IN THE SPACE OF A WEEK we've seen two software giants, Google and Microsoft, unveil the latest versions of their mobile operating systems - Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Windows Phone 8 Apollo. Both have seen major improvements, in terms of performance and aesthetics, but how do the two mobile operating systems compare?
Android 4.1 takes the operating system's customisability to a whole new level. Unlike in previous Android iterations, apps and widgets are now automatically resized to fit nicely across users' multiple home screens, filling any empty screen space they can find. Google also introduced a new notifications menu, which is just as good looking as it is functional.
Windows Phone 8 also offers a welcome refresh from the previous iterations. The operating system's live updating tiles can now be resized, letting users arrange a more customisable home page. Unlike Android however, the interface is still lacking multiple home screens.
One of the stand-out features of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean is "Project Butter". This oddly-named software feature offers a smoother video experience by optimising hardware usage, which should also increase the battery life of Android devices.
The performance of Windows Phones will also get a boost with the arrival of Windows Phone 8. The latest iteration offers support for multi-core processors for the first time, which means that next-generation Nokia Lumia devices are likely to come with Qualcomm's dual-core S4 processor. This should offer slicker performance all around, although we don't think it will do anything to increase battery life.
It might not have been a focal point at Google's I/O Conference in San Francisco, but maps on Android 4.1 are in line for a decent boost too. Google Maps, the most popular mobile mapping service, now comes with an offline mode and a snazzy 3D view feature. Most excitingly, the maps are also integrated into the new Google Now service, automatically alerting users to traffic delays and integrating public transport information.
Windows Phone 8 comes with Nokia Maps pre-loaded as standard, which means that the Finnish phone firm's intuitive service will come installed on all Apollo-powered handsets. Downloadable maps and turn-by-turn navigation make Nokia Maps arguably the most impressive mobile mapping service available and looks set to challenge Google Maps for the mapping crown.