Mobile Phone Update Fever (Part 4)

5/21/2012 9:28:03 AM


Let’s clear this up first: nope, there is still no Flash support in iOS. What’s more, Adobe itself has announced that it’s no longer developing mobile Flash, so pretty soon (i.e. when HTML5 is standard) the whole Flash argument will be moot.

There have been superficial improvements to Safari in iOS such as the long awaited tabs, the ‘reader’ feature that pops out text into a nice readable format, and Reading List, a cross iOS platform offline reader. However, it seems the upgrade has also made Safari a little less reliable, with more sudden exits, especially with some forums. Sadly, it’s also one of Apple’s primary apps, so it’s Safari or minor variations thereof, and nothing else. Boo.

Description: Description: iOS 5’s longs awaited notification

iOS 5’s longs awaited notification

Windows Phone version 7 was never the best web experience, only having an address bar in portrait being a major bugbear, plus it had a rough default typeface for web pages for some strange reason. Mango has thankfully improved things, and yes, it finally adds an address bar in landscape. Sadly, it doesn’t disappear, though, it’s omnipresence taking up precious screen estate, but it’s a start. The strange text is there still, though, and despite the browser getting 95 out of 100 in Acid test, it still has trouble with login boxes and drop-down security screens (so much so that I could not log into may bank’s website). It’s not bad or slow, but IE9 still has some way to go, and like Safari, it’s all you get anyway, so like it or lump it.

Like Safari, Android’s browser is Webkit-based, so has always offered a pretty good facsimile of the web on the move, especially as it’s the only one of the three with Flash. This continues in ICS, with improved tabbed browsing, the ability to request desktop versions of pages, offline browsing and more. Coupled with the excellent new font, browsing on ICS is pretty impressive and quick. You can, of course, swap out the browser for any other on the Market, such as the excellent Opera, or even Google’s beta of a mobile version of it’s Chrome desktop browser. Chrome is still a bit flakey, but it’s a very good alternative and may well soon become the default Android browser.

Most improved

‘If there’s an award for the most improved, then Mango easily gets it.’

Description: Description: Nokia’s Lumia 710 budget WP7.5 smartphone

Nokia’s Lumia 710 budget WP7.5 smartphone

So who comes out on top? Well, if there’s an award for the most improved, then Mango easily gets it. The original WP7 showed promise but had the feel of a beta. Mango, however, brings together a lot of the promise of Windows Phone and really makes it a genuinely interesting OS. It’s not perfect by a long chalk. There’s still no option for a permanent notification bar, only the time, and it still disconnects from wi-fi on sleep, so forget about updates happening for apps by themselves. Mango seems like WP7’s logical end, and hopefully WP8 could well let the OS realize its potential.

‘ICS continues Android’s evolution into the world’s biggest mobile OS.’

Description: Description: HTC’s Titan is the biggest WP7.5 device there is

HTC’s Titan is the biggest WP7.5 device there is

ICS continues Android’s evolution into the world’s biggest mobile OS. It’s attractive, slick and above all it’s good to use. Some have said it’s becoming a little power hungry like Windows can be, pointing to optimised operating systems like Windows Phone running well on less powerful devices, and while ICS is a unified OS for both phone and tablet, sadly Google still hasn’t tackled fragmentation or the huge delay in updates coming from manufacturers and operators.

For iOS, the changes haven’t been as notable, and in many cases Apple has, finally added features that people have long been requesting (we’re looking at you, notification centre). One major improvement so far not mentioned is the cutting of the computer umbilical cord, with iOS5 devices not requiring computers for activation or updates. Like Mango and Windows 8, iOS 5’s changes make more sense when coupled with OS X Lion, and it’s this synergy between desktop and mobile that Android can’t compete with beyond Google apps and Chrome. It’s here the improvements shine.

iOS 6

As sure as The Brit Awards will be a line-up of the best in dull, there will certainly be an iOS 6. So what do we know about it? Well, what do we know about any unreleased Apple product? Nothing, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying or foolishly breaching a non-disclosure agreement. What should it have? Loads of things, and most people could name five things off the tops of their heads. What will it have? Some of those things, all shiny and all Apple’s idea, no one else…

Jelly Bean

Popping up in rumours recently has been the next revision of Android – J. The name, as well as pretty much everything else, isn’t confirmed, though Jelly Bean has been mentioned a great deal. But Google, in honour of both the London Olympics and HRH’s 60 years in the big chair, why not name it after a classis British pud: Jam Roly Poly? Go on, Liz would love it…

WP8 Apollo

Description: Description: Windows Phone Apollo (WP8)

The only next revision to have some concrete evidence is WP8, codenames Apollo. Details leaked recently in an MS internal video bound for Nokia, wherein a (possibly ex) company executive ran through many of the forthcoming features. Biggest news of all is the kernel will no longer be based on Windows CE, but like iOS is to OS X, it’ll be based on Windows 8’s kernel. What’s more, 90% of the code will work on both, increasing the number of WP8 developers exponentially in the process.


There are still other mobile operating systems out there, some evolving, some gradually dying off. Samsung’s Bada is up to version 2, and has evolved to a pretty good OS, though it’s a little similar to Android. While not big in the UK or USA, it’s still popular in Korea, India and some of Europe. The biggest news, though, is HP’s webOS being given a second lease of life by going open source. It’s an interesting turn of events that could theoretically lead to the under appreciated OS being improved and ported to many phones by the modding community.
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