Apple iOS 5 for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch

PROS: Finally picks up much needed features from other mobile platforms

CONS: Best features were literally copied from other mobile platforms

RATING: Three out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: Apple's iOS now runs on many of the world's best-selling mobile devices—iPhones, iPod touches, and iPads—and as such it's important. But it's also getting pretty mature, so we're seeing a slowing of innovation and a far more conscious copying of useful features from other mobile platforms. Most of the big new iOS 5 features are culled straight from Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone. The new notifications look and work like Windows Phone notifications and are managed from an Android-clone Notification Center. Twitter integration? Microsoft announced it first for Windows Phone (and has Facebook and LinkedIn integration, too). Camera improvements were lifted straight from Windows Phone, and the split virtual keyboard first appeared in Microsoft's UltraMobile PC products several years ago. iMessage? It's a proprietary, Apple-only version of the BlackBerry Messaging Service (BMS) and less open than a similar feature on Windows Phone. What this means is that iOS is maturing, and for those using this platform, these are all welcome changes. For the rest of the world, however, it's been-there-done-that—not exactly the innovation message Apple likes to project. iOS 5 won't ship until late 2011, and pricing and licensing is currently unknown.

CONTACT: Apple

DISCUSSION: SuperSite for Windows: WWDC 2011: A Competitive Analysis of Apple's Platforms 

 

Apple Mac OS X "Lion"

PROS: iPad-style UIs; inexpensive; loose licensing terms

CONS: Yet another minor OS X update, only delivered via download

RATING: Three out of five stars

RECOMMENDATION: Since making the transition from its buggy Mac OS past to the more durable and reliable Mac OS X, Apple has delivered a decade's worth of minor, purely evolutionary updates, and Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" is just the latest. Some UIs are pure iPad, and with mixed results: The LaunchPad provides a tedious grid of icons for launching apps, and Apple is finally adopting a cohesive approach to full-screen apps. But other Lion ideas simply speak to how tired this desktop-based OS has become: like Mission Control, the latest in a long list of Apple attempts at helping users manage an overabundance of windows. What Apple gets right, however, is pricing and licensing: Lion is just $29, and you can install a single copy of the system on as many Macs as you own. That said, it's download-only, and an upgrade only for those users who have the previous OX version, Snow Leopard installed. So later system rebuilds will require you to install Snow Leopard first, then Lion. All in all, Lion doesn't change much: People buy Macs for the beautiful hardware, not the lackluster OS X user experience. That's still very much the case.

CONTACT: Apple

DISCUSSION:  SuperSite for Windows: WWDC 2011: A Competitive Analysis of Apple's Platforms