Features iOS 7 Could Borrow From Android 4.2 And Windows Phone 8

Over the past couple of years, there has been a consensus amongst even the most ardent Apple fans that iOS hasn’t changed as much as Android. That is, of course, for a good reason – Apple got the iPhone UI right from day one, while Google had to iterate over and over, until it hired Matias Duarte from Palm and introduced the “Holo” design language.

Along with improvements in Android’s design language, Google also came up with a number of features like expandable notifications, and most recently, multiple user accounts and lock screen widgets, which we’ve been looking forward to have in iOS since a long time.

Even recently launched Windows Phone 8 introduces a number of new features that would be nice to have on iOS. The dynamic live tiles have been a subject of envy for iOS users since the day Windows Phone first launched, and recent additions like Kids Corner only make us want Apple to borrow these features from the OS right away.

Let’s take a deeper look into the aspects where iOS falls short, when compared to rival platforms, and what Apple can do to address this.

Static Home Screen

The 2D grid of roundrect icons has been, literally, a trademark iOS feature since its inception, with Apple suing Samsung and other Android manufacturers for copying that look. The interface was well-thought and executed when the iPhone launched in ’07 with its measly 412MHz CPU and 128MB RAM.

iphone-iphone-5-homescreen

Five years down the line, the iPhone comes with a dual core CPU running at frequencies of nearly 1.4GHz, 8 times more RAM, and yet the home screen largely remains a collection of static roundrect icons with no way of accessing information right from the home screen.

widgets on android and live tiles on windows phone

(Image via SAI, Android Tapp)

Widgets on Android and Live Tiles on Windows Phone do a pretty good job at presenting easy to consume information right from the home screen, and updates to both these platforms make this task even more easier. Android now allows users to add widgets, not just on their home screens but even on the lock screen.

Windows Phone 8 adds a similar feature, which lets “live apps” add photos, notifications and content to your lock screen.

Besides this, Android has had SBSettings like toggles to quickly enable or disable frequently used settings like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, unlike stock iOS, which required a deep, time-consuming dive into the Settings app.

We already know that iOS has private APIs that power the Stocks and Weather widgets in Notification Center, and we can only hope that Apple decides to open it up to developers in iOS 7.

Multiple Users

We’ve all, at least once, experienced the annoyance when a someone asks for your iPhone for a simple task like making a phone call or opening a website, and scans through your messages, emails or photos. While a phone is largely meant for a single person, a lot of people do get access to it, making us want a “Guest account” of sorts, which hides away all personal data and exposes only the most basic apps. This is even more attractive on an iPad, which is generally shared between several members of a family.

windows-phone-8-kids-corner

(Image via CNET)

Both these devices also get used by kids a lot for playing the wide array of games available on the App Store. Parental restrictions have been a part of iOS since long, but the controls have been designed keeping parents in mind rather than kids. Windows Phone 8 tries to solve this problem with “Kids Corner,” which is essentially a home screen for kids with apps that you want your child to have access to.

Here’s a look at Windows Phone 8:

android-4-2-multiple-user

Google added multiple user support to Android 4.2, addressing not only the issue of privacy, but also the usage pattern of tablets, which closely resembles PCs. Here’s The Verge’s description of the feature:

Android 4.2 also add multiple user support on tablets for easier sharing — each user gets their own apps and data. It’s cleverly done: if one user has already downloaded an app, the other users don’t have to redownload anything to install it. Google showed us Bad Piggies running on one user account with saved levels and scores; when the other user installed the app, it appeared instantly in a completely fresh state. Apps are backgrounded when you switch away from an account — they can complete certain tasks like downloads but are otherwise mostly shut down.

Google’s newest Android release also adds Swype like gesture typing as an input method, letting you slide your finger over the keyboard and predicting what you’re trying to type. While the closed nature of iOS certainly has its benefits, iPhone and iPad users have been missing out on innovative ways of input like this.

Here’s The Verge’s walkthrough of all the new features in Android 4.2, along with a look at the newly released Nexus phone and tablet:

With all the talk that has been going around after Scott Forstall’s departure from Apple, we’re really hoping for some major changes to the iOS UI, with features that get iOS on par with competing platforms in departments that it is currently lagging behind. We’re also excited at the prospect of Jony Ive leading the iOS Human Interface design.

What other areas do you think rival platforms outperform iOS?

