Mobile deathmatch: Apple iOS 4 vs. Android 2.2
As the mobile battle narrows, the iPhone finally faces a real challengerFollow @MobileGalen
Both iOS 4 and Android OS 2.2 have capable Contacts apps, but it's easier to navigate through your entries in iOS 4. You can jump easily to names by tapping a letter, such as "T" to get to people whose last names begin with "T," or search quickly for someone in the Search field by tapping part of the name. On Android OS 2.2, a gray box appears as you begin scrolling your contacts list, and if you drag it, you can scroll through the letters of the alphabet that appear in the box to move to names beginning with that letter -- it's not as simple as the iOS approach and its "secret handshake" nature means many users won't know it exists. Also in Android, you can search your contacts if you click the Search button (or if you click the Menu button and then tap the Search icon). You can also designate users as favorites, to put them in a shorter Favorites list; iOS 4 has no equivalent.
But iOS 4 lets you sync contacts (and calendars) from your desktop PC or Mac via iTunes if you connect the device via a USB cable. That way, you can get your Outlook or Address Book contacts into your device easily and even keep them in sync with your smartphone. Android has no such local syncing capability. You must sync through a Gmail account -- a no-no for many corporations -- or, for Exchange data only, through an Exchange account. You can import and export contacts to an Android device via an SD card, so you could export your computer's contacts to a file and then move it to an SD card -- a fine work-around for initial setup but not for ongoing synchronization.
Corporate email, contacts, and calendar support. Android OS 2.2 is significantly inferior to iOS 4 when it comes to corporate email capabilities. That's mostly because Android OS 2.2 supports just a limited set of Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) policies, so most corporate Exchange environments are unlikely to permit access. The biggest omission is support for on-device encryption, which is a basic EAS requirement. You can tell Exchange to ignore such policy misses, but that lets any noncompliant device onto the Exchange server -- not a viable option for most enterprises. Although iOS 4's EAS support is nowhere near as extensive as what BlackBerry and Windows Mobile offer, it remains the most compliant of any new-gen mobile OS.
Also, Android doesn't let you automatically sync Exchange folders; you have to go to each folder and manually update them. By contrast, iOS 4 lets you designate which folders are automatically synced as part of the mail settings.
Another Android OS 2.2 omission: Exchange calendar syncing (though Motorola provides the Corporate Calendar app on its devices to add this capability). In contrast, iOS 4 syncs with Exchange calendars natively and lets you both initiate and respond to calendar invites from Exchange -- but you can't accept invites sent to IMAP, POP, or Gmail accounts. Android OS 2.2 also can't accept such invites if sent to IMAP, POP, or Gmail accounts.
iOS 4 also integrates Exchange contacts into its Mail app, so it looks at your Exchange contacts database as well as your local database when you enter a person's name in a To or Cc field. Similar to iOS 4, Android integrates Exchange contacts into the local Mail app, assuming you can connect to Exchange. Neither operating system automatically puts Exchange contacts into their Contacts app; you have to add them manually from within an email. This is not a bad thing; it means that departing employees don't have your entire company contacts database on their mobile device, and it keeps the Contacts app from being filled with contacts a user probably doesn't need.
Both mobile operating systems support multiple Exchange accounts (this is new to iOS 4).