As with past iPhone updates, iOS 5 plays catch-up with Apple’s competitors and Android in particular, while adding unique features such as Twitter integration, iMessage, and online storage through iCloud.
But is that enough to solidify the iPhone’s standing as the best smartphone around? Not necessarily. Android still has several features that the iPhone lacks, and may still be worth considering if these features are important to you:
Android phones have offered free, voice-guided GPS since October 2009, whereas the iPhone’s Maps app requires users to look at their handsets and read off directions as they drive.
The iPhone has third-party apps with turn-by-turn voice guidance, such as Mapquest, but Android’s built-in method allows users to jump directly into navigation from address links in other apps. With the iPhone, you must manually copy and paste the address into your app of choice.
Setting Default Apps
The iPhone’s lack of native GPS navigation wouldn’t be an issue if you could set third-party apps as the default for certain functions. On Android, if you want to use alternative apps for mail, Web browsing or navigation, you can set those apps as the default for all related functions.
For instance, setting Dolphin HD as the default Web browser opens all links from other apps in Dolphin instead of the stock Android browser. It’s a subtle feature that makes customization much easier on Android compared to the iPhone.
Expanded voice commands
The rumor of expanded voice commands in iOS5 didn’t pan out, so for now, Android provides more voice command options that are built directly into the operating system.
Android users can dictate e-mails and text messages and get directions by speaking to the phone. They can also load music in third-party apps such as Pandora with the “listen to” command, whereas the iPhone’s music-by-voice feature is only linked to the iPod app.
Android widgets can show certain types of information directly on the home screen, such as breaking news, sports scores, incoming messages, or media playback controls. In fairness, a lot of Android widgets add unnecessary clutter to the phone, but if you can find the right widgets for you, they’ll either save time or present information that you might’ve otherwise overlooked.
Software features aside, Android provides more hardware choices for phone buyers, including handsets with bigger screens, physical keyboards or features not yet available on the iPhone, such as dual-core processors. The iPhone 4’s hardware is excellent, but it may not be the perfect fit for you.
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