The month of October saw the fierce mobile battle intensify with mobile giants, Apple and Google bringing in the newest flavours to their operating systems. Apple’s Lets Talk iPhone event saw the unveiling of iOS 5 on October 4, 2011. It was soon followed by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) unfurled in an exclusive Google Samsung event on October 18, 2011. iOS 5 and ICS updates have been popping their heads up way before their release dates and now emerge with their flagship devices viz. the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus, respectively.
The hype around newer iterations of iOS and Android, as well as the ‘coincidental’ time of their release is bound to call in some comparisons. As always, Apple and Google have tried to put their best foot forward and the umpteen changes elucidate that. So, who's going to fare better? Let’s quickly run through some key attributes of operating systems to find out.
Launched with the latest iPhone 4S, you definitely can’t use iOS 5 with all older Apple devices. The ones that can be upgraded with this most recent flavour of iOS are limited to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2 and the third and fourth generations of the iPod Touch. The openness of Android should see the operating system rolling out onto several devices by manufacturers in the coming months. However, it is yet unclear as to which or how many existing Gingerbread running Android smartphones will be fed to the ICS upgrade (learn from RIM’s mistakes, it better be a large number).
This domain is completely user oriented; some look for a familiar UI among generations of devices, while others may want a refreshed look. A glance at the iOS 5 UI and an Apple loyalist could instantly relate to it as Apple decided to keep it simple. On the other hand, Android has undergone a notable makeover. It has gone all blue (literally!) with an interface that imbibes some similar qualities of the tablet-exclusive Honeycomb. The changes stretch to the font size and resizable widgets. While ICS decided on a makeover, iOS 5 incorporated touch-ups. In fact, it seems like Apple might have thought some of Android's now notable features could have been worth adding to their line up, as well. Though there's a similarity, please keep in mind, it isn't the same altogether. For example, a pull down notification menu in iOS 5. The difference between this and Android is that Apple's works even when the screen is locked.
Surprisingly, creative minds at both ends have been working at improving the camera capabilities. Apple hadn’t really given much weightage to the camera’s pixel count earlier and it’s possibly the increasing number of hi-res Android camera phones that have compelled it to equip the iPhone 4S with an 8MP camera. However, one can’t doubt its capability when it comes to image quality. Nevertheless, it has always spruced up camera functions and this time is no different. With iOS 5, Apple users can access the camera from the lock screen, edit on the device, pinch to zoom, grid-lines, tap to adjust exposure and use volume-up button for capturing snapshots. Google has an answer to these features in the form of enhanced camera UI, improved gallery widget, panorama mode, red eye reduction and photo tools, among others.
Siri has come across as the much talked about feature of iOS 5 (be it for good or bad). Who wouldn’t like a talking smartphone? In the mobile era, we wouldn’t be surprised if it replaces your best pals. For Android fans, there is no such integration, but the Android Market would let you access some apps on similar lines like Iris (Really? an Anagram of 'Siri'? That's the best they came up with) and Skyvi.
Apple still remains true to its good old 'swipe to unlock' screen gesture, while Android steps ahead with their new facial login capability. While Apple fans still swipe across that dainty touchscreen, Android users can flash those pearly whites to make their way across a locked screen. Android really puts you 'into the picture'.
If you can speak, I can smile
With Google Wallet in tow, support for NFC is something we’d expected the latest Android OS to carry. Android Beam takes it even further, allowing data transfer between devices by placing them next to one another. Apple didn’t seem to think NFC capability was too important for their recently launched iPhone 4S, the lack of which could have led them to take a little flak from the community overall.