Mobile Phone Update Fever (Part 1) - Apple iOS 5, Google Android 4.0 & Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5

5/21/2012 9:19:16 AM

Now that all three of the major mobile operating systems have been updated, Ian McGurren finds out what they have to offer.

Unless you’re a BlackBerry or even a Bada stalwart, there’s little argument that the three most talked about mobile operating systems in 2012 are iOS, Android and Windows Phone. What’s more, all three have entered a new phase in the last six months, iOS reaching version 5, Windows Phone updated to 7.5 and Android hitting the ninth letter in the alphabet with Ice Cream Sandwich. But are these updates worth worrying about, are they actually any good and, most importantly, can you get them?

Apple iOS 5


Description: Description: Apple iOS 5

iOS major revisions are generally one per year, with the then-iPhone OS version 1.0 coming out in June 2007 with the original iPhone. There are minor revisions and bug fixes in between, but it’s usually the big changes that get a new number and a fancy press launch. Most iOS devices can expect to see two or three major revisions before Apple pulls the support switch, the iPhone 3G notably being left off of the iOS 5 party guestlist. However, if you have a third generation or newer iOS device, then you’re invited.

Upgrading is still initially via iTunes, but significantly iOS 5 then cuts the iTunes cord, so not only do new devices with iOS 5 no require activating in iTunes, they won’t need it for updating either, as this can now be done over wi-fi. Unlike Android and Mango however, the updates are entirely controlled by Apple, so when it says you can update, you don’t need to wait for your carrier to release a specific version.

Google Android 4.0

Description: Description: The first ICS handset – Google’s Galaxy Nexus

The first ICS handset – Google’s Galaxy Nexus

Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), is the latest update from Google, and arguably its most major yet. Usually released every six months, a major revision is denoted by a new dessert name, such as Cupcake or Honeycomb, though there are many minor revisions in between. Major revisions usually have redesigned use interfaces on top of many fixes, additions and speed improvements. The last phone-based OS prior to ICS was 2.3 (Gingerbread), because version 3 (Honeycomb) was restricted to tablets. However, ICS rejoins both versions in one scrummy sweet. Hardware-wise Google states the main caveat to installation is 1GB ROM for the OS, though some hackers have got this down a little. A 1GHz CPU is also recommended, as is a decent GPU for the UI layer.

However, not all devices will get ICS, as there’s far more variation in hardware and manufacturers. Frequently it’s up to the manufacturer if they want to port ICS to older legacy hardware, and all too often they won’t, forcing you to upgrade to their new, shinier handsets. Even if they are going to, though, it’s still not plain sailing, since firmware is usually carrier based too, so, for instance, HTC’s update for your Desire HD may be on your friend’s O2 handset, but you need to wait until Virgin release its own version. Yes, Android is a pain to update.

Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5


Description: J:\Online\2012\05\17.05.2012\HTML\Tech_Mobile_Update_Fever_(Part_1)_files\image003.jpg

 Microsoft Windows Phone 7.5 Handsets

The baby of the pack, Microsoft uses both numbers and names to identify its updates to Windows Phone. In general, the ones of note have names. For example, NoDo (it means No Donuts, for some reason) and the important ones have numbers and names – 7.5 Mango, for example. The major revisions are around every six months. Updates are through the Zune software and you’ll be alerted when your specific model has its one available. Sadly, it’s still down to the operators to sort the final roll-outs, so don’t be surprised if you have to wait.

User Interface

‘The only operating system to make any real leap in terms of UI is Android’

The only OS to make any real leap in terms of UI is Android, and even then it’s still only marginally different to Honeycomb, though the leap from Gingerbread is more pronounced. It now has a sharper neon style with the addition of slick animation and some deft graphical touches. However, the killer here is a really impressive new font called Roboto, which gives the UI a very clear and print-like text.

Description: Description: ICS’s excellent new front, Roboto

ICS’s excellent new front, Roboto

iOS and Mango, however, have kept the UI changes to a minimum, so much so in fact you’ll actually be hard pressed to spot the difference. This is likely because iOS and Mango are walled garden systems, partly built on their consistent look throughout and familiar to customers.

