Let me just start off with a tiny bit of background. The first thought that many people will have when reading that headline is that I must be some kind of Apple fan-boy. I would counter that with some personal history.
I love Linux. Or rather, I love Linux in certain situations. I've used it quite extensively for years, both in desktop and server functions. I've built web servers, mail servers, DNS servers, and file storage. I've waded through the dependency tangles on the desktop and fought to get the wireless working on many many laptops. (Remember the Broadcom wrapper installation procedure? I do.) When I had a web design studio, I used Linux exclusively on my machines for roughly a year.
However, I found that when it came to daily functional use, I was spending more time making the system work than I was working at the system. With Linux, I always had some issue for which I would have to find a workaround. Ultimately, I decided that unless I was putting together a purpose-built server, I was wasting too much time tinkering with the OS.
When Android surfaced, I saw a brilliant opportunity for purpose-built devices on open-source software to excel and kick some serious butt. I ran out and bought a Nook Color and rooted it. After a week or two of playing with it, I was again finding that I spent more time getting it to work than I did actually getting to use it.
I figured it was probably just because this device wasn't intended to be used with stock Android. I had rooted it, after all. On top of that, I found the applications for the device to be all over the place in terms of quality or function, or even resolution (more on this later). I found very similar experiences with the handful of Android devices I had to support while I was an IT administrator for several years.
Around this time, I bought a first generation, used iPad for my kids to play with. It has functioned completely flawlessly and still does to this day. Every "app" I buy for it functions as advertised, and they are all designed for this exact piece of hardware, though I understand it is possible to run iPhone apps on the device. I have had zero hardware bugs.
I recently found myself in need of a portable system for writing while I travel, so I started shopping around. I was immediately drawn to the the Nexus7 v2. This thing is a piece of beauty with its amazingly high-resolution screen, thin and light construction, and fantastic battery. Google has put a lot of work into the Play store in the last couple years, which really gave me hope for the application issues. I bought one and did it happily. That part of me that hates being mainstream rejoiced in the ability to figuratively give the finger to the big evil corporation of Apple.
Today, I'm returning it and getting an iPad. No single issue has led me to this point, but rather, a collection of small annoyances has outweighed my desire to have an Android device.
1. Bluetooth is broken.
My intention was to buy a tablet for writing while I travel. I imagined myself propping this thing up in an airport or hotel room, connecting my Bluetooth keyboard, and typing away happily. Unfortunately, what I found was that Android 4.3 (what comes on the Nexus7), has an issue rendering most Bluetooth keyboards completely incapable of functioning.
I couldn't believe it. This seems like it would be a really big deal, but it is yet unresolved. A quick Google search finds that I'm not alone in this. You begin typing and the keyboard goes nuts repeating characters until it decides to stop.
2. Applications suffering from hardware fragmentation.
Google has worked really hard on the play store. I booted it up and it looked fantastic. Things were clearly labelled and buying things was fantastically easy. However, I still found that some applications were just the cellphone versions scaled up. While it doesn't take much effort to uninstall a cruddy app and hunt down another, it is still incredibly annoying. I also downloaded a couple games that crashed when I attempted to run them. I understand that this is because tons of Android devices are out there and it is impossible to build software that will work flawlessly on all of them.
3. Bugginess in both the OS and the applications
This is the biggest annoyance. The touchscreen has decided to become unresponsive at least once a day since I bought it. It will be working fine, but then suddenly finger touches don't count. I have to hold my finger in place for a second for it to register, then sometimes it will register it as multiple touches. A quick reboot fixes the problem, but that is a pain in the butt when you're trying to carry out a task.
When the tablet reboots, it goes through the process of bringing up the lock screen. I don't know about the others out there, but mine does not cleanly transition from boot sequence to lock screen, there is a flickery mess that happens. This is in no way hindering me from carrying out a task, but rather is just another notch in the "this doesn't feel completed" column.
I realize that this isn't necessarily the fault of Android, but my Netflix application has become completely unresponsive several times in the past two weeks. I have uninstalled it and re-installed it, which fixed the issue (twice). Again, not a show stopper, but a pain in the butt. Did I mention that you can't watch Amazon streaming video on it? Well, theoretically you can if you root it and install some unsupported software (which still didn't work on mine), but out of the box you can'y.
I am hoping that I got a lemon. I've owned this thing roughly two weeks and I now have a nasty dead column in the middle of my screen. It isn't completely dead, it inverts colors from elsewhere. If it had worked flawlessly for a year I could almost overlook something like this, but it is two weeks old and already carrying the baggage of the annoyances listed above.
I actually want to love this thing. It is sleek, feels good in my hand, and has a vivid and colorful screen. The sound quality is good, the battery is good, and Android is so close to being something I would hand to my grandmother with confidence. When applications work they are fast, and there's no lag in navigation at all. If I were one of those guys who had to write a review after an hour of hands-on time, I'd be gushing over this thing.
However, I'm faced with the following issues right now:
I can't work on it (I'm not writing a 1,000 word article with the admittedly nice on screen keyboard).
I can't count on it to work correctly when I pick it up.
I really hope that Google digs in and refines this product. I would love to see even half of these problems worked out. I've decided that I'm not in the market for a "fixer upper" right now. I need a device that will actually just do these things. I'll get an iPad and just accept that maybe I'm not one of the cool kids (in my crowd at least).
I thought it was just my luck and I'm doing the same as you by going away from android for the same reasons.
At first I thought it was because I did the same as you, a free nook color which I then rooted with Gingerbread and then after frustration with GB I then went to jelly bean and I thought that just maybe I was expecting too much from the poor old nook.
Fortunately I had a data card for Gingerbread and jelly bean which along with the Nook made it simple to test apps on the 2 Os's, GB or JB.
