Apple's new iPhone 4 marks the company's latest push in the smartphone wars. With a revamped design, an assortment of new features, and the new iOS 4 operating system, iPhone 4 is the device's biggest leap forward since the iPhone 3G. We now have long-awaited features like multitasking, the "Retina" display puts it on par with the iPad, and Apple's FaceTime feature has the potential to finally bring video calling into the mainstream.
Though Apple CEO Steve Jobs barely mentioned Android in last week's keynote address, Google's operating system has become Apple's biggest rival in the smartphone space. Sure, Microsoft is developing Windows Phone 7, RIM continues to pump out new handsets, and Palm is hanging on, but Android is expanding and innovating by leaps and bounds. And as the two companies face off, Apple and Android fans are not afraid to hash it out in online forums.
So what do iPhone 4 and iOS 4 mean for Android? How will Apple's latest handset affect Android's steady advance? Honestly, there's no correct answer and anyone who covers the industry will have their own opinion. That's why I got together with smartphone guru Bonnie Cha to debate these issues. And after you read what we have to say, tell us what you think.
First off, since the iPhone 4 is just one phone and Android is an entire OS, can you really compare them?
Senior Editor Kent German: Absolutely, because you need to look beyond the hardware at the core software. Regardless of how many phones each OS is on, the Android and iPhone operating systems represent two different visions for how smartphones will develop. Apple offers a highly organized and polished experience, but user-customization and choice on the iPhone are lacking. Android, on the other hand, is all about choice and personalization, but Google's OS can seem too technical for some users, and a bit ungainly.
You can argue that one side is better, but then you'd miss the point of what's happening here. The iPhone and Android are natural rivals and consumers get to select the vision that's best for them. Do they want want everything in Google's cloud or do they prefer Apple's ecosystem? As each camp continues to innovate, the fight will continue to be heated.
Senior Editor Bonnie Cha: I think the better and fairer comparison would be between Android OS and iOS. It's been interesting to watch the development of these two OSes, and how much the gap has closed between them, especially with Android 2.2 and iOS 4, but they're also very much doing their own thing.
With iOS 4, Apple is now on par with Android and other operating systems in terms of multitasking, folder management, and e-mail, among other things. However, Apple's focus still seems to be very much on entertainment features (e.g., iBooks and iMovie for iPhone). Meanwhile, Android seems to be concentrated on some performance issues like making the OS faster, allowing you save apps to an SD card, and mobile hot-spot capabilities.
Android and iOS 4 are the two hottest platforms right now, so the comparisons are going to be inevitable. However, they should also be celebrated for their differences. In the end, I still think it's not about which one is better (stand down, fanboys) but rather, about having a choice in OSes and finding the one that's right for you. … Read more