Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich vs Apple iOS 5

by: Matthew SabatiniOctober 20, 2011

Just two weeks after Apple released iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S, Google and Samsung took center stage with their Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and the Galaxy Nexus–both of which can potentially make Apple’s goods turn Android-green with envy.

The Galaxy Nexus packs a 4.65-inch HD Super AMOLED screen with an amazing 1280×720 resolution, a 1.2-GHz dual-core processor, a Near Field Communication (NFC) chip, and a 5-MP camera with Full HD (1080p) video recording.  The device will be the pioneer in using Google’s latest operating system, Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, a completely redesigned operating system offering incredible new features packaged in a simple, beautiful, and easy-to-use interface.

Both iOS 5 and Ice Cream Sandwich were released one after the other, and because of that, smartphone customers will have the chance to choose which operating system to go with. Not only that, users will have to choose between the iPhone 4S and the Galaxy Nexus. We have a huge competition on our hands.


Apple and Google both changed their operating systems to allow for easy access to the camera. More specifically, you can now go straight to taking a picture from the lock screen in both Ice Cream Sandwich and iOS 5.

Google, however, has taken its camera software a few steps further. Ice Cream Sandwich now allows for taking panorama photos, using live effects, and auto-uploading to Google+.


Photo Editing

After you’re done taking pictures on your incredible smartphone camera, you can go right ahead and edit that photo right on your phone. How is this a new feature, you ask? Originally, you had to download a third-party app. Now, both iOS 5 and Ice Cream Sandwich have built-in photo editing tools.

The Cloud

Google is really known for bringing the cloud to smartphones because of Google Music Beta and now Google+ auto photo uploads. Although Apple is playing catch-up, it is basically doing the same thing by allowing for music and photo backups.

Apple’s iCloud now includes the ability to sync your documents in the cloud. However, Google has a huge headstart on this one–Google Docs became available quite a while ago.

Moreover, Apple finally supports over-the-air updates. Better late than never: Android has had over-the-air updates for a while and it does not require you to be on Wi-Fi.

Face Unlocking

During the Ice Cream Sandwich event, Google demonstrated how you can now unlock your phone with your face.  Just show your face to your phone, and your phone will unlock.



After taking a quick look into Ice Cream Sandwich’s tabbed browser, you would find Google Chrome bookmark sync, incognito mode, and the ability to save webpages for later offline use.  The browser can take up to 16 tabs simultaneously open.

Apple introduced tabbed browsing on the iPad , private browsing (like incognito mode), Safari Reader, and Reading List. Although Reading List does not allow you to save webpages for offline viewing, it does allow for syncing across your iCloud devices.

Notifications and Multitasking

Apple has taken a big chunk from Android by borrowing the latter’s notification bar (notification drawer). With a little touch up to the look and feel, Apple calls it the “Notification Center” in iOS 5.

Google did not take this sitting down, however. Android has been given the ability to open the notification bar from the lock screen and also the ability to swipe away unwanted notifications.

In addition, Google has completely revamped Multitasking by creating a list of your recent apps. Each app will include a big picture of what’s happening in the app, and the ability to swipe away apps and also “kill” them, or turn them off in the process of swiping.


Voice Commands

Android has always had voice command functionality. However, Apple’s Siri has been received as a completely new technology. To answer this, Google has included the ability to activate voice commands “hands-free.” This means that instead of pushing a button, you can just talk to your phone, and it does your bidding.  Speech-to-text decoding also now happens in real time.  Previously, you’d need to finish speaking one sentence before Android converts it to text.  With ICS, Android catches up with your speech at the word level–that is, each word you utter is instantly decoded and displayed on the screen.

Siri has been marketed as “Your Personal Assistant.” It can make appointments, send messages, and even take notes. However, it will only be available for the iPhone 4S.

Both Ice Cream Sandwich’s and iOS 5’s voice command implementations allow for playing music and placing phone calls.

Other New Apps and Features

Android undoubtedly improved on the best and greatest features from Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 3.0 Honeycomb.  Here are some more new features and apps in Ice Cream Sandwich.

