This morning at the WWDC 2011 conference, Apple announced the new (and much rumoured) iOS5, including a swathe of new features.

However, we have seen a lot of these before, and thought we’d break them down for you just to see how iOS5 stacks up against Android. We used The Unofficial Apple Weblog’s summary of iOS5’s new features for this comparison.

While iOS5 undoubtedly has some cool new features, Android is still (feature-wise) streets ahead. Please bear in mind though that this is just an opinion piece – it doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of everyone. I’ve tried to present a balanced view here – in some aspects, iOS5 may just be better.

You’ll note that in comparisons for Mail, we haven’t identified either platform as being better. iOS5 has some cool enterprise integration features, while Android has (and has had for awhile) a lot of the features new to iOS such as full text search. Which platform offers the better features will depend on what you need.

Read on for the comparison table.

iOS 5 Android
Notifications Brings Android-style notifications to the iOS platform. No longer will you be interrupted by giant notification boxes – you’ll receive notifications across the top of the screen. You can select notifications, or clear all.

Truly revolutionary…

… except that Android notifications have been done this way for a long, long time.
NewsStand A single place to read all your news and magazine subscriptions. New editions are automatically downloaded to your device.

While it might be a gimmicky feature, it’s nifty if you use it.

No system-level equivalent, but this (to this one author, at least) seems like a fairly gimmicky tool, given the high prices for these subscriptions when free content is just as easily available elsewhere.
Twitter Twitter is now integrated into iOS. A single signon is implemented so you don’t need to sign in to each app. You can upload photos to Twitter in a few clicks. Location and thumbnails are also available to Twitter. Twitter syncs with your contacts. Something that Twitter clients on Android have provided from the get go – image sharing, integration into system photo management, and contact syncing is also available (and has been for quite awhile…)
Safari Tabbed browsing on the iPad, and it offers a feature where article-type pages are zoomed to remove advertising content. Android has had tabbed browsing for awhile, and offers variety of web browsers with different implementations to suit your tastes.
Reminders System-level to-do app, triggered by time or location. Pretty cool. I don’t think that Android offers an equivalent – especially location based triggering – but it probably will soon.
Camera You can activate the camera from the lock screen. You can use hardware buttons to trigger a photo capture, and pinch to zoom is available. Built in photo editor with basic features. Hardware buttons to take photos are nothing new, pinch to zoom isn’t either… and a photo editor? Depending on the manufacturer, most Android handsets include a photo editor now and have done for a little while.
Mail Full text searching, rich text editing, and flagging. A dictionary feature is now integrated, and S/Mime support available for enterprise. Full text search is not new to Android – I mean come on, it’s made by Google, it’s going to have search. We don’t yet have rich-text editing for Gmail/Email on Android – though third party apps support this. No decent S/Mime integration on Android yet.
PC Free Setup and activate your iDevice without a computer. Updates over the air, and you can add/edit mailboxes and calendars on the iDevice. Android has always had these abilities.
Game Center Better profile support, and support for more game types. A central place to share info about your games.. if you’re a gamer, this is pretty neat. Android doesn’t have a game-centre like service.
iMessage A new messaging service for iOS owners – its like an SMS replacement / Blackberry Messenger type service which can share text, photos, videos, group messaging etc.

The curious thing is that pre iOS5, iPhone users have had a very limited ability to share rich media with each other.. heck, iOS didn’t have MMS in its earlier versions, and even then, it’s not feature-rich.

Android doesn’t have a standard service like this, however (just as with iOS pre iOS5) there are a variety of third party apps which enable precisely these features, and you can choose one that best meets your needs.

Or you can just use SMS/MMS/Email, which allows you to share all these things without being tied to a particular platform.

Update process iPhone updates are released once Apple has completed testing – these updates do not typically require carrier approval before they are released.

This means that once Apple releases an update, it’s available to all iOS users regardless of carrier.

The update experience in Australia has been a mixed bag, with some carriers pushing updates through quickly, and some holding them up for testing before they are released.

However, the flip side of this is that unofficial software updates are frequently available, so if you’re not prepared to wait for your carrier to release an update, you can often get it somewhere else.

However, iOS update process is (generally) quicker.

So, how do you compare these features? Are iOS’ new features important to you? Will they have you jumping ship for an iPhone?

Tell us how these features compare in the comments!

