The mobile OS wars heat up with the recent update of Apple’s iOS to version 4.3. (boo!) While this software upgrade for the iPhone does give the fruit-named company a big boost in features, how does it really stack up against the latest and greatest snack-themed Android version? Let’s have a look:
Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread
- NFC-support: Provides short-range peer-to-peer interaction with compatible devices. While very few apps exist that take advantage of this, this tech is often used for mobile payments and identity verification.
- Improved UI: Provides great contrast and a vivid look while maintaining power-efficiency. Easier navigation as well of menus and settings.
- Better Keyboard: Selecting text is easier. Quicker input and better word suggestions. Also includes one-touch word selection and improved copy-paste..
- Support for WXGA resolutions and higher: Now makes it easier to run Android on larger screens.
- Native support for SIP VoIP: Lets you call through the internet even without a SIM. Only available in certain models and carriers.
- Support for WebM video: This is a new open video standard that is compatible with HTML5.
- Enhanced gaming: better audio, graphics and inputs are now available to developer so expect richer gaming experiences in the future
- Support for more sensors: Now can detect gyroscopes, barometers and all the other fancy doodads you seem to get on new phones.
- Downloads: A Downloads app provides easy access to email and browser downloads as well as downloads made by compatible apps. Very handy when hunting for files.
- Improved power management: Maximizes battery life by killing wayward apps. Even shows you which eats up your battery the most (often it’s the screen), up time and awake time.
- Support for multiple cameras: Should make using Tango, Qik and Skype easier.
Apple iOS 4.3
- Personal Hotspot: Allows a phone to act as a WiFi hotspot. Can share to up to 3 devices over WiFi. Also works through Bluetooth and USB.
- iTunes Home Sharing: Ability to stream iTunes content over WiFi to an iPhone.
- AirPlay: This was present previously and is the exact opposite of home sharing, letting an iPhone share its content to a compatible screen via WiFi. For now, you need an Apple TV for this to work.
- HDMI Out: Using a compatible adapter, sends video and photos to an HDTV.
- iMovie & Garageband: Allows video and audio editing straight from the device. Costs $4.99 though.
- Customizable message alerts: You can now set tones to play up to ten times just in case your couldn’t hear the first nine.
- Parental Control enabled for app purchases: Should stop those kids from spending mommy’s cash on Smurfberries.
As you can see, some of the things that version 4.3 of the iOS have been in Android for quite some time already. Personal hotspot option has an on-again-off-again relationship with the iPhone. Now, it’s here to stay (hopefully) and users can now share their 3G internet over WiFi. this has been available on Android 2.2 Froyo for quite sometime now so I don’t see what the fuss is about.
HDMI Out is also new to the iPhone, though the Droid X already had this way back when, and it didn’t need a special adapter to boot. As for AirPlay, unless it breaks out and becomes available to more devices, we don’t see it being widely used since users need an Apple TV for it.
One area where the iOS handily trumps Android is through PC-to-mobile streaming. iTunes Home Sharing far surpasses any solution available to Android, which often requires a lot of hacking and setting up to make it work. Personally, we’re hoping Air Video comes around and makes an Android app so I can finally watch my Outsourced episodes over WiFi.
Browser speed tests by Blaze have shown that the Android Gingerbread browser is vastly superior compared to the iPhone 4.3, loading pages almost a second faster. The Android browser also excelled on both mobile and regular sites, whereas the iPhone chokes on the regular sites, sometimes taking as much as twice the time to load compared to mobile ones.
NFC-support is also one of the new features of Gingerbread. It’s not yet widespread since only devices that have come out in the past couple of months support it. NFC has the potential to change the way people pay for stuff or even how devices will be used in the future. Apple is rumored to include this in the next iPhone 5.
There’s never been any doubt that Android’s new version far outstrips the latest from Apple. From browser speeds to NFC, Android 2.3 trumps most of the features of iOS 4.3. It’s even a step ahead, introducing personal WiFi sharing way before Apple. Too bad Jobs old boy, Larry and Sergey won this round. Maybe next time. Maybe.