Apple's iOS 5 operating system, which is going to power the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch 3rd generation, iPod touch 4th generation, iPad, iPad 2 and iPhone 5, is now under beta testing.
During the WWDC 2011 keynote address, important iOS 5 features were announced by Scott Forstall. Through many stages of beta testing by developers, a few of the features inside iOS 5 have been uncovered. However, most of these features already existed in Google's Android operating system.
Google Inc has led the way with Android in 2011, forcing traditional players like Apple to copy the features that have made Android devices sell well in the market. Apple holds the distinction of proudly reinventing the smartphone and tablet, but it was slowly being overtaken by Android, due to the many features the Apple operating system lacked.
The general notion is that Apple innovates and everyone else copies, but the recent unveiling of iOS 5 shows a different angle altogether. With Android-powered devices selling well in the market, some of its features have been copied onto the iOS 5. The Cupertino wizards have taken bits and pieces from their competitor, applied the customary layer of fit and finish, and polished the experience to a shine. Here is a look at all the features that are going to power iPhone 5.
The first feature announced by Apple during the conference was Notification Center. The users can get to notification center by just swiping the finger down from top and access the entire notifications store in one place. The Android notifications have always appeared in the top bar of their operating system. It shows time, battery state, and network state, Bluetooth and GPS, among other icons. Android also shows icons in the notification bar when there is an update about a text message, email or voicemail. In fact, the biggest advantage of having a notification bar is that notifications don't interrupt you, and the bar disappears quickly. The notifications feature has been available in Android since 2008.
The iOS 5 has a new feature known as Newsstand, where one can subscribe to magazines and newspapers and have updates downloaded in the background. But the Android OS has had background updates and sync for quite some time. The nice thing about the Android story is that the APIs for this are public.
Cloud computing is in Google’s DNA. Google has been pushing the technological bounds of cloud computing for more than ten years. Today, feedback and usage statistics from hundreds of millions of users in the real world help them bring stress-tested innovation to business customers at an unprecedented pace. Because data in Google Apps is stored in the cloud instead of on employee computers, multiple users can access and contribute to projects simultaneously without worrying about using the same operating system, software, or browser.
Before Cloud Syncing became a reality, the users had to ensure that data was secured somewhere, like in an external hard drive, and then copy it back onto a phone's SD card. One of the biggest advantages of using cloud technology is the ability to access one's data on multiple devices.
On Android phones, when a user signs into his or her Google account, it syncs all of his or her personal data using Google's popular services. The iPhone users will have the same privilege now with “iCloud.” iOS 5 is expected to bring iCloud to users. Apple Inc. announced the launch of its cloud service at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6, 2011. The iCloud service enables users to store data such as music files for download to iPhones, iPods, iPads and personal computers running Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows on computer servers owned by Apple.
The iOS 5 has Reminders, a location-based organization tool that aims to offer improved to-do lists that are compatible with iCal, Outlook and iCloud. On Android there is full multitasking, so a system level engine for reminders is not needed. Apps like Astrid or Taskos can handle this sort of functionality by themselves. The Reminders in iOS 5 are supported by geolocation feature. However, Android users are very familiar with location aware apps.
For geolocation in Android mobile phone, check out Location Alert. The app is free, intuitive and works as advertised. The app is integrated with Google Maps and you can just tap a location on the map to set a reminder around that place. You may create one-time alerts or ones that repeat on particular days.
The iTunes content can be synced without plugging in. Now users can wirelessly sync their iOS device to their Mac or PC over a shared WiFi connection. But Android users have been living the untethered lifestyle for a good long time. Android-powered phones, with support from third-party apps, have allowed users to sync their music, movies, tasks, bookmarks and contacts wirelessly between the phone/tablet and a PC/Mac for a long time. In fact, iOS 5 wireless sync is a system-level sync option, but the difference in Android is that you can push or pull content to the device and it exists in the file system for all apps.
From iOS 5 forward, devices can now self-update the system software right on the device itself through Wi-Fi or 3G. Users don’t have to download and install entire OS as delta software updates are enabled. Considering Android, the software updates are delivered OTA and if you want to get content on your device, you don’t need to go anywhere near a USB cable. Since Android allows apps the option of accessing the SD card as mass storage, you can push files to your file system via apps like Dropbox, Awesome Drop, and Winamp.
There is new tabbed browsing option in iPad to switch between WebPages. There is a “Private Browsing” option similar to Firefox and Incognito on Chrome. Also Wesbsite specific date can be deleted.
The Honeycomb tablet came with the tabbed browsing option when it was launched. However, Apple was dependant on alternative browsers for the iPhone or iPad.
