Head to Head: iOS 6 vs Windows Phone 8
A Head to Head Comparison Of iOS 6 vs Windows Phone 8
We are at an interesting point in our yearly mobile phone development cycle. There is a plethora of choices available if you are going to walk out into the world tomorrow and buy a shiny new phone. However, we’ve reached the point where we know what each software provider is going to provide in its next big iteration. For Google, that means you need to either buy a Galaxy Nexus or wait for the next batch of top-tier phones (or the next nexus device if you’re like me) to get Android 4.1 Jellybean. It’s quite a different story for Apple and Microsoft though. They have both had their time on the stage to show off their latest OS updates, but neither have released a device with the OS updates included. This means you have no way of knowing exactly what the form factor will be, which severely limits your understanding of how the OS will be useful for you on a daily basis. In reality, I think Apple’s next device will be the same 3.5 inch display as always and roughly the same form factor and material feel, but that’s just my take on it. Microsoft will likely offer a wide array of form factors between different carriers as they usually do, so that’s something to lean on. Hold on tight, this is iOS 6 vs Windows Phone 8.
Both of these mobile operating systems are going to look very similar to their younger siblings. In iOS 6 the layout of the home screen will be identical to what you are used to seeing with the iPhone (now there’s a shocker). Apple’s got a tried and true layout and they’re not going to be tampering with it at this point. You’re going to be stuck with pages of applications that are not very customizable, other than the ability to make folders by dragging and dropping them on top of one another. For iOS 6, that’s pretty much the end of customizability for the home screen layout. However, that’s not to say that it’s worthless entirely, as for most people it works like a charm. You know where your apps are after a little tinkering and you can get things done in a nice quick fashion.
Windows Phone is a whole separate beast from iOS. However, Windows Phone 8 in particular isn’t changing too much from the previous Mango-licious version. You still have your basic tiles that fill your home screen. As always, they can display a little bit of information, making them “live tiles”. It may sound simple, but it’s functionality is perfect. It allows you to see notifications, weather forecasts, calendar info and much more without having to open an application at all. Here lies the beauty and simplicity of Windows Phone, and that is exactly what Microsoft intended it to be, simple and efficient. With the upcoming Windows Phone 8, they have changed up the home screen layout a bit, so that you can change the size of the tiles individually. There are 3 different sizes, so you can utilize small, medium, or large (tall, grande, and venti if you prefer) tiles to customize the look of your home screen to reflect your preferences a little more than before. Don’t get me wrong, Apple’s layout of app icons is fine and dandy, but in Windows Phone 8 it’s just so useful and delightfully simple.
One of the main things you want to know before buying a phone is what kind of apps you are going to be using. For these 2 software giants the built-in or pre-installed apps are very polished and well made. For me, Apple brings in a little more polish and flare, while Microsoft takes a huge step in fluidity. On Windows Phone everything feels smooth like butter, but many of the apps can look alike due to the “metro” styling that most applications use. When it comes to 3rd party apps, it’s a whole different story as Apple has over 650,000 for the iPhone while Windows Phone is stuck at around 100,000 total. For the moment, there are much bigger names in app development that develop for iOS, as it took several years for Angry Birds to show up on the Windows Phone Marketplace. While this is definitely not going to be an issue in the long run, for the moment Apple has more support behind its application ecosystem.
Social Networking Integration
Something that’s come to be just as important as app selection in smartphones is how well the device integrates your social networking accounts into the OS itself. Both iOS 6 and Windows Phone 8 do an excellent job in this area. With iOS 6 you can easily upload pictures from the Photos app straight to Facebook or Twitter, as well as sharing links and activities throughout the native iOS applications. You can also use the handy “Tap to Post” button in the notification shade to quickly tap out an update in a jiffy. The updated iOS allows you to sync contacts and birthdays with Facebook as well. Windows Phone is a similar story, but a bit backwards. Microsoft originally had Facebook integration built-in to the initial release of the OS, and eventually added support for Twitter integration later on. So for social networking we give a heavy nod to both companies for keeping up with today’s high maintenance Facebookers and Tweeters (my nerdified self included of course).
Apple busted through the gates last year with Siri in iOS 5. While I currently find her to be quite impressive, she’s still in “beta” for now, according Apple at least. In iOS 6, they’re ripping that label clear off their Voice-Assistant. Siri will be able to make you reservations for dinner, check local movie listings, get sports scores, among plenty of other improvements. If you want a more detailed description of those features, they are laid out a bit more in our iOS 6 Preview. Anywho, Siri is spreading her wings and looking to take down anyone in her path. Microsoft hasn’t spent any great amount of time competing and it shows; you will be doing much less here with your voice on Windows Phone 8, mostly speech-to-text dictation, making calls and searching the web. Clearly, Apple has the upper hand in Voice Control.
With Windows Phone 8, Microsoft is throwing out Bing Maps and including Nokia’s mapping solutions instead. This is a vast improvement over current Windows devices that includes flyover 3D maps, turn-by-turn navigation, point of interest locations, and public transit maps. Apple is doing just the same thing, essentially trashing their current Google-based (heh) Maps and ringing in iOS 6 with a whole new set powered (but not branded) by TomTom. These new Maps will include the same bonuses coming with Windows Phone 8, although it will lack public transit maps which may be a deal breaker for you city slickers out there. Microsoft gets a tiny tiny (I mean seriously itty-bitty) edge here.
Whether you like it or not, Microsoft is really catching up to the market standards with Windows Phone 8. With enhanced mapping functionality, a beautiful home screen layout, and a growing bunch of great applications, they’re really not playing games anymore. Meanwhile Apple continues to ride its wave of success by adding to what already works wonderfully. Siri improvements, better social networking abilities, and a whole new Maps system is looking to boost them into the next generation of handset owners with ease. What will you choose? Let us know in the comments!