Three Features Apple Stole from Other Platforms for iOS5, then Improved

As you have probably heard by now, Apple’s famous WWDC event took place last week and Jobs himself made an appearance on the Apple stage. That is, in and of itself exciting news, according to many. However, what came next was significantly more exciting.

Apple announced three new products, OS Lion for Mac, iCloud, which will keep all your various Apple products in sync, and iOS5 for iPad, iPod, and iPhone.

The main attraction of WWDC 2011 was most definitely the newest version of Apple’s wildly popular mobile platform, iOS. iOS5 also has more than 200 new features and is the biggest advancement the operating system has made since its original introduction.

You can read a complete list of iOS5 features, but I wanted to focus on the negative press the new features have gotten, with many people claiming that Apple simply “stole” ideas from other platforms.

The way I see it is that Apple took a good look around at the competition and hand picked certain features it viewed as successful, then adapted them for iOS5. Apple did the same with Copy Paste in the past and many believe Apple’s implementation of the basic function that has been around for years, is the best in the industry, hands down.

The following are three iOS5 features that Apple clearly borrowed from other mobile platforms, but the iOS5 version significantly improved:

  • Notifications: OK, let’s just get this one out of the way. The new iOS5 notifications are pure awesome. They fundamentally change the way I use my iPhone on a daily and hourly basis. However, to ignore the similarity to Android’s notification system would be to fool yourself. They both enable you to get a short and unintrusive popup when you have a new notification, and they both enable you to view all your missed events by sliding the notification bar down from the top of the device.However, I do believe Apple took the Android notification system, and improved it on almost every level. The ability to choose what apps are included in the Notification Center is much clearer and more intuitive on iOS5 than it is on Android. The information included in the Notification Center in iOS5 is much richer and more practical than in Android. All in all, Android might have given Apple a glimpse of how to best implement  a solid notification system, but Apple hit a homerun on this front…
  • iMessage: The first thing everyone said when the rumors started circulating that Apple was going to announce its own iOS to iOS messaging service is, bye bye BBM and RIM. Well, of course that is an exaggeration and RIM isn’t going anywhere so fast, but again, Apple clearly received inspiration from the tremendous success of the popular Blackberry messaging service.However, and this is a big one, Apple integrated the iMessage system into the already existing Messages app. No need for a separate app. What does that mean? It means that as far as iOS is concerned, you do not need to open something new to message your friend for free, it is the same app, the same familiar interface, and the same experience as SMS. iMessage might not have killed SMS revenue as many claim, but it sure will put a huge dent in SMS revenue on iOS devices.
  • Home Screen Notifications: Another huge advancement that iOS5 has made is that it utilizes the dead real estate of the iPhone’s lock screen. Applications such as Flyscreen on Android have long since discovered that the lock screen of a mobile device is a great resource to include useful information. iOS5 now enables you to see your most recent notifications without unlocking the phone.This, again, is not a new or revolutionary feature and it existed on other platforms such as the old Windows Mobile platform as well as the new Windows Phone 7 OS. However, based on my experience with all three platforms, iOS took the feature and improved it significantly. Not only are the notifications richer in information, but using the familiar gesture of swiping on one of the notifications will immediately open up the relevant app. If you have a new mail and are viewing it on the lock screen for example, just swipe your finger right on the notification, and that message will then be opened with no delay in the Mail app. Implemented to perfection.

In conclusion, no one can deny that Apple included features in iOS5 that are just a little too close to other platforms, to be a coincidence. However, it all depends on how you look at it. Perspective is everything and any company that does not conduct an analysis of the competition is a company doomed to failure.

Apple looked at Android, RIM, and Microsoft, took the best of all worlds, and added it to iOS5. In the few days I have been using iOS5, I can safely say, that when it comes to the user experience, there is no operating system on the planet that can even play in the same league.

So, did Apple steal from its competitors? Maybe, but did Apple just raise the bar for the entire mobile industry? Absolutely!

This post has been written by Hillel Fuld. Hillel  is a tech blogger who manages multiple sites such as TechnmarketingAppboy, and inneractive. In addition, Hillel has written on many leading online publications such as Mashable, Gigaom, and others. In addition to his blogger hat, Hillel is an active Twitter personality who defines himself as a “Social media addict”. When Hillel is not blogging or tweeting, he is the Head of Marketing for inneractive, a mobile startup that deals with app monetization across all mobile platforms.

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  • Guest

    Good analysis. You must be hard-core apple fan. If the same was done by others like Google/Microsoft, people will be all over on the web by now claiming they stole from Apple. Probably Apple would have sued them by now :-(.

  • http://www.mobileinfoplanet.com mobileinfoplanet

    I wish I could agree with that assessment, but for me it fell short:

    http://www.mobileinfoplanet.com/2011/06/07/a-very-disappointing-ios5-release/

  • http://twitter.com/iPhone_iPadGuru iPhoneTutorialVideos

    I agree that Notifications, iMessage and Nofications were definitely borrowed from other developers but mostly really from the Cydia developers rather than from any other competitors.

    Many Jailbreakers would have had some of the features that you will see in iOS5.

    I don’t agree with:
    “I do believe Apple took the Android notification system, and improved it on almost every level” -

    Microsoft says that Apple just copied Microsofts notifications but:

    BUT Apple actually employed the creator of Cydia notifications hack which is the new iOS5 notification system, the but in classic Apple style they improved it even more and optimized it.

    iMessage is a ton better than BBM (Why on earth did RIM stick with numbers? only computers care about “numbers” – everyone else likes people more.)

    Hard-core Apple fans -> OK, they do exist, but most of them are just finally happy with a product that “just works”

    I’m a IT Infrastructure Manager and trust me Windows and other Operating Systems (and their mobile equivalents) don’t ‘just work’ AT ALL, so Apple gadgets,software,tools,training,servers and iPhones are a welcome addition to the otherwise chaotic mix.

    http://www.iphoneTutorialvideos.com

  • Xprins

    This is a very biased review IMHO
    There is no operating system on the planet that can even play in the same league. – A lot of people would really laugh at that statement…

  • German

    Copied the Copy Paste feature!? You think Apple should have just ignored that basic functionality just because it would have been a stolen idea from other platforms? you are talking out of your *&^%$#. People need to stop thinking companies steal everything from other companies. Sometimes that might be the case but if you think Apple just “stole” all these ideas then you clearly dont know what you are saying. Your opinion about this subject is WRONG.

  • Anonymous

    Xprins – There is no operating system on the planet that can even play in the
    same league. – A lot of people would really laugh at that statement…

    Which mobile OS’s do you think give iOS a run for it’s money?

  • Anonymous

    BUT Apple actually employed the creator of Cydia notifications hack
    which is the new iOS5 notification system, the but in classic Apple
    style they improved it even more and optimized it.

    Good point! Maybe Android (and perhaps WinPh 7) copied early Cydia versions of hacked notifications?

  • wrd

    There are only so many ways to solve a particular problem, and even fewer ways to solve it well. Over time, innovators will inevitably borrow each other’s good ideas, try to improve on them, and converge on a pretty similar end result. There’s no real shame in this, and we can’t rely on Apple to create every original idea in the field. As long as people are drawing their inspiration from good ideas, not bad ones, we all benefit.

  • Beelynn4

    Tell that to Apple and to stop sueing others for copying them when now there copying others. Can’t we just all get along.
    Apple fan boys wilFiney Apple is better ( like this article ).
    Android fans will say Androids better.
    Fine.