You already know what you get in iPhone 2.0, you’ve heard about what you get in iPhone 3.0. Let’s see how those features stack up against Android’s current release and its upcoming update (called “Cupcake”) feature by feature. (Click for a larger version.)
There’s a whole lot of green in the iPhone 3.0 column of that chart above, and some red and yellow in the Android side. That’s mostly because we’re comparing Android to the feature set Apple unveiled yesterday; it doesn’t mean that new smartphone buyers stuck between iPhone and Android should automatically wait for iPhone 3.0. It all depends on what you need.
The phone features that actually matter to you: While much has been made of cut/copy and paste coming to iPhone 3.0, many smartphone users say they haven’t run into many situations where they needed it. The feature that’s getting less press but may add more usefulness to iPhone 3.0 is search: with Spotlight, and within Mail, Contacts, and Calendar.
Personally, besides its Gmail client, the feature I love most about Android that the iPhone doesn’t come close to is Android’s pull-down “window shade” notification area, that lists multiple alerts. So if you’ve gotten an SMS, new email, a Twitter reply, a missed call, you can drag and drop the window shade down to see them all. (See screenshot.) The iPhone still pops up a box you have to dismiss to do anything else (include hang up a call!), which is simply an inferior way to handle alerts.
Background processes versus push notifications: While it’s wonderful in theory that Android runs background processes, Apple’s point about how it kills your battery life is absolutely true in my experience. It remains to be seen how well iPhone 3.0’s push notifications will work when they actually do come out (hence the yellow coloring in the table), but right now, the battery life point is not just a bunch of marketing hooha (which is why it got the yellow coloring in the table, too). Besides, Apple has promised and not delivered push notifications before, so we’ll believe this one when we see it.
iPhone 3.0’s application potential: The other big “remains to be seen” part of iPhone 3.0 is where developers will take the new functionality available to them in iPhone 3.0. Voice over IP, maps integration, peer-to-peer Bluetooth, media access, accessory-specific apps—these are really exciting options for application developers that will surely bloom into a million great apps and functionality that haven’t been born yet.
When you’re in control of the hardware: When two different pieces of software are competing, it’s pretty easy to for one to respond to another feature by feature, and we expect Android will offer similar features as iPhone 3.0 eventually. But when you’re in control of the hardware like Apple is, you can do things like enable accessory support—which means, for example, that diabetics can plug their glucose meter into the iPhone and download readings. Since Google’s Android is just the operating system that will run on various handsets with different hardware configurations, that sort of software-to-hardware control will not be as easy.
But given what we know now… As a former iPhone user who switched to Android, I can say: iPhone 3.0 hasn’t made me regret my decision. Yet. Right now, Android’s killer Gmail client, proper MMS support (available now), background processes (even though they kill the battery), window shade, and general Google product integration makes me a happy camper. In fact, on the chart above, the top five items are the features most important to me, and Android—right now, not later—hits on almost all of them.
That said, given the potential of iPhone 3.0, gamers, audiophiles, and others may disagree. What about you?
Let us know what you’re thinking about iPhone versus Android (and Windows Mobile, etc, for that matter), in the comments.
Gina Trapani, Lifehacker’s founding editor, adores healthy competition that leads to better software. Her feature Smarterware appears every week on Lifehacker.