Tablets: Android or iOS?
The great tablet debates rages on as recent news reports suggests that Apple, the once untouchable behemoth of the digital world is now looking over its shoulder as Google’s own Android OS becomes more of a threat to its superiority by the day.
While some may scoff that Android’s numbers are only so high because so many manufacturers use its OS for their products, but this is also the exact reason why Google could overtake Apple in the tablet game. More manufacturers, more devices, more choice, and more consumer-friendly prices can only help Android’s rise.
Let’s take a look at both and see how they stack up.
Apple changed the tablet game with the iPad, much like they did with the smartphone market when they released the iPhone back in 2005. Slight cosmetic and hardware changes have led to the iPad with Retina Display, and it’s recent ‘younger sibling’ the iPad mini. They look great, no doubt about it, and when it comes to ease of use iOS is, for the most part, fool proof. If the first tablet you picked up was an iPad, you’d probably adapt in next to no time.
The Android tablet market has blown up in the past couple of years, especially with the welcome release of Ice Cream Sandwich and then Jelly Bean, the two most recent versions of Google’s OS. These updates really bought Android on a par with Apple in terms of usability, and devices with fantastic entry level pricing (the Nexus 7 clocking in at under £200, for instance) appear to be pulling first time buyers over to Google’s side.
When it comes to choice and range of apps then Apple’s app store wins this hands down. However, that isn’t to say that Android’s Play Store doesn’t have an array of different apps and games available. Apple have been doing incredible things with the App Store since the release of iOS 2, and while the Play Store lags behind in numbers and has slightly less stringent quality control when it comes to approving apps there isn’t much to choose between the two here.
Most major apps are available on both platforms, as are most games now as developers see the potential of making their wares available for both crowds. You can expect this to become more commonplace in the near future, and hopefully there will be a time when developers will release apps on both platforms simultaneously.
Which one suits you better?
Your decision could come down to how you’re planning to use your tablet. If you’re looking to purchase for your job then the iPad is practically synonymous with businessmen, offices and meetings up and down the country. It does what it needs to do exceptionally well, has a wider array of apps (at present) and they look great.
Both handle media exceptionally well, the most recent iPad’s upgrade to retina display makes watching videos and movies a joy, and the Google Nexus 10 tablet has what is currently the highest definition screen available on a tablet (300ppi).
The iPad mini has also covered a hole in the Apple market for those who want a tablet that is more akin in size to say, a kindle. Android tablets are available in a variety of sizes already, so if you choose Android you can most likely find a tablet that is sized to your preferences.
You may also require the use of your tablet for your commute, or when you’re out of the office. If this is you, you may need to consider a tablet with 3G connectivity. You can plump for a WiFi-only model and find other ways to use your tablet on the move. For instance, I’ve found it surprisingly easy to tether my phone’s 3G connection to my Android tablet using Bluetooth, and it works more than adequately for reading emails and articles on the commute.
This is where the biggest gap is between the two, the price. Apple products have always been priced higher than most, and there is no doubt that you get what you pay for. However, the price tag is often what drives consumers away from Apple.
A 16GB iPad mini currently costs £269, and that is the lowest price you’ll see for an Apple tablet. The iPad 2 starts at £329 for the 16GB model, and the new iPad with retina display starts at £399. At the other end of the scale, a 128GB iPad with WiFi and 3G will set you back a rather hefty £739.
Android tablets come in cheaper, due to the variety of manufacturers who choose the OS for their models. It’s worth looking at the current line of Google’s own Nexus tablets to get an idea of comparative prices, the Nexus 7 starts at £159 for the 16GB WiFi only model, while the 32GB version currently costs £199 for WiFi or £239 for the WiFi and 3G model. The Nexus 10 starts at £319 for its basic 16GB WiFi version, rising to £389 for the 32GB version. There is no 3G option as yet for the Nexus 10, but other tablets do offer this option.
Ultimately, if you can afford the iPad and have a love for Apple products you’ll want to go for that. With few minus points against it, the iPad will serve you well and you’ll definitely be getting your money’s worth out of it. iOS has recently come under fire for looking a little dated in places, so let us all hope that Apple has been listening and that iOS 7 will see a new, redesigned look to it. After all, next to the stock version of Android 4.x it doesn’t look great.
Android tablets are a great option for anyone looking to take a step into the tablet market but don’t have the deep pockets required for an iPad. With a wider range of models you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a model you like, and the pricing should be much more suitable in regards to what most people are willing to spend on a first tablet.
Ultimately it will come down to personal preference, so if you have the opportunity to try out both iOS and Android tablets then do so, you may find you prefer the Android set up, or you might prefer the ease of use that comes with Apple’s iPad.
Whichever ‘side’ you pick, providing you take your time, weigh up your options and choose wisely, you’ll end up with a fantastic tablet that’ll open you up to a whole new world of computing.