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Android 4.2 Jelly Bean vs iOS 7
Apple’s WWDC is in full swing, and arguably the biggest part of its keynote yesterday morning was the unveiling of the new iOS 7. Now that iOS 7 has been announced we can formally pit the two biggest mobile operating systems head to head. It’s go time – Android 4.2 Jelly Bean vs iOS 7 – in an all out fight to the death (or at least till one smartphone runs out of battery, whatever comes first).
Disclaimer: I do not absolutely, positively hate iOS. I think it’s a decent operating system, but I do believe Android has surpassed iOS in terms of functionality and user experience (or at least when compared to iOS 6). I own a fourth-gen iPod Touch and a third-generation iPad, and both devices are running the latest version of iOS 6.
iOS 7 offered the first major change in the design of iOS since its inception, opting for a cleaner, more modern look with flatter icons, and a big emphasis on translucency. Apple has also chosen an ultra-saturated palette of colors that you’ll either love or hate. The overall design is refreshing, yet still familiar, a difficult feat that Apple has managed to pull off.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean offers a darker, moodier user interface, with black the predominant background, white text using the familiar Roboto font, and accents of blue. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean offers the consistent Holo UI, which has been heralded for its modern look.
Multitasking is a big part of your smartphone user experience, and it was also one of the places where Android had the upper hand. Well not anymore, as Apple completely redesigned multitasking on iOS to provide a smarter, more efficient multitasking experience.
Now all apps in iOS can open background tasks, moving iOS closer to Android in that respect. But one place where iOS defeats even Android is the fact that the multitasking is intelligent. If you open your favorite news apps every morning and night, iOS knows this and refreshes the app at those times.
It’ll also analyze aspects like the strength of your Internet connectivity so that it will refresh apps at the right time. This is a very cool feature, in fact it’s probably my favorite from the keynote and for that I’ll forgive it for its webOS-like appearance, but of course we’ll have to wait and see how this all plays out in the real world.
Android 4.2 Jelly Bean offers the same reliable multitasking that’s been available since Ice Cream Sandwich. Click on the multitasking button and you’ll see all of your recently opened apps in a preview. Clicking on the app preview will open the app, and sliding the preview to the left or right will get rid of the preview.
Apple developed a brand new Lock screen for iOS 7, offering a live wallpaper which may or may not look like the Phase Beam live wallpaper in Android. iOS 7 also gives you access to your notifications straight from the Lock screen.
There aren’t many radical changes to the Home screen, besides the ability to add pages to your folders and a new color scheme and design for app icons. Sadly, this means there are no widgets available for use on iOS 7.
The Android 4.2 Jelly Bean Lock screen is a much more eventful place. The addition of Lock screen widgets allow you to get a glimpse of what is going on in your phone without ever having to unlock it. It also gives you quick access to apps like the camera, clock, mail, messaging and Google Now.
Android’s customization is also shown in the Home screen. Here you can add apps, folders and yes widgets too. This allows you to customize your device to exactly the way you like it, and with the thousands of widgets available in the Play Store, you certainly have a lot to choose from.
One of a phone’s main objectives is to keep you connected with the rest of the world, and to do that you’ll need a killer notification system.
iOS 7 takes a new approach to notifications, offering a tabbed interface in the notification panel. One panel is labelled “today,” and is basically a calendar widget found in the notification panel that shows all of your appointments, tasks, and the weather for the upcoming day.
The other two panels are labelled “missed” and “all”, with the “missed” tab showing you your missed calls and texts, and the “all” tab a collection of all of your notifications. An issue that has yet to be solved is the fact that you can’t dismiss one notification at a time. So if you have a series of messages and you only want to dismiss one of them, you simply can’t. It’s all or nothing when it comes to notifications on iOS.
Android’s notification system has always been top class and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean is no different. The notification panel in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean offers not only the ability to view your notifications, but also the ability to expand and act upon them right in the notification panel. So if you miss a call, you can easily text or call the person back right from the notification panel. Add in the fact that you can easily dismiss whatever notification you like, and you can tell that Android is still very good at dealing with notifications.
Web browsing experience
It’s quite obvious that Apple took some design cues from Google’s Chrome when it came to designing its new Safari application. But it also added features like a reading list, which is integrated with the Safari application on Mac OS X Mavericks.
Another feature is iCloud keychain, which basically keeps all of your passwords saved in one place so that you don’t have to remember them, a nifty feature indeed. Obviously there is no flash support, but if the old Safari app in iOS 6 is anything to go by, the new Safari app should give you a great web browsing experience.
Chrome has come a long way in recent times, and it too offers the ability to save your passwords, but unfortunately doesn’t come with a place to store all your favorite articles (bookmarks don’t count). Luckily there are great third party apps like Pocket which get the job done, but it would be better if the whole experience was more integrated. Overall, Chrome on Android offers a solid, if a little bit uninspiring web browsing experience.