With GB and JB I had almost the same issues but with different apps peforming fine under one OS while not performing on the different Os, what worked fine with Ginger Bread didn't work on Jelly bean and vice versa.
Then the screen lockups and constant rebooting, the touch screen not working with one app but then working fine on another os with the same app but then another part of an app not working and then constantly tweaking the darn thing and really holding back from wanting to use it as a skeet shooting target.
To top the frustrations off the wife picked up a dedicated androind tablet with the latest and greatest JB and it has the same issues but with differnt apps so whether its's running gingerbread, jellybean the little GREEN ALIEN is just way too buggy for me.
And of course my number 1 complaint being was that I could find only one browser that worked with flash but then the touch screen was screwy and it would constantly reboot in the middle of something while when the same browser was running under a different OS it didn't work at all with flash even though each browser claimed flash support.
To get around this problem with flash videos and the browsers I found myself booting into Nook color mode with my tablet and actually found the native nook mode really supported a lot more over wifi and much more stable than any of the android OS's.
@Caleb: I recently found myself in need of a portable system for writing while I travel...
The "Notes" app that comes with the iPad is rudimentary to say the least (although I do still use it on occasion).
But for what you want to do, I would totally recomment the Notes Plus app. Thsi is $8.99 from the iPad store and worth every penny. You can type, or use your finger to write cursive (there's also an optional handwriting to text add-in). You can select existing text and change the size, color, font... You can include multiple audio notes on each page. You can draw shapes with your finger and the app will detect whether you are drawing a triangle or a circle or square / rectangle and straignten up the lines and turn it into a resizable object.
Totally agree about wanting cross-platform functionality. For me this involves using Dropbox and working in Markdown/HTML almost exclusively. On that note, as a "power user" interested in using the iPad as a writing platform, you may want to check out the recently released Editorial app. It offers powerful automation capabilities not previously available in iOS text editors. For more (much more!), see this extensive review.
Notes Plus is great (as is its optional handwriting-to-text feature), but it wouldn't be my first choice for a primary writing/editing platform on the iPad. See my other reply in this thread for some thoughts on that.
I tend to write within the content management system I'm using if I'm writing for the web. Unfortunately, the online editors don't always render in mobile devices. Other than that I tend to write in plain text all the time. Gdocs covers my needs generally.
I spent many of the PC years fighting with BSOD issues, driver issues, etc., and was often envious of those who bought the expensive desktop machine from that other company and claimed that it always "just works." Back then I was willing to invest a fair amount of my time troubleshooting & fixing software issues because I convinced myself that the money I saved was worth some of my time.
But when the tablet era arrived, I bought one from that other company -- primarily because they happened to be out there first -- and the thing has worked flawlessly ever since. I think I have gotten spoiled now, and have no desire to go back to hackerware, or uninstalling & reinstalling software to see if I can get it to work again, or delving into the nuances of BT or WiFi simply because the thing randomly stops connecting to a network to which it used to connect.
The hardware is first rate in all of these devices and it's rare to encounter an actual hardware problem. But until I'm convinced that software is as universally robust among the various mobile platforms, I'm content to stick with something that "just works."
I really just can't afford to spend all my time making it work and researching the workarounds. I have gotten a lot of responses like... you could root it and then load a custom bluetooth driver to see if that helps... or you could hunt down and buy this one keyboard which we've heard still works...
nope, give me the product that does what it says it will do on the box. thanks.
I, too, often spend too much time trying to get things working at home. (I am no EE but everyone -- like family and relatives -- thinks that i can figure things out because I work for EE Times. Yeah, they don't get that i am just a reporter.) Usually, when I succeed to get things working, it's probably because I am too stubborn and i don't like to give up.
That said, I too found myself dumbfounded when my tablet from that other company worked from day one with no tutorials.
Two years ago, I changed companies and left my Blackberry behind to get a new smartphone, unwittingly falling into the Android app conundrum. I found that it took about $60 in apps to make my awful Droid Global 2 smartphone acceptable as a corporate device. Then came the hardware/software issues, lockups, slow dialup, and other irritations so numerous I became numb to them. Being an old PC guy, I'm not easily intimidated by glitches and bugs, but I was hoping that they would resolve themselves as I updated software and drivers. After nine months, they did not.
I'm convinced that it takes 6-9 months for most users to find out they really hate their Android devices. After my phone locked up coming into the SLC airport, causing me to get a speeding ticket, I determined that this phone would one day kill me (literally). Fortunately for me, it was time for an upgrade on my Verizon plan, so I took the plunge into iPhone world and haven't looked back. Yes, my geeky friends all bug me about getting a wimpy iPhone because I couldn't hack it in the Wild-West-like realm of Android software, but I'm comfortable in my own iPhone skin.
The primary problem with Android apps is that they are totally unverified by anyone but the developer. A friend of mine who write apps says that most smartphone app developers have a definite strategy -- develop your app for Android first, as they never reject anything. Then, submit your app to the iTunes store, expecting Apple to reject it a few times because it is touching areas of the OS that it shouldn't. Now my geeky software friends tell me that Android software all eventually resolve themselves by popular demand, but why should I waste my time doing all this just so it doesn't take 30 seconds for my smartphone to dial a contact? When I want to dial up a friend, I don't want the phone to run off check his Facebook status - just dial him up, and NOW!
There's no way you can tell me that bodacious processors alone with solve the problem of sorry software. If the Android community ever somehow gets a software-vetting process in place, then I might come back. For now, I'm an Apple guy.
I totally hear you Caleb, wearing the IT admin hat as the main or occasional responsibility.
I too never liked the idea of beiing controlled by an application (iTune) and not being able to manage my files, HW resources, etc.,and since it was not cool to use an end-user type device from Apple, I avoided that for a long time.
