Apple vs. Android 2013
Posted by JanWan
Last Updated: February 08, 2013

Which tablet: iPad or Android? How to choose

iPad mini

I’m sure many people are wondering exactly the same thing. Much like when choosing a smartphone, there’s no single "best" device on the market; different people will have varying needs when it comes to selecting a tablet. Let’s look at a few reasons why you might choose one over the other.

First – and let’s get this out of the way right from the start – many people take a strong anti-Apple stance. Sometimes it’s for justifiable reasons (they don’t like the closed architecture and the "one true way" Apple culture), at other times it’s for more ephemeral reasons. Many folk simply see Apple owners as stupid people who are lured by slick marketing into paying too much for their tech. Either way, if you’re in the anti-Apple camp, don’t buy an iPad. Simple!

Similarly, there are Apple fans who always want to own the latest Cupertino gadget, and indeed will queue to get it on the first day. For them it would be madness to buy anything other than an iPad, although this advice is superfluous since they’ll already have one. In fact, they’ll own several, since we’re now on the fourth generation of the original device and they’ll probably have upgraded each time, as well as having just bought themselves an iPad mini.

If you or the company that you work for is heavily tied into the Google infrastructure and its cloud-based applications, such as Gmail and Google Drive, then you’re probably better off with an Android tablet – which isn’t to say you can’t use an iPad; it’s just that the Google ecosystem integration is deeper on a device running Google’s operating system, as you might expect. As a general rule, the iPad will try to force you into using Apple’s cloud services, while an Android tablet will steer you towards those of Google.

Size used to be a differentiator – the iPad came in only one size, with a screen roughly the size of a sheet of A5 paper and a bezel around the edge making the whole unit around A5.5-ish (that is, halfway between A5 and A4). But now we also have new iPad mini with its 7.9in display and thinner bezel. Although Android still has the edge when it comes to a choice of devices and form factors, with everything from whopping 12in monsters down to tiddly 5in minnows, the iPad now has two bases covered rather than only one.

The same can’t be said for pricing, where the iPad is very much the rich man’s option. Even the new iPad mini, which was widely predicted to be Apple’s move into lower-priced tablets, turned out to be nothing of the sort: it’s still priced as a "premium" product. Its main competitors are priced within the £100-£200 bracket, so the iPad mini’s £269-£529 could turn out to be its most distinctive feature.

Creating apps

If you’re a developer then you’re faced with a rather paradoxical choice: if you go with Android it’s far easier to create apps, with more tools available, and you can host your development environment on just about any platform going, but when you’ve finished it’s often hard to make money on Android app sales. Go down the iPad route and you’ll need a Mac of some description (you can, in principle, use a "hackintosh", but it probably isn’t something you’d want to rely on for your living).

Once you’ve created your app, though, you’re far more likely to see revenue from it, since iPad users are significantly more likely to hit the Buy button than their Android-owning brethren (and significantly less likely to pirate your work).

It can be more difficult to get an app listed in Apple’s App Store, however, with many more rules and regulations to meet, and the company prone to unexpectedly moving the goalposts. Apple would have you believe that its "guidelines" are there to prevent a certain type of app – tip calculators, for example – such as those you find in Android stores, but the rules are actually more often to protect Apple itself.

If you make any in-app money then Apple wants a cut. If your app is a storefront for other apps then it will be rejected, even if it directs users to the App Store to complete their purchase. There’s a raft of such issues that you need to think about at the planning stage of your app, rather than trying to fudge the rules later to make the app fit.

Ongoing support can be an issue, too, and here both platforms have their pros and cons. For example, when Apple releases a new version of its mobile OS, it’s generally available to all iPad users at the same time; with Android, you’ll often have to wait for your tablet vendor to provide its own update to the latest release (unless you’re prepared to hack the device). In fact, an Android tablet might not even come with the most recent version of the OS, since some tablets are on sale with operating systems that lag several versions behind the latest and greatest release.

However, with an Android tablet you’re likely to see better and longer ongoing support. With each new release of iOS, Apple will usually drop an older generation or two from its supported list, claiming the older hardware can’t cope with the latest updates – which is usually hogwash; the hacker community has become adept at showing these newer versions work just fine when forced into older devices. Also, Apple tends to refresh its devices far more frequently: for example, the third-generation iPad I have here was replaced by a newer model within seven months of its launch.

As long as you stay away from the real bargain-basement end of the market, it’s hard to buy a bad tablet

When it comes to buying apps, it’s hard to beat the service you get from Apple’s App Store. If you find you’ve bought an app that doesn’t work, or one that crashes frequently, you simply have to report it to the company and you’ll receive a refund without question. In fact, Apple customer service is pretty damned good across the board: those in-store "geniuses" might have the most puke-inducing job title in the whole of the IT industry, but they’re usually helpful, knowledgeable and courteous.

When it comes to design and build quality, Apple kit is hard to beat. Android tablets are improving in this respect, but there still isn’t anything to touch the solid heft of an iPad, or indeed its stylish looks. However, where Android tablets do trample over Apple’s shiny trinkets is in the area of connectivity. For a start, they usually employ standard micro-USB cables, whereas iPads use one of two proprietary connectors, depending on which model you’ve bought. Second, 3G-based Android tablets will usually use a standard or micro-SIM card, whereas the latest iPad mini takes a harder-to-find nano-SIM. And finally, when it comes to syncing with a desktop or laptop computer, the iPad needs iTunes, which is truly horrible – especially the Windows version.

Teenage kicks

What about if you're buying a tablet as a present for a teenager?. Of the teenagers in my family, I can think of two who are tech enthusiasts; one of them would love an iPad, while the other would hate it.

The first one loves technology but from a usability point of view – he loves to create, share, interact and generally push the capabilities of his technology to the limit. He’ll know every gesture and keyboard shortcut, and loves exploring new apps. The second lad is interested in what’s "under the hood", and will spend more time updating the drivers on his PC than actually using it. He’s the kind of person who will overclock his CPU for a 2% performance gain; he likes open source software; and he’ll often tweak code to make it do what he wants.

Both are seen as geeks by friends and family, but in fact they couldn’t be more different. The first one loves his iPad, although I think he might tolerate a quality Android tablet if push came to shove. The second one loves his Android tablets (yes, he has more than one), and although deep down I think he can see the attraction of the iPad, he’d never admit to it, nor let his peer group see him with Apple kit.

So as you can see there are pros and cons to both systems, and that’s to completely ignore the "which has the fastest CPU" and "which has the brightest screen" details that you’ll usually find in comparative reviews.


Read more: Which tablet: iPad or Android? How to choose | Enterprise | Real World Computing | PC Pro



These are two competitive company in the market today, which is your favourite choice.
kool blog Jan!
Android all the way