After a year of envy of my better half having an original iPad, I was lucky enough to pick one up about ten days ago. In this time its already become my go to device for a bunch of scenarios and I’m delighted with it.
With my professional hat on, we have been asked to take a look at building some tablet based applications. Much as I love my IOS based device, Apple keep a very tight reign on whats happens on that platform so I wanted to show the client alternatives.
To demonstrate the alternatives I went shopping for an Android device - initially planning to buy an Android 2.2 based table, the Vega Tablet PC - 512MB.
However when I got to the store, I spotted that they has both the Motorola Xoom and the ACER Iconia Tab A500 Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) tablets in stock. Android 3 is the first version of the OS designed to run on tablets. So I got upsold and bought a Xoom as an alternate platform for the tests.
Initial feelings about the Xoom are very positive.
- Noticeably heavier/thicker than iPad 2.
- Screen is great, touch response etc excellent.
- Sound through speakers is awful (although better when in the “stand mode” of portfolio case).
- Camera - front and rear clearly better than iPad2 (although I’m still dubious about cameras for anything other that video conferencing on this type of device).
- Charging - you can’t charge over USB it has a power brick - unforgivable - (am considering returning it for the ACER if that is USB chargeable).
- The setup is nice, integration to google applications etc is all very quick.
- Browser is quick (no difference side by side with iPad2 on BBC, Guardian etc).
- Flash video - works fine.
- I’ve struggled a little with general navigation etc. I don’t think its bad, its just different to what I know from Apple side (interesting that colleagues with Android phones also notice its different).
- Bult in apps for mail/calendar etc etc are good - but lack polish.
- I’ve crashed the OS 3 or 4 times pressing navigation etc while apps are running.
- Notifications - as people have noted, Android 3 nails this - clearly better than IOS.
- App Store is short of tablet specific format apps right now (and Amazon won’t let folks purchase in UK on that store yet) - this is clearly going to change fast.
- Now the important stuff - Angry Birds Rio - feels identical to iPad2 version.
A quick note, I bought the Motorola Portfolio case. IMHO it has a huge design flaw, you can’t charge the device with the case/screen protected.
These are the first of this generation of Android devices, we are going to see dozens of these within a year.For me the Apple user experience is still the benchmark, but its close. This market is going to be fun over the next few years, I hope this pushes both vendors forward - we should all gain.
Initial application development proof of concept had been built using PhoneGap and Sencha Touch. I’d had this running as an IOS bundle for a few days, it took 10 minutes to migrate same code to native Android App. Application has worked with almost identical performance on the Xoom.