However, after some years of super successful market for iPhone, iPad, and other iThings, I came to belive that Apple is doing somethin right and one of them is to deliver what is advertised\promised in their product. I know many average iPhone, ipad end-users from all ages and background whom their only problem that I have heard they had were caused by physical or water damages and everything is so simple that they can all manage it without any deep technical knowledge.
and While techy guys like you or me were fixing issues on low quality products, the whole world learned how to enjoy their high quality phones/tablets with thousnads of apps poured in the market, hope to hear your feedback again after you adopted to your new ipad.
"and While techy guys like you or me were fixing issues on low quality products, the whole world learned how to enjoy their high quality phones/tablets with thousnads of apps poured in the market,"
yep, that right there. I still get a little excited installing linux on a machine knowing that I'm going to have all these little problems to reasearch and fix. It is actually part of the fun. However, that just isn't practical on something that I need to be able to whip out and work on.
The ones which worked perfectly for me, were all made by Apple. S3, when I got it from my carrier, was loaded with bloatware and made me want to stomp on it. You always have to tune this & that to make it work properly. All the 5 Apple devices I had, combined crashed on me, may be less than 10-20 times in 3-4 years. While S3 alone crashed on me atleast 200 times in the 8 months I used it. Though I like the several added features in Android(swype, digitiser pen, larger screen), If I want something reliable I will always pick Apple.
There is such a variety in android products that it is difficult to nail down where the issues are. I've seen HTC heros that would have made you swear off android for life, but heard good things about others. The Nexus 7 is SO CLOSE. I will probably buy one in 6 months or so for my kids to use.
Like said, after using both Android and iOS right from the start, as a mobile software developer, my first feeling was to say "Great article Caleb, that's exactly how things go, Android is buggy and iOS is nicely polished and working flawlessly".
However the comparison between the two is a bit stretched, and the results are a bit irrelevant, here's why:
Android is an open source platform. Google doesn't impose major guidelines to manufacturers so the total freedom results both in a lot of creativity (we see android running on endless devices of all kinds) but also a lot of fragmentation and problems when porting applications (the screen size is a minor one, as there are a lot more)
On the other hand, Apple carefully designes just a few hardware devices, carefully controls the production and then is also able to control in every details the way their final product works and feels. Do we want that? Maybe we do: as said, iOS will preform flawlessly and all applications including the OS will show little bugs and issues.
But... we love hacks, don't we Caleb? Having the platform open source not only allows us to hack into the OS and extend it to our needs, but we are even free to correct the so-called bugs and push updates if we want so.
You'll never get this freedom in the iOS world. So we get it simple and nice, or we get in complex but then we must be prepared to face the consequences: in a more complex system there can be bugs, issues and glitches but at least it's open source and we have a chance of changing something.
This is a peculiar tradeoff. You're basically saying that we have to accept buggy not-completely-functional software if we want open source (correct me if I'm wrong).
I completely disagree. We have learned to live with buggy software because it is common, we don't have to accept it. The freedom to modify source code does me absolutely no good whatsoever when I need to pick up the tablet and work on it using a feature that is literally printed on the box (but doesn't work).
The only thing source code does for non-developers is allow them to pat themselves on the back and look smugly at those who are happily typing away on their i-devices.
I think you misunderstood my point, please allow me to clarify.
I wasn't saying that we should accept anything less than what is printed on the box. This would be wrong. Instead I mentioned that more complex systems inevitably can lead to bugs due to several factors. Heck, I even had to reboot my computer 2 times before I could get my bluetooth keyboard correctly connected to write this reply.
For solving those bugs and assuring the perfect end user experience, we are talking about two completely different approaches in what Android does or what iOS does.
1) implementation/quality control
For Android, the platform is open source. Any third party OEM manufacturer is free to develop a hardware system, install Android and sell it on the market. Is google to blame if the end users are unhappy? The answer is obviously no. Giving the OS as open source doesn't allow them to control every single piece of hardware that gets to run their code.
And developing a smartphone is not a simple process: there are dozens of critical aspects that need to be tested, fixed, and the whole process repeated a few times. But in this world, some are more interested in earning quick money than building something of good quality, and so, for some manufacturers the quality aspect gets of minor importance, resulting in end user frustration.
Besides the hardware, there are also bugs in the software. I get your point that open source means nothing for the regular user, but sometimes even for me, as an embedded software developer - I rarely vaste the time to fix something that should have worked out of the box - but this is only a tiny fragment of the big picture: open source platforms come with entire communities of developers working to fix and improve things. Sure it doesn't all happen in one day, but the result is things are progressing and evolving relativelly rapidly. You will NOT get this with iOS. You will NOT get a significant evolution factor with closed systems.
On the other hand, Apple controls the production better. The hardware is carefully designed and implemented, and so is the software. You will get a perfectly polished product that WILL do what is printed on the box.
2) fragmentation and software compatibility
Another issue causing the kind of problems you wrote about is the hardware fragmentation, that the hardware is done in multiple flavours by each of the third party manufacturers - running apps on a fragmented platform becomes problematic. iOS doesn't have this issue.
Fragmentation is not new, remember the many flavours of Symbian? It was a pain for a developer to make a software work on ALL.
Then there was also the Windows mobile, still with some fragmentation problems, but with better implementation guidelines given by Microsoft to OEM manufacturers.
And I'm sure there could be more bullet points / ideas to discuss. BUT, what to choose?
Probably this is a matter of personal choice. A quick answer might be that if you want something simple and robust, go for iOS, and if you are more interested in hacking/modding/changing, than Android (buggy or not) is what offers more tools for doing that.
