June 26, 2010 | by Ed Clark
As you probably already know, the iPhone 4 has lots of new features. So many, in fact, that I decided to skip a commercial and create a special iOS 4 version of “There’s an [Android] App for that.” (In case you haven’t heard, Darth Jobs recently renamed the iPhone OS to iOS 4 for its latest release.) I welcome anyone waiting in line for their new iPhone to post dirty comments here while they pass around snacks and deodorant.
Truthfully, Android fans should be thrilled about the iPhone 4. New innovations in hardware establish new features for better products, which benefits consumers. You can bet that the Android competition is working as we speak to “one-up” Mr. Jobs’ favorite gadget. And if there is one thing that Android has been good at, it’s providing real competition to Apple’s growing dominance–at least in the North American market.
iOS 4: Amazing New Abilities!
Since we don’t have an iPhone 4 commercial to look at yet (unless you count the Jobs keynote), let’s just review some of the new capabilities. Note that I tried to stay away from hardware specs and focus on apps, because that’s what this column is about. Here’s part of an exhaustive list, courtesy of Engadget:
- Video calling
- User defined wallpaper
- Playlist creation and nested playlist
- App folders
- New abilities unlocked for developers:
- Background audio
- Background VOIP
- Background location data
Doing it the Android Way
Let’s start with video calling. If you don’t have a front facing camera, you’re out of luck. As many of you know, Android already has a phone with video calling capabilities (and a front facing camera). Check out Androinica’s own Andrew Kameka using Skype with Fring (>250,000 downloads, 4 stars, free) on his EVO. All of the newer Android tablets promise to come with front facing cameras, so adoption of this functionality will continue to grow on both the iOS and Android platforms. The most interesting thing to me is how open Apple will be to sharing video calls with non-Apple users. (My guess: Not very.)
Multitasking, User defined wallpaper, App folders. Uh, what? (These are already built-in to Android OS.) Android users are probably baffled that the Empire’s Tie-Fighters just got these abilities. It’s kinda like bragging that your car has fuel injection, a stereo, and AC. What did all those iPhone folks do, leave the windows down and sing in the rain?
Gamecenter. This function allows iPhone users to compare high scores, show off individual achievements, and even be paired up for games via automatic matchmaking (so that you are put against with a comparable opponent), much like Xbox Live.
Some similar Android apps that have been around for a while include ScoreNinja (>250,000 downloads, 4 stars, free) and aHighScore (50,000-250,000 downloads, 4 stars, free), which will allow any game to keep track of global high scores (and post comments). I know a few games that use ScoreNinja, including Zilch (50,000-250,000 downloads, 4.5 stars, free) and Abduction! World Attack (10,000-50,000 downloads, 5 stars, $1.97)–both excellent games. While Android’s current apps don’t do all the things that Gamecenter does, I’m guessing that it’s just a matter of time before Android has its own Xbox Live-style tracker.
iBooks. Great app for the iPhone/iPad. No question, the matching Android app is Aldiko (>250,000 downloads, 4.5 stars, free). I have had Android’s Aldiko installed since it came out, and in fact the last four books I have read have been on my phone using Aldiko (between meetings, on the bus, etc). In fact, the original bookshelf interface for Aldiko looks more than a little similar to the just-released iBooks interface. Hmm.
New Developer Abilities:
Background audio (like Pandora), background VOIP (like Fring), background location data (via GPS for turn by turn, or by wireless tower). Yes, iOS 4 has unlocked these abilities for iPhone developers! Not much to say here. Many of us have been using Pandora Radio (>250,000 downloads, 4 stars, free), Fring (see above), and Navigation (built-in to Android’s Maps app) for quite a while now. Most of us have greatly enjoyed them, and I’m sure that the Stormtroopers will as well.
Welcome to the multitasking/background activity club, iPhone 4 folks. Just remember to hold your device the right way.