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I'm what you'd call an Android guy. I got aboard the Android train on Day 1 and have been reviewing Android devices ever since. It's impossible to be exclusively Android - I've reviewed iPhones during that time - but I return to an Android phone at the end of the day. This year, Android 14 and iOS 17 have landed really close together - and it highlights something that's been bothering me for a while: Android OS updates just aren't that exciting.

One of the advantages of having a Pixel phone is that you get updates as soon as they arrive. My Pixel 7 Pro has updated to Android 14, sending me off to discover all its new features. There's more customisation for the lock screen and there's … well … customisation for the lock screen is basically it. Android has never been short of customisation options, but Android 14 is basically a new lock screen clock option.

Ok, so there are tiny changes throughout the new software, like little animations when you tap in your device pin, a monochrome theme, the share screen is tweaked, and there's a battery charging icon change, but there's nothing here I'd actually call a feature. Changing from Android 13 to Android 14 doesn't change the phone experience, it's basically the same thing for everyday users.

Yes, it's more secure, yes, there's more for developers to dig into, but there's nothing like the excitement that comes with Apple's latest update. Let's take a look at some of the stuff that's been added as an actual feature in iOS 17: there's Standby mode for a better charging experience like a bedside clock, there's Contact Posters giving you a full-page contact card, which works great with NameDrop a new method for contactless contact sharing, then there's transcription in Live Voicemail, a bunch of updates to iMessage, a Check In feature for personal safety, Live Stickers, a Journal app and a few more bits.

Nothing in Android 14 is anywhere near as big as the offering from iOS 17, so you can perhaps understand where I'm coming from here. But wait, you'll say, Android updates its apps outside of these core system OS updates - and the exciting stuff will come in the Pixel Drop. That's true: Google drips in new features throughout the year, while brands like Samsung will bring new features with updates to One UI, but in doing so, we all miss that excitement of a big new feature. iPhone users everywhere are buying new charging stands for StandBy, while Android 14 updaters are wondering why the monochrome mode doesn't change the colour of all the app icons.

Updates may come, but having watched the Pixel 8 launch event, much of the exciting stuff seems to be reserved for the new hardware: the Pro Controls in the camera, Best Take and Magic Editor. Will these exciting features come to older devices? No one knows. What about the exciting new Video Boost and Video Night Sight that we saw? Even the Pixel 8 Pro won't get those features until it updates in December.

Ultimately, while Google is packing its Pixel phones full of clever stuff to make them more competitive - and enabling the development of new functions by third parties - it's hard not to look at those big steps taken by Apple in iOS 17 and wish that us Androids were getting a little more.