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Android inspires iOS 5 updates, must stay focused on cloud access

by Kristen Nicole

Apple (AAPL) may not have revealed a new iPhone at WWDC yesterday, but the annual event brought a major update to every product in their lineup, thanks to software upgrades for Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5, along with the launch of the new iCloud service, a significant improvement to Apple’s MobileMe service. While Apple’s shift to a stronger cloud strategy makes for a more fluid end user experience across devices and the apps they support, Android users have been basking in several such capabilities for well over a year now.

Android already had that

Features like a central notifications bar and the ability to view them from the lock screen are not new to Android users, nor is the ability to “tweet” a photo directly from an app. I’m already able to see my Facebook and Twitter friends, as well as their content, from my Android contacts list, and apps I’ve already purchased load readily when I get a new Android device. Several concepts applied to Apple’s new mobile experience, including single sign-on for Twitter and over-the-air updates, have flourished on Android’s platform, which had the benefit of improving on many of Apple devices’ shortcomings.

Android vs Apple cloud strategy

At the center of Apple’s improvements is a cloud strategy, which is something Google’s been working on for nearly its entire existence. As Apple shifts its services around the cloud, access is key, demoting devices to mere portals. Google (GOOG) has been working in an opposite direction, building an ecosystem around its existing apps, like Gmail, Picasa, YouTube and Docs, all of which feature a strong cloud front. Now that Apple’s catching up in the cloud, apps and access become the new battlegrounds for mobile operating systems.

Of course, Apple’s got a strong hold on its devices as well as its operating system, enabling the company to offer a more seamless integration for its cloud strategy. This means Android needs to stay on its toes, looking for the next steps towards an improved OS, and this certainly includes establishing a market for Honeycomb 3.1 and tablets. Time will tell us if Apple’s take on the cloud will be well executed, and Android’s still got some time to ramp up its own efforts, as some of Apple’s updates won’t be available to consumers until fall.