So far we’ve heard quite a bit of comparisons between the webOS platform and OSX (for the iPhone), as well as Android vs. OSX. But so far, comparisons between both Android and webOS have been nonexistent. What makes this lack of coverage quite interesting is the fact that both operating systems are built off similar frameworks and use similar languages for programming. So I think it’s only fair that both systems get compared side to side and see who wins.
Concerning UI, it’s pretty clear that both Google and Palm have taken two very different approaches. In fact Google’s approach is more in line with Microsoft in allowing OEM’s to customize the UI to their needs. Palm however has taken this into their hands and pitched a ball straight at Apple and their ever so flawless OSX user interface.
Unfortunately there is no clear winner or loser here as both offer advantages and disadvantages. One advantage of Android is that it can take on any shape it wants. This allows people to pick a UI based on their needs but more so likes. The disadvantage to this is that since the navigation can change drastically from device to device, it might be a little rough for those who are used to a specific layout and decide to change from let’s say an HTC Hero to a Sony or Samsung. On the other hand Palm has decided to use one UI for its entire fleet and since they will be the only ones manufacturing phones to run on webOS (at least for the time being) it will stay that way. This however leaves the problem of monotony, something that is plaguing the iPhone at the moment. It’s very interesting that Windows Mobile can take on so many different shapes and forms based on who makes the device running it. A classic example is the Samsung Omnia, Sony Xperia and HTC Touch Pro. So I will hand it to Palm for having the sleeker and better of the graphical interface, but Android has the upper hand on customizability and scalability.
Both Palm and Google have done a good job at bringing some well needed features to the smartphone arena. Both support such basic features as copy paste, Exchange support, emailing, productivity and more. But for now we’ll have to judge at what’s out there in terms of third party programs (apps), and Google is clearly the winner here. I’m not saying that Palm isn’t saying anything, but seeing how new webOS is, we’ll have to give it at least a year before we can really compare its developer community to that of Blackberry, OSX, WinMo and of course Android.
That said, built in features, webOS does have the upper hand as it has a much better browser, music player etc, then that on the Android OS. But third party apps is its weak point and as I said before we’ll have to wait a year or so before we see what people have done with the Mojo SDK.
It’s ironic that Android has been around for quite some time now and the only company who has a phone running on the OS is HTC. Yes we know Samsung, Motorola, Sony and a whole host of others are working behind the scenes but come on. Palm has just put out their Pre and we’re already hearing plans of the release of the EOS which would be the Centro replacer.
So who would win this round? Well clearly we’re seeing such things as OLED and Flash coming to Android in the near future, and with the stellar lineup of partners it’s not surprising that Apple is looking at Google as more of an enemy then a friend at the moment.
Concerning Palm, while they have not totally put off the idea about allowing third party manufacturers to run their webOS, they’re still on their first device so we can’t fault them too much in this area. But if both companies decide to keep on their course we will give this round to Android as more OEM’s has always spelled better products. Speaking of Flash, Palm is also on that list of manufacturers who will be getting a taste of Flash mobil this fall.
Yes you read right, I’m going to include this category because both Android and webOS run Linux on the Linux framework and so it’s only fair we compare what the hacking community has done for the systems to date. For an OS that is open source, we really have to chide Google on their lack of support in the hacking community. The Pre has been out for just over a month and already we have Bluetooth tethering hacks, PlayStation emulation hacks, web server hacks and a bunch of others that not only geeks but every day people would be interested in.
So far little to nothing has been done in the Android arena concerning major hacking. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the G1 (the first Android device) carries lower internal specs then that of the Pre. But whatever it is, Palm clearly has the upper hand. Things might change in the near future however as the devices which are making their way to Android are getting more powerful. But for now, Palm owns this scene.
This is a major factor in smartphones these days. To date the dominators in this field have clearly been RIM and Microsoft. So far Apple has been making small strides into gaining corporate acceptance. That said, both Palm and Google have been courting IT departments to accept their OS as readily as they will accept a Blackberry Curve or HTC Touch Pro.
Right now it’s too early to say what will happen to both OS as there is a huge lock in this area (RIM and Microsoft) and to date, companies have been very cautious about adopting ant other operating system. As it stands Android and webOS are head to head with no apparent winner in sight. But depending on customizability and sheer support, Android just might pull out as the winner here although we cannot deny that Palm has been in the cellphone (and more so the smartphone) market before Google was born so they just might just have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Until today I would have given this round to Android, but after Google’s plans to scrape Android for netbooks, MID’s and UMPC’s I think it is a little harder to decide a winner. Clearly both systems excel at different things, but then again both are competing for the same type of customers, those who are not swayed by Apple’s iPhone but who want something different then the regular Blackberry Curve or HTC Touch Diamond.
Based on what webOS has to offer they have an advantage in online and location based apps and this is the future. But in uniqueness and lifestyle applications, Android does carry a little more weight in this area. However, it is too early to say. We’ll have to wait until both mature and of course the second version is released before we can make a final verdict on where we expect to see both of them in the next five or so years.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.