We take a look at the impending updates to two of the most popular mobile operating systems on the market
Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 has been generally well received by the public, but a series of gripes and minimal oversights have marred the platform’s initial effectiveness. Fear not though! Because Richmond’s finest are already putting the finishing touches to the grand solution to those woes: Windows Phone 7.5: Mango.
Just how effective the Mango update is will depend on quite a few factors. One such factor is where Google plans on taking Android in the coming weeks and months.
Google Android Ice Cream Sandwich
Ice Cream Sandwich promises to be something of a milestone release from the Android team, and users can expect to see a fusion of the best features taken from the current tablet (Honeycomb) and smartphone (Gingerbread) releases, making the next big update a thing of huge importance, both for the consumer and for Google itself.
Straight off the bat we’re promised that Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) will be a much more complete platform, which will be suitable for both smartphones and tablets, so you won’t have to worry about your tab-toting mates lording it over you with their jazzy UI’s and updated core applications any more.
Other new inclusions to the OS such as improved API’s for better cross-platform visuals and app development and a slick new user interface will be music to the ears of a lot of users, as will the inclusion of USB support, which is something we’re most excited about, as we can see future Android devices being used as gaming machines, plugged into large displays and tethered with USB peripherals.
Perhaps the most important thing about Ice Cream Sandwich though, is the direction Google has opted to take the software. No longer will you have to wait for your device manufacturer to pull their finger out and update your device to the latest version. You’ll be able to count on fast, stable updates coming straight from the mighty Google, direct to your device.
In fact the steps being taken by the software giant to arrest the fragmentation of the platform should be greeted with rapturous applause and the fact that all Android devices will be upgradeable to ICS is something that Google should take tremendous pride in.
Naturally you can’t expect your HTC Dream to start running the latest 3D eye-candy that’s on offer, but you can expect the device to benefit from the bug-fixes, tweaks and security improvements that updates always include.
Manufacturers are currently thrashing out the finer points of how custom UI’s will function when this new, open era begins (sometime around the end of 2011), but you can sleep easy knowing that the good folks at Google are pulling out all the stops to bring the cutting edge to every Android user.
Windows Phone 7.5 ‘Mango’
The next big update to Windows Phone 7, ‘Mango’ or 7.5, promises to make the operating system everything it should have been at launch. Microsoft has guaranteed that over 500 new features and functions will be included in the update (which will go out around September 2011) and we’re excited to see where the company plans on taking the software.
Among the new features present in the update users will find integration with Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as turn-by-turn navigation and a smart new unified ‘people hub’, which will display all of your communications with a user, such as Facebook messaging, Twitter mentions or texts in a single spot.
It’ll also tell you whether the contact is ‘online’ in any of the assorted applications, allowing you to save money and time by, say, Facebook messaging them rather than texting or e-mailing.
Another key feature of ‘Mango’ is multitasking, which will allow users to move freely between applications by simply holding the back key down. Apps will also fire up instantly, in the state you left them, allowing you to game, e-mail, browse the web etc. without having to worry about losing data.
At a glance it’s easy to see that a lot of hard work has gone into this update, and there’s still more to be done, but there are notable omissions too. Flash, for example, isn’t included in the Internet Explorer 9 update, and native integration for Skype is missing too, though we are hopeful that some big news is on the way in that regard.
Overall the updates to Windows Phone and Android will make a lot of people happy and there are myriad features that will make the two operating systems far better.
Ice Cream Sandwich ably shows that Google has been busying itself, consolidating its firm foundation and polishing its laurels. It’s the next step in the evolution of what’s shaping up to be the world’s favourite smartphone OS.
Whereas Microsoft’s ‘Mango’, while undeniably pleasing, is simply an update that brings the platform inline with Apple and Google’s operating systems. In this sense, it’s like Windows 7 compared to Windows Vista.
And, though improvements abound, we aren’t sure that it’s enough to break Android’s hold over the market, nor is it likely to sever Apple fan-boy’s from their shiny devices. Not yet, at least.
We’re positive that Windows Phone 7(.5) is here to stay, and with Microsoft’s countless years of experience we can expect to see the platform improve steadily.
What the Mango update seems to signal is that to Microsoft it isn’t about winning the battle, it’s about winning the war….
Hari Hara Sravan ( MGIT ECE 2nd year)
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