Mobile Phone Update Fever (Part 2) - Social integration, Multitasking & Tablets

5/21/2012 9:22:23 AM

Social integration

Description: Description:  Social Integration

Although it’s the big cheese in the mobile OS world, iOS is a little late to the social integration party. Android has linked in Facebook, Gmail and Twitter contacts with your phone book for ages now, and Windows Phone has had it from day one to a degree. iOS still lags behind, though, with iOS 5’s biggest new social addition being in-app tweeting and sharing – something long available on other platforms. For such a mature mobile OS, it’s pretty lacking.

Mango’s bottle to the social party is Twitter and LinkedIn integration to add to Windows Live and Facebook. All will now show up in your People feed, and you can update your own status and it’ll go to multiple platforms if you want. What’s more, if you have any friends set to Live Tiles on the start menu, it’ll also now show their statuses there too (just be sure who you add, though!). Mango also adds groups, allowing you to organise your contacts into instantly communicable groups, be it by Facebook, SMS or tweets.

Android has always been pretty comprehensive when it comes to social integration, and with ICS this is maintained without any major stand-out features. However, changes have been made to the APIs that deal with social information streams, allowing apps to use the social data ICS collects about your contacts. Not exciting yet, but it has potential for interesting applications. Otherwise, though, it’s not as deeply integrated as with Mango, but some manufacturers will add their own touches to lessen this.


Description: Description: Sony Android-ICS

Sony Android-ICS

‘What iOS 5 brings to the table are Apple’s oft-boasted gestures.’

One of the biggest faux-pas in a mobile OS these days is the inability to multitask. Android has always been able to, in one form or another, but only recent revisions of iOS and WP have added the function in. Unfortunately, both are still quite flakey and not up to Android.

Mango has Microsoft’s first attempt and it’s a form of save-state multitasking, meaning the application is frozen in its current state and unfrozen when returned to. It’s helpful, and light on battery power, because it’s not using the CPU, but it means the app can’t run in the background, limiting its use. Many apps will also restart completely when switched to, so with something like eBay it’ll mean starting your searches again. It’s graphical, so you can see the saved state, but Mango’s multitasking is limited.

iOS is much the same, but it has been multitasking since iOS 4 and many more apps are now multitasking friendly. What iOS 5 brings to the table are Apple’s oft-boasted gestures – using four fingers you can swipe back and fourth between applications. It’s useful and admittedly the easiest of all the operating systems, and the same gestures are found in Mac OS X Lion too, making transference simple.

Android ICS adds a new graphical multitasking switcher baked into the OS, and like Mango it makes it simple to switch. You can also push away apps webOS-like to kill them. Android’s is true multitasking too, so applications (and widgets) will happily chug away in the background. However, this isn’t always ideal, as a poorly coded app can eat away at your battery without you realising. If spite of this, ICS is still the best, and the most computer-like, multitasking environment.



Description: Description: Tablets


It’s not too well known, but the iPad was in development before the iPhone. Of course, it was the iPhone that saw the light of day first, but iOS has always been as much a tablet OS as it has a phone one, even with the allegations of the iPad being a large iPhone. iOS 5 doesn’t add to much specifically for the iPad, but with the platform becoming more mature, there are many more tablet specific apps available. There have been reports of iOS 5 running slower on iPad 1s, however.

We’ve all seen the less than perfect fit Android was for tablets in the past. Thankfully, though, it came on leaps and bounds with Honeycomb, a tablet-only version. ICS brings together the best of Honeycomb and Gingerbread into an OS that’s equally happy on a big screen as much as it is on a small one. Users of Honeycomb will see many similarities, keeping ICS familiar while still moving on. It works well, looks great and unlike Honeycomb, it’s open source, so likely to appear in many hacked forms, from the slick and fast to the full bells and whistles.

Microsoft sees the value of tablet computing, but you won’t find Windows Phone on any of them (well, not officially anyway). Unlike the other two, Microsoft’s tablet OS isn’t derived from its mobile one. Instead, it’s a desktop OS, specifically Windows 8. Microsoft could well have a point too: why struggle to make its phone OS work on a bigger screen when it can get its powerful and proven desktop one working even better. The public beta released last year demonstrated the Metro UI, and Microsoft’s announcements of Windows 8 on ARM chips and WP8 sharing its kernel puts Redmond in a unique and interesting position.
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