Even though I am heavily invested in the Android tablet space, frustration drove me to purchase an iPad 2
Even though James Kendrick is heavily invested in the Android space, he has purchased and uses an iPad just because it works. I have to agree that the iPad 2 just works but I will go a step further and suggest that the device itself essentially goes away and lets you focus on what you need to do.
Although I am not a technology blogger like Kendrick, we are relatively similar in that we have years of experience in using mobile technology and got our start when mobile devices used to weigh 30 pounds. In my early years the geek or gadget factor of technology was important and I used to really enjoy working through all the challenges that technology presented. Over the years I have used every imaginable computer, laptop, PDA, phone, smartphone, operating system and as the devices became more powerful they became increasingly complex. Initially, I really didn’t mind this–that was until the last 4-5 years.
In my time as the Manager of Educational Technology at Lethbridge College I learned by working with hundreds of faculty and staff that technology often got in the way of enhancing the learning environment. Most faculty aren’t interested in being “trained” or “discipled” in the technology; they just want it to work seamlessly and help them engage their students. Unfortunately, many people view technology use as a “dark art” that only a few disciplined initiates have the ability to really master. This attitude and perception is perpetuated by most IT departments who impose very strict and controlling guidelines over institutional technology use. For example, to simply connect a device to the network or add some level of functionality one must visit the IT “High Priest” who secretly types in the right incantation that brings the technology to life. Anyone who challenges this process does so at the peril of angering the IT gods. To be fair to our colleagues in IT most IT professionals don’t view themselves in this way but they do need to control the technology because it is so complicated and difficult to support–at least it used to be. We don’t have to pay homage to the IT gods any longer.
What if technology was so easy to use that you didn’t need to be trained on it or even have to crack a manual? Wouldn’t we all want to use this technology? What if we were to implement a rule in selecting technology that if you needed to crack a manual or required training to use the technology then that technology was not mature or effective enough to be used. Apple’s IOS devices: the Touch, iPhone, iPad are technologies don’t require training and the don’t even come with user manuals. Not only does the iPad just work and allow me to do what I want to do with it, the device doesn’t crash, freeze or do anything that requires an IT support person to resolve.
You can’t say this about the Android or other tablet devices. I have been looking at every tablet device that comes out on the market hoping that it would better than the iPad. Why? On a scale of 1-10 I would rate the iPad 2 as a very strong 3 (I rated the original iPad as a 1.5) because as good as it is there is so much more I want to do with a mobile device. I think we are just scratching the surface and what we will be using 3-5 years down the road will be significantly better regardless who makes it.
A few weeks back our IT director invited me to his office to show me the demo Acer tablets that he had acquired and in the first few seconds of showing me the Windows enabled tablet there was a problem, “a glitch”–but what can one expect from Windows. We then moved onto the Android Acer tablet and the demo lasted a few minutes longer before a “HHMM?? glitch” moment happened. Unfortunately, these glitch moments come up whenever I have looked at Android based tablets and over the years I have learned that the problems one experiences in the demonstration of the product are only magnified when you use the product on a daily basis. This principle was confirmed yesterday when my colleague tried to access a document online with the Acer tabliet in one of our many meetings and he wasn’t able to. His response to not being able to access the document: “This is why I don’t trust technology…” and then he turned to his backup paper document. This all happened as I viewed the document without any problem on my iPad 2.
I am sure that some people will rightly point out that the small level of unreliability is a small price to pay for the flexibly that Android tablets provide. Some point out that the problem could be the Acer tablet and that if we were to use the Galaxy 10.1 tablet that we would find a better experience. Sorry, but they are wrong. The blogsphere is filled with post after post pointing to the fragmented nature of the Android OS development that results in a very inconsistent and unfortunate unreliable user experience and when you want the device to just work anything less that just working is not acceptable. Since April of 2010 I have been using a variety of iPads and they all JUST WORK–you too can have this reliability.
If you want flexibility, want to tinker and really like dabbling in the “dark arts” of technology then get an Android tablet. If you want to your tablet to just work and help you get your work done or more importantly use it to enhance the learning environment, buy an iPad 2.