Compare iOS and Android Honeycomb
When it comes to a footrace, the design and development teams over at Apple have done a fantastic job getting a major head start with Apple's release of the iPad. With close to 20 million iPad tablets sold so far, the demand and appeal of the iPad is staggering. However, in a race reminiscent of the one between the tortoise and the hare, Google's new Android operating system, called Android Honeycomb, could end up coming from behind in the tablet race.
Here, our Tablet Buying Guide review team takes an in-depth look at a host of features, form and functionality to compare the Android Honeycomb versus Apple iPad.
Apple radically altered the way that consumers and business think about a tablet device. Thousands upon thousands of applications are created by third-party developers specifically for the iPad user. Users customize their tablet with applications that they need for their personal use, whether it be for information, computation, business or entertainment purposes. Apple's search browser, Safari, comes pre-installed on the iPad and there are apps to add other browsers to a users liking.
Google's Android Honeycomb user interface uses a holographic theme where applications appear on the tablet in almost 3D quality. Applications or, a user's book listing for example, appear in a 3D revolving fashion, like the jukebox, only digital. Because Honeycomb is specifically created for “devices with larger screens”, aka tablets, developers made a full on-screen keyboard, where the earlier Android versions developed for smart phones could not provide this feature. Through a floating apps bar at the bottom of the screen that Google terms the Honeycomb interaction model, the OS comes standard with items like email, widgets, web search and notifications.
With the Apple iPad (and the latest version of the iPhone), users can finally operate multiple applications at once, and say, go back and forth between a contact list and a restaurant finder application without losing your place marker. Android Honeycomb takes the multiple applications scenario and ups the game by allowing for true multitasking. This means that, for example, Honeycomb users can simultaneously play several movies at once with live switching between the running videos.
Advantage: Android Honeycomb for its next generation multitasking ability.
Applications, aka, Apps
Before launching the iPad, Apple worked with some of the largest content producers, giving them access to the development platform. When launched, the iPad immediately had hundreds of solid apps written expressly for the iPad tablet. Users immediately have a much more expansive experience on the iPad versus a smartphone and developers are using the iPad tablet in interesting ways.
Similar to the approach from Apple, Google gave developers access to the Android Honeycomb OS, which is made specifically for larger screen tablet devices. The result is that thousands of applications for use on Android. Several tablet manufacturers are using earlier Android OS versions, Android 1.3 and Android 2.2, for instance, to create tablet devices. Tablet users with earlier Android OS versions have an experience closer to what users expect from a smartphone, albeit with a larger screen. This may limit tablet functionality until Android Honeycomb rolls out on new devices.
Advantage: Apple iPad iOS 4.2, because their closed development and device manufacturing created an immediate tablet user experience. This however will change when more tablet devices come preloaded and created for Android Honeycomb.
Broad Selection of Tablet Device Manufacturers
Apple's development is centered around its own proprietary devices and software. The iPad is unique to Apple and its iOS 4.2 operating system software is only available on Apple iPads. So far, this has been an incredibly successful model because consumers have taken to the entire lineup of Apple's music players, smartphones and related systems like the Apple iTunes software. iPads can operate with WIFI or WiFi plus 3G, and this data plan is currently only available through AT&T.
Contrast this approach with Google's Android Honeycomb, which will be available through multiple tablet manufacturers, including Samsung, Motorola, Acer and others. Quickly, there are multiple tablets that operate with the Honeycomb OS and have multiple data plans on available through multiple service providers. If a consumer wants a smaller display size or larger display size, it's up to them. Consumers choosing Android Honeycomb will be able to add a 3G data plan, and for their tablets with their current phone service provider, for instance.
Advantage: Android Honeycomb tablets, for the more varied device selection and data plan providers.
Data Portability Over Multiple Devices
The appeal of apple may be less in the devices than it is in Apple software. Apple iTunes quickly overtook the digital market because of its sleek user interface. The team at Apple have also created true synching functions with multiple devices, which means that users can play music on their iPad, iPhone or iPod, whichever they choose. Apples MobileMe synchs the devices together.
Android Honeycomb will benefit from Google's infrastructure as well. Apps will follow users around from one device to another as long as users have their Google login. The difference for Google users is that the tunes will be held out on the cloud, rather than downloaded to one device which is the Apple model.
Advantage: Both, with Apple iPad and Android Honeycomb users more likely to stick with one “family” of devices to create ultimate portability.
The Apple iPad table, in its current form, lacks a camera, although several apps do allow an iPhone to operate as the iPad's camera through a wireless synch. We anticipate that Apple will heavily consider a camera in its next iPad version.
Android Honeycomb tablets will have an on-board camera, which includes flash, zoom, focus and exposure options. It's like a large manually optimized camera that fits within the Honeycomb tablet.
Advantage: Android Honeycomb, because a camera is included and users have several picture control features.
Enterprise security Advantage
One are that has until recently been an Achilles heel for Apple is the lack of business system IT support. This is because Apple iPhone smartphones were deficient in providing enough email security to satisfy IT teams. The iPad is making great strides in the enterprise with added features in Apple iOS 4.2 of greater security and now wireless printing.
In general, Android operating systems have been developed with IT administrators in mind. We anticipate that Android Honeycomb tablets will quickly emerge as a top popular device for users and will quickly assimilate into the IT enterprise architecture because Honeycomb supports enterprise-level encryption and password management.
Advantage: BOTH, however Android Honeycomb slightly outpaces Apple iPad, as more business IT teams are already comfortable with Android smartphones. Eitherway, businesses in general are finding greater uses for tablet devices and we see acceptance into IT support structure growing.
Apple iPad really revolutioned the way that consumers access the internet. The WiFi or 3G plus WiFi iPad tablets changed and improved the comfort level of users to access the internet in a real way in more places than ever before. The introduction of a true keyboard on the iPad also set manufacturers on their heels having to come up with something as functional. The wireless printing feature also became a game changer.
Startling late off of the blocks, Android Honeycomb will include features like built-in Media/Photo Transfer Protocol support, which means immediate synchronization with a camera, desktop or other device over USB and no need for an external storage device. Honeycomb, like the iPad, will access the web through WiFi or 3G and Honeycomb has a feature that improves scan times to find WiFi access.
Advantage: Both Apple iPad and Android Honeycomb, although Honeycomb may outedge Apple with its external device synchronization feature.