Apple’s iPhone is the most advanced and popular cell phone in history. The operating system for the iPhone is intuitive, easy to learn, and free exclusively to iPhone users. The platform allows for open source development, allowing anyone in the world to program applications and games. This has led to tens of thousands of amazing apps and games to be available in Apple’s iTunes Store, both online and straight from the phone.
Google, the ever-expanding tech giant, has thrown its hat into the cellular arena with the official release of the Android operating system. The difference with this one is that it’s free to cell makers, with the goal of becoming the industry alternative to the iPhone OS.
The differences between the iPhone 3.0 OS and Android go beyond the simple interface designs, which are actually somewhat similar. Let’s take a look some of the major differences between the operating systems.
Stereo Bluetooth Audio: iPhone 3.0 only (Android coming soon)
Parental Controls: iPhone 3.0 only
Build-in Notepad: iPhone 3.0 only (Android coming soon)
Peer-to-Peer Connectivity: iPhone 3.0 only (Android coming soon)
File Sharing: iPhone 3.0 and Android (third-party app)
Multiple Notifications: Android only
Voice Over IP: iPhone 3.0 only (third-party app)
3G Tethering: Android Only (third-party app), iPhone 3.0 coming soon
Calendar Search: iPhone 3.0 only
Phone Search: iPhone 3.0 only
App Notifications: Both
Cut, Copy, and Paste: Both
MMS Support: Both
Most of the industry buzz around Android is that it’s a platform that could one day go toe-to-toe with the iPhone operating system. Some users who have switched over say that Android’s biggest advantage over the iPhone is the amazing Gmail client. Don’t expect Google to make the Gmail client for the iPhone come close anytime soon. They want to make sure it remains a competitive advantage for the Android OS.
Carriers not named AT&T have been scrambling to find an iPhone killer or, at the very least, a competitor. Blackberry has not shown well with its Storm model, which was supposed to be a viable alternative. Reports of bugginess in the phone and a small third-party application pool have sagged sales well below expectations. Sprint and T-Mobile have been releasing Android phones and Verizon joined the party with Google as well. Verizon, with approximately 85 million subscribers on its network, is the largest carrier to support Android phones.
One thing that Android might have going for it is support for the TI OMAP 3430 processor that runs at 600 MHz (the same speed as the iPhone 3G S) and integrates multi-functioning onto one single chip. This will allow Android to run multiple applications simultaneously without having to close any of them.
Reports from J.D. Power’s study of smartphones have given the nod to iPhone’s OS for reliability and ease of use versus others in the industry. Android is a relative unknown, but thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign to end 2009, it is quickly gaining ground in mainstream consumer recognition.
The main edge here will be between the two operating systems’ application pools. There’s little doubt that Apple’s App Store is the most successful application platform in the history of wireless. Estimates say there are over 85,000 different applications to download or buy for the iPhone. With Android in its infancy and demand for applications at a minimum, it’s at least a year or two away from even coming close to having a quarter of the applications that are available now for the iPhone.
We already know that Apple is the proven winner in the industry with a well-built and intelligently designed phone with a stable operating system. What remains to be seen is if Google has the power to become the first true alternative in the industry that consumers will consider.