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6/9/2011
11:37 PM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
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Windows Phone 7: Which Features Did iOS5 Mimic?

Some iOS 5 features take their cue from Windows Phone 7, prompting a Microsoft VP to tweet that he was flattered by the imitation.

Apple announced iOS 5 earlier this week. While several of its updated features may be new to iPhone users, many of them have been on Windows Phone 7 from day one. Several have been available on Microsoft products longer than that.

It was enough for Microsoft VP in charge of Windows Phone development, Joe Belfiore, to tweet that he was flattered that iOS was borrowing some of the ideas his team came up with. He couldn't list all of copied features in one tweet, so he had to wrap it up in a second one.

One of the new features of iOS 5 is how notifications are displayed. Currently when you get a notification, like an alert or a text message, it shows up in the middle of the screen and demands you take action immediately--either canceling it or responding in some way. It reminds me of how the User Account Control popup works in Windows Vista and 7. In iOS 5, the alert will show up at the top as a drop down. It still gets your attention, it just doesn't demand it.

Microsoft's Windows Mobile platform has had this since 2005. Often called popup toast, it let you know you had a new text, email, or reminder. You could dismiss it, respond to it, or ignore it and it would disappear after a few seconds and leave a reminder in the task bar to let you know it needed to be dealt with at some time. So Apple merely moved it to the top. Ingenious.

Apple is fully supporting Twitter now too, something that already exists in Windows Phone 7. WP7 goes one better though by natively supporting Facebook as well. I am sure iOS 6 will nail that one in 2012.

The iPhone will now support using a hardware button to take a picture without having to unlock the phone, another feature WP7 has had since it was released.

The Apple phone will now be able to sync wirelessly with iTunes over Wi-Fi. Not only has WP7 had this since day one, its music predecessor, the Zune, has had wireless sync since 2006.

There are more, but you get the point. The iPhone deserves credit for radically changing the smartphone landscape, but not every feature it has is the best or first. Fanboys still took the opportunity to fawn over these features as if the world had never seen most of them. People should give credit where credit is due. The competition is driving all of this forward, and consumers are the winners.

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