Top 5 Android Features that Leave iOS 5 in the Dust

With iOS 5's primary feature set exposed and its underlying architectural upgrades detailed, we can now begin to draw comparisons between Apple's latest offering and Google's next-generation unified-tablet-and-smartphone Android OS,Ice Cream Sandwich
 
June 8, 2011 - PRLog -- With iOS 5's primary feature set exposed and its underlying architectural upgrades detailed, we can now begin to draw comparisons between Apple's latest offering and Google's next-generation unified-tablet-and-smartphone Android OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. In many ways, iOS 5 pulls ahead of Android, with deep integration to the cloud and the unified iMessage service. If you twist the platforms and look at them with a different light, however, Android has tons of features that conjure jealousy and envy from the iOS camp.

Here are five ways in which iOS 5 stumbles behind its contemporary, Android Ice Cream Sandwich, and even the current versions of Android: Gingerbread and Honeycomb.

1. Home screen and widgets

One of the key features of Android is the functionality, flexibility, and usability of Android's home screen and its widgets. Instead of being limited to standard, no-frills icons, Android home screens can be populated with various-size widgets, from clocks to weather updates to media player controls. The entire gamut of an Android device's functionality can be viewed and http://www.batterylaptoppower.com/dell/vostro-1510.htm accessed from the home screen -- as opposed to the bland and spartan iOS, where all you can do is launch apps and create folders.

It's worth noting that iOS 5's notification area -- which looks a lot like Android's offering -- has some widget-like features in the form of stock market and weather updates. Apple's standpoint might be that a cluttered home screen isn't a good thing -- which is fair enough -- but Android users with five completely-filled home screens will obviously beg to differ.

2. Flash
Love it or hate it, iOS doesn't (and never will) support Adobe Flash. You can argue until you're blue in the face about Flash's poor performance on mobile devices, but the fact remains: Android can play Flash games and video, and iOS can't. Most of the performance issues have been rectified with Flash for Android Honeycomb -- and we can but hope that the experience is replicated with Ice Cream Sandwich on smartphones.

The bigger issue, though, is whether Flash is ultimately good for mobile computing as a whole. With iOS embracing HTML5 web apps, and Windows 8 seemingly going down a similar path, is Flash support really what the industry needs? It feels like a stopgap measure, to satisfy fans while Google (and RIM and Nokia and Microsoft) work on more powerful mobile web browsers.

3. Customizability

It's hard to put into words just how customizable Android is — and to be honest, it probably deserves more than a mere catch-all in a list. Almost every core Android feature can be extended or replaced by third-party apps — and if that isn't good enough for you, you can take the Android source code and roll your own operating system ROM, like the CyanogenMod team.

While iOS 5 will have Twitter functionality baked into every app, Android lets any third-party app link into any other app -- including Android's first-party music, camera, and messaging apps. With two clicks you can share a photo to Twitter... or to Dropbox, Picasa, or Flickr. With Android you can change your default browser to Firefox, or install a new input method; with iOS, Safari is your only option.

With iOS, customizability is an ideological concept that basically doesn't exist, and iOS 5 won't do anything to change that. While new versions of Android can be said to embrace and extend the functionality of third-party apps, Apple's OS updates effectively steal from the likes of Fring, Instapaper, and Camera+, and give nothing back in return. In almost every closed system, app developers are inexorably squeezed out, and iOS is no exception — but hey, as long as it happens slowly and the majority of app developers can continue to make millions of dollars, who cares. http://www.batterylaptoppower.com/hp/2230s.htm

You could also lump hardware flexibility and expandable storage into this category, but I think we've said enough about Android's superior customizability.

4. Voice control

If you haven't played with Android's voice recognition, you're missing out on one of its best features. Not only can you search Google (and other search engines) very easily, surprisingly accurately, and in a variety of languages, but third-party apps can also tie into voice search. Winamp, for example, lets you voice search your music library from Android's primary home screen search widget. Meanwhile, iOS lets you make calls and control your music, but that's about it.

It's worth noting, however, that there are strong indications that iOS 5 might include voice controls -- they just weren't ready for WWDC and the first developer beta build. Apple bought Siri, an iOS voice control app, and has collaborated with voice recognition expert Nuance in the past. Reliable industry sources were confident about voice control being demonstrated at WWDC -- and yet it wasn't. There are also indications that even if iOS 5 has voice controls, they will only work with first-party applications.

We'll just have to wait and see.

5. Google account integration

While Apple's iCloud service might sound exciting, and the implementation downright pant-wetting, there's no escaping the fact that it really is just a cloud storage service. There's no streaming music, no cloud-based web apps, and no VoIP -- it's just storage for docs, pictures, and app settings.

With Android, you get full Google account integration. You can edit Google Docs on your phone or tablet, and continue from your laptop or desktop. You can upload music to Google Music, and stream from the cloud to your phone. With Google Voice, you can even tie VoIP telephony to your account -- and from there, you can answer calls from your phone while on the move, and from a Chrome browser extension if you're at home or in the office. Android extends the http://www.batterylaptoppower.com/hp/pavilion-dv6.htm  sphere of the web, while Apple corrals it with clumps of cotton wool.

The fact of the matter is that Apple has failed in the past with its cloud-based offerings, and it will be a long time until it can begin to match Google (or Microsoft) on the breadth of functionality that it can provide. With Apple being a hardware company, it doesn't even make sense to offer web- and cloud-based tools -- and in fact, Apple's entire business strategy relies on you being locked into iOS, with what you can and cannot do entirely dictated by Jobs' mandates and the App Store approval process. If that's agreeable to you, then so be it; otherwise, get an Android.

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