How Will iOS 6 Compare to Android?

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The interminable battle for supremacy between Android and iOS is showing no signs of stopping in the foreseeable future. Android and iOS are both fantastic operating systems, which stand leagues apart from outdated systems like Symbian and even the BlackBerry OS. Only Windows Phone shows any signs of being able to compete with the two giants, and that’s going to rely on a lot of marketing and word of mouth; as yet, it’s clearly a two-horse race.

With iOS 6 set to be released along with the iPhone 5 later this year, it looks like Android’s current version 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich, has got some new competition. ICS was released way back in October of 2011, but it’s taken a little while to get the kind of uptake that this slick OS warrants, and is only just starting to pick up steam with a handful of new releases in 2012. iOS 6 has yet to see the light of day, but odds are it’s going to take the world by storm when it drops. Apple have always gone the extra mile when it comes to creating slick, intuitive software that’s a pleasure to use, and it’s doubtful that iOS 6 will be any different.

The software has always been a major factor in determining the iPhone’s runaway success. While Apple has always strived to deliver the best in technology and specs, the same can be said for many Android handsets, too – and often at a lower price point than the iPhone. Most rumors are speculating that the iPhone 5 will increase its screen sizeto 4 inches to compete with the more popular Android phones, and introduce a number of features already present on the leading Android devices.

The iPhone 5 will likely be one of the more expensive quad-core phones on the market upon its release, and the justification for this will be partially due to Apple’s unique software. Make no mistake, Android is a fantastic operating system in its own right – but iOS is smooth, fluid, and elegant in a way that as yet no other OS has managed to achieve. If we’re to expect big things from iOS 6, then we should hope that Apple manage to retain previous iterations’ elegance while improving the technology included on the handset.

Social Networking

It’s time to turn to the rumor mill and probe what’s in store with iOS 6. First things first: Facebook is going to be more deeply integrated with the OS than previously, which means that uploading photos to the social networking site is going to be possible from your own iPhone gallery. This is pretty nifty, though it’s worth pointing out that easy uploads have been a part of the Android OS for a long time now, so it’s nothing special for non-Apple users. A further advantage with iOS 6 is that you can now see which apps your friends ‘like’ in the app store, which should help you to make those tough decisions as to where to spend your 69p.

Android Jelly Bean is only intended as a minor update to Ice Cream Sandwich. Google has not introduced any new social networking integration with this latest update, instead focusing most of its attention on improvements to search and other areas such as the camera.

Voice Recognition

Now, what of Siri? Siri was big news upon the release of iOS 5, where it was touted as the next big thing that was destined to change the way we use our mobile phones. It’s true that Siri is pretty neat, but Google Voice, available on Android, has been out longer, and is arguably more usable. The recent launch of Android Jelly Bean has demonstrated that Google has been working hard to improve its voice recognition. Voice search now works with Google’s new Knowledge Graph, so that it actually understands people, places and landmarks and can return related information associated with them. Jelly Bean’s voice recognition is also capable of working offline (for offline features), which is a huge advantage over Siri, which still requires an active internet connection for even the most basic of commands.

But while Google has been working hard to improve its voice features, Apple has not been resting on its laurels. We’re told that Siri has been significantly improved for the release of iOS 6, which may mean that Apple wins out in the voice command stakes this year. Siri is also, reportedly, going to feature as an extra in upmarket cars manufactured by the likes of BMW and Audi, who are going to implement little ‘Siri’ buttons on their steering wheels, so you needn’t take your hands off the wheel to ask Siri what’s happening.

Other Changes

One of the most exciting features about iOS 6 looks set to be the changes made to the communications side of the phone, for texting and calling. You can now set your phone to ‘do not disturb’, which means that your phone won’t light up and ring, and you can also set it to only accept calls from certain people at certain times. Quick reply text technology is also included, though this has been seen in Android since last October, when Ice Cream Sandwich was released. Android does lack the do-not-disturb mode, though it’s possible to send certain contacts straight to voicemail when they call, which comes in handy at times.

Video Calls

Video chat has also been improved especially for iOS 6; previously, Apple’s Skype-style Facetime app was limited to work only over Wi-Fi connections, but from iOS 6 onwards it should work via data connections like 3G and 4G, too. Whether this change is accommodated by the speed improvements that may come with 4G on the iPhone 5 is anyone’s guess, but it’s certainly a welcome addition. Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich OS stocks Gmail video chat, which is in many ways more convenient simply due to the sheer number of people who use Gmail; video calling via Facetime limits you to chatting with other Apple users.


Of course, some consumers will be more concerned with apps. iOS 6 adds a few new ones, including a nifty mobile wallet app called Passbook – but all in all things will stay much the same. As it stands, Apple offers around 650,000 apps in the App Store which are available on the iPhone, while Google Play boasts approximately 450,000 apps. Given that Android actually dominates the market in terms of overall share, this is a small surprise, though 450,000 is more than enough to go around; there’s little point in choosing your next phone based on the size of the app market, at least when these two giants are concerned.

Exactly how iOS 6 will compare to its predecessor and its main rival – Android Jelly Bean – remains to be seems. What does seem likely is that, as usual, Apple and Android will remain neck-and-neck in terms of technology and features, but where Apple often seems to garner praise is in their presentation. Could iOS 6 be the prettiest mobile operating system yet? We wouldn’t bet against it.