Google’s Android OS is dominating the mobile industry and there are definitely no doubts about it. In Q2 2015, Android had the market share of 82.8%, followed by Apple’s iOS with 13.9%, according to IDC’s report. Android has grown immensely in the last couple of years and deservedly so.
Most of us cherish Android for the adaptability, customization and extraordinary features yet there are times when we consider Android choices. There are some awesome portable operating systems other than Android and although some of them aren’t as feature-rich or develop as Android, they offer some cool exciting features.
Why do we need an Android alternative?
We certainly cherish Android, as the market share suggests and Google is really working hard to keep the Android momentum going but as with most things in life, we like having choices. Alongside, there are various reasons why we want an Android alternate. Google has been criticized across the globe for not making Android truly secure and reports have suggested that Android is most prone to malware and viruses. Until recently, Google wasn’t even transparent about the permissions in an Android application but with the Android 6.0 MarshMallow, it has updated its permissions page to match iOS’ security.
There are also issues of Android fragmentation, as we mentioned. For people unaware, devices running different Android versions leads to bad application performance, development difficulties and security problems and this is Android fragmentation. For instance, Android 5.0 and 5.1 combined have a share of 23.4% among all Android gadgets across the world and it was released a year ago. Android 6.0 Marshmallow is however to make a mark on the Android market share. Google has tried to address these issues with Nexus gadgets but the problem still prevails. We cannot blame Google totally as well, as manufacturers like differentiating their gadgets with skins and having control. Google has annoyed to take some control of Android but it’s surely not sufficient.
The fact is there will never be a flawless smartphone or a flawless operating system because everyone has their own different needs.
So, let’s take a look at the Android options we can utilize:
Best Android Alternatives
Android and iOS have been contending with each since what seems like an infinity currently. Android and iOS both enjoy an incredible user-base and there’s nothing really to fight about. Google has the volumes, Apple has the profit. In any case, by the day’s end, even iOS is an Android alternative and an awesome one at that.
Android and iOS borrow features from every other all the time and that’s one of the reasons why both the operating systems are so feature-rich. Yet, iOS brings its own distinctive interface and features on the table. It has a unified interface across all applications unlike Android, smooth animations, Apple-exclusive applications, regular updates, no bloatware and arguably better excellence of third party applications. On iOS, you also get the full suite of Google applications whereas you won’t discover any Apple applications on Android (barring the upcoming Apple Music application).
Overall, it all boils down to your option of the ecosystem. iOS is not an alternate for everyone as such, considering the premium price Apple charges for its iPhones and iPads but if you need a mature mobile OS to match Android, then iOS is certainly your best bet.
- Beautiful UI
- Smooth operation
- Regular Updates
- Great quality of apps
- Locked-down OS
- Few customization features
Xiaomi has been creating extraordinary inroads in whichever country they have expanded to. The company’s success can be attributed to its aggressively priced gadgets but its MIUI OS also deserves some of the credit. MIUI has been known for its iOS-like looks and highly customizable features. The OS is not only accessible on Xiaomi gadgets but it’s also accessible as a custom ROM for various other gadgets.
If you want the Android flexibility with iOS looks then MIUI should be pretty appealing to you. The OS also gives some great customization features and themes, which make it an extraordinary Android alternative.
- Themes and exclusive features
- Customization options
- iOS-like interface
- Slow updates
- Vast difference from Android’s stock interface
Apart from the Android options we just mentioned, there are various new upstart mobile operating systems annoying to gain some fame in the mobile market. Well, let’s check them out:
Among all the upcoming mobile operating systems, Tizen has the most fame, thanks to Samsung’s backing. Tizen was born after Nokia decided to kill Meego, which was an OS developed by Nokia and Intel. Well, Intel went to Samsung and they collaborated to bring Meego back to life as Tizen OS. While Tizen looks similar to Samsung’s Android skin TouchWiz, it’s vastly different under the hood. The OS works mostly like Android but there are numerous gestures for intuitive interaction. Tizen OS is an HTML5 OS, which ought to make it a lot easier for developers to create applications.
While Tizen has failed to garner a lot of traction with developers or users, Samsung’s involvement has kept people fascinated. Already Samsung has launched quite a few gadgets running the OS like the Samsung Z1, Z3 and the numerous Gear wearables, so we do recognize that the South Korean giant is certainly serious about it.
- Great HTML5 support
- Intuitive gestures
- Very few apps
- Looks like Android
We all recognize Mozilla, thanks to the very famous Firefox web browser and the company has been annoying hard to make a mark in the mobile OS space. Mozilla launched the Firefox OS back in 2013 for smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. The company has so far aimed at the reasonable smartphone market with Firefox OS and they have had some moderate success. There have been a few phones running Firefox OS but none of them made a great impact. Mozilla newly announced that it is working with a partner to bring a $25 Firefox OS smartphone.
- Affordable smartphones
- open web standards support
- Clunky UI
- No great smartphones on offer
- Very few apps
These are the best Android alternatives, according to us and except iOS, Windows Phone and the custom ROMs, all of them are still in their early stages but from the looks of it, they might give Android a tough competition in the coming years.