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+.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?