Something Wrong With Your ‘Droid?

In my last post, I touted the wonders of my new Transformer Prime Android tablet and weighed in on some of the benefits of the new technology.  Having used the tablet for two months now, I see the fundamental problem with the tablet wars.  Backing. 
The iOS for the iPad is made by Apple for Apple.  The OS is intimately intertwined with the device, meaning that it is fully optimized for the technology. Apps for the tablet are required to go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure they meet with Apple’s user guidelines.  Android is written to run on many different devices, which means it cannot be as effectively optimized for the technology. It is also open source, so anyone can write apps and post them.  Granted, they have to be vetted by Google to get into the market (AKA Google Play) for download, but that doesn’t preclude installing outside the market if you so choose.
A quick perusal of both Google Play and the Apple App store shows a plethora of mindless games and cutsie apps ranging in price from free to expensive.  But the edge in software goes to Apple for one simple reason: they actually write some productivity software for the iPad that is fully functional.  Google writes software too, but only the prototypical Google Apps that are essentially web 2.0 apps anyone can use on any PC.  Google has not produced an Android tablet-centric app yet.  Some tablet manufacturers have partnered with software developers to bundle some apps on the device right out of the box.  Polaris Office came on the Transformer Prime and Thinkfree Office came the Samsung Galaxy S phones and Galaxy Tab.  But neither of these apps is a full-featured standalone productivity app.  They are designed to work with documents created on a “real computer” that need to be accessed remotely.
Now, I understand many people will say that a tablet is not a PC and that if one wants the full function productivity of Microsoft Office, then one should buy a laptop or perhaps a Windows-based tablet.  This is an outstanding argument.  But it is an argument in defeat.  To contend that the Android Tablet should not be used for productivity is to say that it is a plaything and has no business application in the workplace.  This is not true.  The tablet can be a fully functional productivity tool if it has the backing of a major software developer.  The Windows-based tablets have Microsoft, the iPad has Apple, but the Android only has Google, who doesn’t seem to really be pushing productivity for the Android tablet.  It is as if Google is saying “hey, we wrote the Android OS for phones, not tablets.  You guys are on your own.”
If Google doesn’t fully embrace the Android-based tablet market and make a fully featured productivity suite for it akin to iWork on the iOS, then the war will wage on tilting slightly Apple. Look to Google doing this in the near future, or look to the Android tablet fading from the marketplace. Of course, Google will probably answer this with more cloud-based apps like their Google Docs. Not a bad app, but it is not Android specific and it is not close to being a full-featured productivity suite.
Of course, cloud-based computing is all the rage now. In fact, Samsung offers a cloud drive, Asus offers a cloud drive, Amazon has a cloud player for their MP3 store and the Kindle uses the cloud for the whisper sync feature of their reader app. Microsoft has their infamous “To The Cloud” ad campaign touting the benefits of cloud computing. I even use the Google Docs cloud for some of my work, but I cringe at relying solely on the cloud for my writing. My tablet is WiFi only, so if I am away from a hotspot, I have no access to my cloud drive. I like having local copies on the device that update when connected. I also want an app that resides on the device for editing, not one that denies access when it cannot detect a network connection.
Having said all that, and still wishing for a more full-featured app, I do really love this device. It is on almost constantly. I even woke up the other day at 2 am with an idea for a new story and was able to get it into the tablet before my brain shut down. With my old Windows netbook, I would have had to wait for it to either resume or boot up and that takes a lot of time–especially at 2 am when the brain is not the most reliable. The tablet simply came on and I tapped my Polaris Office icon and tapped away the idea. That is perfect for me. And it fully runs Flash, so I have access to the whole internet of video streaming. I still whole-heartedly recommend that Asus Transformer Prime as a great tool.


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