iPad Mini and Google Nexus 7 Tablet – Comparison Review

The following is a guest post by Chris Smith which originally appeared as a post at a forum Chris and I both frequent. Chris is both an end user and mobile developer so I found the information interesting and informative.

iPad Mini and Nexus 7

I’ll be taking both of these home from work this weekend to play with and I’ll be setting them both up as “my” devices, using apps that I have bought, installed, configured, etc.

First, VERY initial impressions, that may change as I get to use them over the weekend:

Feel: Nexus 7 is the best feeling Android device I’ve used. Fit and finish are nice, it feels decent in the hand and doesn’t feel cheap. The iPad Mini (from now on, I’ll use N7 and Mini) feels better. It’s a step above in fit and finish compared to the N7, and feels a bit nicer in the hand. It’s bigger and has a different aspect ratio than the N7 but is no harder to hold in one hand (I do have large hands, I’ll have my wife try this weekend.) The Mini should feel better, it’s more expensive.

Screen: N7 is slightly better here. But it’s really close and I wouldn’t notice it unless I was trying. The Mini’s 1024×768 isn’t “retina” and as a consumer I sort of wish it were. But as a developer and someone who understands why the did what they did, I’m actually am glad they kept the 1024×768 resolution because hundreds of thousands of apps “just work.”

Android and iOS: Last time I used Android with any regularity was back in the early 2.3 days, when the Nexus One was new. Back then Android lagged way behind iOS on usability and speed, IMO. Now there’s no gap, they’re both great. There are things that iOS does that Android doesn’t and things that iOS does better than Android. But the reverse is just as true. Jelly Bean scrolls much smoother between screens, pop-ups, etc. The searching is better than iOS, and the voice recognition on both is pretty good. Live Tiles are really neat and fun to play with on the home screen, but I honestly don’t miss them on the Mini either.

Apps: Wow, Android is a lot better than last time I really sat down and played with it. I could only find one app that I use everyday on my iPhone and/or iPad that I couldn’t find on the N7 was Simpsons: Tapped Out which is a dumb game that isn’t a deal breaker for a device. But that being said, the iOS versions of the apps that I use tend to be more polished, easier to use, and much less laggy than the Android counterparts. Several apps that I launched (including Chrome, the built in browser) just appear to hang, not responding to swipes, scrolls, etc for several seconds at a time (more than 2, and very noticeable ) As an iOS user, this is the most infuriating user experience when trying to use an Android device, the lack of feedback when things are happening. The Kindle app rocks on both devices and is almost identical (and is probably the second most used app on my iPad 3, behind the Video app.)

Media: This is going to be hard to be impartial. I’ve been using a iOS device for over 4 years now, and have everything configured to run through iTunes, iTunes Match, handbrake converted videos ready to go on the iPad, etc. I haven’t loaded video on the Mini yet, but last night loaded a few on the N7. Best thing about the N7 is that since you have access to the file system you can just copy files to it, even over the wireless network. So while my ecosystem is iOS centric, I was at least able to load a video on the N7 and it looked great. I’m not a huge fan of iTunes but I’ve much time configuring it, writing helper apps that talk to the iTunesLib directly to convert video put in specific folders, running them through handbrake, adding them to specific playlists that will sync to my iOS device next time I do a sync and that type of stuff. I’m 100% sure that a geek like me could do ALL of that for an Android device so that it was just as automatic and possibly more so. I’m not going to spend the time doing it, though, unless I were to ever switch full time. And there might be better ways to get personal video, music, etc on an Android device than I have.

2 Days later Chris posted this followup:

So after using it for a few nights, I found myself always reaching for the Mini first. I don’t know if this is just because I prefer iOS to Android (and I do) or if it’s just because it’s so familiar, but I just enjoyed using the Mini more than then N7. I’m amazed by how Apple produced a device this thin and light that doesn’t feel compromised when using it.

If you like Android better, or you’re deeply embedded int he Google ecosystem, the N7 is a great device. I do like it quite a bit and I think it’s great that there are really good tablets at really good prices for users that prefer Android. But if you’re like me and are already in the iOS ecosystem, the Mini makes more sense, I think.

The biggest question I have left is if the Mini makes sense for me at all. I already have an iPad, I’m not sure if I need the Mini too. It’s nice that it’s smaller, but that’s a downside too because the screen is smaller. It’s easier to type on the full sized iPad (if I was using it for taking notes) and videos are nicer on the full sized iPad because they’re bigger. And I have my phone on me all the time for when I need to check something on the go. If you want an iPad and you wanted to save a little bit of money, the Mini is a great choice. If you think the smaller form factor is nice for your application, the Mini is a great choice. Maybe my mind will change over the next few weeks, but for right now I’m not sure if I’ll really use the Mini, especially when I have the choice between it and the full sized iPad.

Thanks for reading, if Chris continues any further followup I’ll post that too.

About the author:
Chris Smith works for Micro Integration Services developing mobile and tablet apps for it’s B2B customers. He has also developed the Find Craft Beer app for iOS and Android.

MilliMount – a versatile smartphone mount project on Kickstarter

I ran across this Kickstarter project today and I liked it so much that I backed it. This looks like an easy to use, sturdy and versatile phone mount that is really only hindered by the users imagination. At $20 with shipping it’s a great deal too. I already have several iPhone mount/cradles but they all only do one thing; car window mount or tripod mount. I’m excited about the new possibilities MiliMount will offer.

