11 Great (Has Copied) Features in iOS 5

Sunday, July 31st 2011. | Gadget News

Google Inc, the Mountain View-based multinational public corporation took over the Android Inc in 2005 and has led the Android platform to scale new heights as Android has become the best selling platform world-wide in 2011. Meanwhile, Apple has had its share of success with its innovative approach in the form of iPhone and iPad. While Apple was proud to have reinvented the smartphone, iPhone lagged behind the competition in the market to regain the ground. The competition in smartphone market has generated a lot of innovation and quite many important features found in the iPhone today started first with Android. What Windows did to Mac OS in the 1980 seems a way forward as Android is expected to do it more convincingly to iOS in coming days. Usually the notion goes that Apple innovates and everyone else copies, but the recent unveiling of iOS 5 shows a different truth altogether. There are quite a few features that are directly copied from Android to iOS 5. Here is a look at the cool features that already existed in Android phones before it came to iPhone.

Notification Bar:
The top gray bar on the Android screen displays important information about the Android phone. It shows the time, battery state and network state icons. Android also shows icons in Notification bar when there is an update about text message, email or voicemail. One of the biggest advantages of Notification bar is it one can pull it down by touching the bar and then swipe finger to the bottom of the screen which will stretch and open up just like a window shade. Few of the various possible notification icons included in different Android devices are battery charging option, battery levels (75%, 50%, 25%), call is in progress, call is on hold, missed call, new email received, new text message received, new SMS/MMS received, new voicemail received, visual voicemail (Verizon app) activity, phone currently muted, navigation enabled, alarm is set, call forwarding enabled, 3G (service connected, service roaming, service not connected), GPS (enabled, GPS sending/receiving data), WiFi (connected, WiFi not connected but networks detected), app downloaded or updated, Bluetooth (enabled, Bluetooth device connected), data syncing, more notifications available option, USB connected, sync error or PC connection debug mode enabled, audio file playing, speaker phone enabled, upcoming calendar event, uploading or downloading software and Airplane mode activated (cellular & WiFi disabled).

The recently unveiled iOS 5 has “Notification Bar” enabled in it. Perhaps this is the most blatant copy of Android feature to iOS. The Android notifications have appeared in the top bar of their operating system since the beginning. The recently added “Notification Center” in Apple iOS will help users to get all the alerts in one place. Now users who buy Apple iPhone or iPad will get new email, texts, stock ticker, friend requests, current weather and keep track of them all in convenient location just by swiping down from the top of any screen to enter Notification Center. In fact the biggest advantage of having a notification bar is that notifications don’t interrupt you and it disappear quickly.

Cloud Synchronization:
The main idea of the Cloud synchronization is that your notes are synced using the web server, so you don’t need to stay near your PC – you can perform the synchronization anywhere you can access the Internet. Today more and more people are relying on the cloud sync option mostly because the users can store large amount of data in the gigabyte range, word processing, or computationally intensive work. Before Cloud Syncing became a reality, the users had to ensure that data was secured somewhere like in an external hard drive and then copy it all back onto your SD card. One of the biggest advantages of using cloud technology is when users have to constantly use multiple devices. The list of popular cloud applications include Acrobat.com, Animoto, Google Apps, Dropbox (service), Google Cloud Connect, Google Docs, Google Fusion Tables, MobileMe, LiveChat, Evernote, OurGroceries, Amazon’s Cloud Player, Gmail, Google Music Beta and Kindle etc.

For example, using Evernote, one can easily view any and all notes from either one of the devices while on the go. Google Docs is one of the best examples for cloud operations, using the applications one can often access various documents for work and home on their tablet or the smartphone. With OurGroceries account, if one item is added to the account, another person can view that information on their smartphone in just seconds walking up and down the isles at the supermarket. On Android phones, signing into the Google account syncs up all the search and information using Google’s popular services and when switching phones also restores apps, settings and personalized features, like desktop wallpaper. Now as iOS 5 expected to bring iCloud, a cloud computing service from Apple Inc. announced on June 6, 2011 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the iPhone users will get most of the sync benefits Android users have long enjoyed.

The iCloud service enables users to store data such as music files for download to multiple devices such as iPhones, iPods, iPads, and personal computers running Mac OS X or Microsoft Windows on computer servers owned by Apple. It also replaces Apple’s MobileMe program, acting as a data syncing center for email, contacts, calendars, bookmark, notes, to-do lists and other data. In fact iCloud is just the latest branding of Apple for its cloud computing services. It has previously been branded as iTools in 2000, Mac in 2002, and MobileMe in 2008. And MobileMe is expected to be discontinued after June 30, 2012.

