Does iOS 5 Bridge the Gap Between Android and the iPhone?

Apple’s new iOS 5 is expected to bring a lot of new features in, many of them inspired at least partially by their competition. From Android’s notifications to Blackberry’s messaging system, the latest version of iOS appears to bridge the gap between iOS and their biggest competitor, Android. But does it, really?

First, I’m a strong believer in experience over everything else. I’ve been extremely happy with Apple and the iOS since prior to the App Store and so many other developments throughout its history. Android has never appealed to me as much as iOS in terms of being something I would see myself using as my primary mobile platform. As with many things, there are some obvious pros and cons to it and any operating system that make it more appealing. iOS 5 has made great strides towards bridging the gap between it and its biggest competition, and several of the key features that bring many users to Android and Blackberry are finding their way to the iOS – at least in a similar form, function, and purpose.

One feature that remains virtually exclusive to Android phones (some of which have it on by default) is Swype. Through Swype, users are able to type in entire words using a single touch gesture. For some Android users, this is a must-have feature that makes sending out quick messages a snap. While there is a learning curve, several members of the community have commented at one point or another how easy it makes typing things out on the go, especially on such a small surface. iOS 5 doesn’t include this functionality, at least not yet. For now though, you are able to take advantage of Swype-like input if you have a jailbroken device through apps like iSwype.

Another feature Android has that isn’t currently present on the iPhone are widgets. Widgets allow you to see a limited display of information from apps without having to actually enter the app and make it fill the screen. For some applications such as search, weather, and Twitter, this can certainly serve a useful purpose. This experience can be hampered a bit by the combined processing power used to power these widgets. Where you might otherwise enjoy a fluid and fast transition between pages and/or apps, a screen leaded with widgets has the potential of bogging down the experience. Again, this depends entirely on what exactly those widgets do and how well they’re optimized for the operating system.

Admittedly, Android users still have a more open development environment allowing their developers the freedom to create apps that bend the rules of the OS. This can be an advantage or disadvantage depending on how you look at it. While one person might say this environment inspires creativity and ignites the passions of their development community, another might say it opens the door for 100 bad apps for every 1 good one.

Apple’s new iOS 5 is on its way and ultimately it’s up to the consumers to decide if the changes made are enough to drive more people to (or back to) iOS devices from the alternatives. It’s been said time and time again on this blog and others that competition drives innovation. I’m curious to see where this will take the industry, moving forward.

17 thoughts on “Does iOS 5 Bridge the Gap Between Android and the iPhone?”

  1. Even though I’m a huge Android fan, I definitely applaud Apple for including these features into iOS 5.  The notification system on iOS devices have always turned me away.  And I believe the iOS Messaging feature will catch on like wildfire.  Maybe Google will make something like that as well…  But its great, more competition means more innovation which is better for us consumers.  Job well done Apple!

  2. Even though I’m a huge Android fan, I definitely applaud Apple for including these features into iOS 5.  The notification system on iOS devices have always turned me away.  And I believe the iOS Messaging feature will catch on like wildfire.  Maybe Google will make something like that as well…  But its great, more competition means more innovation which is better for us consumers.  Job well done Apple!

  3. This definitely bridges the gap between the phone devices, but the iPad still has a long way to go. Like honeycomb, Apple needs to develop a version that takes full advantage of the extra real estate rather than crowbarring a 3.5″ phone UI onto a 10″ “post pc”.

  4. I think this definitely takes away some of the big arguments against iOS. Notifications especially were a big issue. 

  5. I think this definitely takes away some of the big arguments against iOS. Notifications especially were a big issue. 

  6. “Another feature Android has that isn’t currently present on the iPhone are widgets.” Well duh, iOS doesn’t have a home screen, it has a lock screen, and a static grid of icons, and thats about it. You can’t really see any information without having to jump in and out of the same apps over and over again.

  7. One of the most annoying elements I have ever seen is Ads on Apps. On iOS it´s disturbing, but on Android it´s unbearable.

  8. I think I will get a Samsung Galaxy S2 after all…tired of all the waiting and false rumors and eventual disappointment and walled garden and iTunes bottleneck and overpriced everything from Apple.  When they come out with the 5 I might switch back, but this was not an upgrade…it was Lord of the Rings Theatrical Edition on VHS then Lord of the Rings Extended Edition on VHS then Lord of the Rings Theatrical Edition on DVD then Lord of the Rings Extended Edition on DVD then Lord of the Rings Theatrical Edition on Blu-Ray then Lord of the Rings Extended Edition on Blu-Ray.  They just want to make a buck and bide their time.  Cruel little Hobbitses.

  9. Overpriced “everything?” Apparently, you didn’t catch the news that the current gen iPhone 4 is being sold for $99, and the iPhone 3GS is free. Now that I think about it, yeah – that’s incredibly overpriced.

  10. See?  Told you.  :-)  Apple products AS A RULE are extremely overpriced, so the iPhone 4S is no different.  And you’re off base – you’re comparing a “LAST year’s model” (the iPhone 4 8GB @ $99) to a THIS year’s model of the SGS2 at $199.  The same THIS year’s model of the iPhone 4S starts at $199 for 8GB and STOPS at that price for 8GB.  The SGS2 starts at 16GB for the same price, and you can expand it with a MicroSD card.  Open your eyes.  Good Apple sheep, baa baa….

  11. My old palm pre from 2 years ago has a much better interface, faster response times, and better battery life than the brand new iPhone 4s I got. If it was’nt starting to die I would return the 4s and keep using my original palm pre. Damn HP for killing webOS devices !

  12. “Much better interface” is an opinion, not fact. I dislike the battery life as well, but there’s a fine balance in delivering an incredible amount of power and keeping ‘er powered throughout a period of time. Could it be better? I dare you to find any phone that couldn’t stand to have a few extra minutes of battery life. If you don’t want the 4S, don’t keep it. There are plenty of viable alternatives available.

  13. WebOS is still superior 2 years later. Better multi tasking, faster response times, easier to use, and your multiple accounts online work in multiple programs!

    Excellent notification system as well… Going to an iPhone now feels like a major step backwards for me, not to mention horrible battery life for a real power user like myself. I have to set all 4 of my email accounts on my iphone to manual checking because it drains the battery dry in a few hours. While the pre was set to instant notification of when emails arrive and still lasted through a full day (even with an old battery).

  14. Kinda hard to argue on that, but a single swipe to delete emails, multi tasking with a swipe to go through all open apps at once, touch gestures for navigating the system, and much more. I can’t help but feel that I am using old antiquated tech.

    Since I’ve decided to boycott google products, my only other serious choice since HP dropped webOS is to go with Windows phone 7. Unless I want nearly non-existent app stores.

    I just honestly expect more from Apple than this.

  15. At least there are multitasking gestures on the iPad. I don’t disagree with WebOS having some amazing features, but you can’t hold anybody but Palm / HP responsible.
    It’s like those people who got upset at Apple for not living up to their delusions based on rumors of a mythical device that Apple never promised it would deliver. It’s no wonder they’re so damn secretive.

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