Photo: asgw via Flickr
Apple gave the world a look at its latest mobile operating system, iOS 6, at its big developers conference this week. On the surface, it doesn’t look that much different than the current version of iOS. For those of you hoping for a radical new look or suite of features, you’re out of luck.
A lot of wish lists for iOS 6, including ours, called for Apple to adopt some of the best features from Android.
While we still think iOS is the best overall mobile operating system, there are a few key areas where Android stands out.
Android is much better at managing multiple apps than iOS. In the latest version of Android, you get a nifty overlay of running apps when you press the multitasking key. You can tap to reopen the app, or swipe to close it.
It's not so easy in iOS. Apple makes you go through several steps to manage your running apps. First you have to double tap the home button. From there you have to swipe around to find the app you want to open. If you want to close an app, you have to tap and hold it for a second, then tap the red dot to close it.
What a pain.
The iOS home screen is pretty static. Tap an icon, and it launches an app. Notifications badges can tell you how many unread emails, Facebook messages, or Tweets you have, but that's about it.
Android has a much better system for getting live updates on your home screen. Developers can make widgets, mini apps that display real-time information, for your phone. There's no need to launch an app if you have a widget. All you need to do is glance at your phone.
Apple's Notifications centre is a huge improvement over the annoying pop-up badges from the iPhone's early days. But Android still tends to do notifications better than iOS. We prefer our notifications to scroll across the status bar the top of our screen instead of appear in the flip-down notification like they do on iOS.
It's even more annoying that iOS displays each notification as a separate flip-down banner. So if you have a lot of new emails, tweets, messages, etc. if you've been away from your phone for a while, you're going to get bombarded.
We were happy to see Apple add a Bluetooth toggle to the main settings menu in iOS 6, but it's not enough.
Android allows you to have a control panel for functions like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and aeroplane mode right on your home screen. That's a lot easier than digging through settings.
Android lets third-party developers integrate their services directly with the operating system. For example, if you install Dropbox, you can upload photos to the service directly from your Android phone's gallery. There's no need to open the app. Same goes for other apps like Evernote and LinkedIn.
iOS is closed off to services like these. Apple built Twitter and Facebook integration itself. But you have to use the app for other services.
Apple may be ramping up its online services through iCloud, but Google is still best when it comes to email, calendar, and contacts.
Since Android is a Google product, all you have to do is sign in with your Google Account and all your stuff syncs to your phone. You don't have to take any extra steps.
While the iPhone hardware is great, the only options you have are colour and storage size. If you want a bigger screen, expandable storage, or any other tweaks, you're out of luck.
Since Android is an open operating system, any manufacturer can use it. That means you have a lot more choices to find a device that works for you.
Verizon and AT&T continue to rollout their super fast 4G LTE networks. These networks provide download speeds that can rival your cable modem connection at home. (Sprint will have LTE later this year too.)
Unfortunately, the iPhone hardware can't access 4G LTE speeds. If you want access to the fastest networks, go with Android.