Wireless Syncing:
The Android powered phones with support from third-party apps have been able to sync wirelessly from long ago. Many Android phones allow users to sync their music, movies, contacts and also allows the users to keep bookmarks and tasks to sync between the phone or tablet and the Windows PC or Mac computer over a WiFi network. In fact Apple never allowed third-party apps in the App Store. But Apple during their iOS 5 introduction said one of the features included among 200 new features includes WiFi Sync. Now wirelessly sync your iOS device to your Mac or PC over a shared WiFi connection. Every time you connect your iOS device to a power source (say, overnight for charging), it automatically syncs and backs up any new content to iTunes. So you always have your movies, TV shows, home videos, and photo albums everywhere you want them.

Tabbed browsing:
The tabbed browsing feature was available in Android from before, the Honeycomb tablet came along with tabbed browsing option upon its launch but Apple was dependant on other alternative browsers for iPhone or iPad. Now Apple recently announced that its Safari browser is going to feature tabbed browsing option.

Voice Control:
Google remains committed to the advancement of voice control in its operating system. Voice search is a pillar of the service, with most Android devices sporting a dedicated button bringing up the search dialogue. Google envisions a future of accurate text-to-voice translations and is already testing out that functionality in the beta version of Google Translate. Meanwhile, Apple iPhone is working on a fully integrated voice control feature called Assistant in iOS 5. In fact Apple purchased voice control app Siri in 2010. Siri takes items stored on your phone like location data, calendar information, music metadata, and contacts to help satisfy verbal requests. Assistant, which will presumably be built using Siri’s technology, will also use this information to serve the user in a similar way, but not as a standalone app, rather built into the iPhone 5.

Split Keyboard:
iOS 5 brings a cool split keyboard for easier typing with your thumbs. The user just has to swipe down with four fingers to reveal the split keyboard. The virtual keyboard customization is already offered in Android OS by developers.

iMessage:
The iMessage lets people to communicate in real time, just like Blackberry Messenger on Blackberry devices. The users can send text messages, photos, video, contacts, group messages, and more, from any iDevice. This information can be sent via WiFi or 3G from iPad, iPhone or iPod touch to anyone. It all works using the push notifications infrastructure built by Apple.

Over-the-Air Updates:
Most of the Android phones are able to receive updates over the air without syncing to a computer. Many rumors point out that iPhone 5 will finally offer over-the-air updates. In simple terms, rather than plugging the smartphone into a computer to update its operating system, users can do so wirelessly over the Web. In other words, new iOS versions pushed directly over the cellular network without any need for iTunes synchronization. There’s no need for a pesky USB cable or computer running iTunes. Previously, Apple required the users to sync with iTunes before they could upgrade to the next version of iOS. Apple has made iPhone slave to iTunes for far too long. The iPhone users had to plug in to a computer to update.

Twitter:
Apple announced that its bringing deep Twitter integration to all of its iOS-based devices, and to many of its own apps, including Camera, Photos, Safari and Maps. That integration also, of course, extends to Contacts, where you’ll be able to link your contacts to their Twitter handle and keep their information updated accordingly, much like Android. You’ll also only have to sign into Twitter once (in Settings), and then simply share those credentials with any app that requests them.

Multitasking:
The multitasking feature was found in Android from the version 1.0 but Apple didn’t have the feature of multitasking to iOS for almost three years. Before iOS 4, multitasking was limited to a selection of the applications Apple included on the devices. Apple worried that running multiple third-party applications simultaneously would drain batteries too quickly. Starting with iOS 4, on 3rd-generation and newer iOS devices, multitasking is supported through seven background APIs (which include Background audio, Voice over IP, Background location, Push notifications, Local notifications, Task finishing and Fast app switching).

Widgets:
One of the best functionalities in Android is the ability to have ‘widgets’ on the screen. Widgets certainly make a lot of difference to have a quick snapshot of information without having to open the app (Weather, Stocks, News…you name it.). Android also comes with the beta Google navigation (where available) that makes the phone a very handy companion when travelling!

For people who think some of the innovations mentioned here are trivial, the answer is simple- Apple took up those innovative practices to remain relevant. Apple is not a market leader for any reason and it does not demean them in their accomplishments if it took up other innovations from competition. That’s a good thing!

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