iPhone 4: Will It Thwart the Droid's Rise?

If multitasking won't do it, what will?

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Apple needed to act quickly. The iPhone was falling behind Android phones in terms of software and features and customers were beginning to notice. Even worse, Android phones were flying off the shelves—more than doubling in market share since October. So Apple unveiled plans for the iPhone OS 4, a software update offering multitasking, improved email integration and folder organization for apps. Will this thwart the Android's meteoric rise?

  • Possibly, Apple Has Raised the Bar, writes Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Fortune: "The range and scope of the improvements were impressive." He lists a number of updates, including iBooks. "This app brings to the iPhone and iPod touch the iBookstore introduced on the iPad. Included for free is a copy of Winnie the Pooh, a book with color illustrations that shows off to best advantage what Apple can do that Amazon's Kindle can't."
  • Not an Android Killer, writes JR Raphael at PC World: "Let's face it: Multitasking, the flagship feature of the new iPhone OS, is a key component of the Android experience. While Jobs may claim the iPhone OS 4.0's multitasking interface is the 'best,' it'd be surprising if its existence made much of a dent in Android's momentum -- especially when you consider that Apple will allow multitasking only in carefully defined and limited circumstances. This may be done in the name of improving the user experience, but it still accomplishes that by restricting what the user can do -- something Android goes to great lengths to avoid."
  • Local Notifications Are Key Upgrade, writes John Herrman at Gizmodo: "Notifications can be sent between apps on the phone, not just from remote servers. In other words, if something important happens in an app you've opened and moved away from, a notification will pop up in whatever app you're using at the time, effectively saying 'switch back to me!' It's a fairly clever way to keep track of multiple apps without the need for a start bar or dock-type interface."
  • Email Changes  Brad McCarty, an Android owner who writes for The Next Web, writes: "I have to give Apple some credit here. The unified inbox feature sounds very nice. It’s something that’s been a thorn in my side with Android’s base features. Likewise, simple methods for encryption would be great."
  • App Folders  Ginny Mies at PC World writes: "I was very pleased, however for folder support in Apple's new phone OS: You can organize your apps into folders by category by dragging and dropping them into each other. The iPhone will automatically assign a category name for them."
  • A Gaming Center Kevin Tofel at Gigaom writes: "Now that there are 50,000 game titles for the iPhone platform, Apple is going to leverage them for a social gaming experience. Think Microsoft Xbox Live with achievements, multiplayer matchmaking and real-time leader boards. This feature was described as a 'preview' in OS 4 that will be fully available later this year, although Apple wasn’t more specific on the time frame."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.