Mobile deathmatch: Apple iOS 4 vs. Android 2.2
As the mobile battle narrows, the iPhone finally faces a real challengerFollow @MobileGalen
Basic email usage. Android has a poorly chosen visual scheme for email lists: It uses white text on a black background (iOS 4 uses the inverse color scheme). In sunlight, it's all but impossible to read the screen on an Android device, while in the same light an iOS device's display of the email remains readable, even if somewhat washed out. You won't be checking email on the beach with an Android device.
I'm not a big fan of iOS 4's new UI for mail. There's now a unified inbox for all your email accounts, then a separate list of your accounts so that you can go to their traditional hierarchy (for Exchange and IMAP accounts). I don't know why Apple had to break these into separate lists; for someone like me with four separate email accounts, the result is extra scrolling to switch accounts based on the mode I want to see.
Email management. Once you're in your folders, though, iOS 4 is easy to use for most operations, such as deleting messages and moving messages to folders. You can easily search for mail, reply or forward, delete, and select multiple messages, but you can't select or deselect all messages.
On the other hand, Android OS 2.2's folder navigation isn't friendlier, though you don't have to wade through the double lists. By default you get an all-message view, and if you want to go to a specific folder or see just the inbox, you must click the Menu button and then tap the Folders icon to get a list of folders. Also, Android uses a separate app for Gmail accounts -- an unnecessary division of labor.
Android OS 2.2 is on a par with iOS 4 when it comes to mail management. However, you have to use the Menu button when in a message to forward it -- an extra step compared to iOS 4. Both iOS 4 and Android let you mark a message as unread, though Android requires you do it via the Menu button's options. You can search your email in Android, but not from within the Email application; it's part of a general device-wide search, which is more work than iOS 4's method. Like iOS 4, Android OS 2.2 has no select-all capability for email.
iOS 4 remembers the email addresses of senders you reply to, adding them to a database of contacts that it looks up automatically as you tap characters into the To and Cc fields; Android doesn't do that. Both operating systems let you add email addresses to your contacts list by tapping them.
iOS 4 did add a message threading capability, which organizes your email based on subject; you click an icon to the left of a message header to see the related messages. That adds more clicking to go through messages, but it does remove the effort of finding the messages in the first place. (iOS 4 lets you disable threading if you don't like it.) Android OS 2.2 has no similar capability.
Contacts and calendars. The iOS's more elegant UI for email applies to its Contacts and Calendar apps as well. You can easily switch calendar views in iOS 4 in the main calendar screen; by contrast, doing so in Android OS 2.2 requires using the Menu button's options to select a view. Likewise, iOS 4 more elegantly lets you manage the display of multiple calendars, but neither mobile OS lets you send invites to other users for non-Exchange calendars.