Apple announced that it is bringing deep Twitter integration to all of its iOS-based devices and to many of its own apps, including Camera, Photos, Safari and Maps. That integration also, of course, extends to Contacts, where you'll be able to link your contacts to their Twitter handle and keep their information updated accordingly, much like Android. In Android 2.0 Google added the ability for app developers to hook their apps into the Android sharing and contacts system. Moreover, in Android any application can become part of the sharing menu. For example services like Read It Later, Android2Cloud, TweetDeck, Seesmic and Plume can access the sharing menu.
Apple plans to integrate Voice control through iOS 5. The latest iOS 5 beta clearly showed that iOS 5 will have voice recognition in the final release. Siri has an iOS app that allows users to use plain English voice commands like find me a taxi. Apple is rumored to add these features to iOS. In fact, Apple purchased the voice control app Siri in 2010. Siri uses items stored on your phone like location data, calendar information, music metadata and contacts to help satisfy verbal requests. Assistant, which will presumably be built using Siri's technology, will also use this information to serve the user in a similar way, not as a standalone app, but built into the iPhone 5.
Android has pretty advanced voice recognition. Google led the wave when it came to integrating voice recognition into mobile phones. It has offered Google Search by Voice for Android since 2009. Google remains committed to the advancement of voice control in its operating system. Voice search is a pillar of the service, with most Android devices sporting a dedicated button bringing up the search dialogue. Google envisions a future of accurate text-to-voice translations and is already testing out that functionality in the beta version of Google Translate.
Camera Shortcut when Phone is Locked:
There’s a camera button on the lock screen, and you can use the volume up button to take a picture in iOS 5. In fact HTC Sensation has a lock screen camera shortcut available in it.
The Safari browser has a simplified reader view but Android applications like Pulse, Instapaper, and Google Reader provide simplified readers.
iPad Split Keyboard:
iOS 5 brings a cool split keyboard for easier typing with your thumbs. The user just has to swipe down with fingers to reveal it. The virtual keyboard customization is already offered in the Android OS.
If you want a persistent notification of weather conditions, Android has always been able to do that. Widgets certainly make a lot of difference to have a quick snapshot of information without having to open the apps on weather, stocks, news and similar other services. The new iOS 5 Notification Center has some items that are being billed as replacements for notifications. The ones shown off were stocks and weather bars with live updating information.
iMessage lets people communicate in real time. Users can send text messages, photos, videos, contacts, group messages, and more, from any iDevice. This service is very similar to BlackBerry Messenger.
Although Android doesn’t have full functionality like BlackBerry Messenger, there is Google Talk and AIM. Google Talk is an open protocol, so it is usable by anyone with a Google account. Apps like Kik and GroupMe can manage most of this, and its cross-platform. And SMS can be used as replacement for messaging service.
While iMessage might be a step in the right direction, iOS 5 is not the only one developing an answer to the wildly popular messaging client called WhatsApp. Google is also developing its own WhatsApp alternative. So iMessage might not necessarily be a reason for iOS 5 to be better than Android.
Rich Text Formatting:
There are third party apps to support rich text formatting in Android while the Mail app will help iOS 5 for this.
LED Flash for Calls and alerts:
One of the favorite features of Blackberry users is the blinking light that lets them know when they have a message or something to check on their phone. The LED flash will notify you when you have an alert of a call.
Blink app extends your default Android LED alert system and allows you to customize LED color for SMS/MMS, incoming call and missed call. By customizing the LED colors (12 colors available) and frequency in your way, you will never miss an alert again while Blink will keep the LED flashing alerts for you.
The custom vibration feature allows you to assign unique vibration patterns to people in contacts. It can identify difference between different alerts with customer patterns in iOS 5.
VibraSeq app will work with SMS and phone calls by default and you can customize different vibe patterns for different contacts. Also, some apps support VibraSeq so you can use custom patterns for app notifications. There is Smart Vibrator app which lets you customize vibration for incoming calls and messages. Vibrations can be composed by defining different patterns.
Locate Alternate Routes in Maps:
One of the many new features of iOS 5 is that Google Maps has been updated to display multiple route directions. Previously, this was not possible in iOS. However, Google already released this update long time back to Android’s Maps Navigation which makes it possible to re-route to avoid traffic congestion, enabling users to get to where they’re going with less hassle. The free Google Maps Application makes it possible for Android users to avoid traffic jams in America.
YouTube on iOS 5 will now stream high definition (HD) video over 3G. You can only get high quality video over YouTube if you are on WiFi. Youtube videos can be played via the Double tap on home button when locked. This service is owned by Google and Android users have the privilege to stream HD video.
With iOS 5 users can search mail, conversations as well as drag and drop addresses. In fact Gmail on Android has had searching and conversations since the beginning.