Android vs. iOS: Tablet Edition

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| November 24, 2010

Now that the Galaxy Tab is in consumers' hands and the iPad has a true competitor, it's time for a one on one. Android versus iOS, tablet style. A while back I slated Apple's mobile OS against Google's in handset form, and came to the conclusion that on the surface, they're really not all that different. After a week with Android in tablet form and having the iPad on OS version 4.2 for nearly a month, I've come to a different consensus for the operating systems in their larger forms.

iPad: I've learned that it's undoubtedly still the media king. All I find myself using it for is Netflix, Pandora Radio, and lots of gaming. The iPad is really a home or couch tablet. Its 9.7-inch form factor makes it a little large and heavy to carry around everywhere you go, but isn't too big to throw in a backpack or even a purse for some browsing in a pinch.

Galaxy Tab: It's perfect for those Android lovers that want it in a bigger form, but I will say that carrying two Android devices becomes redundant. Lately, I've been carrying three and haven't touched my Galaxy Tab, but I still take it with me pretty much everywhere I go. I wasn't drawn to install a lot of apps or games on the Tab either. I use it mainly for browsing the Internet, Twitter, and emails, all of which I hated doing on my iPad. The Tab does have a camera and the iPad doesn't, but video calling is a pain on the Tab and it isn't worth buying solely because it has a camera.

User interface

The biggest difference in the two operating systems in the larger form is functionality and proper use of display real estate. Android makes perfect use of the larger screen with widgets and icons, while the iPad's homescreen is riddled with tons of wasted space that could be used for quick-access information and other useful objects.

Text input

I found that editing text in general, even inputting text with Android was more user friendly than iOS, but iOS was much more simple. What I mean is, iOS is simplistic, your options are cut and dry. With Android, if you're not satisfied with the stock keyboards (Samsung's keyboard and Swype), you have the option to head to Android Market and download one that suits your needs. The iPad is just plain awkward to type on in either landscape or portrait, and if you have trouble, your only real option is to buy a Bluetooth keyboard, which takes away from its mobility. Speaking of which, my Bluetooth keyboard works flawlessly with my iPad, but it will not work with my Tab. It will pair, but the application that it needs to run it will not install.


With iOS 4.2, multitasking is no longer an issue for the iPad. I never really use multitasking on my phones, but on tablets, I find myself using it a lot. Before 4.2, I really never used my iPad for anything. With the ability to listen to Pandora and browse the Internet, I'm more prone to use it. The Galaxy Tab came with multitasking, of course, but it tended to lag quite a bit if you used it a lot, even with only one or two processes running at the same time. I also noticed a large increase in lag when using very simple live wallpapers. No matter how many apps you open on the iPad, it's impossible to get it to lag, but it also isn't a true form of multitasking. It's more of a task switcher that stops background processes. Neither implementation is perfect and each have their drawbacks.


In their respective application stores, there are some major differences, not only in terms of magnitude of available apps, but in terms of quality and support. Android Market isn't divided by tablet and handheld apps, but it should be. Some of the applications I downloaded don't completely fill the display, and some of the ones that do get very pixellated. This is also the case with the iPad, but in the App Store, you know whether you're downloading an application that is supported for your device or not. With the Tab, you never know until you've already installed it. It isn't a major issue since it should be addressed in the coming months, but it's annoying nonetheless.

Sharing media (links, images, videos, etc.)

Sharing is a breeze with Android as most of the options to share are found across the OS. If you want to send a picture to Twitter, you have two options; navigate to your photo gallery, and select which application you want to share the picture with, or launch the application and choose the photo to upload. iOS isn't quite as versatile. You will have to launch the application and then choose the image to share.

Battery life

The difference between the two is pretty significant. My iPad ran for about 25-26 hours on Wi-Fi playing Pandora nonstop, with 20% battery left. The Galaxy Tab will run a little over half of that, streaming Pandora on Wi-Fi.


If you're used to either of the operating systems in handheld form, you'll feel just at home with the tablet, but switching between the two can grow aggravating. They supplement each other well, very well, but there is not perfect in-between, and I figure it will be a long time before we see one. We're still on first-generation technology here (sort of), and there are a lot of kinks to work out. If I had to choose a favorite between the two, I would have to pick the Galaxy Tab for its smaller form, the more tablet-friendly UI, and better social integration. The problem is, I'm on an Android overload right now, and iOS breaks up the monotony. My Android phone and the Tab step on each others toes; until there is differentiation between Android tablets and phones, this will remain a problem.

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