Why iOS 5 is Apple's Savviest Move Yet

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An analysis of iOS 5 and its competitors and what Apple is doing to keep its lead in the phone business

Apple has recently become accustomed to releasing major news, from Steve Job’s departure to its quarterly product announcements which never fail to generate buzz. Yet Apple’s recent announcement about the pending release of iOS 5 may be its most important yet, as Apple seems to have identified and corrected some of the major weaknesses of its prior iOS.

Apple has announced around 200 new features in iOS 5 but here I’ll discuss the two that will be the most talked about- iMessage and the Notification Center, which will respectively compete directly with Blackberry and Android devices.

Round 1: Apple vs BlackBerry

Let’s start with the easier comparison between iMessage and Blackberry Messenger (BBM). Blackberry devices have not been known for their sophistication, but their main appeal has been the simplicity of allowing BB users to communicate easily  and costlessly between each other over BBM. Now with iMessage, Apple is basically offering the same service for free over WiFi and 3G on a more extended set of devices since all comaptible iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches will be able to host iMessage. It remains to be seen whether this will help Apple take some of RIM’s customer share. Let’s just now say jovially that the Blackberry’s best feature now is the plastic Qwerty KeyBoard.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The looks might be different but the concepts behind BBM messaging and iMessage are similar


Round 2: Apple vs Android

There is a long battle waging between tech enthusiasts over which is the most advanced operating system, Apple’s IOS or Google’s Android. Their approaches are opposite- Apple wields total control over its OS while Google promotes an open source approach, yet both have their defenders. One thing Android users benefit from, however, is the presence of a very clear and advanced notification system. Every major event is recorded at time of completion in an elegant way that makes it impossible to lose track. Whereas Apple notifications were typically all put in a blue box without any timing and it was easy to get confused and miss some calls or messages.

In iOS 5, Apple has promised a new notification system that will make it easier to keep track of e-mails, messages and events without having your work interrupted. In one swipe, your notification screen will give you swift acess to all events. Unlike the current Android format where the notifications are listed in a greyscale list mode, iOS’s screenshots promise us a little more elegance, with notifications divided by classification and type. This improved Apple feature just might convert some Android users, who usually are very happy with the system’s simplicity and functionality.


 

A Comparison between Android Notifications and the Future IOS 5 Notification center


To quickly compare the 3 operating systems we discussed
:

Blacberry:

Pros: Cheap devices, easy communications between users

Cons: Not a lot of hardware options, cheap plastics used, models sometimes similar, poor choice of apps

Android:

Pros: Open source, constant evolution. Strong presence in the US, strong hardware choice, widgets, constant evolution, easy sync

Cons: Not for the casual user, apps are sometimes not at an Apple level, apps can be redundant

Apple IOS:

Pros: Simple and evolving OS, Fun to use, caters to all users, best choice of Apps, easy to sync

Cons: Hard to get, Apple has a strong grip on developers, expensive to benefit from the full Android experience

Winning the Battle or the War?

Although Apple is clearly working on improving its IOS every year to keep up with competition, its competitors are clearly also working hard, and each mobile OS has desireable characteristics. Ultimately, choosing a smartphone will always be a question of customer taste, carrier preference, and pricing. Apple has been doing a great job so far learning from their weaknesses and others’ strengths, but we won’t know if their iteration is successful until iOS 5 is released this fall.


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