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iPad vs. Android tablet?

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#1 NHRob

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:15 AM

I'm a newbie to the tablet scene myself. I bought my wife a new iPad a month ago and she loves it and I do too. I used to use an iTouch as a portable viewer for star maps, etc but the screen is just too small for me. A tablet is just the right size and I don't need to get into a laptop format.
I could go for an iPad myself but started thinking ... what about an Android tablet? There seems to be a wide selection and prices are better. This would be for web surfing, planetarium SW, pics, viewing movies/TV shows, etc .... both astro and general purpose use.
I am leaning towards an Android tablet just for variety but, not sure. I guess what I don't really know at this point are the tradeoffs.
What are the differences and what would I be giving up in going with an Android vs. an iPad?

#2 simpleisbetter

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:29 AM

It really it comes down to which YOU prefer Rob...iPhone or Android, iPad or Android Tablet. Personally, even having owned macs and loving them, I prefer the Android OS and its flexibility. Others see things differently. My suggestion is to go to a store with working full-function Android Tablets and play around with one to see which you like best.

#3 NHRob

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 08:54 AM

I guess I'll have to go to a BB or something and play with one. The iPad is a known quantity and very nice indeed. Still, I wouldn't mind trying something else, especially if I can save a few $$.

#4 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:35 AM

I guess I'll have to go to a BB or something and play with one. The iPad is a known quantity and very nice indeed. Still, I wouldn't mind trying something else, especially if I can save a few $$.


For a number of reasons, I am pretty much committed to the Android platform. At this time though, certainly the iPad is the more mature platform and there are many more serious astronomy apps available for it.

There are a lot of choices in the Android world, some good, some not so good. You can definitely save money but you may find yourself lacking an important capability... it takes research and time.

The iPad is a known quantity and it is pretty hard to go wrong with it.

Jon

#5 Jeff Morgan

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Posted 01 July 2012 - 10:31 PM

Your question might best be asked of the software vendor whose software you are interested in.

Myself, I like SkySafari. In following messages on the Yahoo group, there are certain differences in Android that seem to create some issues with Sky Safari. Other apps may be different.

#6 psonice

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:11 AM

I'd say it depends on what you're going to do with it. Android tablets themselves are fine if you pick a decent one, and make sure it has android 3.0 (ideally 4.0) or later (many are still sold with 2.x, which is designed for phones, you don't want that!).

The big difference is the apps though. Android as a whole is nowhere near as good for devs as iOS, despite the much larger number of android devices out there. End result is that android doesn't get anywhere near the support iOS gets. You get a lot less apps, and the apps tend to be lower quality (especially as there are few rules on the android store - there's a lot of 'shovel ware').

Narrow that down to tablet apps (because phone apps on a tablet are best avoided, although they'll do if you're desperate) and it gets a lot worse. Unlike android phones, android tablets haven't really taken off. And if you look at the actual usage data, the ones that have been sold don't get used very much. There's very little developer interest in android tablets unfortunately.

But as I said, it comes down to how you use it. If you only want web and email, you don't need apps at all. If you want a planetarium app, there's sky safari (but check compatibility! Not all android tablets have access to the store, and getting it installed can be a LOT of hassle on an unsupported tablet). There are other apps of course, so maybe the bits you want to use are covered.

#7 rboe

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:29 AM

it's not unlike having a task that needs a tool; you need to choose the correct tool. Too many times one chooses a hammer or screw driver when something else would be much better.

Then again, sometimes a hammer is exactly what you need. :)

#8 snorkler

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 09:57 AM

You haven't mentioned whether a 7" tablet would suffice for your needs. If so, Apple has nothing to compete with $200 Android tablets in that format.

As the others have said, you need to research reviews and user feedback for each app you intend to run on the platform it will run on. Since iOS apps are written in C and Android apps are written in Java, with different interfaces and processors to run on, they're somewhat like apples and oranges.

If you'll want 3G/4G for streaming movies/TV shows, make sure the Android tablet you're considering has it, and not just 802.11 b/g/n.

#9 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:09 AM

You haven't mentioned whether a 7" tablet would suffice for your needs. If so, Apple has nothing to compete with $200 Android tablets in that format.

As the others have said, you need to research reviews and user feedback for each app you intend to run on the platform it will run on. Since iOS apps are written in C and Android apps are written in Java, with different interfaces and processors to run on, they're somewhat like apples and oranges.

