EDIT: Forget every thing I said, in the end I went for a Nexus 7, yup Android stepped up it’s game and trumped the iPad for me.
Yeah yeah, you’ve heard it all before, Apple this, iPad that. Well I’ve finally decided after much wailing and gnashing of teeth that I’m going to get an iPad over an Android alternative. Why you may ask? Was it the apps? the OS? the platform? its capabilities? No… believe it or not it was the keyboard that finally sold it to me. Let me give you the breakdown on why the iPad, at least in my book, is king.
1. I can damn near touch type on the iPad keyboard. Now this might not seem like a big deal, I’m sure most people will just prod their tablets keyboard with a single digit and be eternally happy doing just that. But for me I want to be able to write on the device. Near touch typing is almost impossible on any stock Android keyboard, and yes I know you can install multiple methods of input on an Android device, but that isn’t the issue. What is the issue with most Android keyboards for me falls to a couple of key points which are key placement and responsiveness. I’ve tried using an Android tablet to consistently type on in a side-by-side test with an iPad and every time the results are the same… I spend more time backspacing mistakes on the Android device than I do on an iPad. As for the responsiveness of an Android devices keyboard… well plainly it sucks. Needing to double tap a key to get it to type isn’t what I call responsive, unless you are stabbing each key with a single finger then the usability is severely decreased. So wanting to take a tablet device with me to the local coffee shop to write a little hinges on the fact that I’d like to get real work done on the device. For that to happen it must be responsive and cause as little resistance to the process as possible. Sorry Android, so far the iPad has you trumped.
2. Content, Content, Content Arguably this is a weak reason for me to choose an iPad, but I do find that the content available on the iPad is a little more polished, a little richer than that of current Android offerings. Yes Android fans I’m sure you can argue the case for Android having just a rich ecosystem of applications and content available, don’t get me wrong I’ve been an Android fan and champion ever since I’ve owned an Android based phone (HTC Desire) but when it comes to tablets I’m not convinced that its worth the hype and heartache. For me I consume a lot of different source media such as websites, magazines, periodicals, books etc etc… I find that with the iPad I can not only save myself the time and money sourcing a physical subscription to a magazine, but have access to a wider variety of magazines that I would not normally have in physical print. ‘What about Google Currents?’ you might ask… well? what about it? It has come a little too late to the game, most large magazines, trade publications and periodicals have opted to support the Apple iPad News Stand application and while a few may eventually jump the divide and support Google Currents as well, most won’t.
3. It is here, now… Any Android fan will tell you that they have been waiting for an tablet that is ‘just right’ for them, I’m guilty of waiting for a truly superb Android tablet to wipe the floor with the iPad and crown itself supreme ruler of mobile computing. Truth is, it just won’t happen. Device fragmentation, already invested content developers, slow to market updates and poor user experience continue to hurt Android as a platform. Don’t take this as an ‘Android Bashing’, take this as me being fed up with the continual promises, the hype and the consistent disappointment that Android device developers have put the operating systems fan base through. All in all I do support Android as an OS, what needs to change however is the tablet market needs to take note of the netbook market of yesteryear. Each generation of netbook machines that hit the market generally had similar if not the same specifications across the board, a 1.6 – 1.8ghz processor, 1 gb of ram and a 250 – 500gb hard drive which created a similar experience across these devices. There are things you just can’t run on a netbook device, just like a tablet, but in the tablet world it is ever more restrictive due to the nature of its primary OS. In the Android stakes the manufactures should bite the bullet and stack their deck against the iPad by creating a ‘generational’ device market which would aim to unify the performance specifications from tablet to tablet and still allow for unique options like cameras and storage. This would then end the race to the next big thing in tablet tech, significantly lower the device fragmentation and allow app developers to develop truly amazing applications rather than fix bugs for specific devices as they do now.
The bottom line… Sorry Android, you just aren’t quite there yet for me to accept any of your existing tablet offerings. Your phones are great, I’d be lost without my Android phone, but the tablet game isn’t currently doing you any favours.