Monday, April 2, 2012

Android vs iPad

Uh Oh, religion...

Well, to some people what I am talking about is heresy. Forgive me, and listen. Both Apple and Android make fine tablets for different purposes. Actually, for the common use, both are probably equal. Maybe for watching movies on a portable device, the new iPad is better. For word processing, I don't think either is suitable for long term use, but for occasional, they each are probably equal.

We aren't watching movies or word processing. We are trying to monitor something. Does a retina display help that? Not really.

The place where the iPad completely fails is in Bluetooth profiles. The iPad comes out of the box without the serial port profile (SPP). Apple rightfully says you don't need it. Not to watch movies, answer email, play angry birds or word processing. You can add it, but that is a challenge. The are things like the BlueSnap Bridge, but at best I'd call that a kludge. It only sends ASCII, no problem, but it is another box to maintain (battery charge, etc).

The Android has SPP as a standard. Many people realize this is a huge feature of the android, and are building their products to take advantage of this. There are automotive engine monitors that will do this today, and won't support iOS because of the lack of SPP.

So you say "all the aviation companies support iPads". That is true, to an extent. Certainly Jeppesen, WingX and others support iPads. WingX also supports Android, and there is a whole site dedicated to Android aviation apps., and others also have nice Android apps.

How about form factor. Say you have a big panel, and you want to fill it with tablets. No problem, get a couple 10 in displays, and you are good. How about a small panel, maybe 2 7inchers, and a 4inch for backup. But you say iPads only come in one size, how do they compete? (you might be noticing a pattern).

Then the argument about the enterprise. iPads work great in the enterprise, they sync email and scheduling. Okey doke, but not a 10,000 over eastern Montana they don't. You want to sync with your engine, and maybe your air data computer. That is what matters. If you need to sync with your office, you'll  need a data connection to the ground (row44 maybe?). By the way, Androids' sync to email and scheduling just as well.

Licensing and releases, well the android probably will win that. Apple comes along and thinks what is best for iTunes, not your charts. Remember the iOS4 trouble when the iOS would clean up your "old" files for you, thinking they were old movies or songs. That low altitude enroute chart that was 25 days old didn't survive, and you had to scramble to find a sectional or high altitude chart to cover for you. You can vette out the system that works for you, and take or not upgrades for your display.

How about RIM or Windows. Maybe, they will work. I still haven't seen a windows tablet, and the PlayBook is only available in one size. If someone has time, we could work on it together (you want to send me one, I'll play with it, I promise :-). Critical mass is the magic here, are they available, can I get one, and what do I need to develop for it?

The SDK for the iPad and Android seem to cost about the same thing, nothing. Writing for the iPad is in Objective-C. The Android is Java sorta. Both languages are object oriented, with a C base. There are many people in the world who can develop for them, so that wouldn't be a reason to pick one over the other. Apple tends to control the iTunes store, and that is about the only way to deliver apps to the iPad. Android allows others to host and distribute apps, you aren't locked in to the Android market. There are risks getting apps from a non-android or non-apple market, but most are honest, so they work. There are malicious apps in both market places, and they get cleaned up fairly quickly.

For me, I have chosen the Android eco-system because of the openness, or at least appearance of openness. I havn't spent a dime on software, I have a demo cooking, and it'll work with my stuff as I designed it. Your mileage may vary, and I'll listen to any argument.

Keep on soldering.

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