Apple’s iOS 5 is finally here, and there’s 200 new features coming along for the ride. As is usual, Apple didn’t hold back as they unveiled their brand new version to the wildly popular iOS mobile platform. And as usual, the new features brought to the table improvements that customers have been eagerly anticipating, if not out-right demanding for months now; or in the case of the notification system, years. However, after Apple unveiled iOS’ new Notification Center, people’s eyebrows immediately shot up, and the talk about the similarities between iOS 5 and Android began to fire across the Internet.
And rightfully so. If you’ve seen Android, and by now you probably have in some capacity or another, then you know that Android’s notification system is utilized by accessing the "shade." After you unlock the device, you’ll see notification icons at the top of the display, telling you that you’ve got a text message, email, or whatever else can send you push notifications. You access those notifications by sliding your finger from the top of the screen towards the bottom, and a "shade" is presented with the notifications fleshed out. This notification shade is probably one of the most notable features of Android, and one that Android users have been proud of since the launch of the mobile OS.
Apple apparently liked it as well. The Cupertino-based company’s new Notification Center uses the same exact method of displaying your notifications for you, minus the notification icons at the top of the display. Instead, you’ll still have the red badges over the corresponding applications, telling you how many text messages you have, or emails, or whatever else that can notify you. But the use of the shade and the glaring fact that it’s exactly the same method that Android uses is unavoidable.
And it makes me wonder if there’s an argument for using Android any longer. Yes, Android still has outstanding features that many other platforms do not have, but some may say that the majority of features can be found on other platforms, and even within iOS. Multitasking is still a debate, as many people would love to say that Apple’s "multitasking" feature isn’t really multitasking at all, especially not when compared to mobile platforms like Android, HP’s webOS or even Research In Motion’s BlackBerry OS. But Apple calls it multitasking (and incidentally, so does Microsoft), so for the sake of argument we’ll leave it at that.
With the lack of a chasm formed by multitasking support on one platform and not another, and now the incorporation of the "shade" in iOS 5 and fleshed out notifications within that shade, does Android have an argument anymore? I think at this point, the software between both mobile platforms has come to a head, and it will take some real innovation to separate the two. So it seems to me that it has come down to the hardware to sell the mobile platform, and this is where Android may still have the lead. Yes, Apple’s hardware is attractive to the eye, and there are plenty of good things happening under the hood, but there’s no denying that some of the Android-powered handsets coming out, or that are already out now, really put the Apple hardware to pasture. And it doesn’t make it any easier for Apple, since they didn’t until the iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 at WWDC.
So if there’s still an argument for Android on the software side of things, let me know what you think it is in the comments below. Or do you think the hardware is what keeps Android ahead of the pack at this point? Or will Apple’s additions to iOS 5 go by unseen?