The Great Debate: Android Tablet v. iPad

I’m going through a bit of a quandry, and it’s probably blaspheme to speak about, but I’ve held off purchasing an Android tablet running Android OS 4.0 for one reason: I’m not sure if I want it. I’m actually considering, hold your breath and sit down, an iPad.

But wait, before you say, “ugh,” and unsubscribe, let me explain.

First, I love Android tablets (“oh yeah, sure you do”). I especially love that Android tablets are packed with extra features, such as removable storage and USB, that do not exist on iPad. I also love that I can customize any Android tablet to my particular style. In truth, Android tablets are far superior devices, but there’s still a “little brother” element that they can’t quite shake.

So, my dilemma occurred long before I read this story, and strengthened moments thereafter. Unlike Peter though, I’m not about gaming, I’m about productivity and usability. Sure, I love an occasional game (I’m hooked on “the Birds” and now, Mini Motor Racing), but when I use a tablet, I want it to make my life easier. I want its features to wow me. Most importantly, I want to be able to do things, I want to “work” on my tablet.

Is it about the apps?

I’m not sure it’s the apps that get me. Aside from the overwhelming number of lawyer-centered apps (I wish Android had Fastcase, iJuror, or PenUltimate) iPad doesn’t carry too much weight. Most of Android’s apps are of similar quality, albeit some are smartphone-centered, but tablet adjusted, and there’s a similar number (please don’t start the “iOS has more argument” – I’m merely referring to the exponential growth of Android apps, compared with iOS apps).

Frankly too, if you’re truly honest about which apps you use most, you’ll probably also discover that Android has a comparable version.

If it’s not the apps, “then,” you ask, “what is it about iPad you’re loving so much?”

Quite simply, it’s stability.

I think Google lost control of Android, they know it, and they can’t fix it. Since Android’s an open-concept OS, developers are free to manipulate the system as they see fit. This openness is especially good for development and innovation, but significantly hurts consumers and end-users. Open concepts create anarchy, which in Android’s case is called fragmentation: too many devices running a number of different operating systems. Apple’s totalitarian control commendably stifles this major problem, “one OS shall rule them all.” Device manufacturers and providers freely add bloatware that slows down systems, creates frustration for users, and without rooting your device, is impossible to remove.

Google appears poised to control with Android 5.0, but that’s light years away, and until then I’m stuck in a contract with Verizon, and I want a tablet, not a smartphone.

Google’s second problem is that developers get paid less on Android OS than iOS. We all hate getting stiffed for our work, and there are plenty of “get your apps for free” websites. I advocate purchasing your apps rather than pirating them, because it’s good sense all around. Good developers deserve payment for their service, and more quality paid apps means fewer sub-par apps that rely on advertising.

Finally, though I have my doubts, Google may abandon Android altogether. Google isn’t in the Android game. Its bread-and-butter is advertising search. Google seeks a bazillion methods for delivering its advertising to the world. Android is one platform, not the platform. If its platform isn’t working, it’s easy to cut off. Not to mention the ordeal or monetary nightmare that could exist if it starts losing its patent wars, especially to Apple. As much as I love you Android, I think you’re sunk if that happens.

In truth, Apple did it right. Instead of letting its minions run about like masochistic marauders, Apple kept its beast in hand. Apple developed a product that doesn’t take tweaking to enjoy, appeals to the masses, and can accomplish a number of different functions without much effort. So, what’s wrong with owning an Android phone and an Apple tablet? Looks like I’m going to need a bigger app pocketbook.

7 Responses to The Great Debate: Android Tablet v. iPad

  1. I think you might be making more of this than you probably should be. Fastcase, for one, should be a non-issue. You get it for free as an OBA member, and accessing it over the web is exactly the same experience whether you use a desktop or a tablet. At least, it is for me, and I use it quite a bit on the tablet. I’ve never used PenUltimate, but I’d be sort of surprised if it can do anything that Supernote can’t. True, Supernote is an Asus exclusive but I trust you to see the light and get a Transformer anyway. 🙂

    That leaves iJuror. I’ve never used it either, but just from the description it strikes me as being pretty much tech for tech’s sake. Maybe you civil guys take it slower during voir dire, but when I pick a jury I’m scribbling notes in different boxes as fast as I can scribble. I’m not sure I could keep up with the process using either a tablet or a laptop. Some things, for me at least, are just done better using a pen and paper.

    I’m not sure I’d worry too much about fragmentation either. Yes, it can be a problem on phones, but I’ve had exactly zero issues with my tablet running ICS. And even if Google loses control of the OS, which my gut tells me they won’t, it will still be around for quite a while yet. You’ll be in the market for a new tablet by then anyway.

    Just FYI, I have a friend who was an iPhone disciple. He loved it. RAVED about it. I let him play with my Droid X for a few minutes last year, and he finally handed it back to me and said, “I can’t wait for my contract to run out.” He’s now the proud owner of a Galaxy Note, and he can’t say enough good things about it. I also let him play with my Transformer Prime, and he promptly gave his iPad to his wife and is trying to decide which Android tab to get. I’ll bet he gets a Transformer, too. Anecdotal, I know, but it’s something to keep in mind.

    • Randy,

      Thanks for the comment. You’ll actually probably never see me purchase an iPad, as an upcoming post will show.

      Fortunately, I had the opportunity to play with Supernote, which does convert me to believing there’s a matching competitor. I’m also getting more impressed with the capacitive touch of some of the newer Tegra devices, and am certain that they’ll match the smooth flow of iPad.

      You’re certainly right about trial. I’ve never had an experience where I could slowly type the information into iJuror, and save some semblance of information. Like you, my jury picking just travels too quickly.

      You cannot beat the Galaxy Note. Period. It’s a great device, and its only drawback to me is the size. I played with a client’s one day and instantly fell in love. That said, I’m leaning toward upgrading to a Galaxy Nexus device (or its predecessor) for my smartphone’s Android 4.0 fix.

      That said, I think you’re wrong about Fastcase. While I can access it from the bar association, I love the iOS app. Clean, user-friendly, and very-well formatted. Saves me the hassle of having to log in to the bar’s website and link over. One click and I’m there (I always forget my OBA login information). The drawback is that I rarely need to use these kinds of apps on my phone/tablet. When I’m using Fastcase its usually at my desk in the office or at home. I always save cases to PDF to read later and mark.

  2. Here’s a comment from another reader I received via email:

    I feel your pain. I finally bought the new Ipad – even though I’m a Droid fan. I also rooted my Android phone after your prior post, but I’m trying to figure out the best way to use it now.

    • Dear Reader:

      Don’t fret. There are some serious likes and advantages to the iPad (namely the apps), but I feel Android will overtake iPad in the sophistication of its devices, and the apps.

      What’s more, you probably won’t notice too much of a shift between the devices since the relative number of lawyer-specific apps you use is minimal.

  3. Jeff,

    Make the move to ICS – it is a definite improvement IMHO over Honeycomb. While I also miss the legal specific apps, I love having the removable storage, USB connectivity and more that Android provides. For PDFs, I love ezPDF Reader. If you do need a tablet for trial, then yes, the iPad is your device of choice; however, if it isn’t, then I will stick with my Android tablet. BTW, I started with a Viewsonic gTab, then a Acer Iconia 500 and now have the Asus Transformer Prime and keyboard which is terrific.
    Keep the faith.

    Nerino

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Jeff Taylor

I’m just an ordinary guy living an extraordinary life. I’m also an attorney and I blog about Android for lawyers. You can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Google+.