Does Apple iOS 4, now known as iOS4, mark the point at which Apple retakes the lead in the mobile phone operating software market, or is it simply getting even with Google Android, BlackBerry and the rest? Read our review to find out, and check out our Apple iPhone 4 review for details of how the software matches the hardware. Updated June 8 2010.

Apple iOS 4 contains seven major features.

Most of these additions came as no surprise, in fact, many were what we wanted when iPhone 3.0 debuted last year. And the majority of these new additions aren't exactly revolutionary, such as multitasking, for example; most of the features announced already exist in various forms in other mobile operating systems. This raises the question: Is Apple pushing its mobile OS into the lead once again, or is it merely catching up with the level of innovation now being offered by challengers like Android and Windows Phone 7?

And will Apple's implementation of these features into the phone be better than that of its competitors? The answer to that last question might be yes: we were impressed with how intuitive and tightly integrated the new features are in the OS. Of course, we won't know who does what better until we actually take iPhone 4.0 for a spin (same for Windows Phone 7, for that matter). For the sake of brevity, we will focus on how the iPhone 4 operating system compares to the various flavours of Android and what we know about the Windows Phone 7.

Apple iOS 4: Multitasking

At last, the iPhone gets full multitasking (well, not the iPhone 3G and 2G, unfortunately). iPhone 4's multitasking system is incredibly simple and clean, and according to Apple, won't be a drain on your iPhone's battery life. To see your open apps, you simply double click the home button and a "dock" showing all of your open apps will pop up at the bottom of the screen.

All of the mobile other platforms have some kind of multitasking system, though some are more elegant than others. Visually, we like the Leap feature in HTC's Sense interface for Android, which lets you pinch to view seven thumbnail versions of your open pages. From there, you can go to any of those open applications. We also love Palm webOS' deck of cards system of multitasking as it is visually striking and easy to use, but it does seem to be a drain on battery life and performance.

Apple iOS 4: Customisation

Predictably, there's no support for live widgets (a la Android or Symbian) in Apple iOS 4. Nor is there a home page you can customise with said widgets. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though it does limit the level of customisation on the phone. We were very pleased, however for folder support in Apple's new phone OS: you can organise your apps into folders by category by dragging and dropping them into each other. The iPhone will automatically assign a category name for them.

The iPhone also gets personalised wallpaper with Apple iOS 4, but that's another feature (such as multitasking) that should have been there a long time ago.

Apple iOS 4: Notifications

We were disappointed that Apple made only a slight tweak to the notifications system. We find the current system a bit disruptive, and We don't like the fact that there's no place to save or store your notifications. Both Palm and Android have fairly unobstrusive notification systems, and both let you see all of your older notifications. On the other hand, Apple iOS 4 will have a new service called local notifications, which don't rely on a third party server. So if you have a TV Guide app, and you want to be reminded of when a show comes on, you can have it send you a notification.

NEXT: universal inbox >>

Related articles:

Does Apple iOS 4, now known as iOS4, mark the point at which Apple retakes the lead in the mobile phone operating software market, or is it simply getting even with Google Android, BlackBerry and the rest? Read our review to find out, and check out our Apple iPhone 4 review for details of how the software matches the hardware.

Apple iOS 4: Universal Inbox

Apple finally jumped on board with universal inbox support so you can now view your Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, etc accounts in one seamless view. The interface appears to be pretty straightforward and clean and more or less on par with the Android, webOS, and BlackBerry universal inboxes. Apple iOS 4 will also join Android and webOS in supporting multiple Exchange accounts.

Apple iOS 4: Gaming

While Android and webOS have made some significant steps toward gaming in the last year by adding support for 3D graphics, the iPhone is still king. And with the new Game Center coming later this year to Apple iOS 4, the iPhone will become the ultimate social gaming mobile platform. With Game Center, you can easily challenge your friends to games, find and play against players with a similar abilities, and display your achievements to your network.

One platform to keep an eye on, however, is Windows Phone 7, which will ship with a mobile version of XBox Live support. Like the iPhone Game Center, you'll be able to connect with other gamers keep tabs on their achievements and communicate with them in game play. Users will also be able to purchase games and apps easily from the Windows Marketplace as well.

Apple iOS 4: Turn-by-Turn Navigation and Maps

When Apple acquired mapping company Placebase last summer, rumours swirled that the company was developing its own maps and navigation application for the iPhone. Right now, you have to pay big bucks for a turn-by-turn GPS third-party application.

While the Tom Tom app is quite good (as are other navigation apps in the App Store), it just doesn't make sense that Apple wouldn't develop its own Maps application. Google Navigation is free and available to all Android phones, as is Ovi Maps for Nokia Symbian phones. And all Windows Phone 7 devices will come with Bing Maps. Perhaps there's an iPhone Maps app coming down the pipeline later this year, or perhaps it is one of those 100 new features in iOS 4 that Jobs didn't highlight, but as of right now, you'll have to rely on Google Maps or a third-party app.

Apple iOS 4: Social Networking and Flash Support

Another feature Apple seemed to turn a blind eye at is an aggregated social networking app. This is a hot feature across the phone OSes, particularly on the various flavors of Android like Motorola MotoBlur and HTC Sense. These apps essentially list all activity on your various social networks in a seamless, integrated view. I have mixed feelings about these apps; I find them a bit annoying. Heavy social networkers, on the other hand, probably find them pretty useful though. But unless there's a third party solution, there's no social networking aggregator on Apple iOS 4.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

Related articles:

Apple iPhone OS 4: Specs

  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPod touch 2nd generation (late 2008)
  • iPod touch 3rd generation 32GB and 64GB (late 2009)
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPod touch 2nd generation (late 2008)
  • iPod touch 3rd generation 32GB and 64GB (late 2009)

OUR VERDICT

It's too early to give a definitive verdict on Apple iPhone OS 4. Suffice to say that the new additions are welcome add-ons to an already polished operating system. The lack of Flash support continues to be an issue, but Apple has shown sufficient panache in the past to suggest that this will be a winner.

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