5 Ways The Android-Powered Google Tablet Is Better Than The iPad

The iPad is easily the best tablet you can buy right now, but that's changing. Google showed off their upcoming tablets today, casting a spotlight on the iPad's shortcomings. Here are the Android features we wish we had on our iPads.

A Helpful, Simple and Non-Intrusive Notification System

Note: We're only talking about features built into the operating system here. The tablets that will run the Android operating system will vary.

The Android vs iOS fight isn't relegated to mobile phones anymore. Google's tablet-focused Android operating system is introducing several great new features to Android-based tablets that we like considerably more than their feature-counterparts on the iPad. The notification system in iOS has always been nothing more than a series of pop-ups and long an annoyance of its users. This has been an issue on the iPhone, but it's particularly frustrating on a tablet where there's so much more space to make use of less-intrusive options. Android's new built-in notifications are extremely useful and stay out of your way. Music controls are easily brought up from the bottom of the screen and don't require the double-click of the home button and an additional swipe just to pause or change songs. When you receive a message in Android, you get a nice little message that fades in at the bottom of the screen to let you know without any additional interruption. On the iPad, all notifications come through the same pop-ups that not only interrupt what you're doing but can sometimes cause so much of an interruption that it'll cause you to lose a game you're playing, lose your position in a web video, or cause a few unintended typos.

True, Useful Multitasking

While iOS never claimed to have true multitasking, Apple's avoided it primarily due to battery life and performance concerns. While we can't know how battery life will be affected by multitasking on newer tablet hardware, the upcoming dual-core processors designed for tablets are certainly showing more than enough power to handle true multitasking. Android 3.0's new multitasking panel is not only easier to bring up with just a tap on the screen (as opposed to a double click of the iPad's home button), but it also provides full previews of running applications and is easy to navigate. This is a simple, effective part of the user interface and it's something Apple should have figured out already. Even the jailbreak community has found a way to do it effectively, so it would be nice to see better multitasking in an official iPad software update sooner than later.

A Better Home Screen

While I can understand the grid-like organisation on the iPhone and iPod touch, the iPad has so much room with its big screen that it just seems wasteful to use it in the same way. With folders, we can organize apps on our iPad easily and not have to worry about ridiculous numbers of pages. On my iPad, I have yet to fill up an entire page for that reason. Why not utilise that space better and let us place widgets and other things on our home screen? Many apps would work better as widgets anyhow, and it would be a new class of apps that could be sold in the iTunes App Store that are both useful and easy to develop. It's a win-win.

A (Better) Camera App

Ever notice how there are a ton of better camera apps for iOS? It's because the one included in iOS is basically just a button. The iPad doesn't even have a camera yet, but that's an expected feature in the second generation. Hopefully Apple will take this opportunity to add a few more features to the camera application so we're not just stuck with a shutter. While I love Apple's "only what you need" philosophy, I think most of us need more than a single button and a photo/video toggle switch to take good photos with a mobile phone camera. While Google's camera app might be a little heavy on the feature side, it would be nice to see the iPad's upcoming camera bring an app with it that is a nice compromise between the two.

Buying Apps in a Web Browser and Not Syncing

I think the iTunes App Store works pretty well, whether you're purchasing apps on your computer or directly from your iPad. Where the new Android Market Web Store really wins is how easily you can buy apps on your computer, send them to your device, and avoid syncing altogether. I haven't been shy about how much I hate syncing with the bloatware that is iTunes, and if I could have one new feature on iOS it would be the ability to comfortably cut the cord. Please don't continue to make us sync, Apple. It's annoying, tedious, and slow. Android has the right idea here. Take note.

Where the iPad Still Wins

Even with these great new features coming to Android tablets (at some point in the indefinite future), the iPad is still pretty good. Here are a few points where the iPad still holds strong despite the aforementioned shortcomings:

  • Design: Sure, design is a matter of taste, but it's hard to argue that in many ways, the iPad's (and iOS') simple is look better. Design is not Google's strength, and so design is always like to win out on the iPad.
  • Simplicity: Again, you can chalk this up to taste. If you prefer simplicity, the iPad has it. If you like whiz-bang widgets and navigation features, the upcoming Android tablets have them. The main difference: Your non-geeky friends might not know what's going on when you've finished tweaking your Android tablet. Anyone can grok the iPad.
  • AirPlay: The media-streaming capabilities that AirPlay brings to iOS devices are excellent. They're simple, elegant, and well-integrated in the OS. We've yet to see anything as good on Android.
  • Hardware: We realise in the note above we mentioned that we're not focusing on hardware, but the fact is, Apple almost always wins on the hardware front. Nicer screens, a better feel, and so on. That said, Gizmodo's Jason Chen also really liked the hardware when he gave Android 3.0 a hands-on.

Anything in Android you'd like to see on the iPad? Let us know in the comments.


Comments

    Let me first say, I don't have an ipad, I'm looking for an alternative but, I can't find any other tablet that has the responsiveness that the ipad has. For me it needs to fast and responsive, when you flick or drag your finger over the screen it needs to feel like you have taken over control of the UI element and not trigger a canned animation that is out of sync with your interaction. Achieve these things and I will snap it up.

    ~B)

      I've been looking for the words to say EXACTLY what you just did. I'd really prefer to NOT have to buy an iPad - but there's nothing else out there (yet).

    removable batteries is huge advantage of android devices (and a huge limitation of the ipad)

      Eh, I'm not really fussed about that. With devices short battery limits sure but tablets have long enough standby time that it's not really a thing.

      I mean in the past ten or so years I've gone through five phones and I've yet to but a spare battery and the only reason I've ever had to take the battery out is to access the sim card.

    The new android tablets sound really great. The only thing I'm looking for in a tablet is that I can use it as a sketchpad. I don't like the option to paint with my finger, I would like to use a stylus/pen. Hopefully this will come soon.

    Check out Skifta for a lovely DLNA airplay equivalent. Free, works a treat, and not tied to Apples products.

    I agree that notifications on the iPad suck (and the phone for that matter) and the home screen is pretty ordinary (a huge waste of real estate), but I don't agree on the camera issue as iPad2 will have a camera and the multi-tasking argument is only used by true nerds; most users don't even understand the argument. And why the big deal with iTunes syncing? You must be a Windows user, I've heard its buggy there; I plug my iPad to the computer every night to charge it and it syncs while I sleep. That is, I've never even had to think about it.

      iTunes on Windows is abysmal 00 and given that it necessarily has a much higher installed base than the Mac version, its continued sloppiness isn't much of an ad for Apple's ability to code properly. Sure, you can say it's easier for Apple to write Mac stuff, but you don't have to be Microsoft to do decent Windows code, as Chrome attests pretty neatly.

        And you don't have to be Apple to do decent Mac code either, as Office for Mac shows. From what I've heard, it's pretty good.
        But iTunes and Quicktime on Windows is painful.

        What if you're running a Linux machine? Then you don't have iTunes. Are you able to buy apps on your computer and sync to iPhone/Pod/Pad? With Android's web interface, there is no problem. It also shows a move to more things being served from the web instead of by separate programs.

    I'd like more personalization, better RAM, make it more sturdy, and to be able to access iTunes on android devices. (It'll give apple more money and make everyone else happier)
    Sent from my ANDROID phone

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