If you'll want 3G/4G for streaming movies/TV shows, make sure the Android tablet you're considering has it, and not just 802.11 b/g/n.


In terms of "each app" you intend to run... in terms of the Android, there is really only one, SkySafari.

Jon

#10 snorkler

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:38 AM

That depends on your interest. Google Sky Map, Mobile Observatory, and SkEye may not serve serious observers as well, but they are alternatives.

#11 rboe

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:40 AM

:ubetcha:

#12 psonice

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 10:47 AM

Since iOS apps are written in C and Android apps are written in Java, with different interfaces and processors to run on, they're somewhat like apples and oranges


Android apps can be written in C too. In fact anything particularly performance sensitive really has to be written in C. It's certainly possible to write an app using straight C for most of the core code, and then you only need to adapt the parts that interface with the OS.

#13 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 04:39 PM

That depends on your interest. Google Sky Map, Mobile Observatory, and SkEye may not serve serious observers as well, but they are alternatives.


Fair enough..

Skeye is a worthy program and one that should run on most any Android. Beyond that, I have purchased every Android astroprogram I could find.

My wife, who is a total non-observer, downloaded Google Skymap and was immediately asking it to do things that it could not easily do, when is sunset... I am a registered owner of Mobile Observatory...

For the sorts of things that Mobile Observatory and SkyMap do, the basic version of SkySafari does a better job.

But that's just my opinion...

Jon

#14 simpleisbetter

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:10 PM

So far I've not paid for any of my Android apps, which is another big plus of Android, especially software for MS Office docs. Because of that I can't speak on SkySafari, yet...

But I do have Skeye and find it okay, barely so. However, I like AstroTool, and find it much better than Skeye, especially considering it's free. AstroTool is one I don't see discussed here and feel it gets overlooked. It's pretty good on my Galaxy phone, and I expect it's very nice on a tablet with a larger, more usable display.

#15 thebrowndwarf

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 05:20 PM

If you do decide to get an android tablet, you should get the Nexus 7. It will get upgraded by Google and it is only $200. I prefer SkySafari...

#16 NHRob

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 08:52 PM

The Nexus 7 is high on my list.

#17 psonice

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 04:13 AM

Yes, if you're getting an android tablet the google nexus 7 is definitely top of the list. They're selling it at a loss, either to try and drive some interest in android tablets or to drive their manufacturing partners out of business, one or the other :)

#18 NHRob

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 05:48 AM

I'm a little unsure about the 7" display format though. It's a little on the small size but .... wish I could see one in a store, up close.

#19 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 07:46 AM

So far I've not paid for any of my Android apps, which is another big plus of Android, especially software for MS Office docs. Because of that I can't speak on SkySafari, yet...

But I do have Skeye and find it okay, barely so. However, I like AstroTool, and find it much better than Skeye, especially considering it's free. AstroTool is one I don't see discussed here and feel it gets overlooked. It's pretty good on my Galaxy phone, and I expect it's very nice on a tablet with a larger, more usable display.


I tried Astrotool for a while. It showed promise but development had stopped by the port of Sky Safari had begun. There was an attempt to kickstart Astrotool, I even kicked in a bit of cash to help but when the announcement came that SkySafari for the Android was coming, that stopped too.

For me, I had been using (and still sometimes use), Planetarium for the Palm for several years, that's has been my standard in evaluating the Android astronomy programs. It's a pretty high standard but there are several programs available for the iOS that are of this level, so far the only Android program is a capable as Planetarium for the Palm is Sky Safari and there are still somethings that Planetarium does better.

What I am looking for are large databases, not only IC and NGC but Abell and Double stars etc. Add a reasonable display that is customizable... most important too is the ability to show more than just the minimum of information, this is where Sky Safari shines...

As far as freeware. SkySafari Plus costs less than $15, others cost about the same. It is an observing tool, saving $15 is always nice but it doesn't make sense to me to spend even $50 on an eyepiece and then cut corners buying software. A good piece of software will do more to enhance the evening than just about any eyepiece.

I own a Vizio 8 inch Tablet, it does a nice job of running SkySafari Pro. In the $200 range, it's worth considering, it has the minimums needed to run programs like this.

But if one is spending real money for a Tablet, I think the iPads are a better choice, they are just more mature, Apple has it together on this one and the Android platform and interface still has aways to go to catch up. The Apples just work and the apps are there.

