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Apple's iOS 5 Directly Lifts Features from Android

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"There's something very familiar about all of this."
-- Biff Tannen, Back to the Future Part II

No one can deny that Apple had much to announce yesterday. Between its Mac OS X Lion, iOS 5, and iCloud, Steve Jobs and Co. had their hands full trying to cover as many new features as possible in the allotted amount of time. And while the majority of the announcements were welcome improvements to Apple's line of products, some felt awfully familiar.

Lion notwithstanding, iOS 5 takes some notable influence from the company's compatriots. iMessage has already drawn many comparisons to Research in Motion's BlackBerry Messenger -- but also Google Talk. In fact, many of the new features touted in iOS 5 have long been established as Android standards:

Mail syncing and search. Contact syncing. Browser tabs. Slide-down notification window. Twitter integration. Wireless activation. Threaded conversations. And many aspects of iCloud syncing abilities are already Google mainstays.

On its own, there's nothing wrong with that. Just scrapping pop-up notifications alone deserves a collective "FINALLY!" If lifting features long established in Android is what it takes to make the iPhone a better device, so be it. Giving credit where credit is due would be nice, but so be it.

However, Apple has been a massive bully in the tech community by siccing its lawyers at any company that comes a hairsbreadth closer to something it's already done -- even if Apple got it from someplace else. Going to court over apples in logos, the word Pod, and its lengthy case with HTC.

If Apple was honorable in that respect -- not going ballistic over generic features that everyone shares -- no one would bat an eye. But Apple is still the biggest kid in the sandbox, and when it wants to take its ball and go home, it does so with a big public show. Then again, Apple running off with someone else's ball isn't a problem at all.

Though in the end, iOS 5 will undeniably be an improvement from previous versions.

Apple just needed to lift from Android to make it better.

(See also: Apple's WWDC 2011: Mac OS X Lion, Apple's WWDC 2011: iOS 5, and Apple's WWDC 2011: iCloud)

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