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 2.2 let you control your location privacy. However, Android only lets you control whether your location is detected by disabling or enabling the GPS and Wi-Fi location services, while iOS 4 lets you control this per application. Android apps can ask if it's OK to use your location, but there's no central way to manage these location permissions as there is in iOS 4.
I do prefer iOS 4's implementation of Google Maps better than Android's because Android's Maps app is much slower than iOS 4's, though they run on comparable hardware. It's also more work in Android to switch views, such as from map to satellite, due to the use of nested menus.
The winner: A tie.
Deathmatch: User interface
It's often a throw-away comment that Apple's UIs are better than everyone else's, and it's not always true (as the MobileMe service attests). But in mobile, iOS 4 is in fact a better designed UI, one that makes accessing capabilities and information easier and faster.
Operational UI. I've noted earlier how Android OS 2.2 makes you click the Menu button and go through one or more levels of options to access most capabilities in its apps. This really slows operations, even though it is consistently implemented. Apple is smarter about bringing common capabilities to the top level of iOS apps' UIs, so they are accessible through a quick tap -- yet they don't clutter up the screen.
Another example of Google's poor UI choices: Devices have a Search button, but it's not always functional. If you press it when, say, reading an email, it does nothing. However, if you press it when viewing a contact, it does let you search your address book. It's not clear why the Search button is available in some contexts and not others, especially for apps like Email that have a search capability. Fortunately, the Home button always works.
Finally, Android's Settings app can be confusing to use (and the white-on-black text makes it nearly impossible to use in bright daylight). For example, there are two Wi-Fi options: Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Settings. Tapping Wi-Fi turns off Wi-Fi -- not what I expected. To find a Wi-Fi network, you tap Wi-Fi Settings. After a while I learned the difference, but it was an unnecessary exercise. On the other hand, iOS doesn't let you confuse turning Wi-Fi on or off with selecting a network, thanks to a single location with clearly designated controls.
The good news is that pinching and zooming, as well as autorotation as you turn the device, works equivalently on Android OS 2.2 and iOS 4.
HTC's Sense UI overlay makes Android behave more like iOS, so people who appreciate the elegance of the Mac OS or iOS should look to HTC's devices if they decide to go Android. For example, HTC's virtual keyboards are less error-prone than the standard Android OS because HTC has adjusted the sensitivity to tapping to account for the parallax factor -- the optical illusion caused by the layer of glass between your finger and the LCD. iOS does that as well.