At the Worldwide Developers Conference 2011, Apple executives gave a sneak peek into the upcoming iOS 5 update that is scheduled to arrive later this year. The iOS 5 update boasts 200 new features and 1,500 new application programming interfaces (APIs) to support the iPad 2, iPad, iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, and iPod touch 3rd and 4th generations. Several new features were demonstrated on stage and many found those features similar to ones offered by other mobile operating systems.
Apple iOS 5 seems to be the best iOS till date. The biggest surprise came with the PC Free feature that is complemented by the much-hyped iCloud, a web based data syncing service. That means you won’t have to hook your iOS device to a PC or Mac using a cable. Instead, you can get updates and sync data over the air.
Apart from luring several people the company has also managed to surprise people. Apple is believed to be a late entrant for several iOS 5 features that already exist on rival mobile platforms — Windows Phone 7, Android and BlackBerry.
Let’s take a look at the features of the new iOS 5, and also at corresponding features on other mobile operating systems.
After the buzz over push notifications went luke-warm, Apple decided to take notifications to the next stage. It created a drawer that is accessible when the user swipes downward from the top of the screen. This Notification Center groups all the notifications pertaining to emails, texts, reminders, calendar, twitter updates, friend requests, weather, stock updates etc.
Google Android has a similar feature, which is also referred to as Notifications Drawer (Slide Drawer) and is accessible in the same way — swipe downwards from the top of the screen. This feature has been available to users for about four years.
Windows Phone 7, which was launched last year, offers notifications in the form of a Live Tiles update and one can see the connotations on the tiles whenever there is an update.
Meanwhile the BlackBerry OS offers notifications on the respective application shortcut icons on the home screen. In fact RIM introduced Notifications Bar just below the top bar last year with the worldwide rollout of BlackBerry OS 6.0.
Heavily bantered as a BlackBerry Messenger alternative, iMessage is built into the messaging app for sending unlimited texts over 3G, EDGE or WiFi. Users can share photos, videos, audio, locations and contacts among friends with iOS devices. This new feature will work on iPhone, iPod touch or iPad running the iOS 5 update.
Android doesn’t have this feature built into the operating system since Google counts heavily on using Google Talk, but one cannot share photos, audio or video files. That leaves users depending on third party applications.
Windows Phone 7 doesn’t have this messaging feature and there’s no word on whether Microsoft is planning to implement it. Though the operating system matures every month, it will take a while for early adopters to see an iMessage-like feature on it.
To be honest, the incessant and nearly free messaging is what defines BlackBerry Messenger. BlackBerry Messenger is a brand in itself. Its fifth version was introduced as part of an operating system update back in 2009. After BlackBerry OS 6.0, RIM plans to add more features to it.
All Twitter addicts and iOS device owners should be jumping with joy since iOS 5 will bring single sign-in for the micro-blogging service. With systemwide integration, users can share links, photos, videos, and locations on their device over Twitter.
Apparently, Google was the first to integrate Twitter and Facebook with contacts. However, status updates and notifications are available through applications.
BlackBerry has photo sharing available for Twitter users and several continue to complain about the crashes as well as sluggish performance of the official Twitter application.
Windows Phone 7 users will get Twitter integration with the Mango update due to arrive later this year.
Subscribe to your favorite news dailies and magazines from a single app which will also manage the updates efficiently. All new purchases, updates and subscriptions can be managed using this one app. Apart from that, Newsstand also acts as the native RSS reader wherein users just need to add the URL for subscribing to blogs and websites. This must’ve really put loads of third-party RSS reader apps out of business.
Android doesn’t have this feature by default but a number of Samsung devices get it through an app. For instance Samsung’s user interface TouchWiz has an app called Daily Briefing which acts as a media aggregator. Google does have its own RSS reader app but it is merely for reading and doesn’t have many features.
Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerry OS do not have native RSS readers or Newsstand-like applications. Instead, both depend on third-party applications.
Over the air updates
Finally Apple catches up with over the air update, which has been a de facto feature of Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone 7. However, the main concern here is the size of the update, and it is recommended that it be downloaded over WiFi only.
Mentioned above are the few features that Apple has allegedly “stolen” from Android and several other third-party applications published through App Store.
With the launch of iPhone 4 Apple is aiming to please shutterbugs with better imaging features. The iOS 5 update will put a camera icon on the lockscreen of the iPhone for quick access to capture images by pressing the volume up button.
Windows Phone 7 comes with a hardware camera button which wakes the phone from sleep mode so that it is immediately ready to click a photo.
Android and BlackBerry don’t have such a feature.
This feature kicks out all the to do and reminder applications that iOS platform has had. Apart from being location based, the reminders also integrate with iCal, Outlook and iCloud to keep all the changes made in-sync and updated.
Besides iOS, the other operating systems are dependent on third party applications for reminder lists.
Wouldn’t you pay for an ad-free experience of the mobile web? Well, iOS 5 will bring the Reader mode and Reading List feature for mobile Safari, which enable an ad free web environment. The Reader option can be tapped to read articles or blog posts without any ad-clutter.
Apart from that, Apple has brought many enhancements for individual native apps like photos, mail, calendar, and game center. Read more about these features over here.
Apple will seed iOS 5 to consumers in Fall this year. That’s when Microsoft will release the Mango update for Windows Phone 7 devices. Google may release Ice Cream Sandwich in December. While BlackBerry is expected to give a sneak peek of BlackBerry OS 7.0 in Fall. Once these updates are available on devices, we’ll be able to decide which platform has really matured for users.