UPDATED 09:34 EST / JUNE 29 2010

iPhone-Android War Means Great Opportunities for Small Businesses, Developers

My initial thoughts on the iPhone iOS 4’s multitasking was that it worked really well. It was smooth and faster than what I expected, pulling up running apps from the slide drawer. While I had grown accustomed to multitasking on an Android phone these past few months, I was still glad to see the iPhone updated for this kind of support.

Something I’m actually excited about is the ability for the new iOS 4’s multitasking to enable iPhone apps better leverage of each other. With apps running in the background, the act of using the iPhone is a more cohesive experience. But then again, I also really appreciate the Android’s allowance of an app’s access to your other apps. Sharing a video from your YouTube app can be done through any other supported app in your phone, not just the services the app built into their sharing mechanisms.

As I continue to play around with both devices, I find myself wanting some combination of the two. A number of manufacturers are lining up for the challenge, from Motorola to Microsoft. While I don’t think the new iOS 4’s multitasking works poorly, I do think the real opportunity lies in small businesses. The need for personalized smart phones will increase demand around operational configuration apps. Without personalization, those little phones aren’t really all that smart, are they?

The speed at which smart phones are being tweaked from model to model means that handset and platform designers are thinking about the practicalities of their consumers. But there’s still a lot we have to learn, and users must familiarize themselves with each emerging platform in order to provide a significant amount of feedback.

One way in which this research is being done is through apps such as the Better Android clan, or Swype, which adds a keyboard layer that’s reconfigured to work differently than the one that came with your device. For some, downloading an app like this is a matter of personal preference. For others, users need a workaround for a shortcoming of the device itself. While Swype recently made its debut to Android, it’s been hoping for an iPhone app for years now.

The need for such apps will only grow in demand because smart phones will only continue to penetrate the market. Users will find that apps are designed to solve most their problems, whether it’s navigating them in the world, or tracking their blood sugar levels. It’s up to the platforms themselves to determine how they’ll go about incorporating this research back into their systems.

Google will have more configuration apps, because Android is an open-source platform. Apple has been heavy-handed with its allowance of such apps, though users can get around it if they jailbreak their phones. Both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, but they’re both likely to pay attention to apps designed to make their phones work better. After all, mobile apps provide the most divine look into a consumer’s soul.

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