One of iOS’s biggest changes, though, has been the much-requested notification bar. Accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen, it gives a list of notifications that the user can swipe at and jump into the corresponding app. Notifications are also on the lock screen, again swipeable to the app. Though it’s very Android, it’s also very welcome too.

iOS is arguable still the strongest UI, as it’s design is the original touch-screen phone design and the design language is solid throughout. Mango’s UI is excellent and unique, but as present maybe too unique, though Microsoft’s adoption of the Metro design across its range of hardware and software in 2012 will help.
  •  Mobile - Four Cores Good, Two Cores Bad
  •  Mac - That Syncing Feeling
  •  Toshiba Regza Tablet AT200 - The Thinnest
  •  ASUS Transformer Pad - Transforming Value to Quality
  •  Sony Xperia S - A Fresh Xperience
  •  Targus Travel Chill Mat - Chillin' On-The-Go
  •  Kingston Wi-Drive - Rekindling The Wi-Drive
  •  Bootleg Unzipped (Part 2) - An industry of fakes
  •  Bootleg Unzipped (Part 1)
  •  Seagate GoFlex Satellite - Pocket Satellite
  •  Exploring New Galaxies
  •  Never Run Out Of Power (Part 2) - A Full Car Battery in Five Minutes
  •  Never Run Out Of Power (Part 1) - Charging Batteries in Seconds
  •  The Android Phone computer (Part 2) - The world of OTG & Big screen entertainment
  •  The Android Phone computer (Part 1) - Can I use a USB Keyboard or Mouse?
  •  The Android Army invades! (Part 3) : Disaster recovery
  •  The Android Army invades! (Part 2) : Wipe out WebOS
  •  The Android Army invades! (Part 1) : Robot spares
  •  Manage iOS with iCloud (Part 2)
  •  Manage iOS with iCloud (Part 1)
    Top 10
    Nikon 1 J2 With Stylish Design And Dependable Image And Video Quality
    Canon Powershot D20 - Super-Durable Waterproof Camera
    Fujifilm Finepix F800EXR – Another Excellent EXR
    Sony NEX-6 – The Best Compact Camera
    Teufel Cubycon 2 – An Excellent All-In-One For Films
    Dell S2740L - A Beautifully Crafted 27-inch IPS Monitor
    Philips 55PFL6007T With Fantastic Picture Quality
    Philips Gioco 278G4 – An Excellent 27-inch Screen
    Sony VPL-HW50ES – Sony’s Best Home Cinema Projector
    Windows Vista : Installing and Running Applications - Launching Applications
    Most View
    Workgroup All-In-One : Samsung Clx-6220fx
    iTunes Match Q&A
    Using Non-Windows Systems to Access Exchange Server 2010 : Outlook Express
    Component Watch: Looking back
    Designing a Windows Server 2008 R2 Active Directory : Understanding AD DS Domain Design
    Creative software
    SQL Server 2008 : Explaining Advanced Query Techniques - Managing Internationalization Considerations
    Corsair Vengeance M90 - Play With A Vengeance
    Programming .NET Framework 3.5 : Using Data Synchronization Services (part 1)
    Adobe Photoshop CS5 : PDF Essentials - Compression Options for Adobe PDF
    Working with the REST API
    The Invisible Web (Part 2) - WWW Virtual Library, CompletePlanet & Infoplease
    Home Theatre Pc Software And Operating Systems (Part 7) - Playing Back Blu-rays
    Programming .NET Components : Remoting - The .NET Remoting Architecture
    Corsair Obsidian 800D
    IIS 7.0 : Performance and Tuning - Processor
    Nexus 7 – Benchmark Score
    Zotac Geforce GTX 670 AMP! Edition
    Flora - Nature - Photo Expert (Part 4) - Viewpoint
    Build Up Your Dream House with PC (Part 2)