Android users owe a great debt to Apple. Without them and their iconic iPhone and iPad we’d all probably still be using Palm OS and Windows Mobile. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but as I’ve said before, Apple changed the game with the iPhone – for the better.
It seems like so long ago that Apple revolutionized the mobile playing field with iOS. Earlier this week they showed us what’s coming in their latest version: iOS 6.
Since the major players are engaged in a high-tech round of “leap-from”, what does iOS 6 mean for Android? To answer that let’s look at a few things that “6” is bringing to the table.
The iPhone started out life as the iPod Touch — a music and video player. Let’s face it, Apple basically took their iPod and added phone functionality to it.
Music is the bane of every Android user. Android started life as a phone, not an MP3 player. Music was all but an after thought.
Apple really didn’t need to improve their music app in iOS6, it was doing just fine. But they did improve it. Why? Probably because Android finally had an app that was starting to compete with what Apple’s could do. With this update, Apple pulled further into the lead doing what they do best.
Well played, Apple. Well played
It’s no secret that Steve Jobs didn’t like Android. Why exactly, I don’t know. Didn’t Apple do to Windows Mobile what Android was trying to do to Apple? Competition is good, isn’t it? But I digress.
One of Apple’s recent salvos against Google is their replacement of mapping services with Apple’s own home-brew. It’s got some pretty sweet features — that were completely blown out of the water with Google’s Maps announcement.
To add insult to injury, only the most recent Apple devices will get turn-by-turn directions and “flyover”. At least Google Maps’ turn-by-turn directions work on basically every Android powered device in existence. It looks like Apple users get their own taste of “fragmentation”.
Everyone wants web-browsing to work “better” on their mobile devices. Defining what “better” means isn’t as easy as one might think. Both Google and Apple are trying to improve their browsers. Google has brought the desktop version of their Chrome browser to Android (in beta form), and Apple is further refining Safari.
Apple has set the bar pretty high, and has an advantage with Safari being the built-in browser on all iOS devices. Google’s Chrome beta is a separate download from the stock “Browser” browser — and Chrome beta only (currently) works on devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Integrating social networking with phones and tablets is probably the biggest news in mobile devices in quite a while — but not for the reasons you might think.
I’m not talking about being able to easily post location, pictures, updates, or reviews to your preferred social network. I’m not even talking about being able to quickly and easily see what your friends are doing.
Real social integration means seamlessly connecting to all your social networks and naively incorporating your friends, their contact information, the important dates (birthday, anniversary, etc.) in their lives, and their latest status updates into the OS. You shouldn’t even know that you’re looking at someone’s Facebook information, it should just be there: in your address book and in your calendar. iOS 6 gets us closer to that, but no closer than Android got with ICS.
Neither one of them are doing it right. Not yet anyway.
What does iOS 6 really mean to Android? It means that Apple’s not standing still. It means Google will have to keep pushing forward making things easier, faster, and more intuitive. It means we still have competition.
The question will very soon become “What does Jelly Bean mean to iOS?”
Regardless, competition is very, very good — for all of us.