Today, Dropbox announced support for iOS8’s sharing system:

You can now count Dropbox among the third-party apps that work with Apple’s sharing system, as of today. The company just pushed out a new update to its iOS app that inserts a “save to Dropbox” option in the sharing pane for certain types of files.

In the comments of that article, someone asked a perfectly valid question:

I’m a rare Android user within my group of friends. I’d say something around 90% of the people I hang out with have iPhones and almost all of them assume their iPhone has the latest and greatest technology available on the market. I’m honestly not trying to troll, but could someone provide a list or a few features that iPhone has than Android doesn’t?

Historically, iOS has been more polished, while Android has been more feature-filled. With the release of iOS8, the two operating systems are closer to parity than ever before, but there are still certainly differences, and there are features my Android phone had that I still miss on my iPhone – the ability to set default apps, more powerful background processing, and custom keyboards that actually work being just some of those. Asking what features iOS has that Android doesn’t made for an interesting philosophical question – when people think about iPhones and iPads, the benefits they think of are usually on the hardware side, not on the software side.  Still, there are definitely things iOS does that Android doesn’t – here’s what I came up with:

  • Touch ID, technically a hardware feature, is worth mentioning due to its deep integration with iOS. As-of iOS8, third-party apps can leverage it, making both unlocking your phone, logging into sensitive apps, and buying products easier than ever.
  • I’ve mentioned this before, but the main reason I switched back to the iPhone from Android was battery life.  While the iPhone’s battery isn’t necessarily  better in my experience, but it’s substantially more reliable, in that I can put it into standby and it actually stays idle, rather than draining my battery in the background. I classify this as iOS-specific behavior, as iOS does a better job at allowing me, as the user, to specify what an app can or can’t do in the background. Facebook is allowed to access my location while in use, but not in the background, and it doesn’t have the ability to update its data while in the background, because I don’t need either of those features. That same permission-centric functionality just doesn’t exist on Android; iOS even goes so far as to warn me when an app is using my location in the background and gives me the option to stop it.
  • iMessage  is something iOS nails that Android stil hasn’t matched. Seamless transfer between data-based and SMS-based communication is pretty fantastic, especially when communicating with fellow iOS users. The ability to send both iMessages and SMS messages directly, and even take and receive phone calls, from a Mac or iPad is also pretty great, and while Android can match some of that functionality with third-party apps, it’s not as well integrated, as it isn’t native.  Interestingly, I find this also helps my phone last longer – if I’m making a phone call or sending an SMS from my computer or iPad, then that’s even more time my phone is spending on standby. I don’t even really use my phone at home for that reason, since my laptop and tablet can seamlessly take over for it.
  • The last one: native OS cloud backups. You’d think this is something where Android would dominate iOS, given Google’s history with cloud services, but nope. While you can re-download all of your apps on a new Android device, the data doesn’t usually come with those apps. iOS does complete cloud backups, with all of your app data intact. Get a new iOS device, enter your iCloud credentials, and you’ll be up and running with everything just as you left it, right down to SMS history. And, if you don’t trust iCloud, you can just as easily run backups to any computer running iTunes. This is a big thing for me, as I love the peace of mind that comes with knowing my iOS devices are backed up on a nightly basis. It’s also frustrating because I think Android needs that functionality more than iOS does. I don’t really tweak my iOS devices, but I would mess around with my Android devices quite a bit. The ability to easily restore all of my apps and data any time I flashed a new ROM would’ve been pretty awesome. There were third-party services to handle this, but they all felt sub-par in some way, and seemed to do just as much harm as good sometimes.

Of course, as I said at the beginning, this is largely a thought experiment – at the end of the day, iOS and Android aren’t all that different anymore, so it’s less about the OS and more about the hardware and ecosystem you want to invest in. There are still some things Android does better, and there are still some things iOS does better, but for the most part, you get roughly the same experience on both platforms, regardless of what die-hards want you to believe.