And a quick story to conclude: before Android 2.0 came out, there was no official Bluetooth support. At that time you could only turn bluetooth on/off, but nothing more, BUT as the platform was open source and Android running on Linux, I was able to use the Linux BlueZ stack not only to use Bluetooth functions, but implement an entire HID client module, to connect a Bluetooth keyboard to my phone (this resulted in the Blueinput software being developed for Android). Can the same be done on iOS. No, but to use Bluetooth for anything at all, you need to enroll in their MFi program that costs close to 10k USD plus royalties. So... it really depends on what you want to do: Arduinos, Automatizations and various Hacks are out of the question for iOS at least when using Bluetooth.
But I'm not saying Android would be better. It's full of issues and there are times when you simply need to give up, both as an end user or as a developer. I'm just saying that Open source has certain advantages, that closed systems will never get. That's all. For the end users, like said above, it's just a matter of personal choice. And yes, doing what's written on the box can be an important personal criteria to choose for.
great breakdown. I have been in many situations where it was open source software that really fit the best. When dealing with php/mysql based open source stuff I actually did go in and modify/fix things.
What I've generally found with open source software is that you have "tracts" where a group of people want a feature and implement it. This means that you have several features that are well done, but since none of those people cared about a couple bugs they don't specifically use, you still have those bugs. There's no incentive to fix them. I don't really know where I was going with this observation, but I've seen it several times.
Android is NOT an open source platform in the same way the Linux is. Google DOES impose its own guidelines and controls Adroid platform way more (better??) than Linus does for Linux.
Adnroid is becoming a Windows of the mobile platforms as we expect it to run on all mobile devices. Apple controlled their desktops/laptops' hardware and it always perfomed better than the generic Windows/Linux machine.
I have a Galaxy S2 and Gingerbread was fine. After OS upgrades, I have only headaches with Android (corrupted my microSD randomly, battery life, sometimes wi-fi just sits there spinning, and so on).
My iPAD works great, no lockups, no issues (for now).
/disclaimer - I'm NOT an Apple fan, always thought that their products are overpriced fashion accessories (Mac air is nice, though :)
Yep, in some cases the apple tax is a real thing. Especially now that there are competitors to the macbook air and macbook pro. However, I think they nailed it with the i-product line. It isn't just image, it is very clear performance.
I generally find that people who criticize apple products the most, obviously don't use them. This presents a problem as much of the complaint is pure assumption. I have been knee deep in tech and an IT administrator for 10+ years and used both extensively. The mobile devices by apple are easily the best out there.
Asus is really shining right now though, aside from this string of problems with the nexus7 I'm loving their stuff.
oh yes there are other good tablets. I honestly think the Nexus7 will be one of the best options out there once google fixes the screen and bluetooth. Maybe just a few months. I'm not in a beta program though, I'm paying final product money for a final product.
I wonder if you aren't using the wrong tool. By the time you add a case and a keyboard to any tablet, how much different is it than a netbook? A macbook air is thinner and has a bigger screen, something nice for writing and traveling. An ASUS transformer has an integrated keyboard that can be detached, kind of the best of both worlds.
The tablet is a cool idea, and I use mine quite a bit. I agree that typing on the screen renders that big screen in to a TRS-80 model 100, with little screen to use.
That is something I'm still grappling with. The Nexus7 was the perfect size to carry in my hand while walking through an airport. I could type on that screen while mobile and still be able to read fairly well. When I planted myself in a hotel room I can pull out the keyboard and write till my fingers fall off.
The full sized ipad is a bit bulky for using on the move, but still doable. The notebooks and ultra portables can't really be used in that manner. they have to be opened up and set on your lap. You can't use them as a map, or read your email while you wait in a long line.
Believe it or not, I'm actually tempted by the surface pro by microsoft. Having a full computer with usb host and everything in a modern tablet design is quite appealing. A single device to do it all. Unfortunately it currently has something like a 4 hour battery life.
Get a bigger phone like a Galaxy note2 to use while walking in the airport.
Get a notebook/chromebook with a keyboard to type until your fingers fall off. Use the cloud to move stuff back and forth between the devices. The note 2 (and probably most android devices) do pretty well translating voice to text. Maybe you don't really need a keyboard in your hotel room (the airport is another story).
I still laugh at the folks who show up in a meeting with their little iPads covered with gigantic keyboards in leather cases. Suddenly their little portable is a 4 pound monstrosity.
Personally I would say yes -- I use my notebook for serious work -- I use my tablet (iPad in my case) for it's instant-on capabilities because I'm always thinking "I wonder what/where that is/means/whatever" or "I need to write that down" or ...
Yeah, but I've got a desktop. I could do a desktop and a tablet and forego the laptop all together.
OOOOr, what about the new convertibles that are packing intel i5 processors? surely they are capable enough to fill both roles (laptop/tablet). A good example of this is the new HP split x2. I can have an I5 powered tablet with instant on that packs an extra battery and ports in a laptop style dock. (here's the link)
I think you have pinned down your problem, you want something mobile but at the same time it should be useable as laptop. I think its really hard to achieve. Today's devices are either mobile or workpower. I hope someone can solve the problem with some kind of flexible device that you can fold as a mobile phone.
Totally agree, after having used multiple cheap and expensive tablets incl the beutiful Nook HD+, I kicked myself for recently "transfering" the iPad3 to my wife. The difference is like between the old klunker and the new beemer. But all work, it's just how they work.....
My solution is to accept the far from perfect display on the Samsung Arm Chromebook. It does have a proper keyboard, snappy performance, access to the cload and light and robust enough to be carried around all day. And battery life for all day computing too. And far cheaper than a Macbook Air.....
