Which mobile platform is right for you? Here's what each of the major three - Android, iOS and Windows 10 - look like in 2015, and what each one has to offer...
It’s a great time to be in the market for a new smartphone – with sales in full swing there are offers galore, enticing you to buy mobile presents for yourself or your loved ones. But which one should you pick?
The operating system is arguably the biggest influence on your mobile experience and each of the big ones – iOS, Android and Windows – has had an overhaul in 2015. We asked some of our Community Champions to walk us through their views on them to help you to narrow down your decision.
So here are JeffKinn, TheSoupDragon and Nabs to steer you through what’s on offer and what’s hot in the world of mobile software. …
Apple iOS 9 | Jeffkinn
“iOS 9 for iPhones and iPads was released in September along with the new breed of iPhones – the 6S range. But since the original launch of iOS 9, a couple of updates have seen the version number tick up to iOS 9.2.
“Operating Systems (OS) that have been around as long as iOS and Android rarely have fundamental changes to them year on year. Upgrades are incremental in nature, with a lot of the technology geared towards backstage processor and battery enhancements. So with iOS 9 there are some subtle changes to fonts and icons and more obvious additions such as ‘live’ photos and 3D touch.
“Having used both iOS and Android extensively, my viewpoint is that there isn’t a lot to choose between them these days in terms of functionality and availability of apps. That said, however, iOS suits my needs at the moment, and it’s likely I’ll stick with Apple products for a while, though I certainly wouldn’t rule out a return to the Android fold if I thought that an Android smartphone could better fulfil my needs than an iPhone.
With iOS, the features I most like are iMessage, which works really well now that it’s well beyond the teething stage – I’ll always use that in preference to Whatsapp if I know there is an iPhone at the other end of the message. I also like the way the iPhone can interface with my Macs using handoff, so I can make and receive calls on the Mac and send and receive all messages (both iMessage and normal text messages) from either device. There are ways of doing this with Android phones and PCs of course, but with Apple products it’s all baked into both iOS and OS X.
“I’ve also become a fan of Apple Music, and I have a family subscription so we can all enjoy it. Apple Pay is another big selling point for me, and I’ve used it a great deal since it became available in the UK. Google will catch up in the end of course, but Apple Pay is here right now and, like most Apple products and services, it just works.
With iOS 9 and my 6S I can also use 3D Touch, which means that a harder, longer press on the screen can bring up a submenu of options with compatible apps, such as ‘Take Photo’ or ‘Write Post’. This feature is in its infancy, but I can see this getting much more prevalent and useful over the next couple of years.
“iOS9 and the 6S range also introduced ‘live’ photos. A live photo is essentially a 2 or 3 second video. You can view it as a normal photo, but applying pressure to the screen shows you what happened a second or so before the photo was taken and a second or so afterwards. These are perhaps a little gimmicky, but I like them and they’re fun. Besides all that, the camera and photo apps have come on a long way since I first used an iOS device.
“Lastly, with iOS 9.1 Apple also introduced its Apple News App to the UK, and that could prove to be very useful. There are lots of other features of course, and I’m very much enjoy using my iPhone 6S Plus.”
Microsoft Windows 10 for phones | TheSoupDragon
“A few years ago a company called Canonical (makers of Ubuntu) announced an idea: convergence – one operating system across all your devices, with total app and system compatibility.
“Canonical’s dream may have hit some stumbling blocks along the way, so…enter the big boys! in the interim, Microsoft has been playing with this convergence idea too, and with all its resources have managed to accomplish just that.
“‘Continuum’ has been Microsoft’s goal for the last few years now. The first Windows Phones gave us a glimpse of the future with the tiled Home screen, and Windows 8 for Desktop took the step into everyone’s home for the first time, but here we are now with Windows 10.
“Windows 10 is Microsoft’s last big operating system release, because from here on in updates will be incremental, and Windows 10 will run on all devices – from your phone, to your Surface tablet to your traditional desktop. Its got compatibility and convergence across all devices.
“The release of two new Phones from Microsoft, the Lumia 950 and 950XL brings this dream to reality, with mobile devices capable of connecting to a monitor (via adapter) and running in full desktop mode with multitasking ability. Exciting stuff.
“Windows 10is available on the Lumia 950 now and if your current Windows Phone is running Windows 8.1 then there is a very good chance it will receive the Windows 10 upgrade, which will be free for 12 months – much the same as the desktop offer.
“I am a huge Android fan… But there is something about Windows mobile that keeps pulling me back. I’m currently using the Lumia 930 running Windows 8.1 “Denim”. The Camera in the Lumia 930 is one of the best I’ve ever used in a Smartphone, for one thing. It’s like having a DSLR in your pocket!
Google Android | Nabs
“2015 has been a mixed year for the mobile OS world. All three major OS’s have taken steps forward, but each in their own way. Unsurprisingly for both iOS and Android – the most mature systems – the improvements have been relatively minor, more focussed on performance and with some usability tweaks thrown in as well.
“Google has taken aim primarily at battery drain this time around. The company has introduced two new features to Android – Doze and App Standby – which are both designed to reduce power consumption and increase battery life, in some cases by up to 100%.
“The Doze feature works by putting an inactive device into a deep sleep mode when no movement or user activity is detected for a prolonged period of time – the prime example being when you’re asleep, or when the phone is on a desk. Without delving into too much technical detail, the system essentially shuts down everything running on the phone bar a few essentials. It will disconnect from networks, turn Wi-Fi off and limit the processor performance available to applications.
“But to make sure you don’t miss anything, Android will periodically wake to allow apps to connect and update themselves. Important things like alarms will still go off, however, so the overall effect is that it’ll be a little less important to plug your phone in before you go to bed – you can fall asleep knowing that you’ll still be woken up in the morning.
“App Standby, as the name would suggest, is the system’s way of placing an application into a new standby state if it’s been idle for a while. This new state means the app is essentially completely closed, but there are a few exceptions. If the app has an active notification, for instance, or if it’s being used by another app (like when you open the camera app from Facebook), or if you’ve registered to receive high priority messages from Google’s Cloud Messaging service (Google Hangouts would be a prime example of this), then those apps will still function as usual.
“The result? On my updated Nexus 5 I have certainly seen an increase in battery – of multiple hours. I’m now only having to charge every couple of days instead of every night, so the features certainly seems to be working!
“Some other, maybe less exciting but equally as important features focus around security. The big hitter is the built in support for fingerprint readers. This will tie in nicely with Android Pay, which should become be prevalent in the UK the next year or so. There are also changes to the way applications request permissions to the system now. Rather than requesting everything at install time, the user will be prompted to allow or deny a permission when an app now tries to use that specific resource. This should lead to apps being considerably more secure, though people will still need to be vigilant when deciding what permissions to grant.
“Encryption will now be default on all Android devices, meaning your file system will be much more secure against attacks or malicious apps. This does require a little more processor power though, so it’s not likely to appear on lower end handsets anytime soon.”
All clued up? Has all that made your decision easier? You can check out our entire range of Winter Sale offers right here.