Comparing smartphone operating systems

CNET shows you just how competitive the OS battle has become. See how popular features compare among the latest operating system versions from each manufacturer.

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 4Google Android 2.2Palm WebOS 1.4Windows Phone 7
Consumer availabilityJune 21TBD; will vary by device and carrier NowFourth quarter of this year
MultitaskingYes, but iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 onlyYesYesYes, but limited. Third-party apps will not be allowed to run in the background.
NotificationsYes, but only one at a timeYes, with multiple notifications barYesYes
App foldersYesYesNoApps arranged in "Hubs"
TetheringYesYes, with built-in support for tethering and mobile hotspot feature
Yes, but dependent on carrierTBD*
VoIPYes, with third-party appsYes, with third-party appsYes, with third-party apps
TBD
GamingMany gaming apps available. Game Center feature adds new functionalityMany gaming apps availablePalm publicly released its PDK in March for game development. 3D games are already available.Xbox Live integration
Flash supportYou're kidding, right?YesYesYes, but not at launch
Number of titles in App StoreiTunes App Store: More than 225,000Android Market: More than 30,000Palm App Catalog; More than 2,400Windows Phone Marketplace; hasn't launched yet
Voice commandsYesYesNoTBD
Mass storageNoYesYesTBD
Universal searchYesYesYesYes
Music storeiTunes Music StoreAmazon MP3 StoreAmazon MP3 StoreZune
Web browserSafariAndroidWebKitInternet Explorer
Copy-pasteYesYesYesNo
Pinch and zoom multitouchYesYesYesYes
Video callingYes, but iPhone 4 onlyYes, but on limited phonesNoNot 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

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