We have a new Nexus 7 (2013) for the family and it's doing great. We run several games (both board games and HD action games), I watch Netflix often on it, we read both magazines and borrowed e-books from the library on it, plus the usual web surfing, etc. I've heard of the BT keyboard issue, but we've experienced none of the other issues you mention.
Perhaps you got a bad one? I'd return it and discuss with the customer service folks at Google about this - they might send you a second one to try. We got ours through the Play store.
If you're OK with having to run iTunes on the same computer to move video on and off the device, then go nuts with the iPad. After having my kids or spouse not have the movie they want on vacation and not having the right PC with us, I'll take Android's bugs any day. All aggravation is worth it to avoid iTunes.
back when I used to pirate movies, I would just set up dropbox and vlc player. I don't think there's a vlc player anymore for ipad, but I don't pirate movies anymore. I can just download them from amazon when I want.
I don't have internet when flying or driving. I bought my DVDs. Not buying from Amzn again. I've owned iphones and iPads. I don't enjoy criticizing Apple, not when so much of my 401k rides on it. But iTunes is horrible.
itunes makes me want to hit people. I avoid it at all costs. Luckily it is not required any longer for ipad use or iphone use. I can transfer files via dropbox without having to jailbreak my stupid device. Man, I'm getting irritated just thinking about using itunes. ugh.
Wife and kids not having the movie they want on vacation? You're a poor vacation planner. Have you ever tried just talking to each other to remain connected? Share new experiences (e.g. skiing, snowboarding at night for winter; surfing at night for summer), not watch a movie. So, you do things on vacation that you'd do at home; although not really relaxing, a staycation could be a lot cheaper and no issue with not having the movie they want.
I know this is about dumping the Nexus 7 and buyng an iPad, but how about leaving your devices all at home when you're on vacation? I've done that before, that is really relaxing, and no chance of anyone at work calling with an "emergency" like running out of toner (I don't handle that in our office, but often they think that since I am IT, that I know about "these things" - no, I don't know where the coffee filters are). What if you want to find something, have you lost your ability to ask?
1. I bought a tablet for work travel. Not necessarily vacation, however having the ability to be connected easier and more frequently actually allow me to take more time off. I can work from the road now!
2. I don't think anyone here was suggesting that they were going to be glued to a device for the entirety of a vacation. That is just being silly.
1. The point was vacation, not work travel. Your spouse and children may accompany you on you work travel, but you're working, and then you'd need to worry about what they will do while you are working.
2. No, I knew the OP was talking about downtime, not for the purpose of main attraction. That is why I gave the example of skiiing/snowboarding at night. We also do hike camps where the extra tech is too heavy, only the phones go for emergency use.
I think I'm pretty fair at vacation planning, but I won't try to either dazzle you or bore you with the details. There's still downtime and movies are a good way of filling it. I'm not saying that it ruins the vacation. And there's always Skymall on the plane. I'm talking about how competing LUXURIES, not necessities, compare. I'm sure we'd all get along just fine if the tablet market had never gotten past the Newton, but that's not really the point.
Not all of us live in your fantasy world where we can just turn work off for weeks on end. That may be possible in large companies where every job is somewhat backed up by 3 other people, but in many companies, there is no one for things to fall back on .... and hence emails do get checked on vacation. Personally, when I do not work, I do not get paid, and customers (yourself included no doubt), do not like waiting ... no matter the reason.
Sorry to hear about your troubles however my experience is totally different with the Google Nexus v1 tablet. I've had this tablet for 9 months now, absolutely no issues whatsoever. Netflix plays fine, no reboots, no glitches, all Apps (about 4 dozen) work well, even the latest Android OS update added new features.
I also own an iPad 3, which works well for me and it's paired with the Logitech UltraThin keyboard (oops, Apple forgot to offer a keyboard).
Once you pair a tablet with a keyboard then email becomes usable, writing becomes enjoyable because a touch-typist does not want to slow down by using the virtual keyboards.
I really don't understand all the harping on "fragmentation" vis a vis rant #2 of the article.
First of, the ranting in many cases, it is putting blame on Android rather than the developer. Android provides to the developer many tools to _cleanly_ handle operation on different screen configuratinos by abstracting out many of the geometry dependancies. How is it ANdroid's fault if the developer does not availe himself of those tools.
There are a number of apps that I use across a multitude of devices - phone, small tab, large tab - that handle leveraging the different sizes _beautifully_. So obviously Android apps CAN be made to wourk beautifully across platform types. So if a particular app does not, it's not due to any shortfall in Android, but of the developer to _use_ Android to the tfullest potential.
Some apps I use just don't make sense to _support_ all device types with _appropriate_ UIs. I found an awesome RPN calculator that I love. It's clean and powerful and has a ton of features and capabilities. The UI works beattifully on my phone. But on a tab, yes, it's the same UI and it looks catoonish on a tab. But its a _calculator_ - what would be the point of developing a specific UI for a tab just so it doesn't look cartoonish?
And Google Play does a pretty good job at making sure that you don't load an app that isn't supported on your device. I have a Nexus 7 (v1) and Play won't let me load apps that require wireless data, phone capabilities, camera functionality, etc. But, duh, it doesn't have those capabiliites so loading such apps would be rather pointless. (But in many cases, there are still ways for the determined individual to gets apps on a device that Play won't load). But again, that's not Androids fault those apps don't work. It was a _choice_ to buy a device lacking those capabiliites - you don't get a dirt cheap device without sacrificing capability. The alternative is what - ban hardware that doesn't have all hardware features so that all apps will work? But then that's one reason why there is no "Nexus 7 like"_low cost_ alternative with iOS.
In general the alternative is what? Ban apps that don't work well across all platforms even though it might be fantastic on one particular type of platform? Bann all dewvices that don't support all apps?
