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Ice Cream Dreams [Opinion]



A few days before Christmas in 2010 Motorola released this teaser video. It was a little cheesy, but I was excited about the prospect of a tablet that would finally best the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy Tab had been released, but I never thought of it as a viable tablet option. It was too thick and at the end of the day it ran Android 2.2, a decent OS, but not a tablet OS. Rumors about Google’s upcoming tablet OS has sparked my interest. I had never really been interested in a tablet, but I figured if there was going to be a tablet for me it would be from Google. 

Before anyone had seen Honeycomb this video “leaked” out, showing off Android 3.0. I was so ecstatic that I made the “Android 3.0” screen my wallpaper. I was convinced that Google was going to finally deliver a tablet experience that would outdo iOS on every level. The iPad had been out for several months at this point, so I figured Google and Motorola would be able to make a device that at least matched the iPad in specs but bested it in the OS.

Then, during CES, Verizon gave a presentation of Honeycomb. I can remember watching the video and trying to imagine having this thing in my hand. I had a couple issues (why can’t I scroll through the apps when I press the multitask button?), but I was confident that these things would be worked out. I can remember watching hands on videos as a few journalists eventually began to be allowed to touch the Xoom before release. Eventually, in late February, the Xoom was released on Verzion for $600 on a two year contract ($800 contract-free). Like many others, I was a little shocked at the price (especially the off-contract price), but I decided to hold my judgement until I could make my way into a Verizon store to actually play with the device.

I walked into the store with my friend and marched right over to the Xoom. I turned on the screen and saw a lot of lag as I slid the lock to the end of the unlock ring. I assumed it was a small bug and moved on. As I played around with the tablet it began to dawn on me that I was agreeing with many of the reviews I had read: the Xoom was good, but it could have been so much better. It wasn’t just that it was heavy or that the power button was placed in an odd location, it was the software. Android 3.0 was miles ahead of the Froyo that the Galaxy Tab was sporting, but it still felt half baked (or as Google likes to put it, beta).

As time has passed we’ve seen a plethora of Honeycomb devices that have caught my eye from the ASUS Transformer to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, but every time I tried them I found the same glaring flaws. Sure, there’s a lot less lag on the lock screen and a lot more apps have been released for Honeycomb, but the interface still feels too convoluted. Why is search on the top left corner and apps in the top right? Doesn’t it make more sense for there to be an apps button on the bottom (where the launcher has always been in Android)? Why not have the multitask button show my open apps on the left (like it already does) and the rest of my apps on the rest of the screen to the right? Then throw the search button down on the bottom to make the UI feel more cohesive.

A couple days ago Millennial Media released a report showing that Android was dominating iOS in terms of market share, iPads, iPhones, and iPods included. These numbers are astounding. I can still remember watching Apple keynotes where Steve Jobs would tout Apple’s superior numbers to Android’s, but I have a feeling even Jobs knew that their days of numbers domination were limited. Android’s phone strategy has been astoundingly successful. Despite having little to no contenders in the MP3 player market and marginal success in the tablet market, Android is still dominating Apple in terms of overall market share. That said, Gartner released a similar report a few days before that related only to tablets which clearly demonstrated that Apple has and will almost certainly continue to dominate the tablet market for the next few years. Now, the 2015 projections should really be taken with a grain of salt in my opinion (technology is changing too quickly for even a 3 year projection to be taken seriously), but the 2011 (and maybe 2012) numbers are fairly accurate.

The question is, why is iOS still dominating the market? I don’t necessarily think it’s that iOS has more tablet optimized apps or even that many people still use the word iPad when they mean any tablet at all. Instead, I think it’s the iPad’s simplicity that draws people to it over an Android tablet. The same can be said about the PlayBook and even the TouchPad – people avoided them because they weren’t as simple as the iPad. People see the PlayBook and saw the TouchPad, but most have passed by it based on their sales numbers. While Android tablets have certainly fared better, that isn’t saying much considering their competition. I would not go so far as to say that the iPad’s simplicity is the only reason that potential tablet owners pass by other offerings, but I do think it is the most important reason.

