Before we dig into how software - both apps and OS - is the true distinguishing aspect between the two phones, one overarching caveat: Palm's webOS, although Linux-based, is a whole new ballgame, while the iPhone's OS is not only already on version 3.0, but is also a subset of Mac OS X.
In other words, you should cut webOS a bit of slack for being a version 1.0 (well, 1.03 and 1.04 in our testing), while also assuming that iPhone Software 3.0 is rather set in its ways and may very well not have any major surprises up its sleeve in future versions.
Which, if true, is too bad, because Apple has a few things to learn from Palm when it comes to software.
Multitasking: The Pre's webOS is a full-fledged multitasking OS. With the exception of such niceties as the iPod app's background operation and push notification, the iPhone is a one-app-at-a-time device.
webOS uses a card metaphor to let you move among different apps that are running on the Pre - when you choose to minimize an app, its display shrinks to about one-third size and moves off to the left when you open a new app.
Most apps, even when minimized, remain alive. Rotation still affects minimized photos and web pages, for example, although videos stop running in the background and web pages stop loading.
Of course, loading up a lot of apps into the background eats up both RAM and processing power, but in my testing, the Pre was more efficient at handling multiple apps than I feared. I could easily launch a half dozen apps without a noticeable slowdown, and with a dozen up and running things were a bit jumpy, though tolerable
Multiple iterations of the same app can also be minimized when appropriate - multiple webpages, for example. However, my Pre would warn me after ten or so webpages that it wasn't in the mood to open any more - but then it would allow me to open another half dozen. And although it greyed-out ones that I had first opened, they came back to life with a tap. Performance, however, suffered greatly with a dozen open web pages.
This ability to run multiple apps simultaneously gives the Pre a significant advantage over the iPhone, and as more apps become available for the Pre, that advantage will grow. Certainly, many iPhone apps retain their states when you exit them, and then when relaunched, they open to where you were when you last left them - but many do not.
That's not a problem with the Pre. You don't close an app, you merely leave it running, move on to another, and when you return to the first one, all is as it was - each and every time for each and every app, in my experience.
Multitasking advantage: Pre
When running in the background, an app on the Pre minimizes into an "activity card"
User interface: The Pre's overall UI scheme takes a bit longer to learn and adapt to than does the iPhone's. At core, the iPhone has three controls: its main hardware button, multitouch gestures, and on-screen buttons and controls. The Pre adds to those an off-screen Gesture Area between its hardware button and the bottom of the display.
Without going into too much detail about how the Pre's controls interact - after all, what are user manuals for? - suffice it to say that knowing when to use the Gesture Area and when to use an on-screen flick can be a bit confusing at first.
More problematic is the Pre's touchscreen. Although it adds one bit of genius - a pebble-in-the-lake ripple effect when you touch the display - items such as hyperlinks take a disconcerting split second to light up after being touched. They also seem to be harder to select than the same links on the iPhone - and not merely because they're smaller due to the display's smaller size. Perhaps the iPhone uses a better proximity-sensing algorithm.
Finally, the iPhone's UI simply seems better thought-out. Using the Pre, I often found myself asking, "Now how to I get out of here?" or "How do I get this thing to do such-and-such?" while searching for buttons and navigation options that weren't there. Apple has been building highly intuitive UIs for years, and their expertise shows.
User-interface advantage: iPhone 3GS
Next page: Now it gets weird
In less than a year no one will remember what a Pre is!
The iPhone however will be the dominant mobile computing platform for years to come.
What a stupid article.
Another poor man's iPhone...yawn
I think this article just makes me glad I've been using an iphone all the way through from the first one to the 3GS. Basides the multi-tasking, there's nothing the pre offers which would make me drop the iphone, and the person reviewing clearly doesn't use an iPhone daily (or else he doesn't know the OS very well). The pre looks fugly too, they need to make it look prettier.
I find it amusing how people are still going on about Android dominating the industry. It hasn't and it most likely won't. The time for it to dominate is past, public opinion is apathetic and it was a missed opportunity for Google. The HTC rubbish phones it was introduced in were tantamount to a poor man's iPhone, and apart from a couple of nice innovations such as multi-tasking, the Pre falls into that same category. Who will buy a product that looks and feels cheap and confusing outside of the IT industry?
Re apps, the exponential growth in apps, s because of the exponential growth of iPhone ownership. The installed units needs to be there to justify people developing for a platform. Seeing as how Pre piggy backs on the achievements of Apple (iTunes) rather than have its own infrastructure, I can't really see it having a viable app store, at least when compared to iTunes and at best there'll be something comparable to The google one or the blackberry one i.e. a decent facebook app and that's about it.
Blah Blah blah
iPhone this.. iPhone that.... It seems that the iPhone fan boys just get their shorts all in a bunch whenever anyone doesn't just accept the iPhone as the secret of the universe, by default. The simple fact is that anyone who doesn't want AT&T as their vendor or anyone who wants features the iPhone doesn't support, will not get an iPhone. The rest who have more money than sense will buy an iPhone. I recently talked to an AT&T store employee about why she switched from the iPhone to a Blackberry. Quite simply because the iPhones short comings were things she simply couldn't get past. Not everyone will just because fruit flavored fanboys love their fruit flavored kit. Some aren't going to drink the coolaid and have an Apple love fest with you. Get over it. It's just a phone. Not the second coming of Christ.
Capacitive screens and overheating
If you're looking for a smartphone with a resistive screen, you're I supect you're going to be SOL, pretty much all the new ones are going capacitive these days. I think there are some WinMo ones that are still going resistive, but as a concept it seems to be dying.
Regarding the heat issues, Several of my colleagues have 3Gs's (I'm still stuck on my "ancient" 2G) , and are reporting no heat problems whatsoever. I can't help but think that this is either being blown out of all proportion, or that the've had a bad batch of batteries somewhere. DOes anyone have any hard numbers for how many people are reporting this?
You missed an important category
You missed the "Fire hazard" category.
As there have been reports of iPhone 3GS becoming too hot to hold and getting so hot they actually glow with the heat I think it's safe to say the Pre wins this one, and frankly it's such an important category in general it's enough to swing a win to the Pre overall.
What use is a phone if it risks setting on fire as the iPhone 3GS does?