I guess some people prefer the "solution of the "unseen" negative - if the consequneces of having choices and options bother you or you can't handle making those choices, then just eliminate those choices altogether, problem solved. You don't miss those choices because you don't see that you don't have those choices (aka "ignorance is bliss" - you aren't displeased because you don't realize the choices you are missing.) The iOS approach. Some of us prefer to have those choices available to us. Some of us understand that having choices means that sometimes A and B will not work together. But being able to choose A or B is a better "ecosystem" than an ecosytem that disallows either A or B so as to avoid a situation where one might try A with B and be disappointed when it won't work. Some people on the other hand, seem to prefer to be oblivious of the possibility of A or B so as to not be faced with the potential disappointment of A not working well with B.
But then I'm a "hot rodder" and a tinker by nature. So I get the inherent pitfalls that can arise when tinkering so the possiblity of such pitfalls does not bother me. So, that being where I am coming from, I just don't see how sacrificing such choices, options, and flexibility on the altar of precluding such pitfalls is a better alternative.
Hey, I'm right there with you on enjoying the ability to mod things and tinker under the hood. I maybe should have specified the "Android experience" as opposed to android itself. that would include the marketplace.
My big problem here is that the device just did not work as advertised. If I could have plugged a bluetooth keyboard into it and had it reliably function every time I picked it up, I'd still have the thing! Actually, as I've said on other posts, I may return to it later in the year and see if they've worked out those bugs.
My comment was specifically on point number 2 - which a lot of people raise as a "criticism" of Android.
I agree, if the device does not work as advertised or the hardware is defective, that's a problem. But that's nothing to do with my refutation of #2. But as for example, the bluetooth keyboard ont working, sure that's not good. But then on the other hand, I've found a number of esoteric and "out there" things (but highly useful things to me) that do just work that I would never have expected to work. Sometimes the reality in technologies like this is that you don't get to have everything (there is rarely a device that does _everythning_ you could possibly want) and you have to pick and choose what capabilities are most important and forego those that may be less important. But then that gets back to my point on #2 - With Android and it's "fragmentation" there is a greater chance of finding such a device that suits one's own particular desires. With Apple, if what you want is not one of the few options available, then you're just SOL. For example for me, a phone with a sceen <4in is a non-starter. Or a tablet >8in is a non-starter **. Apple is _starting_ to make progress in those directions, but am I going to wait until Apple gets around to what I want, or am I going to go to someone else that does?
An analogous summary might be: Legos provides for an infintie number of permutations and combinations, but nonetheless, there are some blocks that simply can't be snapped onto other blocks is some configurations. Is that the fault of Lego or of trying to snap together parts that weren't intended to be snapped together in that configuration?
So should we ban all those parts from Lego that don't snap together with all other Lego parts in all configurations and permutations? Or do we accept that those parts enrich the Lego experience even though we might be disappointed that some parts don't necesarily snap together in a way we hoped? If you ban those parts because there are some configuration that might not work, what do you gain? Is the "benefit" of never being _disappointed_ that a part doesn't fit together like you hoped worth the cost of never having the beneit of that part in _any_ configuration that might also be desireable? My answer is no. But if such _disappointment_ really gets one's knickers in such a twist, then maybe the sacrifice is worth it to not get one's knickers so entwisted. And for them, there's Apple.
** - this is not strictly true as I do own a 10.1 tablet in addition to my 7" tablet. But I use them differently - my 10.1" is "home use", my 7" is "mobile". 7" or 8" is _my_ ideal protable size, 10" is just too big for that (but great for home, and 7" is just too small for home use, hence why I have the 10"). But where "mobile" is part of the "definition" of a tablet, the standard size iPad just doesn't work for me. (Admittedly, the mini is probably a decent size, but then would that really exist in a world without Android tablet "fragmentation"?)
"Admittedly, the mini is probably a decent size, but then would that really exist in a world without Android tablet "fragmentation"?"
Probably, the newton (apples first jump into tablets) was roughly 7 inches before android existed. It didn't live long, but they were already contemplating optimal size for a handheld computing device.
And without the "fragmentation" in the Android space, do you really think that there would be an iPad Mini? Or a larger screens on the newer iPhone?
Which relates to another benefit of "fragmentation". A LOT of technological product development/evolution is directly tied to market place trial and error. "Fragmentation" is inextricably linked to that. The more "trial and error" - the more a product space can rapidly evolve to delivering the products that _consumers_ want _most_.
Let's not forget what engineering is all about - it's not about creating the most mindblowing technology - it's about delivering the products most beneficial and most desireablt to _consumers_. You don't do that by fiat and decree alone - that takes a fair amount of trial and error to _discover_ what resonates more and what less. Then you do more of what resonates more and less of what resonates less. But until you _try_ it, how do you know? And how do you tyry a lot without "fragmentation"?
Should all auto manufactures design a compact sedan to one set specification? Or should all the manufactures try out different ideas to figure out what consumers really want in a compact sedan? Or also importantly, the realization that not everyone wants the exact same thing as everyone else, and why shouldn't those other wants/desires in a compact sedan be made available as well?
The manufactures in the Android space tried out a wide variety in screen sizes across diferent device types in the quest of developing products that _customers_ want most, not what they decree a cutomer ought to want with the arrogant perspective that a customer that wants somethign differnt is "wrong". The customer is never "wrong" in what they want - they want what they want.
And it is the Android space doing that trial and error that Apple had the benefit of to realize the need for an iPad mini, or a larger iPhone screen. So, you can thank _Android fragmentation_ for the possibliity of such products from Apple. Do you think Apple would have tried that on it's own if not for seeing the popuarity inthe Android space?
1. lets not pretend that android had anything to do with tablet computing coming to rise. There were apple tablets and windows tablets long before android was a twinkle in linux's eye. The hardware back then just sucked really hard.