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    Quite an interesting post, considering the Author’s GirlFriend owns an iPhone and the Author himself is an Apple Developer.

    Buzz Moody

    Fire him.


    Keep in mind OTA updates for iOS while not directly connected to a computer must have the iphone/unit physically charging at the time.

    Chris Rowland (Team Ausdroid)

    You’d be pretty silly to flash an Android update without being on power… if it died halfway through you’d have some major issues

    That said, Android doesn’t – as far as I’m aware – FORCE you to be on power.. but it does recommend it.


    That said, I really wish google would pull the finger out and copy apply back on the Reminders app. Very nice, they have google tasks, just haven’t done much with it 🙁


    I think you guys screwed up on the iMessage.

    iMessage = google talk, been there from day 1!

    Louis Thorp

    Google talk! its had it from the beginning and its a Imessage equivalent 


    Doh, just posted this… Agreed iMessage = google talk, been there from day 1!

    Ron Trieu

    though I wish you could send location/pictures/videos/music etc through Google Talk. Has anyone used Whatsapp? They need to make Google talk like that!


    So you mean basically email? 🙂 Which android had from day one… gmail 🙂

    There is also pingchat, which does what you want as well. chat, group chat, video calls, share photos and videos etc etc. cross platform too! (you hear that apple, CROSS PLATFORM!)


    I think the table is missing a row about updates requiring carrier testing / approval? This is a pretty big plus iDevices have…


    Agree this is a big plus that ‘testing / approval’ processes appears to be skipped. That said, I think apple has pulled some pretty big strings somewhere. As to release ANY phone firmware in Australia with the tick of approval (and all phones must have this) at least ONE telco has to approve it, and this is the same for any ‘updates’ of the firmware. So reading between the lines, cause the god phone isn’t above the law, it means apple has some strings its pulling, mostly I’m guessing about holding the phone back from the telco if they don’t… Read more »


    “2011: Year of the Copycats”

    -Steve Job, 2nd March 2011


    Good to see some reality around the iOS5 reactions. Most tech sites are creaming themselves at the very mention of iOS5 or anything Apple, there’s a distinct lack of critical thinking and realism around. 

    Apple have always been very good with their marketing to make that kind of reaction occur. The reality of iOS5 is that it’s nothing new.. but that doesn’t mean that Apple won’t make the experience really good, and really accessible to non-tech people.

    That’s the strength of the iPhone. Bringing smartphone power to the average user.

    all the average user wants is more geebeez and wifiz –

    I noticed something similar with MS Windows many years ago – MS weren’t the first with a lot of features/abilities, but since most people only used Windows, they were firsts for the users e.g “long” file names, 32-bit OS, networking, pre-emptive multitasking, etc. Similarly with iPhone – most people are familiar with it even if some figures show Android as being on more phones out there. So we’ll see lots of “ZOMG! Notifications!” from the press and army of fanboys, while us Android users shake our heads at the self-centredness of the iPhone crowd. Welcome to the club, fellow Linux… Read more »

    Julian Pinget

    definitely the case with heavily-supported linux: at the time apple announced the mac store, i had been using the equivalent on ubuntu (with push-released updates and all) and although this was very familiar amongst the linux world, it was a advent beyond comprehension for the McTools

    that being said, apple has produced some worthwhile developments for the rest of the tech world (webkit is probably the most modern – the basis of chrome browser)

    I don’t have an Android phone and even though I’m aware the features are already in Android’s or Windows Phone 7, I’m still excited with iOS5 because I’m an iPhone user. Apple has definitely made them look better though (design wise) compared to Android, say


    Apple is really good at taking good things from android, bb, wp7 and making them LOOK good on iOS. iOS is a pretty looking interface. the original iphone 2g was the ground-breaking device, kudos to them to creating the first smartphone that really did revolutionise the way the world works now. but google had caught up and surpassed apple right now in my opinion in the mobile industry. apple is playing catch up but with their marketing skills, many will still flock to them. no point berating each other, we the consumers are benefiting the most out of this…although, i’m… Read more »


    iPhone playing major catch up, again


    Probably even more reason to ditch the iPhone for the Atrix today. I can see a lot more Australian phone owners getting bill shock now. Hope there’s a setting to do all this cloud stuff over wifi only? Seems geared to US customers where unlimited data plans are common. Are all these cloud services available to customers outside the US? And where’s the Facebook integration? I spose Steve doesn’t use (like) Facebook so IOS doesn’t get it?

