Will an Android “iPad” Win the Game?
While the Apple iPad maybe the Cinderella product this week, recent updates to my Verizon Droid shows that Google’s Android OS is still a prince. Folks are saying that the iPad is a game-changer but it may not necessarily win the game. The idea of a tablet really isn’t anything new. My ThinkPad x61 is both a great tablet and a powerful laptop
The single biggest asset for the iPad is Apple’s Customer Satisfaction and Public relations. The “I gotta have me one” factor for the iPad is off the charts. Nothing bad about having your own cult following but that doesn’t always mean you’ll reach critical mass appeal.
The release of Android devices like the Droid and Nexus have received a lot of positive attention. You can’t beat some of the powerful features and flexibility. “If” we start seeing folks carrying around iPads it won’t be long before they’ll be followed by Android based Pads. It’s rare for me to carry around my ThinkPad especially with the screen facing out so aside from showing off I don’t see it in our future. Are man-bags doing to be the new style?
I have an iTouch(iPad Nano) that I love, but I went with a Droid phone for the Verizon connectivity. I have really been surprised by some of the Android based features that I’ve come to rely on. The new features released with Android 2.1 update1 will keep me using Google devices.
The first new feature I noticed this week was just fluff but lots of fun. Droid now has animated background that reacts to touch and movement. I now have a water background that ripples when I touch it. This again is not a new concept. I had a program for Windows 95 called Crystal Walls that had the same functionality. It’s just fun.
The next cool application now included is Google Goggles. This has long been talked about but is finally available. This feature provides visual search results. In the past you could use the Android Bar Code reader to look up and compare products. Now you can just take a photo of a product or other objects and Google will search based on the image. If you’re taking a photo of a location, Google will also pair up your built-in GPS data to give you more information about what ever you’re looking at. Google has done a great job integrating GPS information with applications.
The 3rd new feature I was pleased to find was a little microphone button on the virtual keyboard. I can now bypass the keyboard completely and use voice to text input. For years I’ve tried various voice input, including Dragon Naturally Speaking but nothing has met my requirements. The Droid is the first device I’ve found that I am comfortable using voice input. Much to my surprise I’ve been using Voice Search since I first found it on my Droid. This is another feature that ties your search into your GPS location. If you’re looking for a store or restaurant, it will list the closest location first.
I had no clue voice search would be as simple and accurate to use. Now with voice to text input I actually started to write this article while sitting in a parking lot waiting for my daughter. Google says this is still in beta so I’m looking forward to improvements.
Other new features include easier access to photos and an improved slideshow. There’s also a tweak to the music player but this remains the one application seriously lacking in features.
Now that Apple has brought tablet devices to the main stream we’re going to see and hear a lot about other tablets. I’m guessing the final four will include Windows, Windows Phone 7 and Android. Right now Apple is riding the wave, and attracting the most developers is a real plus. Unfortunately, like the Macintosh, Apple’s tablet OS is a closed system. This could be a plus or minus depending how you look at it. I could do a whole article on why this is good and bad. It didn’t work so well in the PC market and only time will tell if it succeeds in the tablet marketplace.
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