Siri vs Google Now
Apple didn’t spend a lot of time talking about Siri in iOS 7 other than the fact that it has new voices. Of course it also adds extra functionality like the ability to increase your brightness, but personally, functionality wasn’t the problem with Siri, rather it was its lack of understanding anything I said, so hopefully the voice recognition has been improved. Siri still functions as an “ask and I shall tell” application, meaning that it doesn’t offer contextual based information like Google Now.
Google Now on the other hand, is much more proactive and offers up information without the need to search for it. It’ll give you the weather at your current location, travel times to your home and work, live scores for your favorite team, currency conversions and the time back home when you’re travelling, and so much more. It’s crazy accurate and a little creepy at times, but its ability to offer information without the need to ask for it, is unique in its own way.
Camera and gallery apps
iOS 7’s new camera app is redesigned into 4 trays with the formats still, video, square and panorama. It also offers the ability to add filters right from the app, allowing you to see how the photo will look before you take the shot, so Instagram users will definitely like this addition.
The Photo app has been completely redesigned to auto-organize your photos from moments to collections, and even to years. Your photos and videos are organized based on the places you took them, so if you went on a holiday to Bali and took some photos there, they would all be grouped, automatically in their own folder. Overall, the photo app is incredible and possibly the best application in the whole of iOS 7.
In Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, the Android camera app is simple, yet elegant. On the bottom left there is a button to swap between still shot, video, panorama and photosphere (more on that a little later). Tapping anywhere on the screen will bring up the settings menu, a 360(degree) menu that allows you to change white balance, turn flash on and off, switch cameras and edit your other camera settings.
Swiping to the left from the right edge will reveal the gallery app. Here you can see your albums or other albums based on people tagged in them, the location and time. When in an album there are two ways to view your photos, gridview and filmstrip view. Filmstrip view allows you to delete your photos by simply throwing them off of the screen with a swipe.
iTunes Radio vs Play Music All Access
iTunes Radio is a curated Internet radio, which allows you to stream songs based on factors like genre, artist or time period. Like Pandora it is free with ads, and is ad-free for iTunes Match subscribers, meaning it will cost $24.99 a year for ad-free listening.
Like iOS 7, it’ll be released this fall and will be available to U.S. customers at the beginning, with more countries added later. The service will be provided on iOS, Mac, Windows and Apple TV.
iTunes Radio is a curated Internet radio, while Play Music All Access is a complete music streaming service.
Play Music All Access is a complete music streaming service which costs $9.99 a month and is currently only available to U.S. customers, but more countries will be added later.
Unlike iTunes Radio, Play Music All Access allows you to search for specific artists, lets you listen to their albums, create playlists and most importantly allows you to save them onto your device for offline listening. So think of it as a Spotify competitor, rather than a direct competitor to iTunes Radio. Play Music All Access is currently available on Android and has its own web-based application. It will also be available on iOS soon.
Airdrop uses Wi-Fi Direct to share photos with other iOS users.
Airdrop is a sharing feature which uses Wi-Fi direct to share photos between iOS users. If that sounds familiar it’s because Samsung released a similar feature with the Galaxy S3 called Group Share. Unfortunately, iOS’s lack of sharing functionality is still apparent in iOS 7, so there is no way to share to apps that aren’t Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, iMessage or Mail, straight from the photos app.
On the Android front, NFC and Android Beam allow you to easily share photos, music, websites, contact info and more by tapping the backs of devices together. However, Airdrop does offer the added functionality of being able to send photos to more than one person at a time, but NFC does allow you to share information with more than just Android devices.
iOS fans rejoice, quick toggles are now on iOS 7. Now you can quickly turn Wi-Fi on and off, adjust the brightness, mute the phone and more, all by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to unveil the Control Center. Android has had toggles for as long as I remember, but hey, better late than never, right?
The easiest way to imagine what a Photo Sphere is to take a look at Google Maps Street View. Photo Sphere allows you to take 360° panorama photographs, which show off where you are and what you’re looking at. It’s a brilliant piece of software and is something you have to see to believe.
iOS 7 did not add any multi-user support and this is still one place where Android surpasses iOS. Multi-user support is available on Android tablets running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, and is perfect for separating work from play, sharing a tablet between partners and creating a playground for kids.
iOS 7 definitely advances the iOS operating system and is a step in the right direction for iOS users and the mobile market as a whole. Something we should never forget is that competition sparks innovation.
We also shouldn’t forget that Android hasn’t had a major update since Ice Cream Sandwich in 2011. Both Jelly Bean updates have been relatively minor, yet still feature-packed updates. If the reports are correct, later this year, we could see Android 5.0 Key Lime Pie be unveiled, and then it starts to get really exciting.
Both iOS 7 and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean are very capable operating systems and while iOS 7 was mostly playing catch up, features like intelligent multitasking are certainly interesting and I’m looking forward to checking it out.
What do you think of iOS 7? How does it compare to Android 4.2 Jelly Bean?