Using an iPad coming from Android

Chris Board

Dec 2, 202012 min read

Anyone who knows me will know that I've never been a fan with apple. Not because I felt their devices weren't any good and I've heard good thing about Apple support and lifetime of device and how long it is supported. The issue I had was more of what Apple did in terms of their marketing, and quite a big reason, were Apple products are fairly expensive.

One of things that I didn't like about Apple was how they advertised new features, quite often making out that a feature was some revolutationary new feature, when actually Android had the same feature several years ago (ahem widgets...).

I have been using Android since Android Froyo - I think that was Android 2 from memory as a mobile device, then a few years later I got an Android tablet, being the Google Nexus 7.

Android phone wise, I've always been happy, however the tablet side of things on Android has been pretty poor. Not sure why, but Android tablets don't seem to have caught on by the majority of developers and even Google seem to have mostly abondoned tablets.

I use tablets mostly for productivity, times when I don't want to sit at my PC or have my laptop on my lap, but just want to write a blog post, plan some development work, browse the web etc.

Somehow, I've always had Android tablets start to grind to a halt after a couple of years, and the only way to guarantee getting the latest Android updates is to buy a device that is from Google, if you buy from other OEM such as Samsung, then there's no guarantee you will continue to get updates after a year or two and that can also include security updates - although I think Google is slowly starting to improve that aspect.

A large proportion of apps for Android aren't designed for tablets, they are just blown up versions of the mobile app which makes them look pretty horrible and unintuative.

I had a Google Nexus 9 at one point, which again after a couple of years started grinding to a halt, and needing to keep factory resetting to keep it going to some degree, but it got to the point that I couldn't be bothered to use it anymore. I then was travelling to an event (remember the days when you could travel to places) and I didn't want to take my laptop so I bought a cheap Huawei tablet Media Pad which again lasted for a couple of years and again started grinding to a halt and for some reason the first tablet I've had where it would start running very hot at the slightest little task so again I gave up using it, and here comes to the point of this blog post.

Although I'd never actually used an Apple product or an iPad I'd seen them used in person, on TV and YouTube videos and I always felt that the iPad looked very responsive and fluid compared to Android. Therefore, I decided to treat myself, and take the plunge into buying an iPad. I went all out on the iPad and bought the Apple iPad Air 2020, the Apple pencil and the Magic Keyboard case. There were various reasons for doing this - in addition to my thoughts on Android tablets.

  1. I wanted to do development on iOS specifically for my side project Crash Catch, and for what I needed to do, I needed a physical apple device.
  2. I like to make notes when I'm doing development, such as scribbling little notes, scribbling down flow diagrams on how something is going to work. I had considered buying a ReMarkable tablet - which is specifically for making hand written notes with a paper style display - but that's all it did, it was a specific note taking tablet. It was quite expensive so I thought spending money on iPad and Apple Pencil for a similar price means I have all the functionality of a tablet, but I can also scribble hand written notes - at least potentially.
  3. As I mentioned, I sometimes use a tablet, to browse the web, jot up some documents so that's the reason for getting the magic keyboard.

So after having the iPad for a couple of weeks, I thought I would do a blog post on my thoughts on the apple iPad coming from Android - spoiler alert, I'm impressed.

General Impressions

Generally, I am impressed with the iPad. Its fluid in terms of its transitions between screens, its fast, there's no blips and glitches in between tasks like it was on Android. What I mean here, is I believe its referred to as Jank. Basically what I find happens on Android fairly often, when you go from one screen to another screen, especially if the screen being changed to requires a download of something over the network the screen will freeze slightly between the animation instead of it being smooth. An example of this is quite often on the Play Store. You load the play store and load the menu and go to My Apps, it starts the transition to change the screen, freezes for a split second and then continues on showing the data. I've not had one instance of this on the iPad, everything works smoothly and everything is extremly responsive.

There are some things however, I don't like how there implemented. An example of this is Widgets. Remember how I said at the top of post about not liking Apple with their marketing stating as if a new feature is some revolutationary new thing even though Android has had widgets since the earliest version I had. The Android widgets work a lot better, there a lot more intuitive, there a lot more of them and their very customisable, the Apple implementation of widgets is awful. There's very few of them, they don't seem to be customisable that much and there not always on display when you unlock your device, so you don't see the important information at a glance straight away, you instead of have to swipe the home screen to the left edge in order to see them. Due to this I don't use them, its much better on Android, I unlock the device, I see the weather, I see my calendar so I can see what's happening as soon as I unlock my device, I don't need to make a point of swiping to see it.

The auto screen rotate also works much better on the iPad then it does on android. I can't count the number of times that I have on both my Android phone and past Android tablets, rotating the device to make it landscape, and wait for a second or two to allow the screen rotate, and sometimes, it just doesn't and I'm shaking the phone or tablet to try and make it realise that its been rotated.

