For the last 3 weeks, I have been Tweeting and Blogging about my experience with the new Motorola Xoom Tablet, which is the very first Tablet sporting Android 3.0, codenamed Honeycomb. Honeycomb is the next generation of the Android operating system, which is optimized specifically for Tablets.
One question that I get often is How does the Motorola Xoom compare to the iPad? So without further ado, here are 10 things I really like about the Xoom as compared to the iPad, which I bought and have used since the first day it went on sale:
1. No PC required to get started
I didn’t really realized this until later but I was able to activate my Xoom, setup my Gmail account, as well as my Exchange e-mail and .Mac account without ever needing to connect my Tablet to a computer as I had to do when I first bought the iPad. My point is that if Tablets are really supposed to eventually replace our Desktops, the Xoom is off to a better start than the iPad. This means that you can literally buy a Xoom when you are traveling and while you are waiting for your flight, or on a train, you can be up and running with your new device. I think this is very powerful indeed.
I came to Android from the iOS world having used an iPhone and an iPad, so it took me a little while to get used to Android, but now that I understand it, I’m a big fan. If I had to pick one thing about Android in general and Honeycomb specifically as the killer app, it would have to be Widgets, hands down. The idea that apps like the USA Today can show me a headlines preview for each section without launching the full app is just very appealing to me. I can also tap the bar at the top of the widget to go from one section to the next and only if I’m interested in a story, I tap it and then the app launches taking me directly to that story. I now also have widgets for trending Apps in the Android Market, for all three of my emails accounts, for Google Books, YouTube videos, Facebook updates, Twitter mentions and Browser bookmarks. Very powerful stuff. The iPad has nothing comparable to this.
One of my least favorite iPad features is how obtrusive notifications are. If you use an iPad, you can probably relate. You are the middle of reading, or doing something important and a notification pops-up that interrupts your flow. Not so on the Motorola Xoom. All notifications are quietly placed at the bottom right of your device and you can display the list when you want. Notifications include Twitter mentions, Facebook updates, new e-mail, music playing or paused, remaining battery, wifi connections, as well as an option for getting to more Settings, etc.
I really like the ease with which I can switch between the latest apps I have been using on my Motorola Xoom. I can Browse the web and then just tap the third button, which is always located at the bottom left of the Xoom to switch to my e-mail, or my photo gallery, or to a YouTube video I was watching. On the iPad, I have to press the Home button twice, then scroll left or right to find the app I need. Not too bad but I still prefer the Xoom for multitasking.
5. Persistent Virtual Navigation Buttons
Another thing I really like about Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom is the three persistent virtual navigation buttons, which help me go back to my previous task, return to my Home screen and the multitasking button respectively. Oh and some times you get a fourth button, depending on the app you are running. This last button typically provides more options for a particular app. This means that you can rotate the Xoom all you want and these buttons will follow you along and will always be found at the bottom left of your device. On the iPad, you always have to look for that physical Home button in order to return to your Home screen, or double-tap it to switch to another app. Again personally, I prefer Honeycomb’s approach.
6. Updating the OS
Motorola and Google have already pushed out their first update for the Motorola Xoom and I found the process to be extremely easy and best of all, it was all done Over The Air (OTA). On the iPad, every time there’s an iOS update, you absolutely have to connect it to iTunes in order to download and install the update. Of course you first have to know there’s an update in order to do this. The Xoom adds a notification about an update at the bottom right, so it’s easier to miss updates on the iPad than it’s on the Xoom.
7. Web Browsing
The Motorola Xoom approaches the web browsing experience in a very similar way in which we browse the web today through our desktops and laptops, namely via multiple Tabs. Simply tap the + icon and you get a new Tab, swipe left and right to visit other tabs. I haven’t found a limit to the number of Tabs that I can have at any given time. There’s however a limit in the number of sites you can have on the iPad and you have to tap a button in order to display and switch to another web page.
8. Sharing is simply better on the Xoom
In general, sharing content with your Social Graph is much easier and more thorough on the Xoom than on the iPad. For example if you find a web page in the browser that you’d like to share on the Xoom, just tap the "Share page" option and you are presented with all apps that are capable of sharing, for example Twitter, TweetDeck, Facebook, Evernote, Gmail, etc, even Bluetooth is there as a sharing option. On the Xoom, you are in total control. Say you find the same page in Safari on your iPad and you tap the Share button, your options are Add Bookmark, Add to Home Screen, Mail Link to this Page and Print. Before my Xoom, I found myself emailing interesting articles that I wanted to share on Twitter, then I could only do this after I got to my laptop. Big difference between the two Tablets and my opinion, Honeycomb is the clear winner here.
9. Updating Apps
The process of updating apps is particularly important for new Tablet users. On the iPad, unless you actually tap the App and visit the App Store, you won’t know if there are updates for your installed Apps, which means that if you don’t frequently visit the App Store, you may miss out on important updates posted by the development community. The Xoom on the other hand approaches this process in two very distinct ways, namely you can setup your apps to update automatically and forget about it, or you can choose to be notified when an update is available and again, the notification appears unobtrusively in the notifications area. I like to know when updates are available so I go with the latter.
10. Adobe Flash Player 10.2
After only a few days of installing the Adobe Flash Player 10.2 on my Motorola Xoom, I’m convinced that perhaps the reason why iPad users haven’t missed it more is because they have never seen it running the way it does on this Tablet. I realize that I work for Adobe Systems, but hopefully those of you who follow me on Twitter and read my Blogs know that I can be very objective, open and frank when it comes to the technology I use and write about. My point is that I too have become accustomed to browsing the web on the iPad and quietly moving on whenever I came across pages that included Flash, perhaps even subconsciously I also began to think that the Flash Player wasn’t needed. And then last Friday I installed the Flash Player from the Android Market and trust me when I tell you a Tablet and the Web are simply better with Flash than without. I work in eLearning and perhaps no other Industry has been impacted more by the lack of Flash on the iPad than this profession because most (if not all) eLearning courses today are Flash-based and to be able to consume a course on the Motorola Xoom is nothing short of impressive.
So there you have it, these are my early first impression of the new Motorola Xoom, which runs Honeycomb. I’m in Orlando attending the Learning Summit conference and my plan is to publish a video showing each one of these features in action when I’m back in my office next week.
Please let me know what you think and I thank you in advance if you share this post with your Social Networks.