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Respect your competitors.

The above statement certainly isn’t an unspoken rule in the world of big business and creative technology. Something more accurate may read, “If someone else started it, make sure you finish it.”

In that context, it doesn’t seem likely that Apple and Android have kept certain aspects of their technology and smartphone designs separate on purpose.

Perhaps each brand wants consumers to note continuity in their design. Maybe the act of stealing innovations has become taboo in the big-wig world of technology and development. Or, even better, perhaps Apple and Android executives are afraid of the backlash.

Whatever the reason, the following features (some owned by Android and some owned by Apple) have remained untouched for years:

(1) Default Applications

Android smartphones give users the ability to determine what, if any, applications will serve as their default for a particular action. Consumers can choose a different internet browser, camera software, music player, video recorder, or messaging system. Though most users stick with familiar Android applications, the option remains.

Unfortunately, iPhone users are unable to open links in anything other than Safari, view pictures in anything other than Photos, or send emails in anything other than Mail. This may be Apple’s way of protecting against third party applications, but it doesn’t stop users from downloading alternates and using them manually.

(2) Launcher Applications

Launcher applications in the Android design allow users to completely customize the Home Screen experience. This ability grows with each phone that gets released.

iPhone users, however, are mostly stuck with rows, columns, and icons that have been traditional since the very beginning. While Apple gets credit for technological advancements and is often considered more consistent in smartphone design, Android provides a customized experience akin to a jailbroken iPod.

(3) Smart Unlock

Android also beats Apple when it comes to a feature known as “Smart Unlock.” This feature allows users to disable their PIN code in a particular place, by a particular device, by a trusted friend, by a trusted voice, or by the fact that you have your phone with you.

While iPhones also have fingerprint locks, PIN codes, and other security measures enabled, they lack the ability to truly be “smart” – AKA, off when you don’t need them.

(4) iMessage

While Apple has dropped the ball on several Android advancements, one of the largest missed opportunities is the ability of Android phones to have an application similar to iMessage.

iMessage properly syncs communication across all Apple products, allowing consumers to send texts via laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Encryption software is built into the application, and a new iMessage app store has made the experience even more exciting.

(5) Spotlight

It isn’t a secret that Android and Google are attached at the hip – along with Windows and Microsoft. Still, Spotlight (an iOS application) is better than anything you’ll find on an Android device. Just a few keywords will get you nearby locations, phone files, web results, and more.

Google is currently working on this “universal search” concept, but Apple has a patent, giving Android an actual excuse to fall behind.

It will be interesting to see what happens when, and if, these large technology companies decide to start pinching innovations once more.

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