Apple steals notification system from Android, makes it much better?

True to form, Apple has pilfered the Android notification system and made it its own. But a detailed analysis of iOS 5 beta software seems to show significant improvements.

Andy Merrett
Andy Merrett has been using mobile phones since the days when they only made voice calls. Since then he has worked his way through a huge number of Nokia, Motorola and Sony Ericsson models. Andy is a freelance writer and is not an employee of CNET.
Andy Merrett
2 min read

Apple is often accused of stealing hardware and software concepts from other companies and releasing them as their own, often to great acclaim and popularity. iOS 5 is no exception, with both Android and Windows Phone users suggesting Apple has taken the cream of the crop for itself.

Take the new notification system built into iOS 5. Apple's mobile users have been crying out for a better alert system since push alerts were introduced in iOS 3. Now they may finally have it thanks to Apple lifting the feature from Android.

There's a comparison of the two systems over at Boy Genius Report. They're quite happy to agree that Apple has taken the idea from Android but argue it's not a straight copy. Apple has vastly improved the system, the comparison claims, making it much more usable.

Android notifications appear as a set of icons in the status bar but there's little control beyond that. Apple notifications can be customised and provide more information right within the notification message itself. It's vaguely ironic that, here at least, Apple's system offers more control than Android.

No doubt this article will bring out both Android and Apple fans, each defending their platform (almost) to the death. Regardless of which platform does notifications best, it's clear Apple needed to improve its system. Hopefully by hiring extra talent it will continue to drop useful and well-crafted features into future versions of iOS.

We're quite amused at how quickly both companies and passionate users cry foul when a competitor appears to copy a particular feature. There are only so many ways to build a phone and put software on it, which is why lawsuits like Samsung versus Apple are increasingly ludicrous. Let's just say that whether you're a fan of the little green robot or the slightly spoiled fruit, you've now got a decent notification system.