The iPhone 4S and its new iOS 5 operating system offer a host of new features, including Siri voice control, a Cards app for sending paper greetings in the mail, Reminders that help keep you up-to-date, and Find my Friends for tracking people down. Fortunately, Android users don't have to feel left out, as there are a host of third-party apps that bring this functionality to Google's mobile OS.
Cards Alternative: Postagram
The Cards app from Apple, which comes with iOS 5, will let you create digital cards directly on your iPhone or iPod touch—and after they’re complete, Apple will drop the physical missives in the mail for you. It’ll cost $2.99 for domestic delivery and $4.99 for international delivery.
But Postagram, a free app that’s available in the Android Market, has been providing this very service for quite some time now—and at a cheaper rate, too. For 99 cents per Postagram sent, you choose a photo to mail and the service prints the image out on thick, glossy photo paper at a 300 dpi resolution, which pops out of the card as a 3 x 3 inch print. You can even add a custom 140-character message along with the photo if you wish.
Siri Alternative: Vlingo
Android users often opine that newer iterations of iOS simply play catch-up to a cache of features that already exist in their phones. Vlingo Virtual Assistant for Android is a testament to that ethos, and it's the closest thing to Apple’s new Siri voice control.
Tell Vlingo to “Text Chris; Where are you?” or “Find French restaurants,” then sit back and watch as it does exactly what you want. Get the app for free on the Android Market.
iMessage Alternative: Whatsapp Messenger
Ditch your carrier’s exorbitant SMS plans and send messages, pictures, audio notes, and video messages over 3G or Wi-Fi with the free Whatsapp Messenger. Like BlackBerry Messenger (and iMessage), the app lets you know when your note has been sent and exactly when the person on the other end has seen it.
Whatsapp also sends push notifications for each individual message, so you never miss out on what your friends are saying. It also supports group chat.
Newstand Alternative: Zinio
Newsstand on iOS 5 supposedly organizes your magazine and newspaper app subscriptions, but Zinio has been around for far longer and already aggregates many of your favorite digital publications in one place. You can purchase both single issues and full subscriptions of top titles in the app, plus watch videos, bookmark content, view interactive media, and even share articles with friends.
Best of all? Zinio gives you access to a sampling of the best pieces across top News, Science & Tech, Art, Lifestyle, and Entertainment magazines—for free—as soon as you download the app.
Reminders Alternative: Astrid Tasks
Astrid Tasks is the most popular to-do list for Android, and its best add-on feature is Astrid Locale. The app contains powerful organization tools to begin with—reminders, list organization, deadlines, sorting, and audio or vibration alerts—but Astrid Locale throws in the last essential—location-based tasks—into the mix. The only downside is having to shell out $1.49 for the upgrade.
Find My Friends Alternative: Google Latitude
Anyone who’s ever had to find their friends in a crowded venue will be familiar with the hassle of those extremely vague responses: “beside the speaker,” “next to the guy in the cowboy hat,” or “to the left of the stage.” Find my Friends from Apple, included in the upcoming iCloud, will let you share your location with friends and family and eliminate those messages.
But Google Latitude is an old tool that had already been implementing this. After signing into your Google account, the app lets you check into places, share your location with your friends, and even unlock offers where they’re available. You can find it in the Google Maps application on Android.