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iPhone, Galaxy, iPad, Nexus: Here's how they really rate

Galen Gruman | March 12, 2014
Your smartphone or tablet is overrated. At least, that's the conclusion InfoWorld came to in assessing our scoring system for mobile devices.

Still, the same pattern remains in mobile devices' relative scores. iOS has the best selection of apps, in both numbers and functional richness, especially for business users; the Safari browser is very good too. Android's Chrome is arguably better than Safari -- its HTML5 support is certainly better -- but its app universe is both more limited and thinner in capabilities, though no longer at anemic levels.

Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and the emerging browser-based platforms such as Firefox OS and Ubuntu Touch are the least capable when it comes to apps -- not much better than when the original iPhone came on the scene in 2007 -- though their browser capabilities are typically decent. Both Microsoft and BlackBerry are plugging away, though slowly, in their app efforts, so we may see some breakthroughs here in future versions.

Platform services
This is a new category in our new mobile scoring system. It includes the services that the platforms provide across their devices, typically through cloud or other network connections. Previously, we'd been including them either in the App Support category or in the Business Connectivity category (if they related to communications, calendars, contacts, and the like). The Platform Services category accounts for 20 percent of the total score, up from perhaps 10 percent in the old scoring system's informal inclusion of such services.

The Platform Services category covers those services that work across devices to enrich and extend the user experience and the devices' functional capabilities:

  • For Apple, they include iCloud (including iCloud Keychain, data syncing, and shared storage), AirPlay, iTunes, notifications, data detectors, Apple Maps and related services like Find My Friends, and communications services such as iMessage and FaceTime.
  • For Google, they include Google Now and related search and profile services, Google Maps and related location services, notifications, and Google Drive and related Google accounts services.
  • For BlackBerry, they include BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BlackBerry Hub.
  • For Microsoft, they include OneDrive and related sync services, the Microsoft Account profile services, the Bing Maps (soon to be replaced with Nokia's Here Maps) and related location services, and communications services such as Skype as they get integrated into the OS.

iOS offers the richest set of such services, covering a wide range of capabilities. Android has a broad set of platform services as well, though Google tends to focus on services involving personal profiling that provide customized information and direct advertising to you; Google has few services that are only for your personal benefit. Microsoft has copied some of the core services from Apple and Google, but they're largely implemented as a haphazard collection. BlackBerry has the least developed notion of platform services, except for the Web-based platforms like Ubuntu Touch and Firefox OS, which are more mobile browsers than true platforms.


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