The old cliché about comparing apples to oranges has a high-tech version that cautions against comparing Apple products to, well, anything. Apple’s build quality, style and innovation set the firm’s products apart, but software is key, too. On its Mac Pro and other computers, the hardware works seamlessly with OS X Lion (10.7). For the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, Apple’s iOS – version 5 of which debuts October 12th – offers the same quality user experience.
Google presents the biggest challenge to Apple in the smart phone and tablet sectors, courtesy of its Android OS. Despite the obvious similarity of many Android and iOS apps, features and capabilities, people choose one over the other for a variety of reasons. There is no objective way to determine which OS is “the best,” but this intro to Android may spur you to investigate more fully which is best for you.
You’re not going to rent laptops from CRE and find Android on them, but you will find it on the majority of smart phones that are not Apples or Blackberries. After some early bumps in the road, things settled down with version 2.0, nicknamed Gingerbread. Google has polished this version three times (it’s presently at 2.3), improving the soft keyboard, adding copy/paste, beefing up gaming performance and including support for VoIP and Near Field Communication.
You won’t find Android running any PC desktop computer rental, either, although low-end, small-screen “netbooks” and tablets use versions as old as 1.6. The newest Android version for phones is 2.3, but Google was smart enough to see the future of multiple mobile devices. Version 3.0, Honeycomb, the first tablet-enabled release, supports larger screens, multicore processors and graphics acceleration. In February 2011, Motorola debuted its Xoom with Honeycomb 3.0 tablet, a failed competitor to the iPad rental.
Future of Android
Honeycomb versions 3.1 and 3.2 followed quickly in May and June – adding USB transfer, solving a problem with 7-inch-screens and allowing media files to load directly from SD cards – but the development path is a bit cloudy at present. Some Google partners are hinting that Honeycomb 3.3 is in the works, while Google keeps talking up its “hybrid” OS, Ice Cream Sandwich. This is the long-awaited “Android for all” that will power all sizes and types of devices, from tablet PC rentals to in-car entertainment systems.
Finally, the Android Market claims “200,000″ items, but Apple’s App Store has more (and better) products – for now, anyway. Google recently introduced its Google+ service, but has inexplicably let its “other OS,” Chrome, languish for over a year. It may be that some kind of consolidation of all these products is in order. We’ll keep tabs on that for you.