2. I'm not paying a fee to thank android for being cruddy a whole bunch of times, even if it does inspire others to do similar things. I am buying a product. If that product doesn't work as advertised it gets returned.
I totally agree with the author. I still recall we made our first $50 Android tablet 3 years ago, and we thought we will sell tons of them to kids. It turned out we did sell bunch, but we also got lots of returns, exactly the same reasons that author talked about here. That's why we switched to vertical market, make customized tablets for dedicated applications. Now open source and fragmentation (or I should say many options on size and hardware) are features instead of drawbacks :). I am amazed by the varities of applications that our customers are using our tablet for: marketing, eduction, control panel, advertisment, you name it.
So we're talking about quality here. Apple is a company very different from others in the sense that they own most of the development of a product. They work on the product behind closed doors and really pulish it untill it gets done well.
The bugs that some other manufacturers would let out aren't aloud at Apple.
This is why the cost for the products is higher. But yet, people love these products. People love things well done.
This is very close to a piece of art. Its a matter of time. If they would work enough time on a product even they could make it good, even with Android on it. But there's money to be made and a product under development can't be held for too long right?
On my son's last birthday I bought him an iPAD mini and it worked good, ( I own 2 iphones as well) when it was time to buy a tablet for my wife, I thought why not try a Samsung Tablet with android on it.
So I went to costco & bought a 7" samsung tablet. I found that software was clunky APPs will get stuck sometimes, and tough screen became un responsive many time, I thought I live with them,
Then I signed up for google account to buy and App for my wife, It asked me if I want to make a new google account, I said yes, It made me a account but transactions never wnet though, saying am error has occurred. I called my bank to see if they declined the transaction on credit card, and figured out that they did not declien any but Google canceled transactions, then I called google and they told me it will be 2 days before I can buy a APP coz, I made a new google account,
I said screw it... I returned the Samsung, same evening, and bought an iPad mini, and was able to get it running in no time, without any issue,
When I was an IT administrator I found this exact scenario several times. Android is not for people who don't want to tinker. I'm usually fine with tinkering, but at some point I feel like I'm wasting my time.
I suppose it was software, I wouldn't call everything there bloatware especially for my home theatre system.
Kies is worse than iTunes, if something like that is possible.
We should be able to streamline Android (I even recompiled one for 7" Samsung but never had time to take out stuff that is obviously bloatware and clean up the kernel), but it seems that is not the priority for Google - the answer is put more CPU power and hope for the best.
In my mind, Google should close Android for phone vendors and allow ONLY app additions to the platform. Right now, everyone is free to add as much crap as they want and sell it to us.
I'm not smart enough to have a solution to the hardware fragmentation issue. I just know it causes a lack of continuity between experiences and that detracts from the entire product. If I had a clever solution I'd be pitching it to google right now.
I agree. Apple has control over their products, but that limits the offerings. Microsoft was software company with the huge hardware fragmentation but they controlled the OS and vendors supplied the drivers (in my mind good concept, crappy implementation).
Google should provide OS and ability for vendors to add hardware specific functions in a defined and secure way. How to do this, I don't know (I'm not even close to smart enough :).
That isn't a horrible solution, as you said, it worked for microsoft. I wonder how different that is from what they're doing now?
Then, if the vendors are supplying their own hardware driver sets, what happens to the apps? Would this make the marketplace worse? Would it end up devolving back to each vendor offering their own apps?
Well, like anything else, the answer is yes and no.
No, because ideally, the Android ecosystem should be imposing rules that vendors should follow: for example, every vendor has a different camera, but from the app perspective it's just a camera that the app conencts though OS API and gets the details through that API. If the vendor wants to add completely new hardware (like a light saber or phaser ;) to the device, then it calls Google to request addition of new device type to the baseline and let Google define the API.
Yes, well of course the vendors would like to corner the market and supply their apps that work only on their hardware. How to prevent that is probably job for Google.
I still use my BlackBerry Playbook every day and it's great for travel.
Unfortunately it was a flop in the marketplace, but is still a great tablet for many purposes. No Netflix, but Amazon Video works fine as does loading up your own ripped movies, which is what I usually do.
The Mini Keyboard with Trackpad is a pretty good Blue Tooth accessory, although many other mice and keyboards work too.
My experience with Android has been similar. The operating system is buggy and the hardware (I have a Nexus phone, Goog designed - Samsung made) is unreliable. My 2 year contract is running out next month and I cannot wait to replace this phone with a Nokia 920 or 1020. Android seems to be worth about as much as it costs. I will never buy Apple, not because of their quality but because I am fundamentally opposed to their philosophy of closed systems (both sw and hw).
Those of us whole lurk in such technical sites are a slight bit different than those of other persuasions in life. Although we are consumers like others; we are viewed as geeks and nerds by the rest of them. The above is the preamble that my post-reply will start with.
I give a lot of credit to Apple and the hw/sw complement which they provide to the populace. If an artist is seeking to create artwork first-and-foremost; I am not certain, if s/he is NOT wanting to learn how to mix paint or how to assemble a brush to become creative. Apple provides that luxury for the artist (or the musician, etc.) Us, technical types, we like to tinker under the hood and write code or install apps and figure out what makes (or how) a product work. To us, one-size-fits-all does not work best and maybe we even like to figure out things on our own. I am inclined to think that we are more inquisitive in such matters; more so than any other consumers.
Apple's perspective [IMHO] is that they know what is good for the user and thus provide what they have figured out is 'best' for them. Of course, those educated in Unix may tinker with an Apple product but that is not a mainstream 'user' that their products are targeted for. In contradiction, the penguin-heads of the Linux camp are (were?) a whole different bunch: Tinkering and command console are (were?) their play-ground. Google/Android changed this playing field to a great degree and simplified/reduced the price of consumers' computing needs. Yet, Android requires more involvement from the user and cannot do it as elegantly as Apple has achieved at a higher cost.
