Some new iOS 6 features are old news to Android users

by Marty Gabel

Although there was plenty of buzz before the big keynote speech at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday in San Francisco, the news was a little underwhelming to those not already drunk on Cupertino Kool Aid.

Having said that, there are definitely some interesting new additions and improvements to iOS 6 on the way. But here’s the thing: a lot of what was showcased is already available in some form on Android. So in many ways, Apple is just playing catch-up.

I don’t want to come across merely as an Android “fanboy.” After all, I’m fortunate enough to use both Android and iOS daily and admire and dislike things about both operating systems. And, I’m a firm believer that the competition between Apple and Google leads to improvements that benefit users of both iOS and Android devices, and that’s no bad thing. At the same time, when I read a sensationalist headline from BGR like “Why iOS 6 just stomped out Android, again” I suggest everyone take a deep breath and put things in perspective.

Mapping out your future

I think it was inevitable that Apple would move away from Google Maps and use their own proprietary mapping software after their acquisition of C3 Technologies last year. Undoubtedly, Apple’s new Maps are going to look beautiful and be highly functional (though not every city in the U.S. will offer the stunning 3-D views just yet), but the navigation features of Google Maps are well-established, reliable, and baked-in to Android. While it is pretty cool to have Maps integrated with review services like Yelp, I sincerely hope Apple hasn’t done a disservice to its customers by switching to a new, untested mapping service. I fully suspect Apple to succeed with Maps, but if it ain’t already broken, why fix it?

Facebook integration is old hat

Android always trumped iOS when it came to easy sharing on Twitter and Facebook. From pretty much anywhere in the Android OS, it’s simple to post a photo to Facebook or tweet something you’re reading. Not only that, Android lets you share to multiple services beyond the big two, like Flickr, Google Drive, Bluetooth, Skype, and pretty much any app you have installed. Twitter integration was only added last time around in iOS 5, and now there will be closer Facebook integration in iOS 6. This is great for iOS users, and I’m happy to see Apple opening itself up to offer easy sharing, something Android users have been enjoying for a long time.

Passbook a killer app or app killer?

iOS 6 is going to have a lot of great stuff. I’m excited to use it. An app like Passbook, which organizes everything in one place like concert tickets, grocery coupons or boarding passes is certainly valuable, especially being a ‘one-stop’ solution, and potentially Apple’s basis for a future NFC-enabled mobile wallet. But, I always get a little worried for the third-party apps out there that have been successfully performing similar functions for years. Will Apple’s version stifle the competition? It’s possible, but at the same time, despite there being built-in weather, reminders and to-do lists in iOS already, third-party solutions still thrive in the iTunes App Store, usually because they offer better functionality. I’d hate to see Apple corner the market with Passbook, and hope it has the opposite effect – that it will encourage apps that perform a similar function to simply get better. Android is full of great third-party apps to improve, tweak and customize the in-built functionality offered by the basic operating system and long may that continue.

200 more things...

Apple claims to have around 200 new and improved features, and again, that’s great. But looking at the list at BGR outlining some of them, they all seem like excellent enhancements many Android users have enjoyed for a long time. Or, at the very least, there is a third-party app available, which gives Android users plenty of choices and no commitment to use only the in-built OS version. Still, kudos to Apple for making a lot of this stuff simple and efficient – there’s no denying there can be a bit of a learning curve with Android getting it to do what you want.

It’s really not my place to get into wars over which OS is best. Clearly, Apple presents its operating system in a clean, cohesive manner but is sometimes slow adding much-needed functionality. Meanwhile, Google offers many great features, but the rolling-out of updates and sometimes awkward implementation mean the Android OS can be a little rough around the edges. It’s disappointing that iOS 6 won’t be available to original iPad owners (like yours truly) especially when the tablet still functions perfectly well. But heck, us Android users are used to sometimes being left in the dark with older devices once updates roll around, too.

Whichever side of the fence you choose to sit on, the grass is green and the future looks bright for smartphone and tablet users everywhere.

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