  • new People app — It is like the Contacts app but has big “beautiful” (read: high-definition) pictures.
  • completely revamped Gmail app — You can now view your mail messages from up to a month ago
  • new Calendar and Map apps after they redesigned Music with Google Music Beta a while back
  • new data usage app — displays your data usage on a graph and includes forecasts of your future usage.  There’s more: you can also set data cut-offs and reminders, and turn off specific apps that consume data while running in the background
  • Android Beam — allows information to be shared to another phone through an NFC chip and allows a user to share instantly and completely wirelessly such things as websites, YouTube videos, apps, and much more

On the other hand, Apple introduced “Find My Friends” that basically brings Google Latitude to the iPhone. Google Latitude tracks another person through GPS, if that person allows you to do so.  Apple has also added Reminder, Siri (iPhone 4S Only), Newsstand, and iMessage in addition to Find My Friends.

Wrap Up

iOS 5 and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich are two of the most advanced operating systems today.   Although both have their clear advantages and flaws, which do you think will come out on top?

  • Comment Reply

    Android needs to catch up, a long way to go! Still fragmented, late updates.

    • Blah

      Apple Fanboy LOL!!!

    • AppleFUD

      I think you mean to say, some OEM’s & carriers that are using Android are not updating devices like they should. If I purchase a real Android device (the Nexus line) then I won’t have any problems with Android.

      That’s the problem. Android is open so it can be abused by OEM’s and carriers, thus if you want to avoid that abuse go with Google’s device ;)

      There are pros and cons to everything–go with apple and get locked into their high walled high priced garden. Or go with Android and have a choice of a true Android handset with the Nexus line or go with an OEM if you like theirs and you can always throw a third party ROM on your device if you like.

    • yea I’m not sure what 3rd world country you’re in, but there are Android updates way more often! That’s why they’re so much further AHEAD of iOS! I’m thinking you’re confusing the two!

  • Anonymous

    ITs all about the apps and app development. Android is way too open to work consistanly across devices. My money is with apple. Tell google to make good on android on google tv before I can trust them. I use both and android is sloppy. Apples closed system with only iPhones made by apple makes me feel like I won’t get cheated.

    • AppleFUD

      If you go with the Google device then you won’t have any issues. It’s no different than going with the iphone–you get direct updates, it’s THE device for development, etc. . .

      Your argument is only valid for some OEM Android handsets and I personally wouldn’t even call them Android handsets. In other words, buy a decent Android handset ;)

  • The Fox

    give me something that Apple can do and Android cant ??? Anybody??? Stop envying Android because they are becoming better and better and stop blaming your android device that is slow…well of course is slow when you have a Touch Wiz interface or a Sense interface that needs to coexists with android OS. If you don’t know shit about a OS shut the F** UP.

    • It is SMOOTH. Responsive. It has an animation for just about every transition on the device itself. For a device that you spent using a big chunk of your time, it’s PLEASING to the eye when you use it.

      It is MUCH simpler to use. You do NOT have to fiddle with everything to get it to usable state. It is more intuitive. Things are more “centralized”. Things are not BURIED in menus.

      Even with a smaller screen you can read text better than on a big 4.5″ screen SUPER AMOLED PLUS ULTRA MEGA.

      Take it from someone that returned his 4s and got a skyrocket believing onto all the hype. It’s not a bad phone. It is much better than the A1200 that I had before the iPhone.

      Right now… Android has LTE and that is its only good thing and advantage for the moment.

      There is a reason Apple has so much money
      There is a reason developers earn more money on iOS than Android
      There is a reason why people pay top dollars for a top model.

      ICS looks to be a real contender and from what I see on the videos and stuff, it appears to be a SUPER HUGE improvement with its GPU acceleration that the iPhone has had for years.

      • Graham Steffaniak

        the fact is: Android is moving forward, iOS not so much.

        while iOS has been more stable in the past, it is an old and reliable OS that people are used to. Android is no more complicated than iOS if you do not wish to personalize or customize it- but how boring would that be? it would be like owning an iPhone!


        the reason apple has money is because they have their customers by their balls.

        Apple takes a whopping 30% immediately from every app sold on THEIR store, developers are forced to write in the uncommon programming language of Objective C. the developers too are held by the balls.

        the third is just the same– by the BALLS!

      • PG

        1) There is a reason Apple has so much money…

        Yes, because they sell a whole product and are a single vendor.. Google give away an OS… For interests sake, now tally the profits of every single Android hardware manufacturer for every single Android device and compare that to Apple.. Perhaps things might look a little more even now eh? Keep it real…

        2) There is a reason developers earn more money on IOS.

