iOS 4 vs Android 2.2 - Fight

We've analysed whether the HTC Desire is better than the iPhone 4 but what about the two operating systems that power these leading mobiles? Does iOS 4 from Apple really pack a punch when it comes to smartphone supremacy, or is the real champion Google's Android OS? We look at the key areas of each OS to find out which truly is king of the ring.

Seconds away...

ROUND 1

Multitasking
iOS 4 now offers multitasking, allowing you to run multiple apps in the background and call theml up at the double press of a button. It's as efficient as it is easy to use, although it does require the app in question to have been updated by the developer. Although Android allows you to run just about any one app you can think of at the same time, it can be to the detriment of your phone's performance if you're not careful. That's why apps like TasKiller exist, so that you can take a glance and decide which operations are essential - shutting down the ones you don't need.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - An attempted right arm lead from iOS 4 answered by a volley of landed headshots from Android. Bit of a talking to in Apple's corner followed by a good smearing of Vaseline around the chops. A note to calm down from Android's trainer, a little less wild swinging please.

ROUND 2

Photos and recording video
iOS 4 has now added greater support for capturing photos and video. You now get tap to focus in both movie and still mode. For photographers, the still mode offers a 5x digital zoom and you can then choose the size of the image to be emailed. If that wasn't enough, all images are geo-tagged automatically with the included photo album software, offering a map of the globe showing where you've taken your shots. Everything is synced with Apple's easy to use iPhoto software.

In comparison, there's no tap to focus with Android. You get the choice of auto-focus or infinity focus but it's not as flexible. On the other hand, the same 5x digital zoom is present and, again, each photo is geo-tagged so that your camera roll not only provides a link to show each photo you've taken on Google Maps, but also tells you underneath each thumbnail the name of the place it was taken. You can't resize the photos in the same way that iOS 4 offers but you can rotate them and crop them at will. As well as that there's some interesting options before you take your shots too. There's a choice of white balance settings along with the auto, resolution settings which are effectively a way of choosing image size and colour filters, the likes of which you'd expect to find on a compact camera.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - Every shot iOS 4 goes for, Android 2.2 mirrors in return. The quick jab of easy resize gets through but once the iPhone OS is out of ideas there's a couple in return from Android. No real significant damage to repair in either corner, just a fraction more red in Apple's spit bucket.

ROUND 3

Social Networking
Game Central is about as good as it gets when it comes to social interaction on iOS 4. You can get social networking apps for Twitter, Facebook et al, but all are via apps rather than being built-in.

Android, on the other hand, is all about social networking - well it's quite happy to take it on board, anyway. It comes with Google's IM application and Google Talk installed although nothing else social comes with the build. As soon as you start adding the Facebooks, Twitters and Foursquares of this world, however, the magic begins.

From then on, Android will give you the option in its menus to start sharing images, music, videos, notes and whatever else you like with these networks. A press and hold or quick delve into a menu will reveal a share button and you can take it from there. So, no need to open up social apps each time you want to post something. On the downside, of course, there is nothing in existence like Game Central which does sound rather good once it gets going.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - It's a one punch round from iOS 4 with a well aimed blow to the ribs causing the need for some tape in the Google corner at the break. It's the Apple team that's working like busy bees though, with as much medical equipment as they can get their hands on and some furious words from the coach about staying outside Android's longer reach. 

ROUND 4

Internet browsing
iOS 4 gives you the very easy to use Safari built-in which supports HTML 5 video playback and is quick and simple to use. Like Safari, the Android browser is based on WebKit and, again, offers a simple enough way of viewing the pages of the web. There's bookmarks, multiple windows, pinch to zoom, history and everything you'd expect.

Neither allows tabbed browsing unless you start installing alternative, third-party applications. What you do get on Android that you don't on iOS 4 is Flash 10.1 support and so the ability to view the web in its entirety. There's plenty of sites making alternative versions for iPhones to be able to browse, but they're still in a minority.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - To begin with, it looked like a dead round. Both fighters danced about the ring for the first 2.40 minutes, the crowd jeered and then Android knocked iOS 4 to the canvas with a single, straight arm punch. Quick shoulder rub for the round winner and some smelling salts in the Apple corner. 

