Apple didn't design the hardware to match some feature checklist, they designed it to make their software amaze and delight customers, to create an emotional connection that effects peoples lives. To compare the iPhone or iPad to other products primarily on their hardware specifications is not representative of the quality of experience users are likely to have with the product.iOS 5 comes out tomorrow. Across the blogasphere, the Anything But Apple crowd shouts loud and clear that iOS 5 simply copies features that their phones already have. But is that really the case?
Android creates a collage, Apple paints a picture. The Android approach is to pile feature upon feature upon feature, one atop another. The advantage of this approach is that, well, you get lots and lots of features. For many, this is exactly what is wanted.
Apple does things differently. They see features as merely pieces to a giant, constantly expanding puzzle. Rather than looking at what their devices do and adding from there, they look at what their devices can do for their customers and work their way backwards. Features are not added to enhance their products, features are added to enhance their customers.
Apple does not add a feature until it both fits and adds to the overall picture. This can lead to tremendous user frustration. Apple's features often come out late or, sometimes, not at all. But, as the Apple advocates like to point out, "It just works". What they mean by this is that the features in an Apple device are (mostly) part of a seamless whole, not just dots that the users have to connect themselves.
So, back to the original question: "Is iOS 5 merely copying features that already exist elsewhere?" Not hardly. Apple doesn't build superior features. Apple builds superior phones. Not only will each of the features of iOS 5 work and work well, but they'll all work together.
Apple doesn't always do things right away but they have a habit of doing things the right way. And for many - even for most - that's more than good enough. And really, who wants to settle for good enough?
Android strives to build the biggest collage. Apple strives to be picture perfect.