Google and Facebook: Leaving Apple Lonesome

Most everyone knows that there’s a difference between Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) smart devices and those devices running on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, but many may not know just what constitutes that difference. However, a new development from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) could shed light on the divide.

Apple’s products have often my lauded for their simplicity, ease of use, and elegant design. Its platform is clean and the design carries through all levels of the operating system. But, there is limited freedom for what app developers and users can do to alter the way their phone looks or behaves.

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On the other hand, Android has offered wider freedoms for users and developers — though this is occasionally criticized for fragmenting the operating system, which leads to more technical bugs. But the perks are numerous. Users are able to change the way their phone behaves and looks through special tools, alternative homescreen systems — called launchers — and they can even download alternative keyboards if they don’t like the stock one.

Despite this differentiation, it seems a lot of what makes Android special has gone unnoticed by iOS users. But now, a program created by Facebook may turn eyes toward Android and highlight just what it can do that iOS cannot. Facebook has announced that it will be developing a homescreen — in other words, a launcher — for Android that will bring a lot of Facebook’s features forward on devices…

If the Facebook launcher is a hit, it could show iOS users the sorts of capabilities that Android has and iOS lacks. The launcher would not be supported on Apple’s devices as it is one of the various types of customization that Apple doesn’t support. If it’s a major success, it could even reignite rumors of Facebook launching its own operating system.

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Considering the wide usage of Facebook, it will be hard for this to go unnoticed by the smartphone community at large. Users of Apple’s mobile operating system may be envious of Android users that have access to the launcher, and some may even look more closely at Android’s differences.

Surely, Apple will maintain many loyal customers, but Facebook could present a point for many of its customers to at least look away from the iOS ecosystem for a second, see what else is on the market, and learn what other options they have as consumers.

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