    Chris Rowland (Team Ausdroid)

    Don’t know about ditching for the Atrix, but yes some of the ‘new’ features are a bit yawn-worthy. I don’t know about the other cloud features but apparently the auto-downloading of apps and updates (so presumably music also) can be set to wifi only, and as this is going to be the most data intensive, it should be enough.


    “truly revolutionary” – notifications section. 
    Oh Apple, what will you think of next? I agree that some of these new features are indeed yawn-worthy.

    Julian Pinget



    i am in complete awe!


    iMessage sounds alot like Google Talk

    Julian Pinget

    i was thinking the EXACT same thing, particularly as they mentioned that if you sign into another device, you can pickup where the conversation left off and all previous communications are still there, one of the key features of gTalk

    with the added advantage of being cross-platform (avail on PC/android as well as OSX/iOS)


    Sorry dude but I needed to fire back on this (although you have specified that it is an opinion piece). Notifications: new iOS is a bastard child of LockInfo (around long before any Android counterpart) and MobileNotifier. NewsStand: Why is an application being compared? There are plenty of magazine application on iOS already. Twitter: Plenty of Twitter clients on iOS support these features already, the only difference now is that this is INTEGRATED with iOS itself. Safari: iCab Mobile, Mercury, Atomic. (see NewsStand). Camera: Plenty of JB tweaks to achieve this functionality already. PC Free: WiFi sync has been around… Read more »

    Chris Rowland (Team Ausdroid)

    The only comment I’d make – because we welcome opinions either for or against our posts – is this – so we’re comparing apples with apples (pardon the pun), I haven’t looked at jailbreak apps – I’m comparing what Android can do without hacks to what iOS can/could do without hacks. As for integration of Twitter, iOS has never, ever offered this before now. You could not go to the Photo gallery app, select a photo, and upload it to Twitter via your chosen Twitter app – best approximation of this was setting up some sort of email-to-twitter link, and… Read more »


    I think to be fair, you must define what “android” are you compared to. In camera editing, you mentioned manufacturer apps, that is not “android” default without “hack”. Same with app from market, iOS has some app to enhance functionality.

    I use android, but i think the comparison could be better and not just ignorance

    Chris Rowland (Team Ausdroid)

    Thanks for the comment Min. While it is true, vanilla Android as developed by Google does not include a photo editor, many handset manufacturers include such a feature on their handsets. This is not a hack or an addon app – if it comes built in on the device without needing an extra purchase, it’s a valid comparison. Of course, both iOS and Android have apps available – some free, some not – that can edit photos, however I want to keep the comparison tight. HTC and Samsung are two that I can think of that include basic photo editing… Read more »

    Chris Rowland (Team Ausdroid)

    Thanks for the comment Min. While it is true, vanilla Android as developed by Google does not include a photo editor, many handset manufacturers include such a feature on their handsets. This is not a hack or an addon app – if it comes built in on the device without needing an extra purchase, it’s a valid comparison. Of course, both iOS and Android have apps available – some free, some not – that can edit photos, however I want to keep the comparison tight. HTC and Samsung are two that I can think of that include basic photo editing… Read more »


    Ah i miss this part “just as with iOS pre iOS5. My apologies. Some people prefer vanilla android or have near vanilla handset. My motorola milestone didn’t come with photo editor. Can you suggest a good one from market?


    On another subject. What Android phone most interests you? I often wonder what an iGuy would use if he had to go Android. Just interested.

    I can probably answer that – as I’ve used iOS exclusively for the last six months – and I went for an SGS2.

    I can probably answer that – as I’ve used iOS exclusively for the last six months – and I went for an SGS2.


    I’ve been an iOS user siince 2008, but as a geek I keep tabs on Android. The SGS2 is the first android phone that has peaked my interest, especially now the Cyanogenmod crew have their hands on it.


    You say that Twitter is INTEGRATED with iOS itself….

    Have you used twitter on android? Android has this lovely feature to allow all apps to hook into each other. Take a picture on your android, click share and a list appears. Click twitter and wowla, sharing with twitter. Want to share to facebook instead? Click share and then facebook. Its amazing!!!

    Just cause its intergrated doesn’t mean its ‘better’. Infact Androids way of doing it is great. Install dropbox, you can now ‘share’ to dropbox straight from the photo app.

    Can you iPuss do that? 🙂