Last week saw the release of version 4.3 of Apple’s ground breaking iOS, and the update brought previously unseen levels of intuitiveness and stability to the software, but at nearly 5 years old is Apple’s platform still up to the job of competing with newer, feature packed operating systems?
Well that’s a question that we felt begged to be answered, so we went looking for a conclusion in the only way that felt right – a good old fashioned mano-a-mano!
But which of the new kids on the block do you choose to put iOS through its paces? The newest one of course! Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7. So sit back and get comfy as iOS 4.3 and Windows Phone 7 go head-to-head!
When Apple rolled out iOS (or iPhone OS as it was then called) in 2007 it was a revelation. With minimal effort users could navigate their way around the attractive minimalist landscape, achieving as much (or as little) as they chose, and that ethos has paid dividends for Apple. iOS is still the operating system that others aspire to be, and its colourful icon/grid layout has served as the inspiration for many an imitator but has yet to be bettered.
Version 4.3 sees the OS get a newly designed on-screen QWERTY and features some neat refinements to icons and graphics, but overall it remains the same great piece of software that it always has been.
Microsoft took a different approach with the development of Windows Phone 7. It wanted people to have access to all of the information and functionality that they need without being drawn into the device at the expense of their day-to-day lives, and on that level Windows Phone 7 is a success.
It gives users up to the minute information via live tiles which can be customised, and menus can be accessed via a handy swipe of the thumb, meaning that you seldom have to dig below the surface to find what you need.
The simplicity of Windows Phone is at turns a virtue and a curse though, as some users may find the big button layout to be inelegant and the live information displayed therein is pumped out irrespective of whether the users demands it or not. In short, you can sometimes feel that you’re being force-fed updates and information.
Winner – iOS 4.3
Apple’s App Store is a burgeoning marketplace stocked to the gills with applications that cater for even the most esoteric of tasks. With over 300,000 titles on offer, including over 65,000 specifically aimed at iPad users, you’ll have plenty to pass the time and over 30% of the content of offer is completely free of charge!
Apps for iOS are of a generally high standard but some of Apple’s screening policies are a little draconian, so don’t expect anything too liberal. A great feature of iOS 4.3 sees third party developers finally given access to the AirPlay API, so we should see some interesting new content emerge as the year plods on.
Microsoft’s Marketplace is in hot pursuit though, with an estimated 11,100 titles on offer, which isn’t bad going when you take into account that WP7 only launched in October 2010! The number of free titles on offer isn’t dreadful either, though it isn’t quite on par with iOS, but for those of you that don’t mind a small fee for quality content you’ll find plenty to love, and you can even make use of the try before you buy scheme to ensure that you spend your hard earned cash on the right software!
Winner – iOS 4.3
If you’re looking for a mobile platform that encourages the end-user to tinker you’d be best served avoiding both of our competitors as they both live by a fairly stringent set of rules and policies.
Sure, you can jailbreak your iPhone or iPad in order to stamp a little personal touch on it but that would see you invalidate your warranty, and when the hardware comes at a premium, as Apple products invariably do, voiding that particular assurance mightn’t be the best idea. Windows Phone 7 is similarly locked-down, and while you can choose colour schemes and personalise tile layouts you never really get the feeling that the device is your own.
Winner – Draw
If its diverse hardware you’re looking for then Windows Phone 7 should be your go-to OS., Products from HTC, LG, Samsung and Dell have all been launched running the software and thanks to Microsoft’s hardware requirements you can be sure of getting a decent, rewarding experience no matter what device you eventually settle upon.
Nokia will be adding its name to that esteemed list in a matter of months too, so if you’re a Nokia loyalist you’ll have plenty to be happy about this year.
Apple hardware on the other hand is a little on the limited side. Sure, you get nice looking, reasonably well constructed devices if you put your tick next to the Cupertino company, but you’re faced with high prices and no choice.
Quite simply, you choose Apple and the rest is done for you. Some may like this black and white approach, but personally we see diversity as a good thing.
Winner – Windows Phone 7
If you’re looking for an immersive web experience you’ll be pleased to know that both iOS 4.3 and Windows Phone 7 offer just that. The 4.3 update sees iOS’ Safari browser knock out some pretty impressive load-times and security has been beefed up too.
The glaring omission from iOS 4.3 is Adobe Flash support though, but that needn’t be a big deal unless you’re heavy user of sites with embedded content. On the whole browsing within iOS is as good as it always has been though. Text is rendered quickly and accurately, pages respond briskly to taps and touches and content is, by and large, as it should be.
Windows Phone 7 offers a comparatively good browsing experience too, with pages loading quickly and responding well to touch but, like iOS 4.3, Windows Phone 7 has so far shunned Flash content meaning that you’ll be out of luck if you rely on Flash enabled sites on a day to day basis.
The mango update to WP7 (which is due sometime this year) will see the introduction of Internet Explorer 9 however, which will bring HTML5 support and possibly even Silverlight! But for now the Windows Phone 7 browser sits at the bottom of the pile when it comes to features.
Winner – iOS 4.3
You don’t have to be young to be at the top of your game and Apple’s iOS, in its latest form, has ably shown that it’s still head and shoulders ahead of the newest smartphone operating system and with every firmware update the platform gets better, faster and stronger.
Windows Phone 7 shows plenty of promise though, and if you’re fond of the fundamental choices that Microsoft has made in its development you’ll find plenty to love about the software but in its current state it doesn’t hold a candle to iOS 4.3.