Android 4.0 or the Ice Cream Sandwich is the new operating system released by Google at the start of 2012. There is a lot of buzz around whether Android 4.0 is a strong rival of iOS5 and if the changes it brought over Android 3.0 are significant enough to pursue upgrading. When it comes to Android vs. iOS comparison it becomes tricky to identify which factors are more important in evaluation. And frequently, user decisions are closely based on hardware prices, phone contracts, and personal preferences as opposed to the actual quality of the operating system. Nevertheless, I will attempt to highlight the Android 4.0 Operating System features and put it in context by comparison to the iOS.
Ease of Access
|ANDROID: Android 4.0 brought several changes to how the user interacts with home screen, menu, notifications, apps, and widgets. The biggest advantage of Android 4.0 when it comes to layout is the ease of access to the applications and widgets user needs the most. With the previous versions you were able to long press frequently used application to drag it to the home screen. Android 4.0 now has a separate menu for widgets in addition to apps that user can drag to the home screen and even resize. The most recent applications can be quickly navigated to at one push of a button. This allows for greater multitasking functionality. |
iOS: When it comes to layout Apple opts for simplicity. The majority of tech owners, whether having and iPhone or not do know how iPhone operates. Although there are many great features developed by Apple over the years its iPhone layout has not changed in a significant way. I must applaud to Android 4.0 for thinking about user interaction and adding features such as Recent Apps button that its rival is currently lacking.
|ANDROID: One of the nice features brought with Android 4.0 is the ability to group applications by simply dragging them “inside” each other. This allows user to quickly identify the app they need and remembering which screen the app folder is placed at. With over 250,000 apps available on the Android market it will be difficult to resist the temptation of downloading so many apps that you might get lost inside your own phone. So having folders for quick identification is definitely a value-adding feature. |
iOS: This is one of the features Google borrowed from its rival as iPhones and iPads had the ability to file applications by dragging them “inside” each other for quite awhile now.
Google Maps Navigation
ANDROID: This is not a new feature to Android 4.0 but still one worth highlighting. Google Maps on Android devices have a voice turn-by-turn navigation feature which eliminates the need of installing a third party GPS application.
iOS: It has Google Maps but unfortunately turn-by-turn navigation is something it is currently lacking.
Two Column Layout
ANDROID: A feature that makes the device easier to use contributes to the overall experience and thus improves the quality of the operating system. Android 4.0 brought the feature of 2-column layout for viewing the Settings menu and various applications like gmail. What 2-column layout basically does is utilizes the screen space more efficiently by placing menu titles on the left hand column and detailed description on the right hand column. So the user is able to quickly preview all of the settings features without having to hit the back button again and again. The same feature was applied to gmail outlook where the email subjectlines appear on the left head column and message preview on the right. This allows for quick navigation of some of the important and most used features on a phone or tablet.
iOS: So far iOS has the traditional functionality when it comes to layout of the settings menu where the user clicks on the settings function to be taken to the next screen for detail. Props to Android for integrating a better layout functionality.
|ANDROID: This new feature depends as much on the hardware as it does on software, allowing users to submit a payment simply by waving their phone over the sensor. Because of the current restrictions with participating phones and payment partners most of the Android users have not had the chance to enjoy this feature. But nevertheless, it is something to watch out for in the future as payments via portable devices are on a fast uphill trend. |
iOS: Currently the iOS 5 is lacking this functionality but it is certainly something to look forward to in the future
ANDROID: Amongst all other things, Android 4.0 brought better photo editing functionality that is native to the system. User is now able to quickly perform tasks such as crop, red eye removal, rotate, resize, and various "hipster" picture effects.
iOS: Allows basic photo editing as well as picture enhancement straight through the system itself without involving any third party apps, so no significant differences from Android 4.0 on that front.
|ANDROID: Similar to Google Wallet, this feature works on NFC-enabled devices only. With just one click of a button it enables users with Near-Field-Communication-Enabled devices to quickly send and receive favorite apps, contacts, music, and videos. |
iOS: iOS5 does have something similar called the iCloud however it works in a different way by allowing user to quickly sync its photos, apps, and music to the Mac or PC wirelessly. Through activating iCloud account user is even able to find its lost phone by locating it via iCloud.com through another device. So this is where it comes down to personal preferences on wireless sharing with the two different platforms. Some prefer what iCoud has to offer while other users find Android Beam fits their needs a bit better.
Hardware Screenshot Button
ANDROID: With Android 4.0 users can now take screenshot using the hardware button. They can later edit the screenshot using the picture editor integrated into the Android 4.0 native system.
iOS: Hardware screenshot button functionality has been on iOS for quite awhile, it is middle button + power button pressed together
To Buy or Not to Buy?
Although there are no groundbreaking features brought with Android 4.0 besides better, faster, and easier it is an operating system with a lot of potential and we are yet to see how various phone manufacturers are going to customize and utilize it to their advantage. In my personal opinion iOS is a stable trusted and respected system. Apple sets the benchmark for the rest of the portable touchscreen devices. But with the release of the latest Android 4.0 System we begin wondering how long that market leadership is going to last. Phone and tablet manufacturers are slowly learning on their mistakes and produce higher quality devices and more integrated with the Android firmware. Android 4.0 device is without a question worth investing into especially if Android Phone is your preferred method of communication.