        An older more mature market place. Yes, that makes sense. That has little to do with the hardware / os. Developers are starting to monitize more now the Android market place is maturing as well. Is this because the phones got better? Not a chance. Simple economics..

        3) There is a reason why people pay top dollars for a top model.

        Hahaha. Come on? How can you respond to a comment like that?! The Iphone have been blown away on it’s last 2 releases for out of date features and hardware. Apple aren’t the innovaters anymore.. Your comment has no basis except for your assumption that Apple is the top model and therefor it is.

        I will give you this, they are much simpler to use. You could give a Baboon an Iphone and it could most probably drive it. Handy I guess if your a Baboon..

      • Anonymous


        It’s pretty and it’s limited..

        Google may as well give up now..

  • Lindsay Reid

    Another feature that I liked the sound of in “Ice Cream Sandwich” is the ability to “lock out” certain apps from running even if they are part of the firmware. The app can be disabled and/or hidden as a user preference. I have a Galaxy Tab (original 7″) that pops up with a dictionary app that is part of the Samsung supplied OS and the pop-up tells me it has crashed. I would rather disable it permananently as the pop up is annoying. Even better would be if Samsung fixed the problem! Whether I will see ICS on my Tab remains to be seen – I won’t hold out too much hope.

    • AppleFUD

      Yes, that is a great feature. Loved that Google actually did something about that and data usage. Two very user friendly features that are much needed!

  • They’ll both come out on top. It doesn’t matter which one is better; the only thing that matters is which one is better for you!

  • which one you people like . Never used android . used ios in ipod touch

  • AppleFUD

    Getting the GNexus when it gets to T-Mobile.

    The screen is insane! I can’t deal with screens smaller than 4″ and prefer something closer to the GNexus screen size. And now that everything is hardware accelerated and taking advantage of multiple cores it should scream. Add to all of that that this is THE Google device and it will get direct updates asap and I’m in.

  • rom3o

    what i really don’t like is that to have ios5 u can buy an iPhone 4 or iPhone 4s even the 3gs model and to have ICS you have to wait for the nexus till next month or even wait more if you want an ICS update to ur phone this is the only part i don’t like of android to much wait for updates

    • actually only certain Android phones don’t get updates (or like iPhone 3g, just too old). And you don’t have to wait for the carrier or manufacturers, most (good) phones get updated software regularly by community developers.

  • Defently Android 4.0 OS ;)

  • Postal Jim

    Really get tired of these prompted battles. We all know the outcome. Apple Fanboys will never see the Android side of the coin just as DroidHeads will never understand the iOS side. It’s the chicken or the egg all over again. Just depends on your beliefs, Facts will not make it through a wall of pride.

  • Tombola

    Apple’s OS is stable and performant, the apps work reliable and the responsiveness is good.
    Anyway, they just did improvements what means they either improved own features or the improved copied them from Android or Blackberry. Apple lacks innovation. Just to anticipate the claim for Siri as a new feature: it’s not innovative, personal assistants have been there, though under different names. IOs looks a bit old fashioned (even though the features they improved are really well done).
    I personally never liked the simple button/shortcut crowded iPhone GUI, time for Apple to catch up with Google on widgets, navigation, animation and customizability.
    Not saying Android did everything better, it has as many downsides as iOS. It’s just a matter of taste. I perfer android over apple.
    … and since Apple started this distressing legal war on Android, they really became uncool.

  • FamilyIphone

    Nice! I hope they can make it more accurate than that headline image of course. This is one feature I would like iOS to copy/steal.

  • Are you effin’ kidding?

    Apple was ahead of the curve a couple of years ago. Now Google has caught up and is equal to, and in a few cases ahead of, Apple. I have no doubt that the differences will see-saw back and forth in the months to come, but that the benefits of BOTH will be roughly equal. That being said, the rabid reactions of the Apple adopters would be humorous if they weren’t so damned tied to their beliefs. Its akin to religious beliefs: “Your view of God – or disbelief – is wrong and therefore invalid. My view is THE only view and yours is wrong and stupid to boot!”

  • Ryboy101r

    ios is boring

  • New Android Tab

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    I’ll include a link source

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  • Ddddddddd

    Apple’s Siri is way more advanced then “Iris”. iCloud is better then any cloud services so far. Android fanboys never face the facts.

  • Timotius Austin

    Wow , is an Amazing