Re: From the X Labs
Writing this on an iPad Mini, my first foray into the fruity ecosystem.
"Good enough hardware with interesting design." - I quite like the design of the Mini, though I find its so-called multitasking to be rather odd. Some stuff can be left to work in the background, other stuff just pauses if its display isn't active and on-screen. Having said that, the hardware in the Mini is not that much different to that which is in my (Android) phone, yet it feels a fair bit faster and copes with 1080P recording without problems; more than could be said for my phone.
"Availability of the latest updates to the OS. No, I will not root my phone for this feature, I shouldn't have to." - well, yeah. This is Android's biggest pile of fail. Granted, it is easier for Apple given that they make the OS and the hardware it runs on, but shame on Google for not building in, from the outset, a way to patch/update the OS itself without requiring all the intervention necessary. Yeah, some stuff might need vendor support code, but bug fixes and the like ought to be possible on the fly. You know, there are phones still selling "new" with Android 2.3.x onboard.
"Large music catalog." - got that, it is called Amazon.
"The ability to buy and manage my content in an easy to use way" - funny, I would say the Android drive-letter-flash-drive or MTP approach is easier. I prefer the drive letter option as it means I can plug my phone into just about anything and it will appear as a removable drive. Can I hook my iPad to RISC OS? Nope. To Linux? Maybe (libimobiledevice). To my PVR? To the NAS? Etc... No, at the moment I pretty much have to use that god-awful concoction that is iTunes. It would be okay if Apple offered a utility to put files on the device, and one to mangle CDs and such into something best suited for the device, and one to deal with the music downloading and... But no, it is everything all rolled in together. It takes an age to get itself going and it is slow and clumsy and all I expect it to do is to move files to and from the iPad. Oh, and I'll also add that if I drop a video into a video player app's space and the player doesn't like the file, I cannot just move the file to a different player app, nor can I store my videos in one place and point both players at it. It is best to imagine that the iPad has NO filesystem, but rather a "pool of space" which apps can claim for themselves.
"I want my technology to just work." - agreed, and my rant isn't over yet. Photos. Plug in the iPad, they are NOT available through iTunes but instead the thing appears as a sort of digital camera media device. Going to it in Explorer will give simple draggy-droppy access to your photos. Um, sometimes. At least as often it'll tell you that there aren't any files. Oh, no worries, I'll just Bluetooth the photo across. Oh, wait, it's an iPad. It has super-sexy Bluetooth baked in, yet it is singularly incapable of the simple act of pushing a file out. Instead, I am in the ridiculous situation of either having to reboot everything (simplest way of getting the photos back) OR to email the photos to myself and pick up the email on a different device. Like an Android phone, which will Bluetooth them to the PC without any trouble (sounds a hassle but it is quicker than starting Thunderbird).
There are many things I like about the iPad Mini, and I am surprised that I can write entire messages (such as this one) fluidly and easily by poking a piece of glass; but I think you will have to agree that Apple kit talking to anything that isn't Apple is more difficult than it should be. I wonder if, in the future years, this will come and bite Apple in the ass. As the article states, it is going to be come less important which smartphone you have, so long as it is capable of doing the things you want to get done at a price you're willing to pay. If this comes to be, the watchword will surely be interoperability, in that a device you can plug into other stuff will be more useful than one that talks a specific protocol.
This is not to say that life is rosy in the Android world. Hardware varies from pisspoor to excellent. OS update/support likewise. Music catalogue is irrelevant, your catalogue should not need to be tied to any specific device. As for file support, the Apple way might be great for people who don't really like or understand what a file system is so "this file belongs to this app" will do. For those who grew up with filing systems and directories and all that nerdy stuff, the Apple method seems....somewhat restrictive. It might be lessened somewhat if iOS permitted you to view a list of files associated with an app and to copy/move/delete, but no, that requires iTunes. With Android, most of the root filesystem is locked off in an unrooted device, but you can access /sdcard and there are various file manager apps designed for the task. This, of course, means that an app that can access the SD card can access anything on it. Double-edged sword.