Mobile deathmatch: Apple iOS 4 vs. Android 2.2, side by side

See how well iOS and Android do in InfoWorld?s mobile OS features face-of

Which is the smartest smartphone OS?

Apple's iOS has been wowing users for four years in the iPhone and now the iPad. Available in smartphones and now tablets from various vendors going on two years, Google's Android has proven itself to be a strong contender that has the only real chance to surpass iOS.

iOS vs. Android: The home screen

iOS vs. Android: The home screen

The iOS 4 home screen (left) displays installed apps, adding panes as needed for additional apps. The app bar at the bottom is visible on all home screens, holding the apps you choose. The Android 2.2 home screen (right) shows the device-wide search bar and only a handful of apps, though you can add more. One additional home screen (accessed via the dot buttons at bottom) holds news alerts, while another holds communications settings and apps. Two others are available to use as you like; you can add apps to all five screens.

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iOS vs. Android: Managing apps

iOS vs. Android: Managing apps

iOS 4's multiple home screens (bottom left) let you rearrange your apps as desired. Tap and hold an app to enter apps-management mode (upper left), where you can move or delete them. Android 2.2's apps screen (right) does not let you rearrange apps, though you can tap and hold an app icon to copy it to the home screen. You delete apps in Android's Settings app.

iOS vs. Android: Getting apps

iOS vs. Android: Getting apps

Apple's App Store app (left) and Android's Android Market app (right) are similar, though Apple makes it a little easier to find apps by categories via its Categories button (tap Apps on Android to get a category view). There are many more apps available for iOS, though Android 2.2 has many useful apps available and its portfolio continues to grow.

iOS vs. Android: Switching apps

iOS vs. Android: Switching apps

Both iOS 4 and Android 2.2 have you access apps the same way: via the home screens for iOS and via the apps or home screen for Android. Both OSes support multitasking, though iOS 4 requires that apps specifically enable multitasking and limits the capabilities that can run in background. It is easier to see what apps are running in iOS 4 (left), by double-clicking the Home button, than in Android (right), which requires you to find the Running Services option in the Settings app. Running Services shows everything that's running, not just apps, so it can be difficult to navigate.

iOS vs. Android: Browsing the Web

iOS vs. Android: Browsing the Web

Both iOS 4 (left) and Android 2.2 (right) provide capable, simple browsers. But Android requires you to use the Menu button to display common navigation and bookmarking options that iOS keeps always available.

iOS vs. Android: Using Adobe Flash

iOS vs. Android: Using Adobe Flash

Apple's iOS 4 (left) does not support Flash, and Apple won't approve Adobe's Flash Player app. The Android Market has a free beta version of Flash Player that integrates into the Chrome browser (right). Note that performance of Flash on Android 2.2 is very slow.

iOS vs. Android: Text selection and copying

iOS vs. Android: Text selection and copying

iOS 4 makes it easy to edit text. Simply insert the text cursor where you want to make a change; iOS even magnifies the area you are touching to make the text more legible (upper left). When you tap and hold on text in any app, iOS provides selection handles and pop-up buttons such as Copy, Delete, and Paste, as appropriate for the current context (lower left). It also can copy graphics. Android OS 2.2 lets you tap in text to move your cursor to a specific location, but if you tap too long, the Edit Text contextual menu appears, taking up the entire screen (upper right). Also, many apps do not allow you to select a range of text; one that does is the browser (lower right). And Android can't select graphics.

iOS vs. Android: Using maps

iOS vs. Android: Using maps

Both iOS 4 (left) and Android 2.2 (right) use Google's Maps app, so they work almost identically for both map display and navigation. But iOS makes common functions more easily available through always-on options; Android requires that you click the Menu button to get options such as search and switching map views.

iOS vs. Android: Working with contacts

iOS vs. Android: Working with contacts

Apple's iOS 4 (left) has a more readable display and lets you more easily move among contacts with the letter list at right. Android 2.2 (right) has a less-intuitive scroll box that appears when you scroll your contacts; if you drag it, you can more quickly move to names beginning with a specific letter. Android does offer a favorites capability that iOS doesn't offer, plus it's easier to get to contacts settings in Android (via the Menu button's options, shown here) than in iOS, which requires you to switch the Settings app.

iOS vs. Android: Working with calendars

iOS vs. Android: Working with calendars

iOS 4 and Android 2.2 both support multiple calendars in their Calendar apps, as well as multiple views of your schedule. iOS (left) is easier to use, as its month view shows the selected day's appointments at bottom, and calendar navigation, invitation response, and event-adding controls are always present. Android (right) pushes these controls into the Menu button's options (not shown). Android's month view does show a dot for each appointment to give you a rough idea when during each day you have them.

iOS vs. Android: Using Microsoft Exchange

iOS vs. Android: Using Microsoft Exchange

Android 2.2 can't connect to many Exchange servers due to its meager support of security policies (right). iOS 4 supports a wider variety of policies, and there's a good chance it works with your company's policies. It also lets users specify what to sync, including which mail folders to automatically sync (left). Android does not offer folder autosyncing.

iOS vs. Android: Reading email

iOS vs. Android: Reading email

The iOS 4 email client (left) offers more context than Android 2.2's client (right). For example, iOS indicates if you're in a folder and which addressees are in your contacts list (by using their "friendly" names rather than email addresses). Plus, iOS makes more capabilities available without using menus, such as marking a message as unread, forwarding it, or composing a new message. Android does let you show or hide embedded pictures on a per-message basis, which iOS does not. Both OSes' email clients look up addresses in your contacts database as you enter names into To and Cc fields.

iOS vs. Android: Working with mail folders

iOS vs. Android: Working with mail folders

Both iOS 4 (left) and Android 2.2 (right) can display folders for Exchange and IMAP accounts, though iOS's display is friendlier. For example, iOS uses nesting to display subfolders rather than using pathnames as Android does.

iOS vs. Android: Working with mail lists

iOS vs. Android: Working with mail lists

Apple's iOS 4 changed the UI for working with multiple accounts, providing two lists (upper left): one for all messages and one that lets you see accounts' folder hierarchies -- an unnecessary duplication. Android 2.2 places Gmail accounts into a separate app from the rest of your email -- an unnecessary separation. Both OSes' email clients operate similarly for selecting messages, though Android requires you to use the Menu button's options to compose a message. On the other hand, Android lets you select multiple messages at any time; iOS requires you to first tap Edit.

iOS vs. Android: Location privacy controls

iOS vs. Android: Location privacy controls

iOS 4 (left) provides a central location (within Settings) to manage location privacy preferences on a per-application basis; it also has an option to disable location detection universally. Android 2.2 (right) provides no such per-application management console, though it does let you turn off location detection universally via Wi-Fi and/or 3G.

iOS vs. Android: Security settings

iOS vs. Android: Security settings

Both iOS 4 (left) and Android 2.2 (right) place their basic security controls in their Settings apps. Their capabilities are similar, though Android provides a SIM lock option not available in iOS, and iOS provides a restrictions capability that lets you disable certain apps and services, which Android does not.

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