The battle rages on between Android and iOS and Apple’s WWDC has been a landmark day revealing all the highlights of iOS 6 expected to land on iPads and iPhones from the 3GS up this autumn. No one can argue that Google and Apple are the two big players of the mobile world right now but how do Cupertino’s latest reveals affect the grand balance of mobile power? Where does Android stand now that iOS has had its latest refresh and where does Google need to focus its efforts in the run-up to I/O 2012?
1: User interface
The over-arching premise of iDevice navigation hasn’t changed with the arrival of iOS 6. While both operating systems largely hinge on horizontal swiping, iOS 6 pans across your applications, whereas Android 4.0, or Ice Cream Sandwich pans across home screen.
Despite speculation that iOS 6 would get widget support or live-tiles, it has retained its static apps and folder menu system. Android however packs five home screens you can deploy shortcuts and widgets across. Shortcuts are simply links to applications whereas widgets are live and either update or offer interactive elements such as music controls. Should you wish to access all your apps in Android then you simply tap your apps drawer icon.
Both operating systems offer notifications bars at the top which can be pulled down in order to unveil an expanded view and integrate smart-search bars that allow you to jump straight through to a chosen contact, app or function. Visually both have their strengths and gone are the days when Android was the poor relation to iOS – Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One X do a fine job of giving iOS 6 a run for its money. iOS 6 however is simpler, less customisable with considerably less room for confusion and error.
2: Social networking integration
The social networking integration in iOS 6 is tight when it comes to services like Facebook and Twitter. The likes of photos, web pages and maps can all be shared directly to Facebook with little more than a share button. That said, this is an area Android still heavily wins out. The share button in Android will share an application not just to the mainstream social networks integrated into the OS, but the third party apps that support share functionality as well.
This means if you’re in your Spotify application on Android and you like a track, you can share it straight to a friend on Whatsapp or a post on Tumblr as well as a host of much smaller services.
Apple has built an entirely new mapping experience from the ground up in iOS 6. They’ve “ingested over 100 million listings around the world” and integrated Yelp! and traffic services. Traffic view shows jams and incidents using real-time crowd sourced data as well as offering turn-by turn navigation. So intelligent is Apple’s navigation that it will re-route mid-drive if any incidences have been picked up that will prolong your ETA. Siri integration with Maps is an interesting feature and one we’d like to try out.
Flyover is Apple’s answer to Google Earth, offering a 3D photographic view of cities across the world. The key difference is it’s integrated into the maps. It’s all vector based as with Google Maps’s current 3D view, however having the photo overlay complete with cloud dappled sky is a really nice touch. Google Maps offers much of the same overall functionality though the navigation offers significantly less polish with no auto re-routing based on traffic. Google Maps is already in a strong position, but will need to fine-tune its navigation and 3D maps with an update in order to retain its hold. Over to you Google….
Siri VS S-Voice
Siri’s initial talents in iOS 5 didn’t exactly translate word-perfect when it landed on the Great British public’s iPhone, namely because of the lack of local support – which Apple has confirmed will be available internationaly and should make a big difference to its usability. Siri has learnt some new commands in iOS 6, all of which were impressive enough when reeled off at the WWDC keynote across the pond. These include an an affinity for sports including Barclays Premier League (not demonstrated, but visible on a slide), an ability to launch apps and pull up movie information via Rotten Tomatoes as well as restaurant integration via Yelp and OpenTable.We also need to mention Eyes Free. Apple has signed up a selection of leading car brands including BMW and Audi to integrate a Siri button (of some type) into selected cars, so you can use Siri’s commands hands free.
We tried the commands Siri 2.0 demonstrated in S-Voice on the Samsung Galaxy S3 and it can launch an app with ease. Movie information and restaurant bookings however are a no go though, so until Samsung integrates businesses on paper it’s currently no match for Siri in iOS 6. We should point out that S-Voice isn’t a Google creation, it’s Samsung’s creation.
Google Drive VS iCloud
iCloud has some really tight integration with iOS and Mac OSX. iWork, Apples equivalent to Google Docs allowing you access to Word, Excel, Text Edit and Keynote files remotely syncs seamlessly and quickly. iMessage also synchronises across desktop, mobile and tablet allowing for cross platform messaging. You also get Photo Stream for your photos and each iCloud account is given a total of 5GB of free storage space. Reading List, contacts, bookmarks and calendar entries sync across too, along with certain third-party app data.
Google Drive also offers 5GB of cloud storage for all your Google docs and files. What’s more, Google also offer Gtalk to rival iMessage and Picasa for all your photos, automatically backing up. iCloud is more refined in terms of presentation while Google Drive is more open in terms of file storage formats.
Based on what we’ve seen, iOS 6 is much of the same Apple iDevice experience. There are some impressive developments, though despite being impressed, we wouldn’t say Apple have dealt a killer blow to Google with their reveal. We’ll have to wait to get hands-on time with the new iOS 6 before we can say this for a fact but Google’s Android still looks like the Smartphone OS for those on a budget and the techies inclined to tinker their phones to high heavens, while iOS is more than ever the operating system for those who want a polished, simple solution out of the box.