Jon

#20 simpleisbetter

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 08:28 AM

Thanks for the info Jon, I hadn't heard that. Sounds like AstroTool is basically at end-of-lifecycle support for all practical purposes. If so then yes, SkySafari is the best choice for tablet users, or those with phones who can use tiny screens for astro apps (not me, give me SkyTools and a full 15" screen).

#21 psonice

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 08:36 AM

Personally I still think starmap pro is better than sky safari (especially since starmap's last update), although i use both. Choice is a fine thing :)

#22 snorkler

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 09:18 AM

Yes, if you're getting an android tablet the google nexus 7 is definitely top of the list. They're selling it at a loss, either to try and drive some interest in android tablets or to drive their manufacturing partners out of business, one or the other :)


No, Google/Asus aren't selling the Nexus 7 at a loss. Google compromised/cheapened it by omitting a rear camera, putting in a low-resolution forward camera, only installing mini-USB, and not including micro SD storage. Those cost-cutting measures bring it to market $50 under its main Android competitors.

Thanks for the clarification on the iOS/Android programming language issue. The Sky Safari Android FAQ notes they ported their C code into Java. Google provides a developer tool to assist.

Momentum favors Android apps now. We live in interesting times.

#23 psonice

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 10:10 AM

No, Google/Asus aren't selling the Nexus 7 at a loss. Google compromised/cheapened it by omitting a rear camera, putting in a low-resolution forward camera, only installing mini-USB, and not including micro SD storage. Those cost-cutting measures bring it to market $50 under its main Android competitors.


They're selling it at a loss, they said so themselves clarifying that when they sell it directly via the play store there is zero margin, so when they sell it elsewhere through a 3rd party who do have a margin (or market it, or do anything else that incurs a cost) they lose money.

Thanks for the clarification on the iOS/Android programming language issue. The Sky Safari Android FAQ notes they ported their C code into Java. Google provides a developer tool to assist.


I thought there must be something wrong here - if that was true, sky safari would be a whole lot slower than it is on iOS, and it'd be a seriously bizarre move. Why convert perfectly good C code into java? It'd be very likely to cause a whole ton of additional work fixing things and optimising (automated code converters are never all that good). And all for an inferior end product?!

But a quick look at the android faq confirms that:

The code which computes the positions of the stars and planets, and renders the sky chart onto the screen, is exactly the same as our iOS code. It's line-for-line identical C/C++, using exactly the same OpenGL graphics calls.


So Bill isn't a complete madman after all :D The rest of that section is actually quite depressing reading (it's here, section 13: http://www.southerns...ri_android.html ). This shows a lot of the issues devs have to deal with on android.

Momentum favors Android apps now. We live in interesting times.


I think you'll find the majority of devs disagree with you there. We put our effort into the places that give the most rewards, and android takes a lot more effort for a lot less reward. I (and most other devs I know) look at android as somewhere to port my work if I want to gain a bit more income from an iOS app (although my own work is basically unportable - very few android devices capable of running it exist). I also know a few devs who've written apps for android and then ported to iOS - and then made iOS their main platform pretty much immediately because of the big sales increase.

#24 Jon Isaacs

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 10:25 AM

I think you'll find the majority of devs disagree with you there. We put our effort into the places that give the most rewards, and android takes a lot more effort for a lot less reward.



A friend is finishing up here masters in CSE. She had a class programing the Android OS and her thesis involved developing an android app for the schools in Mexico.

I don't know if momentum favors the Android or the iOS or something else. I hear tell though that the Android OS is being used in embedded applications, other platforms. The iOS would seem to limited to the Apple platforms.

Which way the momentum is pointing, who knows, but one thing is for certain, these are interesting times.

Jon

#25 psonice

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 10:34 AM

Jon: There's definitely a lot of interest in android, and a lot being written for it. But for the serious developers (i.e. the ones who rely on their work to pay the bills), iOS is generally the first port of call because an app released on both platforms will generally sell 4x more on iOS than on android. And as I said, the effort involved is much lower (mainly because of reduced fragmentation) and support costs are much lower. Of course there are lots of exceptions to this :)

In some parts of the world that's not the case, so if you're looking at a local product you have to look at local figures. In mexico I wouldn't be at all surprised if android makes more than iOS, but if you're selling globally mexico is pretty much just a drop in the ocean (looking at my recent figures, it's around 1.5% - and I'd say my main app is actually more popular in mexico than many other places). The US, europe and china dominate when it comes to sales, and iOS tends to earn a lot more in those regions.


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