instance you get a call, the caller information is condensed to come in the form of a small notification on the top of the screen without hiding the application you are working on. The clear all button is missing from the notification center whereas in Windows 8.1 you can clear all the notification in a single go or deal with them individually.

The Action center in the Windows 8.1 hosts Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, airplane mode and orientation lock. All of these are customizable and if you feel that you need some other applications to go up in the Notification center you can just put up your favorite applications in the quick applications.

Degree of Customization

Android L is less stringent and it surely bends like beckham when it comes to level of customization. The Live wallpapers, tons of widgets and third party icon themes are sure to entice users. If you are a geek then you can pick up from the slew of sidebar launchers which will help you to launch your favoraite applications from any point of menu in a jiffy.

Windows Phone 8.1 on the other hand lets you pick from present themes and also lets you choose bold colored tiles. The best part is the way the Theme wallpaper is highly translucent and blends with the Live tiles impeccably. The live tiles can be expanded, dragged and the sizes can be changed. In the Windows Phone 8.1 the show more tiles will add an extra column of tiles allowing users to squeeze in more tiles in the same space.

Messaging, Keyboard and Contacts options.

Android L has a calling hub wherein all the stuff related with calling can be taken care of. Opening up the dialer opens the call log, Call history, favorites and a well-organized list of contacts with a thumbnail of their profile picture by the side. The address search bar other than searching contacts will also search its directory for nearby business which is a clever bit.

Windows Phone 8.1 employs a dated approach and has two separate applications for your calling needs. The dialer app is native with call logs, contacts and favorites. The problem here is suppose you want to view a contact then it’s not possible to do it directly instead you should place a call to them cancel it and then check out the details. This sounds so ancient and its high time Microsoft fixes it.  The People application lets you view contacts, edit them and also place a call. It further has an option to add people in Family Room which is a unique hub wherein you can share stuff with your family members in a single go.

The Android L is fitted with the Hangout application that handles both the native SMS and this entire affair is a little bit confusing and takes some time getting used to. The keyboard on the Android L has a more intuitive approach and employs a much simpler approach. The accuracy of the predictions is precise. The Windows Phone 8.1 keyboard is a very intuitive one and the new Swipe feature is extremely easy and flawlessly accurate.

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