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iPhone squares up to Android

Have at you with your Google Street View

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Apple is aiming to get off the back foot when it comes to phone features with the forthcoming release of iPhone firmware - hopefully before the Googlephone gets into circulation.

Google, along with T-Mobile, made great play of the ability of the G1 - the first handset based on Google's Android platform - to display Street View pictures from Google Maps, something the iPhone will be able to do real soon now according to MacRumors. Also waiting for version 2.2 are iPhone users wanting push email to work in the background, a feature that was removed with version 2.1 of the iPhone firmware.

Pushing emails to a device in the background is a nice idea, and one on which RIM has built an entire industry. But while the BlackBerry has relied on proprietary technologies to genuinely push notifications over the wireless network the iPhone, and Android, are forced to use standard protocols over TCP/IP connections - thus requiring a data connection to be maintained, leading to battery drain.

Apple reckons that background push was disabled with version 2.1 to increase the battery life, but some users are adamant that it should be a user option. The company seems poised to replace the function in version 2.2 which should be out before the G1 gets launched on 22 October.

Street View pictures are harder to justify as a must-have feature: fine as they are, it's not clear whose life is seriously impacted by not having them on an iPhone. But the last thing Apple needs is G1 owners lording it over their iPhone-touting mates with a cool-but-pointless feature - and so it is that Street View has turned up in the latest beta of version 2.2.

Just goes to show that if it's pointless but cool, then the iPhone can do it better than anyone. ®

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