ROUND 5

Location
iOS 4 gives you Google Maps, and the ability to turn on and off location services with different applications. You'll also get use of the iPhone 3GS's digital compass so you can find your way home boyscout style.

Android has the compass and a wealth of apps which use and improve the location function, but there is no way of individually toggling on and off when these programs get to use your phone's GPS. However, where Android really comes into its own is with Google Maps, unsurprisingly. You still get plenty of layers on iOS 4 but it's the free, turn by turn, Google Maps for Navigation that's included with Android 2.0 and above that there's simply no real answer to.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - It's a high scoring round for each fighter with both fists and gum shields flying. A bob, a weave and a sweetly timed hook finds its way passed Android's guard and lands with a sickening crunch on the side of its jaw, but it's the brute force of an upper cut to the solar plexus that leaves judges in little doubt and iOS 4 wincing its winded way back to its team as the bell rings. Time for some wake up slaps to Android's face, and a splash from the water bottle for the iPhone.

ROUND 6

Music
iOS 4 comes with the best music player in the industry on a mobile device with playlist support, Genius mode, and of course the ability to buy millions of tracks from iTunes on the go. You can play MP3s on Android but if you want any good stuff it's by third party apps only. The likes of doubleTwist and Spotify offer everything you really need but you just can't argue with iTunes hard-wired into iOS 4's ethos.

Verdict: iOS 4 - There must have been something in that water because iOS 4 has come out like a man possessed. Time enough to play Paper Toss in the corner while Android 2.2 receives a little treatment to some cuts to the forehead and bruises to the ego, after a round that saw the Google OS tied up on the ropes.

ROUND 7

Search
There's a built-in device and Wikipedia search from the iPhone with Spotlight. However, iOS 4 lacks voice search. It is possible, but you need an app from Google. On the Android end of things, you're only one touch away from search at any time with a dedicated search key as well as Google search bars distributed liberally about the interface.

Without further apps, though, you are nailed down to searching only with Google. No Bing or Wikipedia native searches in sight. What you do get is an excellent voice search and the fantastic Google Gesture Search app - one of the best you'll find on the entire Android platform.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - A fierce exchange of blows leaves both trainers a tougher patch up job than restoring the Sistine Chapel, and only 40 seconds to do it. Android sits dazed and muted with instructions ringing in its ears and cotton wool held firmly up each nostril. The Apple team work feverishly on the swelling to iOS 4's left eye and apply heavy pressure to a nasty split lip.

ROUND 8

Apps
Over 200,000 and counting making iTunes the largest app store on the planet, and it's not just about numbers either. Most major companies, brands and players in the app business release apps on the iPhone platform first before then looking to other offerings like Android.

The figures are up to 70,000 for Android as of June 2010 and, however you like to look at it, the Android Market is the fastest growing app store around. All the good stuff you can get on iPhone is present on Android without quite so much of the junk to get in the way. All the same though, there are notable exceptions such as Skype and the fact that apps arrive here second are a frustration.

Verdict: iOS 4 - It's a round the Google team were expecting and had been training for but, while the majority of the shots were absorbed with 2.2's medicine ball trained physique, the skips, dances, floats and stings of iOS 4 still left their mark. The odd bump for the Apple trainers to smooth over, but all fuss and furore is over in Android's corner with sponge, spray and smelling salts all coming into play.

ROUND 9

Video
iOS 4 is all about HTML5, that's it. HTML5 or Flash - the choice is yours on Android; no video too proprietary, no standard too open. Enjoy any site's video content and any file sent your way.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - A quick trading of jabs from the two heavyweights but it's down to the mat for a second time for iOS 4 as a hay-maker comes in. Only the end of the round stops the count out. The Apple team drag their fighter to the corner.

