I’m everything but an Apple-fanboy, however recently I got an iPad Mini from work related events.
For those interested, I’m currenty employed at EASI as consultant in the Application Development Team. EASI is an innovative Belgian IT company, among others specializing in IBM Lotus technologies, PCSoft tools, accounting software and Mobile Development & Device Management (iOS, Android, Windows, …) A lot of the mobile activities happen under the name of Appsolution.
However being more of an Android kind a person, I’m always open to other technologies & experiences. So here is my brief first impression of this subtle piece of Apple technology. Please note that this is my first and only Apple device and that I still might be unaware of all it’s possibilities and functionalities.
The first thing you notice upon using the iPad is of course the typical tight iOS design, which is pretty clear and coherent. However It misses a lot of the customization features that Android supports. For me, this might be kind of a let down in the future, since I grow tired of a single design pretty fast and I’m used to customize my Android devices once every few weeks.
Talking about performance, I must admit that the iPad scores pretty good on this front. So far I haven’t had any lag spikes or other issue’s with the device. Apple tends to prioritize the user interface over just about anything and this results in a very smooth user experience.
Despite of performance, the lack of the back button that is available on all Android devices is something that I really missed in these first iOS experiences. In the browser they solved this with the swipe right gesture, but this gesture is unfortunately not available in all applications. Another shortcoming I found was the numeric lock screen, personally I find the pattern lock more convenient on my phone. (Maybe there is support for this, but I didn’t come across this yet)
In general the iPad provides a coherent design with limited customization and adaptability, you will have to cope with what Apple gives you. Everything on the tablet seems to be in hand of Apple, on top of that is iOS a pretty locked operating system, preventing the users to really get the most of their tablet and really make it theirs by taking a step beyond the stock firmware.
All applications have to pass true the official Apple store and have to meet all Apple’s requirement, on the positive side this leads to a more regulated and reliable app store, on the other hand this allow Apple to apply a sort of censorship over it’s devices, controlling what applications there users use and what they do with it. I’m sure Google logs just as much information about it’s users but at least on Google’s OS I get the feeling to have much more freedom about managing my device and deciding what kind of applications run on my device (you can install every compatible .apk file where you can get your hands on without much trouble).
In the end the iPad seems like a very decent device, providing a consistent and smooth UX. If you don’t mind Apple’s tight grip and your not really interested into a more in depth control of your device or the camera feature (please note a tablet is not a camera, taking to much pictures might make you look like an idiot), I can honestly recommend buying an iPad if you can afford it. If you’re like me and more into tweaking your device, and if you are also interested in what is happening underneath the screen, Android is more likely your cup of tea.
I’m sure I will use my iPad a lot, as it runs a lot smoother then my 2 year old Chinese tablet. But speaking as a developer, Android continues to be my main passion when it comes to mobile.
What do you prefer and why? Feel free to leave a comment or follow me on Twitter.