Technology Training

iPad vs. Android Tablet

Which Tablet Should You Buy?

As Google’s Android platform rises in popularity and challenges the iPad’s market share, it can be confusing for the consumer who simply wants a good, quality tablet without the hassle. In fact, it can sometimes be hard to tell one from the other without checking the back for a label. So which should you go with? The iPad? A Google Nexus? A Kindle Fire? A Galaxy Tab? The iPad vs. Android dilemma can be a difficult one, but it’s a question that can be solved by asking yourself what you want in a tablet.

So what are iPad’s strengths?

The iPhone/iPad ecosystem is a huge strength for the iPad. This includes the App Store, which has over a million apps, many of which are designed with the iPad’s larger display in mind. This ecosystem also includes accessories, which go beyond just tablet cases, wireless keyboards and external speakers. You can do everything from hook your guitar into an iPad to converting your iPad into a miniature coin-operated arcade game (minus the need for quarters).

The iPad also tends to be more stable and easier to use than Android tablets. Apple approves each app individually, ensuring that it (mostly) does what it claims it will do and the worst of the bugs are eliminated. Because Apple and app developers only need to support a limited number of devices, it is easier to stamp out bugs. And while Android has made great strides in becoming easier to use, Apple’s device tends to be more simple and less overwhelming.

The iPad is also a market leader, with each iPad release continually pushing the industry forward with one of the fastest tablets on the market. In fact, the iPad Pro exceeds the performance of many laptops.

And what about iPad’s weaknesses?

The trade off in being more stable and easier to use is having less customization and ability to expand. While it is great that each app is checked by Apple before being released into the app store, and iPad users can rest a little easier knowing that it is harder for malware to get onto their device, this approval process does lock out some apps that would be useful.

The iPad also lacks the ability to expand its storage through microSD cards. There are other options, such as Dropbox, and you can use some external drives with the iPad, but the lack of support for microSD and Flash drives is a definite negative.

 

And what are the strength’s of the Android tablet?

The biggest strength of the Android is the vast array of devices from which to choose and the amount you can customize your tablet once you make your purchase. And there are some great premier Android tablets from makers like Samsung to go along with hundreds of other lesser-known name brands. Android has also matured quite a bit over the last few years, supporting some features like widgets (small apps that run on your home screen so you don’t have to open them) that Apple has stayed away from.

Android’s Google Play marketplace has also come a long way in the past few years.  While the lack of supervision means more of those apps will be throwaways without much use, the boost in numbers does provide a lot more variety than Android experienced when the tablet wars began.

And the weaknesses?

The lack of supervision over Google Play is one of the big downsides to Android. You might know exactly what you are getting when you download name-brand apps like Netflix or Hulu Plus, but when you see some little-known app, you don’t quite know what you are going to get. Amazon fixes this by providing their own App Store for the Kindle Fire tablets, but that means the Kindle Fire has a more limited app selection.

Rampant piracy has also done some damage to the Android platform. While it is possible to pirate apps for the iPad, it’s much easier on Android. The greater amount of piracy has led some app developers to stick with the iPhone and iPad rather than risk the money it would take to create an Android version of their apps. This is especially an issue for top tier games, which can take more time and resources to build.

The variety of devices can be a good point when shopping for what you want, it has its downside in support. Android operating system updates are not always compatible with all devices, and it can be difficult for app developers to stamp out bugs on all supported devices. This can lead to stability problems in some apps.

So who should buy an iPad?

The iPad is a great tablet for those who want to take the experience beyond just media consumption. While the iPad is great for watching movies, listening to music and reading books, it can also be used to make movies, create music and write books. Apple’s suite of office applications and apps like iMovie and Garage Band make much of this possible, and a growing number of third-party apps are providing more substance to the app store.

The iPad is also the perfect tablet for those who are a little intimidated by technology. Apple has decided to go with a more simple design, which may mean less customization, but it also means easier to use. This means you can get to the fun of owning a tablet with less time spent learning to use it.

The iPad also shines the area of gaming, especially those who want to take the experience beyond just Angry Birds and Cut the Rope. Apple has challenged the entire portable gaming market with some of the cool games available on the iPad.

Last, the iPad makes a great companion to those who already own Apple product. iPhone users will enjoy iCloud Photo Library, which lets you share photos between devices, and Apple TV owners will love the ability to wirelessly send the iPad’s display to their big screen TV.

And who should buy an Android tablet?

If you’re looking to buy an Android tablet, you’re probably in one of two main categories: (1) those who want to use the device for watching movies, reading books, listening to music and playing casual games and (2) those who want to customize their experience or love to tweak their device to get the most out of it.

Android tablets will appeal to those who mostly want to consume entertainment because the initial price tag can be significantly cheaper. This means more money for the good stuff, and the cheaper 7-inch tablets like the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire are more than capable of running Netflix, Hulu Plus, playing music and reading books.

