- The Android tablet I bought did not have a front-facing camera, and the user-facing one was only 2 Mpixels. You could certainly criticize my choice of Android tablets in this regard. Indeed, the Samsung pads (also Android-based) are much nicer than the one I selected. Their price is, of course, understandably higher. But when I compared Samsung to Apple, Apple won for several reasons.
- The iPad seemed to be faster. This is a very subjective judgement but when scrolling and resizing, operations on the iPad just seemed snappier. Again, this could largely be attributed to my choice of a low-end Android tablet. But when trying out the Samsung pads, they too seemed not quite as snappy.
- Updates to the Apple OS and applications are frequent. For the Android pad from Best Buy (Insignia Flex, $249), there had been none for the three weeks I was using it. While “updates” may suggest the Apple products were buggy, it also says they are being actively maintained and improved, in Apple’s case, the latter — improvements — were very much the case. The total absence of updates for the Android pad did not bode well for the future.
- Gestures within “apps” (application programs) in the Apple were far more consistent in their support. For example, several of the Android programs would not resize (via the “pinch” gesture) what I felt should be resizable. And while my judgement on what should be resizable might be incorrect. Overall, I felt that my attempts to do something “intuitive obvious” worked more often with the Apple applications than with the Android.
- Most of the Android “apps” are for small screen, phone-oriented devices with the display held vertically and, worse, the Google store did not bundle these in a separate category as does Apple’s store. Also, the Apple “apps” were more inclined to be able to switch between portrait and landscape orientations. (This is not universal, however. There are several Apple “apps” which fail in this regard which I, nonetheless, continue to use because they are otherwise excellent.)
- On the rare occasion I’ve gone into the Apple store to ask a technical question, I’ve always been able to get a workable answer. The same was not true at Best Buy. Even though the latter had some obvious experts, my issues were often with a specific application and neither myself nor the expert were able to guess the solution. At Apple, however, their intuition often proved to be correct about how to do something, and this “betterment” really has to do with Apple’s requirements for consistency of operation. Android strikes me, therefore, as more like the wild west where laws are still being worked out on the frontier.
Having said all that, however, there are some frustrations that remain with Apple and the iPad. In these areas, Android was superior.
- Moving data from one application to another, while still challenging, is not as difficult. Apple’s desire for security and reliability has, in my opinion, gone too far. Dropbox seems to be about the best “meeting place” when I want to move data not just to/from the cloud (and my IBM PC running Windows 7) but also just between applications on the iPad. Android, on the other hand, seemed to open the gate pretty much all the way to the add-on 32Gbyte flash card. The iPad2 supports no such device nor common meeting place.
- Android supported several video formats whereas with Apple, it’s pretty much gotta be scaled and formatted for Apple.
- iTunes continues to be a PITA. If I want to put a video on my iPad, I have to import it into iTunes first and then copy it from there to the iPad. What the heck for? With Android, the tablets file system is visible when you plug it into your Windows (or other) machine and it looks like a disk or USB stick. Just drag and drop the files, create directories, delete files and so forth. Piece of cake!
My bottom line is usability so while I was instantly familiar with many of the features as well as internals of Android, the iPad was simply easier to use. I spent less time fiddling to figure out how to do something, and more time getting more things done.