Back To The iPad 2

Most of you will be surprised to read this, knowing that I’m a staunch Android fanboy, but I’ve been using an iPad 2 for over a month now, and I absolutely love it. The unit that I have is a WiFi-only 16GB – there’s nothing wrong with the baseline, honestly. I had previously used an iPad 2 with iOS 4.3.3 on it, and I really enjoy some of the improvements added with iOS 5. My previous tablet experience includes the Samsung Galaxy Tab (7-inch, Sprint variant), HP Touchpad (only lasted less than 24 hours with that one, lol), HTC Flyer, BlackBerry PlayBook, Velocity Micro Cruz, and Toshiba Thrive. The Toshiba Thrive lasted the longest – it’s seriously a phenomenal tablet, especially with the full-sized HDMI-out and USB port. However, I’ve stuck with the iPad 2 – here’s the good and bad (coming from an Android user)

Apple iPad 2

The Good

  • Battery Life – it’s ridiculously awesome. I use the heck out of this thing and can easily go two days before I need to juice up. It’s just plain nuts (and awesome for travelling)
  • Responsive – there is literally zero delay when doing things on the iPad 2. This was one thing that bothered me on Android tablets, even the Thrive – system hesitation in various places. The iPad doesn’t hesitate, it just does.
  • App Selection – I know this is a tiresome topic, and Android has come a LONG way in the apps area. However, I will confess that iPad apps are generally much more polished, with actual thought put into the user experience.
  • Flipboard – Quite honestly, for someone as obsessed with reading content on the Internet, Flipboard is an actual bullet-point reason to buy an iPad. It’s that good.
  • iOS 5 – iOS 5 is a pretty big improvement over previous versions, specifically with the notifications experience. More importantly, iOS 5 brings OTA updates, which means I don’t have to install iTunes on my computer anymore. I really don’t think I’ve hated any piece of software more in my life than I hate iTunes.

The Bad

  • Camera – aside from the front-facing camera, I honestly think back-facing cameras on tablets are the most useless thing ever. I have a phone, why would I want to look like a tool holding a 10-inch pane of glass up to snap a photo? That’s right, I don’t. Plus, the stills quality from the iPad 2’s back camera is atrocious. Makes the original RAZR look good.
  • App Prices – there is a serious dearth of good free apps for iOS. Coupled with the inability to ‘trial’ apps like you can on Android, this is a big one for me. The iPad 2 starts at $450, users shouldn’t need to shell out another $50 on apps right out of the box. I have 53 apps on my iPad 2 right now, and only paid for like, 2 of them. Also, app prices range from $0.99 all the way up to stinkin $10.99 and beyond. I can’t fathom paying that much for an app, really. I’m not against paying for apps, though – I’ve spent nearly $50 on apps on the Android market – perhaps that’s why I’m hesitant to spend money on iOS apps. I also think the App Store experience is HORRENDOUS. I literally hate pulling up the Apple App Store.
  • Almost zero customization – I come from Android – the land where you can change nearly everything and anything you want quite easily (even without rooting). To jump into iOS, the land where you feel lucky to be able to change your wallpaper, it’s a big adjustment. I’d like to be able to change the overall color (similar to Windows 7) of the UI, and I would like to be able to replace the keyboard, mainly.
  • Using iPhone apps – with all the focus that Apple puts on the ‘user experience’, I’m astonished that they allow iPad users to install apps designed for the iPhone. The experience is completely horrendous. Not only do you have to click the ‘2x’ button to stretch it to fit the iPad’s larger resolution, but the result is a pixelated mess. Worse, though, is the fact that iPhone apps use the iPhone keyboard, which is laid out COMPLETELY differently than the iPad keyboard. It drives me bonkers, and is a main reason that I avoid iPhone apps on my iPad like the plague.
  • Twitter – I have yet to find a decent Twitter experience on the iPad that lives up to what I expect. I honestly love the idea of the Tweetdeck desktop experience on the iPad, but unfortunately, the Tweetdeck for iPad app has been pulled with no ETA (reports are that it was quite unstable, anyways). I’ve also noticed a really frustrating issue with the built-in Twitter support of iOS 5 – if, like me, you have multiple accounts that you want to keep separate (I usually use  a totally separate client for my @Rcadden twitter than I do my @RadioShack account, just to avoid mishaps), iOS will automatically pull those into the same app. I tried this with Echofon for @RadioShack and found that the account was automatically pulled into the official Twitter app, against my wishes. REALLY frustrating.

