Is the company that revolutionized the mobile world now falling behind a more nimble and restless opponent? It seems so.
Apple has a reputation of shaking up every market they go into. They did it in the PC industry, they did it with MP3 players, they did it in the phone market, and now they’re doing in the tablet world as well. Knowing that, I was expecting the company to wow me once again at its WWDC conference this morning. I kept waiting for the one feature that would make me run to the nearest Apple store and sell my soul to Steve Jobs. But that never happened.
Instead, what I saw was a company that is now trying to keep up with the 800-pound gorilla in the mobile world: Android. Feature after feature, I kept thinking to myself: “I already have this on my Android phone.” In fact, some of these “magical” features have been available since Android 1.0. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
As we told you earlier today, Apple agrees that the Android notification system is awesome. That’s why the company went ahead and copied it pixel by pixel. We don’t blame them–the previous iOS notification system was a disaster. It interrupted whatever you were doing, forced you to choose what to do right away, and there was no way to keep track of all the notifications in one single place. Now when your iPhone-touting friend shows you this new cool notification bar, just say: “You’re welcome”.
Launching apps right from the lock screen? Yep, Android did it. Samsung’s TouchWiz 4.0 and HTC’s Sense 3.0 both support this feature. It’s kind of ironic that Apple is suing both of these companies for copying iOS, but the company doesn’t have a problem doing the same thing.
Twitter integration is coming to iOS in a big way. Pretty soon, iOS users will be able to tweet from their browsers, photo gallery, YouTube and Google Maps. Twitter information–like user name and photo–will also be added to any contacts that have a Twitter account. Sound familiar? It should, because Android has been doing this for ages, only better. Due to Android’s openness, any third-party app is able to reach this same level of integration within the OS. From popular services like Twitter to a hot new startup, everybody is able to do this on Android.
Safari’s version for the iPad is getting–wait for it–Tabs! You might say that this is just an obvious feature to bring from the desktop version of Safari, but the iPad has been available for a long time and, interestingly, Google introduced this same feature a few months ago for Honeycomb. Coincidence? You tell me.
It’s not even fun anymore at this point. With iOS 5, users will be able to “Activate and set up your device wirelessly, right out of the box. Download free iOS software updates directly on your device.” As you probably know, Android has been doing this since the T-Mobile G1. Last time I connected my Android phone to a computer was to…. wait, I’ve never done such a thing. Welcome to a wires-free world, iOS users. We’ve been waiting for you for years.
You know you’ve fallen behind when most of the features you announce are in response to whatever the competition is doing. While Apple is busy adding all these features, Google is already thinking about the next big thing. By the time iOS 5 arrives this Fall (in the Fall? really Apple?), Google will be getting ready to release Ice Cream Sandwich. If what we saw at Google I/O is any indication, Android’s next version will make iOS 5 look like a Fisher-Price OS.
Now that you’ve read about the features that Apple copied from Android, here are five features that Android needs to borrow from iOS. What do you guys think? Will Apple ever be able to catch up to Google? Let us know in the comments.