By Jonathan Charles | Jun 28, 2012 11:12 AM EDT
Note: this article was originally scheduled for launch before Google's I/O conference, June 27.
Following on from the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Windows Phone 8 comparison, it seems logical to see how Samsung's much-sought smartphone compares to the rest of the competition. So how does Samsung, and its TouchWiz UI, compare to iOS?
Even before talking about the Samsung Galaxy S3 specifically, there's one big difference between the two mobile Oses: the respective app stores. iOS is a closed operating system, which in theory should lead to a greater quality of apps due to Apple's strict vetting process, but in turn means apps that Apple doesn't like - such as those that run closely with Apple's functionality, or those by competitors such as Google's Google Voice - may be declined.
Android is the polar opposite: users can submit many more apps, but the downside is that the quality is sometimes found lacking. However, with apps such as Flipboard coming over to Android, Google's design guidelines could be influencing iOS developers to bring high quality design to Android.
Jailbreaking and rooting are also available, but at that point it's arguably not fair to compare operating systems and phones because users install almost anything, regardless of the device. The comparison is between the stock OS experiences.
Again, before the Samsung Galaxy S3 is talked about, iOS and Android differ in the approaches towards user control. iOS is very simple: users can drag icons around individually, or collectively when grouped in a folder, and see the Weather widget when dragging the notification bar down from the top. That's basically everything, though users can change the wallpaper on the lock and/or home screen.
Android couldn't be more different because it brings all of the aforementioned iOS functionality, along with much more: widgets for any app/service can be placed on and moved around the screen, such as for YouTube or a Twitter feed; apps can be moved to anywhere on multiple screens, rather than inside a fixed grid layout; launchers can be installed to override the phone's, allowing more customization; the ability to put widgets on the lockscreen, via apps in Google Play, or download icon packs; and even the ability to change the font, despite Google loving the Roboto font introduced in Ice Cream Sandwich.
Ultimately, Android is the user's OS: it can be made to look as horrible or beautiful as possible. For those who are struggling on ideas, myColorscreen is basically Lookbook for smartphones: rather than outfits, users can share homescreens and label what was used. Skeptical? Here's an example.
A big question hanging over the Samsung Galaxy S3 is will the phone be at the forefront of Android later this year, and will future versions of Android arrive? It's difficult to answer the first part of the question because there's no word on whether Google will unveil another Nexus device, which will probably run Android Jelly Bean if unveiled and use the latest internals, but the second half is more answerable.
Samsung has been pretty late in the past when supporting future versions of Android, perhaps because it wants to maintain the experience created through TouchWiz or carriers have delayed updates. That's bad news for users getting the phone now and signing up to a two-year contract, while iOS users buying an iPhone 4/4S on a two-year contract are going to be getting iOS 6. Even users buying an iPhone 3GS will get limited functionality, something that probably can't be said of three year-old Android phones. The Galaxy S3 won't be outdated in 2012, but 2013 will bring new phones and new benchmarks.
There's also the question over what Apple is going to do with the iPhone 5, which could launch around the same time as iOS 6. The iPhone 4S was an iteration on the iPhone 4: the phone had, among other features, an improved processor and voice recognition technology Siri while maintaining the same design. Leaked images suggest Apple will redesign the back panel of the iPhone 5, perhaps to remedy the glass shattering issues, though it's not know what internals the phone will feature. The bigger question is arguably if Apple will show a redesigned iOS, which some users have called boring. The OS uses the same grid-based layout it debuted with on the iPhone, back in 2007.
Ultimately, choosing the Samsung Galaxy S3 or waiting for the next iPhone depends on what kind of operating system the user wants: iOS is closed, but more focused on the user experience, while Android lets the user control the experience. iOS is what users get; there aren't apps to install a custom launcher, or reskin an icon pack.
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