From the creator Randy G’s website:

• It is a semi-open source project that makers can profit from.
• It is compatible with almost all smartphones.
• It is a Kickstarter that might deliver ahead of schedule.
• The project owner is a recently laid off worker from corporate America and would like to create his own job and many more!

If you have never supported a product on Kickstarter, I highly suggest you try it. Give Randy a chance to create his own job and fulfill a dream, in return you get the awesome feeling of helping some one as well as a useful product.

Hope you reach your goal Randy!

Copy the iPhone? Apparently Samsung wrote the book on it – news

Are you still on the fence about wether or not Samsung copied the iPhone? If so you’ll definitely want to read this. New evidence has shown up in the Apple vs. Samsung case that appears to be a big boost to Apple’s claim that Samsung “slavishly copied” the iPhone. The evidence come from Samsung themselves:

All Things D reports:

“As part of its case against Samsung, Apple has shown snippets of an internal Samsung document comparing the original Galaxy S phone with the iPhone.

On Tuesday, Apple managed to get the whole 132-page document admitted into evidence. And it’s a doozy.

The 2010 report, translated from Korean, goes feature by feature, evaluating how Samsung’s phone stacks up against the iPhone.

The complete report can be found here. Although it’s not available at this time presumably from being fireballed. I skimmed through the majority of it and found one similar glaring statement time and time again. Under Directions for Improvement the outcome was usually: make it look, act, or feel more like the iPhone.

iPad – 2 years and 55 million sales later

Given the new iPad’s (3rd generation) release on Friday, I thought I’d look back at my pre-release predictions for the original iPad (1st generation) and see how they stack up two years later.

For easier reading I’ll preface my predictions as P and the outcome as O.

P: “iPad will be a huge success out of the gate with limited sales production supply. Face it, no one can compete with the Apple juggernaut right now (brand familiarity, app store, marketing).”
O: Correct and still true 2 years and 3 generations later.

P: “It will be the first “tablet” that actually draws a viable market.”
O: So true, regardless of all the naysayers whom doomed it a failure.

P: “Other computer makers will join the market in hopes to revive the faltering PC industry.”
O: Correct, tried and failed. The PC industry is faltering. HP, Dell and Lenovo’s (whom apparently makes a tablet but I could not locate any actual sales numbers) iPad equivalents have failed. Only Acer’s Transformer Prime has had any traction. Acer has estimated 1.8 million in tablet sales, that’s for the entire year. It’s estimated that Apple will sell a million of the new iPads during the release weekend alone. Actual 3 day sales: 3 million.

P: “Most of the iPad wanna’bes will be pale imitations (but cost less).”
O: Correct, ever seen the Galaxy Tab or HP Touchpad? However they haven’t all cost less.

P: “…until Google or maybe MS (with a Win7 Series variant?) hit back with a viable OS.”
O: Split. This is an interesting one. One could argue that Android Ice Cream Sandwich is a viable OS but it has yet to ship widely and Android tablets are pretty much DOA up to this point. On the other hand there has been much hullabaloo over Windows 8/Metro to which the consumer preview has been met with mostly positive response. Both viable; one not doing so hot, the other remaining to be seen in the actual marketplace.

P: “They’ll tout better features (hardware) but iPad will continue to sell well.”
O: Galxay Tab, Toshiba Thrive, Motorola Xoom, Blackberry PlayBook, etc. All were hailed for their myriad of “better” components and connections, regardless iPad continues to dominate the market.

P: “Competitors will scratch their heads wondering how Apple does it.”
O: Can’t prove it but I’m quite sure this is happening again and again.

P: “They’ll miss the fact that it’s really more about the UI experience and apps not just the hardware.”
O: Same old story. Even more so now when you’re dealing with tablets where the line between hardware and software converge. When the device is basically a screen with back cover what is left? No doubt, it’s the users interaction via the OS. The new iPad’s Retina display seems to be the pinnacle of this convergence.

P: “Haters will continue to complain there is no true “multitasking” or Flash.”
O: Wrong, but to the positive. No multitasking is a thing of the past. Adobe has killed Flash on mobile devices.

P: “Actual users won’t care because it will meet 90% of their needs regardless.”
O: I’m pretty sure the sales numbers prove this alone.

P: “Traditional publications will attempt to revive the print industry with “interactive” download magazines.”
O: True. Many publishers have flocked to electronic publishing.

P: “I’m unsure if the market will want to pay for this content when a lot if it is already available for free via websites.”
O: E-book use is on the rise. Overall print industry is making inroads electronically, unknown what the overall impact is at this point.

P: “iPad users complain that the eBook format Apple uses doesn’t play nice with other readers. Amazon plays this up and drops Kindle price slightly. iPad is still seen as a great bargain because it does so much more than the Kindle.”
O: Apple and Amazon have basically created a format war when it come to E-books. Both seem to be doing well. Although Apple has recently been accused of price-fixing with the iBookstore. Amazon has basically taken over the low cost tablet market with the Kindle Fire to which they’re selling at a loss.

P: “Both companies take heat over the fluctuating eBook pricing.”
O: I’ve read many complaints about the cost of E-books compared to their cheaper printed versions.

With continued record sales there’s no doubt the new iPad will continue to lead the way in the post-PC era.