The Other

The iPad is clearly a more polished experience at this point, if you’re in the market for a tablet. However, Android’s not far off. I haven’t yet used anything with Ice Cream Sandwich (which, for the record, is completely ridiculous to type) nor have I used any particularly ‘sexy’ piece of Android tabletry (the Thrive is awesome, but it’s not really a ‘looker’), so there’s still some opportunity there.
Apple fanboys will tell you that the multitouch gestures in iOS 5 are basically the second coming of Jesus, but honestly, I never use them. They’re not immediately apparent, so I don’t even remember what they are, much less use them on a regular basis. Also, double-tapping the ‘HOME’ button is quite functional. Most people don’t know that if you swipe to the left enough, you get quick access to brightness and volume control, which I use constantly.
Another area where the iPad is vastly superior (for me) is in the work environment. I tried taking the Thrive to meetings and such, instead of my laptop, but it constantly fell short. The software weirdness of Honeycomb made navigating during a meeting a complete nightmare, as I was constantly waiting for things to happen. A key difference, too, is that the built-in Exchange support in iOS 5 lets me search the server – Honeycomb’s email client doesn’t do that. In fact, oddly, there’s no search function at all in the default Exchange email solution.
Overall, I’m totally digging the iPad 2.
Disclaimer (in addition to the one below this): I work at RadioShack, and my iPad 2 is a work device.

Published by rcadden

Just a dude with a phone.

5 thoughts on “Back To The iPad 2

  1. Hmm, yeah, the Thrive is hardly a good introduction to the Android Tablet world. I’d say best options on the market right now are the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Asus Transformer. That said, I’m selling my Tab 10.1 and getting the Transformer Prime once it hits the market. Quintuple core, 12 hours of battery, 64 GB of storage, 8.something mm thick, with great connectivity sans the need for dongles. Shut up and take my money!

    1. I actually really loved the Thrive – used it for several months before finally giving up. It’s the software, mostly. As much as I love Android, I’m not really impressed with Honeycomb at all.

  2. Same here, dude.  I’ve been loving my iPad2 since it came out.  I don’t see too many android users saying they love their tablets….. : )

    You should check out Flipboard, if you haven’t already.  It makes Reddit greater, and FB isn’t too bad.  Not sure about how it handles Twitter; I haven’t been tweeting lately.

    Cheers, Ricky!

  3. Interesting, but not surprised. The core experience of any of these tablets is so key to the overall impression. I think that many times we miss that when glazing at certain features. It does sound like the Thrive met a lot of points for you, but Android’s jitteriness (polish, efficiency, etc) rearing its head eventually did you in. I wonder in part if your familiarity with other unpolished platforms contributed to some of your patience there.

    As for the iPad. Well, I can see that being the case too. Though, I’m a bit different from you in how I am getting the hang of, and making the most of gestures on my 1st gen model. I’ve got a feeling Apple is pulling something out of their hat nice and sneaky for a future iPad in that regard.

  4. But you did pay $10 for Locale on Android if I remember correctly. 🙂

    http://www.rickycadden.com/2011/06/how-i-use-locale-to-automate-my-android/

    I totally understand many of the points you bring up in your comparison, the ease of use and smooth experience on the iPad 2 is great and I would LOVE to see the Flipboard team release an Android version.  I really wonder if the difference in application layout is platform dependent where iOS provides better options for making a more well thought out application layout.  I’m always amazed at the difference in tablet application functionality and presentation between Android and iOS.

    I have been pretty happy with my Android experience on my Xoom.  There are occasions where things slow down a bit, but overall the 3.2 update really smoothed out the experience.  Love the 64GB of storage now that the SD card is working.  I haven’t fully incorporated the Xoom into my work day (still need access to engineering simulation, etc.) but since both my personal and corporate email accounts are in Google I have quick access to email, calendar, contacts, email search and Gtalk for both accounts.

    I am really looking forward to ICS on the Xoom since it’s a GED and love some of the changes that are coming.  The overall UX should improve greatly and I hope that the code makes better use of Tegra’s dual core.  Hopefully not too much longer. 🙂

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