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  • SteveBloJobs

    Nobody cares. Note 2 FTW! :p

  • Richard Fleites

    Yes Android took a while to get it right as the author mentions, but its worth noting that they keep innovating and iOS has not. It looks stagnant at this point. This is amplified now that Windows Phone 8 brings a new & fresh experience to mobile. Make no mistake, this is why Samsung has been able to outsell Apple in the smartphone market.

  • Necter B

    That’s the reason iPhone is jb. I won’t trade my iPhone for any other, not even for a regular iPhone.

  • ant

    been using both iOS and Android since their inception, and I’ve always preferred android over iOS for those reasons. That said, there’s some stability things I love about iOS but Android and WP7/8 have so many more features that make them much more attractive than iOS.

  • grim reefa

    Right so when Samsung/Google do it, its “stealing” but when iOS does it, its “borrowing” sounds just about right from a Apple fanboy.

    I love both iOS and Android devices but iOS is extremely outdated as far as home-screen goes and I simply cannot comprehend why they cant even manage to animate simple icons like the clock, even little things like that would be a start instead of just rows of static icons.

    • http://trishussey.com Tris Hussey

      Maybe inspired by? The whole aspect of windows, icons, folders, etc…the modern desktop UI came from XEROX PARC. Neither Apple nor Microsoft invented them…they copied them (Apple had permission).

      • grim reefa

        Thats besides the point but I get what you’re was saying. My point is that when another company creates (better) features that were inspired by an Apple (that Apple was inspired from somebody else) Apple fanboys and Apple jump up and down crying saying “they stole this” and “they stole that” but when its other way round (since Apple is in catchup mode) you see people saying things like this title, ie that what Apple can “borrow” instead of “steal” they cant have it both ways.

        Hopefully these ridiculous US patents will stop been granted and current ones rescinded to stop stifling competition, innovation and improvements.

  • http://trishussey.com Tris Hussey

    Let’s all hope that with the changes at Apple we’ll see a push for innovation. (crosses fingers)

  • iamastonished

    iPhone 4 user here weighing in to agree; it’s time for Apple to give us more functionality. I’m still on the 4 model since the iPhone 5, while faster, is still the same experience with the same limitations. We have a dual profile PC at home and I would love to have that capability on a tablet as describe in the article.

    My biggest Android hurdle is the well-documented privacy and data security issues. Will take a look at Win phones when it’s time to upgrade.

    • iPhone 4

      To be honest, the security issues with Android are the same as Windows PCs. If you know what you are doing then you will be fine. And that is not to say you should be tech savvy but just use common sense. There are false advertising apps in the App store that are continually in the top 25. Still don’t understand how they keep popping up with Apple’s approval system (which goes to show their method is not perfect) but if people just read the description or comments then they would have not been ripped off.

  • http://trishussey.com Tris Hussey

    Just an interesting note here…Microsoft is being sued for some of their UI elements: http://www.theverge.com/2012/10/31/3580728/microsoft-sued-for-infringing-patent-on-live-tiles

    • grim reefa

      meh, they so called “patent owner” doesn’t sell anything or use the tiles in anything so they are basically just trolling to try and license it. M$ will either license it or simply flat out fight it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/christian.mercado.56211 Christian Mercado

    iphonehacks, we should start a some type of voting system or some type of petition of features or ideas that most people agree on to submit to apple i my self have emailed tim cook several times trying to enlighten him on what us users want in ios and how little by little they are loosing us even tho its not showing in numbers yet, people are getting fed up and tierd of apple may b if we have alot of signatures they will listen one of my ideas to him was to create a jailbreak like feature with app pirating blocked and let us add the tweaks/ features that we want and cydia can be the tweak store this would be a win win another thing i would love to have is widgets and interactive wallpaper like in android

    • http://www.facebook.com/christian.mercado.56211 Christian Mercado

      the jailbreak like feature would be an on and off toggle that way people who dont care and like the simplicity can leave as is and for people like us, we can have it on but yea i believe thT if they continue the way they are they will get left behind the only reason i dont switch yet is because thier are still some things the android doesent do as good as apple but that can change real soon and that will be the day apple looses i would hate to see that happen

  • Hmmm?

    That is an amazing campus. Would love to work there. Their Nexus line up is quite compelling. Will have to play around with them when the arrive in store.

  • New

    The only way apple will innovate again is if they are not top dog, the mighty will fall.

    It took apple years to go from designer products to run of the mill products that are what we have already and making them over and over again.

    Stop buying apple and they will soon make bolder steps to help their case.

    With android they really screwed up when they made the is work for 30 handsets with different CPU and ram causing some phones not to be compatible with one another. Great example is sky go in the uk won’t work on tablets as it only for handsets?