Switching back to my iPad

About 8 months ago, on a whim I bought a Nexus 7. Really to be used for testing websites I work on for how they look on that size screen, a few months ago I decided to give Android a fair shake. Caveat: I have been an Apple person since 2002 or so, and have been with iOS since the original iPhone, so I am clearly a biased opinion.

The fair shake involved me using the Nexus 7 for all my media consumption, and tablet like duties (email, magazine reading, newspaper apps, etc). I did not “root” my device, or install a modified ROM. It is plain Android (jelly bean 4.2 right now I think). I have only used the Android play store, and I have never sideloaded apps (unlike most of my Android phanatique friends, who load tons of pirate apps).

I have documented some of the annoyances in the past, but I will summarize:

  • The auto intensity adjustment is flakey. I read in bed, and the intensity switches levels a couple times a minute. I have never seen that with my iPad.
  • The interface is at times unresponsive. Mostly noticeable during games (for example Astra Solitaire is painful to play, because the UI at times take 2 or 3 stabs with your finger to get it to respond. But I experience this with many applications. From reading the forums, this is not an uncommon Android experience.
  • Gmail application. When I got this, it was great, very well mimicking the web browser version. But they have Google+’d it, and it sucks. I have gone back to using the “other” mail application.
  • Chrome is missing one killer feature. Safari on the ipad (and on my mac as well), has a “reader” mode. It strips all the miscellaneous cruft, and displays the main content in a larger, easy to read font. Yes, Chrome lets you double tap to size it to the window, but that often is still text that is too small to comfortably read.
  • The facebook application for android blows donkeys. It is just horrible. The iOS app used to suck, but about 4 months ago, a major rewrite made it killer and easy to use. Android still suffers here.
  • The Google Play music app is painful to use. Really hard to create/modify playlists on the device.
  • The accuracy of where it reads taps is odd. This is hard to explain, but for example, if you are looking at the device tilted back, and you pull up the email account selector on the gmail app, in the iOS world, it would know that you are looking at the screen tilted, and assume that you will tap a little low. Android misses this, and you select the one below your intent.
  • Battery life is atrocious. I don;t play much music, or video, but have to charge it every day to day and a half for 2 – 3 hours of reading, light browsing. My iPad (granted a much larger device), I get easily 3 – 5 days of that same amount of usage. And it is 2,5 years old, so the battery isn’t fresh. I suspect this is somewhat caused by a lot of background processes that are constantly active. Unlike my iOS devices, it does update programs and the system silently and in real time. So I often have updates in the notification area. IOS prompts me to upgrade apps, so I tend to do it all at once.

I have heard people on the interwebz saying that the Nexus 7 is the best tablet out there, period. I suspect that they have never spent time with an iPad. It is just enough more polished, and less intrusive to knock the Nexus 7 off the pedestal that some place it. I haven’t toyed with one of the updated Nexus 7’s, perhaps they fix these gripes, but I suspect it is more tied to the Android OS, than the hardware, so I would be skeptical.

So, I am back on the iPad, and I will keep dabbling with the Nexus 7, but it isn’t going to displace iOS for me. (as I said, I was biased)

Update: My time with a Nexus-7 Android tablet

A while back, I had a quick review of my first impressions of Android (recap: I had bought a Nexus 7 primarily to test a website I maintain for that form factor). Being a long fan of Apple and iOS, I was cautious in my review.

At the end of that review, I committed to putting my iPad down, and living with the Nexus-7 day to day to give it a fair shake.  Here are some interim observations:

  • The display is nice. Sharp, clear, and plenty bright.
  • The auto brightness based on ambient light is a bit glitchy. I tend to do a half hour or so of reading every night in bed before I sleep, and the brightness bounces up and down enough to make me crazy.
  • The Android Facebook application is crap. Crashes a lot, and clumsy navigation. It is a lot like the iOS app was 6 months ago, but FB got their shit together and made it reasonable. Seems that hasn’t happened on the Android version.
  • The system crashes fairly regularly. I haven’t counted how many times, but enough to be bothersome (no, these are restarts to upgrade the firmware).
  • Video playback via the Play store, and my Flixter account is quite good. As long as I have a good WiFi signal, and enough bandwidth, it is a great streaming platform.
  • The built in Play application for the Google Music is weird. It just seems un-intuitive to navigate and create playlists. To be fair, I am usually happy with the iOS version of iTunes, so it is probably not the device/sw, but me and my expectations.
  • Some applications are very susceptible to crashing. FML is one.
  • I really like the Play Magazine app. I read Foreign Affairs with it, and I enjoy it. However, the Economist app is not compatible with the Nexus 7 (not a Google problem). Dafuq is up with that?

I am reasonably satisfied with the Nexus 7, but I am not a gamer, and I am not a hacker. I am just using it in the manner which Google made it. (ok, Asus, but Google was responsible for the design and software). Since it was a lot less expensive than the iPad, it is a good value.

But I still like iOS devices better. Probably not going to switch to Android across the board.