So for the, I dont know how many times, I got grabbed an Android tablet from work to see what Ice Cream Sandwich was like, given its been out a few months now.
The tablet is a brand spanking new Acer A510. One of the new range of Tegra-3, all singing, all dancing tablets.
On initial power-up it jumped straight into the initial config. No probs. Stick in my usual google account and off it went. My main things for using a tablet are, in order; Mail, Facebook, Reddit, e-book reading, Google Reader, and video play.
First up mail. It would seem Google still has all gmail accounts separated to their own app, and all others (eg exchange) in another. Which means still no unified inbox. So… off to find an app for that. It would seem K9 mail (generally regarded as the best email client for android) hasnt been updated to display properly on a tablet. After some hunting around I found Kaiten, which is a derivative of K9 written for tablets. So I disable email sync on the normal account area and install Kaiten. I start with one of my gmail accounts (I have several). Works fine, although there is still no gmail specific setup so you have to know IMAP and SMTP server address etc. I then go to set up a second account. Crashes. Fine…. Kill the process and relaunch the app. Set up the second account again this time successfully. I then set up my exchange account. Nope. I try every conceivable combinations of server details but still nothing (and I do know Exchange). I then set it up as an IMAP account. Crashes. *sigh*. Kill it again and restart. Finally set it up. Mail starts coming through and I am able to subscribe to subfolders on the exchange account and push them to the unified inbox, a nice touch.
Then I go looking at Facebook. Facebook still havent found the need to update their default app to display on tablets. So I have to go looking for another. Facedroid came recommended. Install and open. Crash. Kill process. Open. Crash. Give up.
I then skipped Reddit for a sec and went looking at Google Reader app. I have a terrific app for this on the iPad, Newsify. I hoped for something just as good seeing this is google reader on a google tablet. Nope. The default google reader app is boring and just presents seperate list views of each RSS feed. Nothing unified. I then tried Pulse. Whilst the display is much more slicker, using photo tiles to display articles, it still has no unification of feeds.
On getting home i then looked at video play. On the iPad Ive started using Plex on both the server and client (still using Mezzmo to serve the PS3). So I buy and install the Android Plex client. Open it up… crash. Open it up again. It finds my server without any hassles, so I browse and find a Star Trek episode that I know plays fine on the iPad. Nope; media not supported. Huh? Try a different one. Another, but different error. After a bit of googling I find an option that needs TURNING OFF to get it to work. The video then starts to play.
And then all of a sudden all the default mail sync I had turned off decides to start sync’ing. I know I didnt turn it back on!
At this point I just powered the damn thing off.
So, Mr Google; how is your plan going? Pretty shitful in my opinion. People complain about the closed nature of Apple products and how many hoops they have to jump through to get applications published. But guess what? It works! And its works 99.999999999999% of the time! If I pick up an iPad, I can sign in, have all my apps download and be up and running in an hour. And it all just works. Today I sepnt many hours working on the Acer only to be infuriated over and over again. And thats just the apps. The actual OS has certainly gotten better. Android 3 (Honeycomb) was a huge step forward. But even now there is constant studderings and pauses. Wiresless disconnections for no apparent reason.
It could be so good, but Google really needs to lock down its quality control on applications. And not just getting GUIs up to a decent standard (as much as ICS looks nice, actually apps are hateful for the most part), Actually getting to work before they’re released. It needs to actually fix the core functions of the OS instead of constantly doing fancy GUI updates and adding pointless waste to it.
I’ll be going back to my iPad now as I know every app I use works and it will work tomorrow, and I know there wont be any major update for another 18 months (as opposed to Androids every 3 minutes). iOS may be getting a bit dated in its GUI design and we could really do with some of the touches of Android (widgets please?), but I dont see the point in having an all-singing, all dancing cutting-edge tech-toy when it doesnt actually work when you actually want it to.