Thursday, June 13, 2013

New Directions: Apple iOS 7 and Google's Key Lime Pie

Apple has recently unveiled it iOS 7 operating system at WWDC.  iOS 7's design borrows a lot from other operating systems. The new \look of iOS 7, a move away from Steve Job's skeuomorphic design, looks like it was inspired by Microsoft's Windows Phone 8.  PCMag's Sacha Segan wrote: "The flatness, the focus on large fonts and sliding panels, even the fonts themselves; you see a lot of Windows Phone 8's much cleaner, more "modern" approach." Even the lock screen looks like Windows Phone. 

And it does not stop there.  Quick settings, automatic update of apps and live wallpaper? Android has had these features for some time. Today sounds like Google Now. Tab browsing on Safari now looks like Chrome OS. The weather app and multitasking menu look a lot like HTC Sense apps. The new more colorful or playful icons, remind me of Samsung's TouchWiz. Car integration was started by BlackBerry. It is really hard to find anything new in iOS7, except that it is new to Apple. 

But that does not really matter. When I first tried BlackBerry 10, I felt the same way, that it had taken the best of what other operating systems offered, and put it together in a really nice package. In the end, iOS 7 is more competent operating system, and ultimately, all operating systems will have the same feature sets.

Sadly, iOS 7 continues the trend started with iOS6 to leave older devices behind. While Apple will update devices as old as the iPhone 4 and iPad 2, to iOS 7, only the iPhone 5, iPod 5G and iPad 4 get all the new features. I really do not see any reason why the iPad 3, which is just over a year old wont be getting Air Drop or Camera filters. The iPhone 4S, does not get these updates too. The newer iPad mini is not getting camera filters.  

Key Lime Pie, the next Android OS release which we expect to see with the Nexus 5 in October, appears to be going a different direction. TheDroidGuy reports that while packing new features "the biggest new features from Key Lime Pie in the report is optimisation. The new Android update will run on almost all devices fast and smooth, including even the budget 1.0GHz single-core, 512MB of RAM Android smartphones."

This is an interesting piece of information. On the one hand it looked looked like single core devices with 512 MB of RAM were soon to become history. If this is true, we may see even cheaper Android smartphones last year running Google's latest and greatest. Smartphones running JellyBean have broken the US$100 barrier. If Key Lime Pie can run well on older hardware, the US$75 barrier could be breached early next year. 

So while Apple iOS does a good job of playing catchup, it looks like Google Key Lime Pie intends to inflict the death blow on feature phones.

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