The iPad has small enough bezels to make the most of the display, but they are not too small that it makes it difficult to hold in your hand without accidently triggering something.

The screen is nice and bright and has a nice clear display - in some ways its a tad too bright as can't actually put it on full brightness without it being somewhat uncomfortable to look at, although that might be useful if you were trying to use it outside or in a very brightly lit room, although I've not had a chance to do this yet.

One thing I don't like is when the iPad is plugged into the PC it doesn't charge from the PC even when plugged into a powered USB hub. I'm not sure if this is because its specific to Windows PCs and this wouldn't be an issue if connected to an apple device, such as Mac books I'm not sure, but I think the reason is because a USB ports - even if powered - doesn't provide enough wattage to charge the iPad so you always get the "Not Charging" in the corner.

Making Notes with the Apple Pencil

The Apple pencil is a brilliant addition to the iPad, and it works perfectly for making notes like I had hoped instead of requiring that ReMarkable tablet. Its extremly easy to right notes, and flow diagrams when I'm developing apps and want to quickly jot things down. One of the main problems in the past, with tablets and making notes, you tend to have to hover your hand over the screen to avoid your hand/palm triggering things to happen. The palm rejection on the iPad is brilliant. You can quite happily, rest your hand on the screen and hand write like you would on a normal notepad and I've not had any issue with my hand or palm inadverntly doing stuff on the screen while I'm writing.

Not that I do not do graphics, I can't draw if my life depended on it, I struggle drawing a stick man :) , but I had a play with drawing, and the pressure sensitivity and using the pen at different angles work really well to get different results.

Since getting the iPad, I've not made any notes on paper and solely used the iPad, mostly using the OneNote app by Microsoft.

The Apple Magic Keyboard

The keyboard is also a great addition to the iPad as well for working on documents and making notes when handwriting wouldn't be appropriate. Its very easy to pull the tablet on and off the case when you don't need the keyboard, and its great that you can position the tablet into an angle so that you can see it properly, one of the worst things about most Android tablets with add on keyboards, they rely on standing the tablet up against the keyboard so its usually at quite a bad angle to see properly.

The keyboard is nice to type on, it has a nice amount of travel and I can quite happily type at pretty much my full typing speed as I would on my normal PC and/or laptop.

The keyboard backlight works well when in lo light conditions but not too bright so its not too distracting. Its also nice not needing to charge the iPad and the keyboard separately. The keyboard has a pass through port so you can plug into the keyboard and the ipad charges but also data, without needing a cable hanging out the side of the tablet.

The trackpad on the keyboard is also nice, its smooth to use and makes navigating easy when you are using the tablet on your lap. There are some aspects that I don't like however.

The trackpad cursor seems somewhat inconsistent. Sometimes its a cursor that moves around the screen like on a normal PC, sometimes the mouse cursor stays focussed to a series of buttons, and instead of the cursor moving around the screen, it will automatically just switch the focus to the buttons so it can be a little inconvenient trying to work out whether the mouse cursor will move around the screen or stay focussed to selecting one of a few buttons on the screen.

Will I Get Rid of Android and Fully Switch to Apple?

Probably not, I still like Android phones and the customisability that comes with it, however, I am finding it harder to find a phone that I like, so who knows maybe one day, I will completely switch. The problem I have with Android phones is I usually only buy Google branded phones, such as Google Pixels. Originally when I first bought Google phones, they were relatively cheap but high spec, and would guarantee to get the latest OS updates and security patches and the latest features for at least a couple of years, but usually longer. Most OEMs such as OnePlus use some form of Android, that has been modified by the OEM which then means its unlikely you will get an update when the next OS update comes out by Google, as they have to then fork Googles version and make the change required for their device which takes times and due to that the OEM might not always bother as they're focussed on their latest devices that have since launched.

My phone recently died (a Google Pixel 2) which was around 3-4 years old I think, but I couldn't find a new phone that I liked, and I don't want to spend £800 on a phone that might only be supported for a year or two if I'm lucky. I hate the stupid displays that have notches or even worse the whole punch displays which most phones nowadays have. So what with having to get a new phone the only phone that I could find that was any good until something better comes along, was the Google Pixel 3a.

So who knows, if the Android mobile situation doesn't improve, then yes, based on my experience with the iPad I could potentially get an iPhone as my next mobile.

I am also planning on getting the Apple Mac Mini M1. This is due to some development that I need to do for Crash Catch, I've tried working around by getting a virtual machine of MacOS but for some reason I can't connect my iPad to it, it for some reason connects and disconnects again, so I'm hoping to get a Mac Mini in the new year so that I can do the development that I need with the iPad to be able to make an official library for iOS for Crash Catch.

So what's your thoughts, any questions then please met me know in the comments or you can message me on Twitter using @boardy89

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