Smartphones today are progressively taking on the features of desktop computers, bringing portability, performance and efficiency into the amazing smartphone devices we now know as Windows phones, iPhones and Android phones.
A lot of this has to do with huge increases in technology relating to hardware, especially in higher end phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S3, HTC One X and many others which are powered by quad core processors.
Even so, while hardware improvements have brought about amazing advancements in what we can do with our phones, none of this would be possible without the software.
Today there are three major competing mobile operating systems:
- Android, Currently at version 4.0
- iOS, soon to be updated to version 6
- Windows Phone 7, soon to be updated to Windows Phone 8.
But what is the difference between Android 4.0, Windows Phone 8 and Apple iOS 6?
INTERFACE AND LAYOUT
Windows Phone 8 improves upon the currently used “Live Tiles” of Windows Phone 7. The live tiles are squares located on the home screen that display information from different apps, such as the music player, social networks, messaging and so on. These ’tiles’ can be customised in terms of colour, size, location on the screen and what information is displayed.
Android 4 has continued its use of widgets in its home screen, with the latest Android update making these widgets easier to move and resize. These widgets work similar to the tiles of Windows Phone and can be customised in terms of information displayed, location on the screen, size and so on.
Apple iOS 6 has once again continued its simplicity model with no widgets or tiles, but just applications in a grid layout, a notification centre that can be accessed via swiping the screen downwards or via the lock screen, as well as the integration of Siri and social networking (Twitter) in most applications.
MEDIA AND STORAGE
Windows Phone 8 will be offering Micro SD card support, which brings about greater storage capacities and easier media transfers and access. This will also support the installation of apps onto the micro sd card. Windows Phone 8 will support resolutions of 1280 x 768, 1280 x 720 and 800 x 480.
Android 4 now offers a smooth 60fps across the whole interface, bringing better gaming and media playback. Google play brings in access to music, movies, applications, games and ebooks. Many android devices already include Micro SD support, however all media from Google Play is stored online and accessible at any time.
Apple iOS 6 does not include MicroSD support, but this is usually made up for by the large amount of flash storage offered by Apple devices. Apple has also been pushing the integration of iCloud and the iTunes Match service, keeping your music in the cloud and leaving more free space on your device. The iPhone 4 screen size is currently rather small for media consumption, however rumours are speculating regarding a larger iPhone 5 screen with a higher resolution. Although, the retina display on new Apple devices is impressive.
Windows Phone 8 will use the latest version of Internet explorer (v10.). The aim of this is to bring a whole new level of security to the mobile browsing forefront, with features including a phishing filter and smart screen service making it harder for tracking by dodgy websites.
Android 4 comes with the usual Android browser, however future devices are expected to come with the Chrome browser, recently released as a mobile application. The standard browser comes with standard browsing features like tabs and offline reading, while Chrome ports over many desktop features and also offers synchronisation between devices.
Apple iOS 6 brings more features the the acclaimed Safari mobile browser, including the integration of iCloud, offline reading, tab synching, bookmark synching, smart app banners for better app promotion and more.
Windows Phone 8 has moved away from Bing Maps, and has integrated the Nokia Mapping System. This will bring 3D street navigation, as well as the acclaimed Nokia Navteq Traffic Service that monitors and displays relevant traffic information.Android 4.0 as expected continues to use Google Maps, with features including street view, 3d and indoor mapping, integration with the Google Now service as well as sat nav and appointment features.
Apple iOS 6 has always used the Google mapping service under the application Google Maps, however in iOS 6 Apple has decided to ditch Google Maps and use a new system that provides turn by turn navigation, integration with the Yelp business listing service, support for voice control, siri integration, the ability to send your location and more.
All three mapping services provided by the three major mobile operating systems include traffic data, however Apple has taken a step further by allowing for ‘anonymised crowd sourced data’ at the sites of traffic congestion, allowing you to gain further information on traffic circumstances.
Windows Phone 8 is getting a cleaner, simpler camera application. The app includes a menu button that allows you to access various camera settings. Nokia handsets that feature PureView technology will also bring amazing photo capabilities to Windows Phone devices.
Android 4 features a faster camera system that includes a fast review system, making for better and quicker editing and removing images. The new app includes various scene modes, as well as customisable whir balance and exposure so you can create the perfect shot in any circumstance. Other features include panoramic mode as well as photo editing and zero shutter lag.
Apple iOS 6 works upon the iOS native Camera application and continues the simplicity element with most settings being sorted automatically and out of sight. Focus and flash settings are automatic but can be adjusted. There are no confirmations of a physical shutter button on the iPhone 5, however the new iOS 6 allows the use of the up volume button as a physical shutter button.
NFC technology allows for the use of mobile devices to be used as a method of receiving and sending payments and information.
Windows Phone 8 has introduced Microsoft Wallet, which will make use of NFC technology included in supported handsets. This will allow for various applications such as paypal and bank applications etc. to deal with immediate and on the go transfers of money and information.
Android 4 has introduced Android Beam and Google Wallet, which allow for the instant sharing of contacts, applications, media, and more between to phones using NFC technology. Android Beam has been updated in 4.1 to allow for instantaneous transfers and pairing.
Apple iOS 6 introduces Passbook. This app is not totally NFC based but provides the same features, including the storage of tickets to events, flights and so on, credit card access and constant access in one place. Apple is expected to announce NFC capabilities when the iPhone 5 is released.
TABLETS AND OTHER DEVICES
Windows Phone 8 is being paired of with the Microsoft Surface Tablet running Windows 8, but there has been no word of a Windows Phone 8 tablet. Windows is expected to further tie the link between tablet and mobile devices in the future.
Android 4 has been used on a range of devices from small smartphones to large smartphones, tablets, gps systems, hdtv devices and more. Fortunately for android users, this makes for easy synchronisation and streaming between Android devices using one of the many apps available.
Apple iOS 6 will also be available on the Apple iPad. Both the iPhone 5 and iPad provide airplay features that allow for media streaming to computers using iTunes or to the popular streaming device, the Apple TV.
Apple, Android and Windows mobile technology is rapidly developing and improving, but at the moment, it really seems that Apple has taken the forefront in style and usability, while Android and Windows continue to dominate in actual market share. It seems that all three operating systems are moving closer and closer together to offer more and more similar features, to the point where it simply becomes a matter of personal taste. Which of the three do you find the most appealing? All three offer customisation options, however if you are one for serious customisation Android may be your choice. If you like a clean, easy to use and simple interface, iOS might be a better suit to your needs. And users of Windows computers may choose to stick to their usual OS.
Keep a look out for upcoming released of the Apple iPhone 5, new Android smartphone devices and the new Microsoft surface tablet and windows phone 8 devices.