It may seem like forever ago now, but there was a day when iPhones existed without the App Store. From June 29, 2007 all the way until July 10, 2008 – the official launch of the iOS App Store – the iPhone functioned solely with the apps that came baked into the operating system. Since that initial launch, however, the App Store has grown substantially, now featuring over 2 million apps available for download – hard to imagine an iPhone without Google Maps or Facebook, isn’t it?
The app marketplace for Android phones, initially called the “Android Market” was made available soon after Apple’s App Store launched. Launched in October of 2008, the Android Market lagged behind Apple’s App Store in app availability. In 2012, the Android Market was re-branded as the Google Play Store, and nowadays, partially due to the lax regulations on the submission of apps (at least compared to the iOS App Store guidelines), apps in the Google Play Store outnumber apps in the iOS App Store by roughly half a million apps.
Both the App Store and Google Play Store look entirely different than they did in their infancy, and although the Google Play Store now features more total apps than the App Store, one thing still remains true – many high quality apps reach the App Store first, and sometimes remain iOS exclusives. Partially due to the fragmentation of the Android operating system and the complexity of ensuring an app will work on each of the 12,000-some Android devices out there, and partially due to profit concerns (Android users are statistically less likely to pay for apps than iOS users) and piracy concerns (Android users can install pirated software on their device, iOS users can’t), many developers prefer to design their apps for iOS.
Besides the obvious apps created by Apple itself – such as iMovie, FaceTime, and Garageband, there are plenty of iOS apps that aren’t yet available on Android (or may not become available for Android at all). Let’s take a look at a few of our favorite ones.
iOS users are the first to get the releases of several of the most popular mobile games out there. Clash of Clans and Plants vs Zombies were available on iOS for over a year before the Android versions were released, and Worms 3 was released on iOS nine months before the Android release. One of the most highly-anticipated games ever released for mobile devices, Super Mario Run, was recently released as an iOS exclusive. One of the first games Nintendo developed for mobile devices, and the first mobile game featuring Nintendo’s franchise character, Mario, has been the number one app in the iOS App Store since it was released. It will be available exclusively for iOS devices until sometime in 2017, when it will be released for Android.
Award-winning software development studio Toca Boca releases apps and games designed for children – or as they put it, “digital toys and games that help stimulate the imagination.” Apps like Toca Hair Salon, Toca Lab, and Toca Kitchen have become some of the most popular apps for children available over the past several years. In total, Toca Boca has released over 35 iOS apps – and most of them are available for iOS long before they are available on Android. At the moment, there are fewer than 20 Toca Boca apps for Android.
iOS users are also the first to get their hands on many of the best photography apps. Instagram was an iOS exclusive for over a year before the Android version was released, and Hyperlapse, the popular time-lapse video app by the makers of Instagam, still doesn’t have an Android version, over two years after its initial release. Popular camera and social media app VSCO was also available on iOS long before Android. Adobe, creators of the popular Photoshop program, released a number of popular mobile apps for iOS, such as Adobe Photoshop Sketch and Adobe Photoshop Fix, long before they were available on Android. When it comes to third-party camera apps, one of the most popular ones, Camera+, adds separate exposure and focus controls, several new shooting modes, a horizontal level, effects, borders, captions, and an incredible “clarity” mode that brings out the detail in photos. Updated frequently, Camera+ just added support for RAW photos and support for the dual-lens setup on the iPhone 7 Plus. It’s one of the most robust camera apps available for mobile devices, and it’s only available for iOS devices.
Twitter is certainly one of the most popular social networks out there, but there are a number of third-party apps that navigate the social network better than the official Twitter client does. Considered by many to be the best third-party Twitter client out there, Tweetbot offers a number of customization options for the layout, allows you to change fonts, allows you to alter image sizes, and more. Tweetbot also features a powerful set of mute filters, allowing users to mute users, keywords, hashtags, and more – a must for power users or for anyone who uses Twitter for work. While Tweetbot is one of the best, and most popular, third-party Twitter clients out there, you won’t find it on any Android devices – Tweetbot is an iOS exclusive.
Lifehacker‘s pick for the best podcast manager, Overcast, offers a clean, reliable interface and a ton of useful features for podcast-addicted users. Overcast users can stream their podcasts or download them for offline listening, they can create custom playlists, set sleep timers, import podcasts from other apps, and more. A “smart speed” setting automatically gets rid of stretches of silence during podcasts, often drastically cutting down on play time without forcing users to speed up the podcast (which Overcast can also do). A “voice boost” feature combines compression and equalization, normalizing the audio and making many of the less professionally-produced podcasts much more listenable. Add in the number of other features Overcast provides, and it’s maybe the perfect podcast manager – and it’s only available for iOS users.