ROUND 10

Syncing
iOS 4 is managed through iTunes. Say what you will but it is a very easy way to manage music, video, apps and everything else to do with the phone from your computer. For Android 2.2 all the syncing is done in the cloud. On the one hand, that's great because all your contacts, calendars, e-mails and addresses are secure online without having to lift a finger, and any changes you make to them online switch back down automatically too. On the other, it would be nice to have a similar store for images, videos and music without having to use third-party applications like doubleTwist.

Verdict: Tied round - A brief swapping of crunching blows in the early part of the round left the fighters less willing to engage so late on in the match, and the onlookers are horrified by the battered pair moving heavily across the blood-soaked canvass. The break passes in the blink of an eye for the fighters. All final words of advice are lost as the two stare blankly across the ring at one another.

ROUND 11

Usability and customisation
iOS 4 allows you to change the wallpaper, but you can't adapt much else, including the SMS alert tone. Android 2.2 offers you pretty much what you'd like. There are plenty of wallpaper and live wallpaper downloads and you've got six home screens to cover in widgets, bookmarks, shortcuts, apps and folders at will. It won't always make for the best usability but it's your sandpit to play in.

For usability, iOS 4 is designed like an American city, on a grid. That means it's very easy to navigate, you'll never get lost and always be able to get home (via the single home key) if you do. That, however, can also be very boring.

Android is more like trying to pick your way around the one way systems and thoroughfares of old London town. You can own an Android phone for ages and still not realise all the things it can do and that there are easier ways of getting from A to B. It's certainly never dull but it's rather heavy on the contextual menus and the four buttons to iOS 4's one is a rather telling statistic.

At the end of the day, you can give an iPhone or iPad to anyone and they'll know what to do with it. Android 2.2 takes a little more learning and you'll always need your wits about you. Sure, you can make Android pretty but iOS 4 is just glorious in its simplicity and design.

Verdict: iOS 4 - It's a right pummelling for Android 2.2 just when we wondered if iOS 4 had anything left to give. No one even heard the bell over the oohs and ahhs of the crowd and the sound of splintering bone and rupturing skin. There's virtually nothing left of these prize fighters as the coaches push them out for the final round each trailing thick red liquor from the corners where they're slumped. 

ROUND 12

Wireless and Bluetooth support
You get Wireless connectivity and Bluetooth offerings in the standard sense on the iOS 4, however you don't get the ability to set up a Wi-Fi hub like in Android nor the option to tether without additional cost. Connecting to your printer or some other device other than a Bluetooth keyboard or headset is out of the question.

With Android 2.2, there's no issues here. Do what you like with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and now tethering as well. And of course, if you can't be bothered to attach a Bluetooth keyboard, you can always just use your voice to enter text instead.

Verdict: Android 2.2 - A swing from iOS 4's trademark left is easily predicted by Android 2.2 who ducks beneath the blow and springs forward an almighty uppercut in reply. A moment of pure silence passes as the fighter from the Cupertino gym leaves its feet and sails through the smoke-filled air before crashing down to earth with the bounce of the canvas juggling its shaken bones like tiles in a Scrabble bag. The referee ends the fight. The winner is crowned.

Conclusions

Apple has designed a wonderful piece of software in iOS 4 and all the other builds before it. It's so simple a gibbon could use it and take the final evolutionary steps on its own without having to bother with the millennia of generations in between. A huge percentage of the public would prefer it over any other mobile OS, but when it comes down to it, it has to take second place for the tech connoisseur.

The functionality, flexibility and fun of Android 2.2 simply leaves iOS 4 in its dust. It might not be as straight forward, it might be easier to throw off kilter, it might not even be quite as smooth running but it keeps you interested in your mobile phone and all the magic it can perform for longer.

You

Undoubtedly, many of you will not agree with our view, so which OS do you prefer? Which one do you think is the better option? What are the features you most envy in the OS that you didn't opt for and what are the things that you would add yourself? Let us know in the comments below.



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