My iPhone was absolutely fantastic at music playback. Apple takes a great deal of pride in its relationship to the music community and it shows. Bluetooth happens instantly. Songs sound great.
When I switched to a Nexus 5 last year, the difference in software quality was immediate and jarring. I can't put my car in reverse any more until my music starts playing because I don't know whether it actually will. Sometimes getting it going requires a simple hitting of play on the player. Sometimes I have to go into the settings menu, force a shutdown of Google Play Services, turn off the Bluetooth, turn it back on, then finally re-select Bluetooth playback in my car so it'll re-connect. Occasionally the Music app will incompletely break, the only fix I've found is rebooting the phone.
Even the music sounds off. For the first few seconds, I get this weird wobble in the pitch. It crackles and stutters.
Software is hard. Managing software development even harder. You have to focus your limited resources somewhere, if you don't, you get Google software, which is OK when you look at it in aggregate, but horrible if you're looking for a refined experience in something important. The music player wasn't given priority over other stuff, and the resource management isn't great, so the Music app sucks. I'd go so far as to call it dogshit, Google oughta be ashamed of themselves.
Apple is opinionated, and its opinions tend to be pretty good. A device streamlined around a few critical functions that are in use all the time is all I really need. I make calls, I listen to music, I read books. That's all I really need from my phone. The App store is similarly opinionated. You need to have a certain kind of business and buy into Apple's philosophy if you really want to do well with it. The more I used my iPhone when I had it, the more I started to understand the issues Apple faces when providing a mobile platform and why that philosophy and opinionated-ness exists.
I'm really glad Apple has found a way to ignore the noise from developers that don't understand those challenges. Apple is a design company, they focus all their resources around providing a consistent, gorgeous, and useful experience, that has to come at the expense of the hacker mentality that exists in software developers. The ones that do well understand Apple's design mentality, and Apple helps them out by featuring their products.
> I'm really glad Apple has found a way to ignore the noise from developers that don't understand those challenges.
To mangle a Churchill quote, the best argument in favour of a curated App Store is a five-minute conversation with the average app entrepreneur.
Especially in the early days, there were no end of clients asking for user-hostile and abusive behaviour. "Apple won't allow that" was an oft-repeated phrase that won a lot of battles for end-users. It certainly has its down-sides as well, but it really does protect end-users from incredibly shitty experiences.
Sadly true, and still true when it comes to the world of desktop adware.
The problem is when you sandbox hostile apps, you also end up sandboxing a lot of potential functionality which now becomes impossible. For example, I need call recording for my work, but the only mobile platform that still supports that is Android, but only on specific devices, with specific Android versions, and even then you may still need to root the device to get it working.
I'm sure there's a middle ground here, but it's going to take some effort to get there.
Google search, e-mail and maps are wonderful refined experiences in things I find important. Of course, that doesn't necessarily contradict your broader point. Maybe those three services are so good because Google also considers them important and gives them a lot of focus. For all I know, the company might also supply a dozen other things that are of much lower quality because they don't get so much focus.