Mobile deathmatch: Apple iOS 4 vs. Android 2.2
As the mobile battle narrows, the iPhone finally faces a real challengerFollow @MobileGalen
There've been many challengers to take the smartphone crown, but so far no one has dethroned the iPhone. Palm's WebOS posed a noble challenge but didn't sustain it. RIM's BlackBerry was easily dispatched by the more modern iPhone, and the forthcoming BlackBerry 6 appears unlikely to raise the bar. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 promises to be perhaps the weakest competitor of all, while the earlier Android-based Motorola Droid also fell short in key areas of concern to business.
But Android has continued to gain strength. The new Froyo version -- formally called Android OS 2.2 -- has become the default alternative to the iPhone for many customers, with broad support by cellular carriers and from Motorola and the Taiwanese hardware makers such as HTC and LG that had previously aligned to Windows Mobile.
[ See how iOS 4 and Android 2.2 compare feature by feature in InfoWorld's slideshow: "Mobile deathmatch: Apple iOS 4 vs. Android 2.2, side by side." | See how the iPhone fares against the major competitors in InfoWorld's "ultimate mobile deathmatch" comparative review. | Discover how to deploy (almost) any smartphone in your business. ]
But Apple has not stood still, releasing its iOS 4 last month, which finally addressed long-standing omissions such as multitasking and enterprise security and management capabilities. Though iOS 4 seems to have been forgotten given all the focus on the iPhone 4's antenna woes, those troubles have no bearing on the iOS itself.
Which is the better mobile OS: Apple's iOS 4 or Google's Android OS 2.2? The InfoWorld Test Center decided to find out, based on the capabilities of interest to business and professional users. This deathmatch compares the operating systems, not specific devices using them, examining the OSes apart from the physical differences from device to device and network quality differences from carrier to carrier. I used an HTC Nexus One for Android testing and an iPod Touch 3G for iOS 4 testing, as they're comparable in their performance capabilities; I used only Wi-Fi for network testing to factor out carrier cellular network differences. Note that HTC and Motorola offer additional capabilities in their devices through UI overlays and custom apps; the focus here is on the native Android OS 2.2 capabilities furnished by Google.
Deathmatch: Email, calendars, and contacts
If you look at the specs, Android OS 2.2 and iOS 4 look to be evenly matched: Both can connect to Exchange, IMAP, POP, and Gmail accounts; make and synchronize appointments; and manage contacts. Both allow for "push" synchronization with Exchange. Both preserve your Exchange folder hierarchy for mail and make navigating among folders a snap. Also, setup is easy.