I must be the odd person out, in this discussion; since I think what Microsoft/Win8 provide as an alternative to this Android/iOS debate is a worthy third offering to consider. And I am quite surprised that none of the posts/replies, thus far, have discussed this third option...
Windows 8 is an option, but it seems like their app marketplace never really took off for the phone ecosystem. I'm very eager to get a windows 8 touchscreen computer though. I actually like the whole live tile concept. I'm just a little worried about clutter over time.
Not sure why you are ignoring the NEW BlackBerry 10 OS and devices.
They are great smart phones and have an active leaked OS ecosystem that is giving many people a lot of fun for tinkering, but also the OS is great. and a joy to use. You can side-load Android apps and that gives geeks more things to play with.
I used my son as a lab rat and Galaxy Tab 10 won. A year ago I gave him an inexpensive Viewsonic Android tablet. At the age of 11 I figured he'd be a good judge of how it felt and worked. (I personally did not like it and would never use it, but I wanted to see if he could find a use for it).
After a few days he pretty much threw it aside (touch was unreliable, and other things, it just felt cheap.) I then did what I intended to do anyway: I bought him a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10 that was on sale in CostCo. He hasn't put it down since. (Be careful what you wish for, right?)
He uses it for games, staying in touch with friends, scout updates, exploring places to travel next, you name it. Not once has it let him down. I still get to use it myself, and the Play store is useful for what I need, tho I'm not a big apps user on it.
I could have rooted the Gtablet, as it has a great processing core and tons of memory, but did I really want to spend my time on that? The answer is yes, but I couldn't. Too much to do elsewhere. No time for optimizing, as satisfying as that would have been.
The Samsung Galaxy is my choice as I favor the 'open market', but it's all in how it's implemented, and Samsung doesn't mess around. They set the standard for any device that wants to compete with Apple.
I now have a nexus7 and an ipad. My kids generally prefer the ipad for the bigger screen but have used the nexus7 a few times too. The netflix app has locked up a couple times on them on the nexus7 but aside from that it has been uneventful. I don't think they really care.
This should really be updated with the new Nexus 7! All the ipad owners have to scowl at me as I have my keyboard/mouse combo RDPing my desktop and running Solidworks. Of course, the 7 inch screen means that for the 1900X1200 pixels, you really need a set of magnifiers to distinguish each and every pixel. there are no problems whatsoever with my $20 bluetooth keyboard. But I must admit, my PC bluetooth mouse is a bit finnicky. Don't understand why a company as big as Google can have issues with a 20 year old bluetooth protocol. But in the end, it is much more portable than an ipad, has more functionality, and is much less expensive...
The article seems to conflate Nexus 7 with Android and Linux. Having a bad experience with Nexus 7 does not imply Android is bad, and that does not imply Linux is bad either. I have a Galaxy tab and I am happy with it. Given the price differential, it's a much better spend than an ipad IMHO.
The fragmentation of the Android eco-system is the price you pay for higher competition and lower prices. You can't have your cake and eat it...
I'm drawing parallels between my experiences with the 3 things. I returned it not only because the hardware had issue, but also because android itself has issues.
Many people are happy with them. I now have both a nexus 7 and an ipad. Sure, there's a huge price difference. However, I can use my bluetooth keyboard on my ipad and don't have to reboot it daily due to touchscreen issues.
I will say, that if all the bugs were worked out I would ADORE this thing. However, after years of playing with android and linux my hopes for "getting all the bugs worked out" are low.
I have steered away from Google phones and tablets because Google is not really an OEM. Samsung's products are much better in that regard. That said, I would agree that quality-wise, Apple products are the best and that is to be expected given their vertically integrated structure. It's the same story with Macs and PCs, Macs are for the professionals and Windows is for the masses. The good point about Android though compared to Windows is that it's an open platform so competition is high and prices are much lower.
All in all, I am an Android eco-system fan despite its fragmented and sometimes lower quality nature. Let the Apple fans subsidise Apple's innovations for the masses to enjoy these innovations at a lower cost afterwards with Android clones :-)
I've had a Nexus 7 for about 2 years now and have not experienced the screen flicker, unresponsive touchscreen or any other hardware problem. I haven't used Bluetooth much with it, so I can't speak to that. You got bad hardware and should have returned it instantly for exchange or refund.
Android apps are just software and the quality varies a lot because the barriers to entry are much lower than in the iThing universe. That is both a good and a bad thing, but I'll take the freedom and diversity that comes with it.
Over the weekend, I connencted my wife's Samsung Android phone the my computer, which has Samsung Kies software, over USB. My intent was to simply copy some photos and the address book to my PC. I did that, then I was told that a new version of firmware was available and do I want to install it. I made the mistake of clicking "yes."
The download and install took about 30 minutes. But, when the phone started, it locked up and would not boot. It just frize at the AT&T Rethink possible screen. About then, I was thinking about the likely, not the possible.
I tried pulling the battery, but that didn;t help so I called Samsung. They recommended doing a hard reset. I really hesitiated because the phone was unlocked and it runs on T-Mobile. I feared that the phone would one again lock in AT&T. The hard reset worked and didn't lock the phone back on AT&T, but many settings and all the apps got blown away. Fortunately, I was able to restore the most important part, the contacts. I then had to reinstall all the apps, but only a few.
Now, I'll spend the next few weeks tweaking the settings because hte phone beeps a times she doesn't want, like in meetings. Every time I make a change now, I connect to Kies and back up the phone.
I had similar problems once with an iOS upgrade, though not with iOS7.