Android also provides a more customizable experience. So if the first thing you do when you get a new smartphone or gadget is to hit the settings to get it just right, you might be the perfect Android user. Home screen widgets might intimidate some people, but they can be both useful and pretty cool.

And just as the iPad can interact with other Apple devices, Android tablets can be a great companion to those who already own an Android smartphone.

What price are Android Tablets?

You can purchase an Budget Android tablet for under $80 . An ASUS ZenPad tablet for around $400 and the Samsung range of tablets between – $300 to $1,000 depending on the size & features.

 

What price are iPad’s

iPads range from between $350 to $2,200 depending on size & features.

13 Things Android Can Do That iPad Can’t

Multiple App Stores

One big difference between Android and the iPad is the support for multiple App Stores. This is an important feature because the Google Play store has a publish-first mentality, which means developers can push apps directly into the market with no one checking if they are harmful or misrepresented. This publish first and ask questions later philosophy can make Google Play a bit like the Wild West in term of the app marketplace.

Alternative stores include the Amazon Appstore, which does some testing of apps before they are released, and the Samsung store, which comes with Samsung smartphones and tablets. In some cases, multiple app stores can be as much of a curse as it is a blessing. For example, Amazon locks Kindle users into the Amazon Appstore, which makes it more difficult for them to get at the wider number of apps in the Google Play store, and in turn, makes Kindle tablets less functional.

Google Play Two Hour App Grace Period

The Google Play store may be a bit like the Wild West, but it does have one neat feature over the iPad’s App Store and other app stores: it gives users a two hour grace period after apps, allowing them to return (uninstall) and not be charged.  This is a great way to try out more expensive apps and get an immediate return if they don’t turn out as expected.

Few App Restrictions

While it is not impossible to get kicked out of the Google Play store, but apps usually need to cross clear lines like trademark or copyright infringement to find themselves on the outs. And while this can be a negative for consumers, it can also be a good thing. There are some apps such as a Bluetooth on/off switch that Apple won’t let pass through the App Store because they use internal APIs or repeat the functionality that comes default on the tablet, but there is no such restriction on Android. This leads to some handy apps that can make your tablet life much simpler.

App Connectivity and Task Targeting

Android is built a little more like Windows in the sense that apps find it easier to work together and can take over default tasks, such as choosing which app to use to play YouTube videos, etc. The iPad is becoming better at letting apps work together, but if you open up a YouTube video in Safari, the iPad will always try to use the YouTube app to open it, and failing that, it will open the video in Safari.  You can’t choose a third-party app to play the video.

USB Support

It’s not quite true to say the iPad doesn’t have USB support. After all, you can plug the 30-pin or Lightning connector into a PC to transfer photos directly to the PC or use iTunes to sync the devices. You can also buy the Camera Connection Kit to use USB devices such as cameras, wired keyboards and musical devices. But this is limited compared to Android’s open support of USB, which allows easy file transfers and more devices to be connected.

External Storage

While not true of all Android devices, many Android tablets and smartphones have an Micro SD slot for expanding storage without the need to buy a more expensive device. This is great for storing music and media while still leaving plenty of elbow room for apps.

File Manager

Android makes it easy to put files on the device, whether you copy via USB or download from the web. This can really be handy on devices that support Micro SD cards. You can also get access to the full file system by using a file manager like ES File Manager. This makes it easy to transfer documents, photos, music, video and anything else you might want to your Android device.

Multiple Users

One great feature of Android that many have been clamoring for on the iPad is support for multiple users. This means you can sign in to the device and get a new arrangement of apps based on what that user has purchased, which is great considering many tablets are tied to families rather than individuals.

Near-Field Communications

A feature available on some Android smartphones and tablets, near-field communications (NFC) allows the device to share information with other devices around it, like the much-heralded Samsung ‘bump’ to share photos and music. NFC works well when combined with NFC stickers, which can activate apps or features on the device, for example, going into car mode when being placed on a car stand with an NFC sticker on it.   Apple introduced an NFC chip into the iPhone when it debuted Apple Pay, but this chip is closed off to apps, so the only purpose it serves is with Apple Pay.

IR Blaster

Another cool feature on some devices is the IR blaster, which allows you to use the smartphone or tablet as if it were a remote control. The iPad supports external IR blasters but doesn’t include an IR blaster with the device.

Custom Layouts and Themes

The open nature of the Android operating system makes personalizing it much easier, including the ability to radically change the default layout of the device. It’s possible to customize the iPad, but iOS is much more limited in this regard.

LED Notifications

A neat feature of many Android tablets and smartphones is the ability for the LED to flash when there is a notification. This makes it easy to tell if you’ve received an email while you were busy with other non-tablet tasks.  Unfortunately, it also uses battery resources, so if you let one of these tablets sit for a few weeks without being plugged into a power source, the battery will slowly drain.

Device-Specific Features

While we have mentioned a few device-specific features, it bears repeating that Android is an open operating system that allows for more customization, including support for many hardware features. Android is showing up in Smart TVs and will soon be making its debut in hybrid-OS laptops that run both Android and Windows.

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