Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are the two best operating systems (OS) currently available in Pakistan’s mobile phone market.
A mobile device cannot really pass off as a ‘smartphone’ these days without having either of the two installed. Nokia’s Symbian^3 and RIM’s Blackberry OS 6, the two newest entrants to the mobile OS market, show a lot of promise but they have only just arrived and their user base is still comparatively low. But the platforms are definitely worth keeping an eye on in the future as they mature.
So which of the two reigning operating systems is really worth choosing if you are in the market for a new phone?
The first thing to know is that the iOS is only available on Apple’s iPhone whereas Android is used by manufacturers ranging from HTC to Sony and Samsung, meaning that there is the added advantage of having a lot of different hardware (and prices) to choose from if you are buying an Android Phone.
The two OS’s are actually very similar in terms of their functionality and UI. Both emphasize web connectivity and offer a superb web browser that is based on the open-source webkit engine. Both heavily use touch input for text entry and for navigating the user interface (UI). Both offer storage options to suit your needs, and offer multi-tasking functionality. They also offer geo-location functionality through GPS. Both can check your email. And both can make phone calls, SMS and the like.
They both offer Applications (Apps) through their respective app stores, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Android Market. The App Store has the dual benefits of having wide support of the developer community (Android is catching up fast) and being a closed ecosystem which makes it a bit more secure than the open nature of the Android OS. It also has a wide variety of content in the form of podcasts, movies, TV shows and music available in the iTunes store.
The Android OS does not offer that many content options but Google is working on an online store for content too. Android is criticized for being less secure but Google has been taking measures to make it more secure and it is not that big a problem if you just install trusted apps from the right sources.
Where the Android really shines is how well it works with Google’s web apps. The Gmail app in Android market is better than the iPhone’s. Other features such as search by voice, free navigation and Google Voice (not yet available in Pakistan) among others make the Android a must-have.
In the iPhone4, Apple added a 5-megapixel camera and flash making it among the best cameras in a mobile phone yet. The results speak for themselves. Google’s phones have had 5-megapixels for some time now but they don’t shoot pictures as well as the iPhone4 can.
All about display
The iPhone4 again beats out any Android phone currently on the market with one of the best screens available that boasts a screen resolution of 960-by-640. The Samsung Galaxy S, probably the best Android phone currently in the market has an OLED screen that works very well in sunlight though.
Music and video playback is another area that is a tie. While the iOS does not play well with a lot of video formats and you have to convert the latest TV show or movie you just downloaded off of torrents and add them to iTunes before you can start watching them on your phone, Android can easily play a variety of movie formats. The music playing capabilities are where the iOS wins hands-down. The built-in app for music in Android is just not good and it comes nowhere close to the quality of the music player built-in to the iOS.
And finally, the phones battery lives. Android is a battery hog and you need to fiddle around with the task manager to make the battery last longer whereas the iOS is optimized well to make the battery last longer so that phones with iOS last longer on a charge than Android phones.
Google’s Android operating system has been gaining a lot of market share at the expense of Apple’s iOS recently. And with Android 3.0 supposedly coming out later this year, we might need to revisit this topic again as the first Android 3.0 devices start hitting phone shops here.