Apple's announcement of iOS 4 and the iPhone 4 in just the last three months shows that the smartphone wars aren't cooling yet. Just consider everything that has happened in the space of the last year. Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 is a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Windows Mobile OS, and Google continues to aggressively roll out updates to Android. Palm hasn't been quite as active in the news recently, but we're not discounting its WebOS quite yet.
The following chart compares popular features from the smartphone operating system that have been most active this year. Note that we left RIM off because the manufacturer has not issued major updates in the past 12 months. A quick look at the chart demonstrates just how competitive the OS battle has become. As each company fires a shot, you can expect its competitors to respond in force. And that's something we love to watch.
|Apple iOS 4||Google Android 2.2||Palm WebOS 1.4||Windows Phone 7|
|Consumer availability||June 21||TBD; will vary by device and carrier||Now||Fourth quarter of this year|
|Multitasking||Yes, but iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 only||Yes||Yes||Yes, but limited. Third-party apps will not be allowed to run in the background.|
|Notifications||Yes, but only one at a time||Yes, with multiple notifications bar||Yes||Yes|
|App folders||Yes||Yes||No||Apps arranged in "Hubs"|
|Tethering||Yes||Yes, with built-in support for tethering and mobile hotspot feature
||Yes, but dependent on carrier||TBD*|
|VoIP||Yes, with third-party apps||Yes, with third-party apps||Yes, with third-party apps
|Gaming||Many gaming apps available. Game Center feature adds new functionality||Many gaming apps available||Palm publicly released its PDK in March for game development. 3D games are already available.||Xbox Live integration|
|Flash support||You're kidding, right?||Yes||Yes||Yes, but not at launch|
|Number of titles in App Store||iTunes App Store: More than 225,000||Android Market: More than 30,000||Palm App Catalog; More than 2,400||Windows Phone Marketplace; hasn't launched yet|
|Music store||iTunes Music Store||Amazon MP3 Store||Amazon MP3 Store||Zune|
|Web browser||Safari||Android||WebKit||Internet Explorer|
|Pinch and zoom multitouch||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Video calling||Yes, but iPhone 4 only||Yes, but on limited phones||No||Not yet|
* Microsoft has yet to fully detail the features for
Windows Phone 7.
Editors' note, Monday, April 12, 2010: This chart was updated to show that Palm WebOS 1.4 supports third-party VoIP applications. This chart was further updated on June 14, 2010, to reflect the changes from iPhone 4 and Android 2.2