Does Apple iOS 4, now known as iOS4, mark the point at which Apple retakes the lead in the mobile phone operating software market, or is it simply getting even with Google Android, BlackBerry and the rest? Read our review to find out, and check out our Apple iPhone 4 review for details of how the software matches the hardware.

Apple iOS 4: Universal Inbox

Apple finally jumped on board with universal inbox support so you can now view your Exchange, Gmail, Yahoo, etc accounts in one seamless view. The interface appears to be pretty straightforward and clean and more or less on par with the Android, webOS, and BlackBerry universal inboxes. Apple iOS 4 will also join Android and webOS in supporting multiple Exchange accounts.

Apple iOS 4: Gaming

While Android and webOS have made some significant steps toward gaming in the last year by adding support for 3D graphics, the iPhone is still king. And with the new Game Center coming later this year to Apple iOS 4, the iPhone will become the ultimate social gaming mobile platform. With Game Center, you can easily challenge your friends to games, find and play against players with a similar abilities, and display your achievements to your network.

One platform to keep an eye on, however, is Windows Phone 7, which will ship with a mobile version of XBox Live support. Like the iPhone Game Center, you'll be able to connect with other gamers keep tabs on their achievements and communicate with them in game play. Users will also be able to purchase games and apps easily from the Windows Marketplace as well.

Apple iOS 4: Turn-by-Turn Navigation and Maps

When Apple acquired mapping company Placebase last summer, rumours swirled that the company was developing its own maps and navigation application for the iPhone. Right now, you have to pay big bucks for a turn-by-turn GPS third-party application.

While the Tom Tom app is quite good (as are other navigation apps in the App Store), it just doesn't make sense that Apple wouldn't develop its own Maps application. Google Navigation is free and available to all Android phones, as is Ovi Maps for Nokia Symbian phones. And all Windows Phone 7 devices will come with Bing Maps. Perhaps there's an iPhone Maps app coming down the pipeline later this year, or perhaps it is one of those 100 new features in iOS 4 that Jobs didn't highlight, but as of right now, you'll have to rely on Google Maps or a third-party app.

Apple iOS 4: Social Networking and Flash Support

Another feature Apple seemed to turn a blind eye at is an aggregated social networking app. This is a hot feature across the phone OSes, particularly on the various flavors of Android like Motorola MotoBlur and HTC Sense. These apps essentially list all activity on your various social networks in a seamless, integrated view. I have mixed feelings about these apps; I find them a bit annoying. Heavy social networkers, on the other hand, probably find them pretty useful though. But unless there's a third party solution, there's no social networking aggregator on Apple iOS 4.

NEXT: our expert verdict >>

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Specs

Apple iPhone OS 4: Specs

  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPod touch 2nd generation (late 2008)
  • iPod touch 3rd generation 32GB and 64GB (late 2009)