Android vs iOS – Who is better? Apples, pears, bikes and bullshit

Posted on April 15, 2011

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BMX for kids, the symbol of fashion victim: "my bike is better than yours" stupidity

As kids we used to compare our bikes and brag about features we had or added to have: “the most coolest bike in town”. Most of these features were useless add-ons. We used to add rattlers made with playing cards and pinchers to our hind wheels, put stickers on the frame. And if you had a BMX – because your parents could afford it – you were the man, the hero, the cool dude because it had a mean set of kick ass tires and an impressive set of gears you would never use as we had no hills to climb.

In the end it was all kids play. A lot of fuss about things completely irrelevant when you grow up.

When you grow up, your needs change. It is no longer about accessories but about stuff you can use to achieve something. You buy stuff that is more powerful and that can help you cover more distance in less time. So you buy a car, a motor cycle or – when you are still too young for a car (and you live in Europe) – a moped.

“Tablet war”

Right now, the Apple tablet versus Android “tablet war” discussions and comparisons is very much the same deal.

To choose sides because: “X is better than Y” – I think – is simply lame.

They all suck, including Apple and Android. They are all overpriced or underspecced. They are all under-powered and close to useless.

The software on it is immature. The hardware does not allow you much.

They are nice to watch movies on. They are kind of OK to browse the web. They can be great to play the leisure type of games on. Once you want more form them, you are fucked. using a tablet is like downgrading to an environment that offers you close to nothing.

“A” is better than “B”? Fuck you

If you are one of those people claiming that “X is better than Y”, where the differences between the two are close to negligible, step out of it. Some examples:

  1. Apple is better than PC / PC is better than Apple – Fuck you.
  2. Android will beat iOS / iOS will never be surpassed – Fuck you
  3. HTML 5 will kill Flash / Flash is better than HTML 5 – Fuck you
  4. Whatever -  Fuck you

Step out of it. You are still in a kids game comparing bikes based on irrelevant parameters, where the adults around you are simply choosing what works best for what they know and need at that specific moment. The flame wars and one-sided glorification of one piece of shit will not help people choose better and in most cases will only increase the misery because you are:

  1. Selfish and blind – Only looking at what is important for you alone
  2. Not listening to the needs of other people – As your image of reality is the blueprint for everything else. In other words: you are projecting your personal preferences and your personal needs on everything and anyone else.
  3. Potentially harmful – When your single minded “advice” is taken seriously and people do the things- and/or buy the stuff according to your advice and when it does not fit their needs, or even makes things worse than they were, you are not “helping” but you are creating damage.

But very likely you will not read this article or at this point start to think that I am an asshole and you might even feel tempted to start a flame war against me, as I do not support your belief systems.

“Android versus Apple”

Two bullshit articles out of many:

Venture bear: "Why apple cant beat Android"

PC World: "Will you switch sides?" - who gives a fuck

It makes for yet another post that might gain extra views. Nothing more juicy than triggering people into doubt. “Did I choose the right side?” “Did I buy the right tablet?” “Did I make the right choice?” and for those who need this shit to feel supported in their own private little world, it is more fuel for their flame wars against everything they do not like.

Bottom line: they are just tablets. And immature Operating Systems. For all I know the: “Android vs iOS” tablet wars will be back to “Linux vs. Windows vs. Mac OS” as the next generation ARM based tablets (and yes, they are all ARM based) will be so powerful you do not need a stripped down version of one or another Operating System.

Software

The software you can buy or download for iOS and Android is currently fare more worse or limited than what your could get under Windows 3.1. It is like needing a car and being offered roller skates that fits you bad.

The main reasons are these:

  1. Early stage – The first tablets for iOS and Android appeared in 2009. So it is less than 2 years since we have something resembling a computer
  2. Limited hardware – The ARM processors used in the 2009 and 2010 series of tablets (ARM Cortex A8) only allowed for limited RAM (256 to 512 MB) and had a relatively low clock speed (600 MHz to 1 GHz)
  3. Commercial risk – Who is to say what will be successful? The first portable (tablet) computers with touch interface emerged in the 1990′s, branded as PDAs. Palm, Psion, Apple and several others. Microsoft tried in late 1999 and failed. Most of these companies and initiatives are dead now. The platforms are new. The possible revenue streams and Return on Investment are still debatable.

Hardware

To find out different options for tablet and portable computing I recently modified a Toshiba NB250 Netbook into a tablet computer with capacitive touch screen. The netbook cost me 250 euro. The capacitive screen was 90 euro. The entire endeavor – including a RAM upgrade cost me about 380 euro. The end result is a tablet computer running Windows 7 with 2GB RAM on board, a 1.66 GHz Atom N455 processor abler to run to treads and a 250 GB harddrive. The weight is 1.2 kilo. With it I can go online via wire and wireless. I can turn it into a WiFi hotspot using a solution like Connectify. I can attach a second screen to it including touch. It will run a full version of Office and Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw and Artrage. And oh, yeah, it can play movies and music too.

In other words: my 380 euro home brew tablet kicks the ass of both Android and Apple tablets in pricing and in fulfilling my personal needs. It leaves them groveling in the dirt on all accounts (RAM, storage, software, clock speed, usefulness). Do I think it is better? No. Different? Yes.

With the ARM Cortex A9 we will finally see some stuff emerging that goes beyond the current limits we see in the Tablet market. The A9 is designed for power, with dual and quad core processors entering the market during this year (2011) and breaking through the limits of 512 MB RAM and 1 GHz clock speed.

The end result is more choice and more variety.

Windows

HP Slate, "Price unknown"

Right now, if I would have to choose something useful, I would probably go for something like the HP Slate. The price for Europe is apparently still unknown, but might be around 580 euro. It runs Windows 7. It is basically a powerful Netbook in a slate and it has capacitive touch and pressure sensitive pen input allowing me to use it for my standard Office things and creative work (drawing, sketching in Artrage and Photoshop).

Linux / Ubuntu

I have tried. The advocates for Linux do have some points on the platform (free software, works fine) but eventually I switched back to Windows.

The next generation of tablets will be able to run Linux variants like Ubuntu. This lifts the entire tablet game into something more useful. Still, the applications available in Linux are limited. They do not match what you can find in Windows and Mac OS for productivity (MS Office, Apple iWorks) or creativity (Adobe Illustrator, Flash, Artrage, Photoshop, Corel Draw).

I tried MS Office, Adobe flash and Enterprise Architect under Wine. Except for Flash, they work. I have not tried Artrage or Photoshop yet under Wine. The question is how they will perform on the ARM RISC architecture. As the instruction sets of the processor are different from the Intel processors.

With Wine working on ARM, Linux might be an interesting direction to move to.

Windows revisited

Microsoft is being mocked now for being late in the tablet game and being a slow mover. With windows 8, designed for the ARM series of processors and compilers that help move whatever existing parties already built for Intel based Windows, we might see an interesting shift on tablets towards that platform again and Microsoft might emerge as the dominant platform on Tablets as well.

Possibly Apple might follow with an ARM-based version of a full version of OSX too.

Conclusion

It is not about “who has the most awesome bike” with “the most awesome features”. It is about functionality. If you need to make a distance, you want something that is functional. Something that helps you solve a problem. Something that makes your other stuff obsolete. The current Android an iOS tablets are not. They are glorified media tablets with a hint towards something that can become more useful.

The main issue right now is the immaturity of the market. If you want productivity and real performance on a tablet, 2011 is not your year yet. 2012 might be.

I do not want to be negative on this. But I am also a bit fed up with the bullshit that is sold right now, by people with a biased view who are – in my view – are just adding more white noise to an already distorted conversation.

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