The two top players in the smartphone wars are going head-to-head for the hearts and minds of consumers with the newest versions of Android and iOS – Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) and iOS 5.1.

Android 4.0, commonly known as Ice Cream Sandwich, or ICS for short, has been out since Oct 2011. Many might not have realized this, since the OS hasn’t found its way on many devices as of yet. Meanwhile, on Wednesday 7, 2012, Apple showcased and released iOS 5.1 to all who are able to accept it, paving the way for some serious competition.

Here’s a quick comparison between the two OSes.

Back-up Your Contents in the Cloud

Both Ice Cream Sandwich and iOS 5.1 are able to store the contents in your device to the Cloud. Google have been doing this for quite some time. Apple, on the other hand, is playing catch up with iCloud. Both iCloud and Ice Cream Sandwich Cloud services are similar, but iCloud feels more integrated throughout the OS than what Android 4.0 has to offer. Ice Cream Sandwich relies on multiple applications like Google Music, Google Docs, Google+ and others for users to get the most out of Android Cloud services, while iOS 5.1 has only iCloud that does everything the user desires.

Face Detection

Apple iOS 5.1 is late to the party when it comes to face detection. Already Google is way beyond what Apple has introduced to the new OS. While iOS 5.1 users can now have faces highlighted when a picture is being taken, Android goes five steps further. Ice Cream Sandwich face detection is part of its security features, meaning, users can have the OS detect their pretty little mugs to unlock the device. Awesome? You bet.

Web Browsing Experience

Probably the number one application in a smartphone is the web browser. If a smartphone does not have quality browsing experience (e.g., Symbian smartphones) then it is not considered to be a true smartphone. Safari in iOS 5.1 hasn’t seen any huge improvements. However, it’s faster and plays well with HTML5 content. The Android browser, which recently surpassed Opera Mini and Opera Mobile to become the number one mobile browser in the world, now has more features than you can throw a stick at.

Users will be able to save full webpages, go incognito for private browsing, you know, for those times when you just want to unwind. There is also the option to synchronize Chrome Bookmarks, which is a good addition since Android users tend to use Google Chrome on the desktop.

Voice Assistant Software

Siri, this is where Apple has Android beat. Android 4.0 has a solid voice assistant in Android Voice Actions, but it is unable to stand up to Siri when it comes to fun and overall ease of use. That said, to activate Siri, iOS 5.1 users are required to press and hold a button, Android 4.0 users just needs to speak to their phone. The new update taught Siri how to speak Japanese, Android Voice Actions is still stuck on English. However, Siri is available currently only on iPhone 4S.

Overall Ease of Use

This is highly debatable, but we believe iOS 5.1 is easier to use compared to Ice Cream Sandwich. For the average smartphone and tablet user, iOS 5.1 grid of icons makes everything easy to understand, one cannot say the same about Ice Cream Sandwich. Google still has a lot to learn when it comes to designing an OS user interface for non-tech savvy consumers and we expect the company to yet again change the look and feel of Android in the near future. Look at Windows Phone 7, it is the youngest of all, yet it is easier to navigate than Android, and in some instances, iOS.

Which Is Better?

This is a tough question to answer. Both Ice Cream Sandwich and iOS 5.1 have pros and cons. However, the most important thing in our eyes, is ease of use. Having a lot of features in an OS is great, but the overall experience needs to be free from complexity, and that is something Android does not lack, complexity.

So to conclude, iOS 5.1 is the better mobile device operating system, like it or not.

(Reported by Vamien McKalin, edited by Surojit Chatterjee)

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