Skip to main content

Apple's iOS 16 launch feels like an event – and it’s something Android will never have

iOS 16
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

I bought an iPhone 13 Pro in early April 2022. This marked the very first time I purchased one of Apple’s smartphones. Six months later and I’m still quite pleased with the device, even with the release of the impressive new iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone Pro Max. I love my iPhone so much that I’m never going back to Android. It’s legitimately one of the best iPhones and best phones out there.

Apple recently released iOS 16 to the public. As we said in our iOS 16 review, the new operating system makes a number of welcome tweaks to existing features that streamline things while making apps like Maps, Messages and Mail more powerful. These aren't big changes, but they add up to a better iPhone experience. While my phone doesn’t have its own Dynamic Island, I’m still able to enjoy most of iOS 16’s biggest features. I’m having a blast with this update.

One of the things that caught me off-guard was the resulting hype and celebration that happened when iOS 16 launched. My entire Twitter feed was dominated by people expressing their thoughts on the new iPhone OS. In retrospect, this shouldn’t have been surprising given how popular iPhones are in America. But it was a lot of fun seeing folks’ reactions to iOS 16 and also testing new features like editing and deleting texts with my non-tech journalist friends. 

The iOS 16 launch felt like an event and it was incredible being part of it. It made me realize how I never experienced anything like that as an Android user. In fact, global OS launches on the scale of Apple’s is something Android will never have – which is a shame. This experience has all but ensured that I’m staying put within the Apple ecosystem. And honestly? I don’t mind.

Update: See our iPhone 14 launch live blog for all the new iPhone 14 reviews, tips and more.

iOS 16 launch was similar to major console firmware updates

The iOS 16 launch reminded me of the hype surrounding new firmware updates on PS5 and Xbox Series X. For example, the latest PS5 firmware update finally added 1440p output – although with one big caveat. Each new update has the potential to vastly improve one’s console. This sometimes leads to disappointment when a new update only brings stability patches, but when a game-changing update happens it’s a monumental event for console owners.

PS5 console and controller

The iOS 16 launch reminded me of the excitement surrounding big firmware updates for consoles like PS5. (Image credit: Future)

I’m using current-gen consoles as examples, but I’ve been part of the firmware update hype train on both PS3 and PS4 for nearly 15 years. Yes, console firmware updates aren’t usually as significant as an Apple OS update, but being part of the iOS 16 launch stirred the same feelings. It’s something I’ll look forward to from now on, just as I’ll continue keeping tabs on new console firmware updates.

Android can’t replicate Apple’s operating system launches

I'm not alone, either. Tom's Guide Senior Security and Networking Editor Anthony Spadafora recently wrote a piece titled I'm an Android user — and this is why I’m jealous of Apple events. These days I’m not in this camp since I’m now fully entrenched within the infamous Apple ecosystem. Heck, the new MacBook Air 2022 could make me ditch Windows laptops. But I sympathize with Anthony’s sentiment since I was an Android user for almost ten years and never experienced a global OS launch of this scale. It’s something that will probably never happen on Android.

Google Pixel 6a review

The Google Pixel 6 received Android 13 when the OS launched but that isn't true for all Android devices. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple’s operating systems are only available on the company’s devices. While some people aren’t happy with Apple’s ecosystem, I think it’s the most integrated and user-friendly ecosystem in all of tech. The company can exert quality control over everything it produces, and also dictate when operating systems launch. This could sometimes lead to delays, such as iPadOS 16 being delayed until after iOS 16, but when that operating system launches, it will deliver meaningful upgrades on some of the best iPads that are compatible with the OS.

Android 13 is currently available on Pixel devices like the Google Pixel 6. However, this isn't the case for some of the best Samsung phones or the best OnePlus phones. Some may have to wait months for the new Android version. Because of that, it’s impossible to have a global operating system launch on Android. It’s hard to celebrate a new OS release if you’re getting it later than everyone else, or installed it months before your friends were able to. This isn’t a problem for Apple users.

Outlook

The Apple iOS 16 launch was an enjoyable experience for a newbie Apple user like myself. Not only am I looking forward to iOS 17 and beyond, but I’m also anticipating the upcoming releases of iPadOS 16 and macOS Ventura. I’m not sure if those will generate the excitement of iOS 16, but for tech nerds like me and my friends, it’s going to be a wild ride.

As for Android, I doubt we’ll ever see OS launches akin to Apple’s. Perhaps Google can figure out how to solve the platform’s fragmentation, but I don’t see how it can manage that – not with Android’s open-ended nature. But in the meantime, I’ll continue enjoying the celebratory nature of Apple OS launches.

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.