Mobile Phone Update Fever (Part 3)

5/21/2012 9:24:26 AM


Surprisingly, the most efficient and fastest mobile operating system here is one from the PC kings: Microsoft. WP is a light and quick OS, and in echoes of OS X versus Windows, it’s a tale of hardware not telling all the story. Indeed, there are presently no dual-core WP phones, but while Android and iOS are about to leap into bed with quad-core CPUs, Mango runs extremely well on a 1GHz CPU and 512MB RAM. What’s more, the next minor revision, 7.6, will cut that RAM to 256MB, to aid cheaper devices for developing countries. All from the same people who brought you Windows ME…

iOS is still a slick OS, though it’s speed has never been a factor; it’s never super fast but it’s never been slow either. Recent revisions of iOS have begun to take their toll on less powerful devices, though, with the iPhone 3GS not having as good a time with the OS as later devices. On the whole, though, iOS is still the same beast it was and will likely ever be.

For all it’s great points, Android’s Achilles heel is its need for power. Coupled with the breadth of Android devices, it’s very possible to see it running like a dream on one device and like a dog on another. This can be often down to hardware, or it can be poorly optimised manufacturer UI customisation. Either way, it’s often tough to get a handle on Android’s true speed. However, on a phone with a 1GHz CPU, 1GB RAM and reasonable GPU, vanilla ICS should run well. Less than that and you’ll be relying on hacked optimised versions, but it’s entirely possible devices such as HTC’s Desire may get a useable ROM. On devices that can take it, ICS is as quick as Gingerbread, and it’s slicker UI may even make it feel quicker. Certainly, it’s an improvement, if not immediately noticeable.


‘If you want freedom, tinkering and personalisation, Android is for you.’


Description: Description: Chrome OS will not create a walled garden

Chrome OS will not create a walled garden

As we’ve mentioned, iOS and WP are very much walled garden systems and have been from the start. But have their new revisions allowed any new freedom? In a word, no. iOS is still as locked down as ever, the widgets present in its desktop cousin, OS X, haven’t made an appearance here yet and the layout remains the same with still only the wallpaper changeable. As before, apps are still only available from the App Store, and there’s still no access to the file system or storage expansion. Frankly, this is not likely to change as long as iOS remains in its current form.

Mango’s Metro UI still dictates the overall layout, and customisation is still limited to adding tiles to the start screen. Sadly, Mango doesn’t even add freedom to the colouring of the tiles or their backdrop, with only 11 shades of tile and black or white backdrops available and no apps to really change that much. Like iOS, you’re also restricted with apps, this time to the Windows Marketplace, and again like iOS there’s no access to the file system nor storage expansion. It’s coming, though, but just not yet.

Android is still the most open OS, though possibly increasingly to its detriment with the spectre of viruses hanging over it more and more. You can do what you want with Android, and ICS does little to change this. USB slave and host, DLNA sharing, storage expansion, HDMI – the list is seemingly endless. If you want freedom, tinkering and personalisation, Android is for you.


Description: Description: AirPlay

Although Apple prefers to keep its customers within its iTunes ecosphere when it comes to media, it’s loosed its grip a fair bit, allowing some great apps like Airvideo to use your PC to transcode a ton of formats and stream them to your iPhone or iPad. iOS 5’s main advances with media, however, lie in Apple’s AirPlay feature, streaming audio, video and even games to Cupertino’s Apple TV 2. If the application is enabled, you can have your iPad 2 happily stream a film to the ATV2 while you mooch around the web in Safari. Interesting stuff…

Windows Phone’s focus for media has not really amounted to much more than an on-board facsimile of Microsoft’s own Zune media players. Like Apple, Microsoft prefers WP users to keep things MS, so here you’re not going find support for DivX, MKV or AVI. Video-wise you have MP4 and WMV and that’s you lot. You’ll need to convert them as well as syncing them through Zune, as you would audio. Improvement is coming in WP8, but for now Mango is okay for music, but it isn’t the best platform for video.

Due to it’s open-ended nature, media playback on Android has always been as comprehensive as you’ve needed it to be. Hardware accelerated playback, DLNA, HDMI output – all there. ICS doesn’t bring much more to the table besides a video-editing app, the ability to use USB gamepads and a faster camera, but that’s because it’s already pretty good.
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