There is a tendency among Android enthusiasts like myself to say that people prefer the iPad because they can’t handle customizations or they haven’t given Honeycomb a real chance. Both of those situations could be true, but the reality is the iPad’s learning curve is a lot shorter than a Honeycomb tablet’s. People pick it up and know what to do with it right away. To unlock it the screen says “Slide to unlock.” To open an application, the user simply selects one of the icons before them from the home screen.

The iPad is dirt simple, but that simplicity comes at a price. The iPad’s lockscreen is a clone of the iPhone’s, which is admittedly nice on the iPhone but awkward on the iPad. The only way to customize the iPad with quick information is to jailbreak it, whereas Android has widgets that can quickly show information like the weather, a new email, or upcoming calendar events. There is a point at which extreme simplicity means a lack of innovation. Despite these shortcomings, I still think the iPad betters any Honeycomb tablet available today.

I want to be clear: I do not think Google should just copy Apple and make everything as simple as it can possibly be. I think Apple has and will continue to corner the market that wants a device that is as simple as possible despite the consequences. That said, I think that Google needs to simplify Android with Ice Cream Sandwich. While I think there is value to having the same OS on phones and tablets, I think the larger goal for Android on tablets needs to be to make the experience much simpler. Even making small changes like combining the multitasking button and apps button and moving the search button to the bottom would go a long way, but I think Ice Cream Sandwich should go even further.

By building in more apps into the Ice Cream Sandwich, Google can offer a much more complete experience. Right now if I want to create a document on stock Honeycomb I can either purchase an application from the Market or I can point my browser to Google Docs. Why in the world hasn’t Google added a native Google Docs app with offline syncing? The Honeycomb browser is decent, but at the same time I’d much rather have a tablet optimized version of Chrome that syncs all of my bookmarks and passwords to my device. Why doesn’t Google pay Citrix to build a built-in remote desktop app so that business users can remote into their desktops without having to purchase additional software? Why is there still not an official Picasa application for Android? One of the main things people use tablets for is to consume and show off media like pictures; having a built in Picasa app that syncs all of my photos (using the same pin metaphor that Google Music uses) just makes sense.

Another big selling point for Android would be to make Android phones and tablets work together like the HP Pre 3 and the TouchPad were going to. Imagine being able to reply to text messages or take a phone call on your tablet instead of your phone? I may not want to do that all the time, but I would love to have the option. Instead of having to clear the same notifications on my phone and my tablet, why don’t they talk together so that my notifications are in sync on both devices? Maybe I’m reading an article on my phone and I want to switch to my tablet. Instead of emailing myself the URL, doesn’t it make more sense for me to be able to push my browsing session to my tablet? What if apps could talk together between devices, so that when you open up Twitter on your tablet it loads to the same place you left off on your phone and vice versa.

It could be that Ice Cream Sandwich is nothing more than the unification of Android phones and tablet operating systems, but I have hope for more. I think Google needs to start playing hardball with Apple by making their tablet offerings differentiated by simplifying the interface, offering better built-in applications, and making ICS phones and tablets work together. This is the sort of innovation that Google needs to implement if Google wants to shift market share in their direction. Like the early smartphone market, there are still a lot of people who are waiting for a tablet that really fits all of their needs. If there is any company in the world right now that has the talent, the skill, and the motivation to make a better product than Apple, it’s Google.

  • Slakker

    I disagree that the ipad is better than honeycomb. It is simpler however that doesn’t make it better. All of the improvements you mention would be welcome and are very good ideas I hope Google integrate so of these and come up with some of their own fresh ideas.

  • Guest

    Sorry for the double reply, I thought my previous comment hadn’t posted. 

  • Anonymous

    Last time I checked, the Galaxy Tab can run Honeycomb

    • To my knowledge the original Galaxy Tab does not run Honeycomb. 

  • Anonymous

    I think android needs to put out a quality device. And stop flooding the market with devices. Having the most doesnt mean best!!!! I have iPhone and tbolt. Yes android has widgets but apple has better apps hands down. This is the reason I’m going get an iPad over g10.1. Imop the windows 8 tab looks like future tablet king.

  • Wunderwaffe

    Sport Ron didn’t mean to put Kelley. There have been just so many kellex articles lately.

  • Wunderwaffe

    Kellex this article was just beautiful. =’)

    • I wrote it, but thanks! 

      • Wunderwaffe

        You cannot believe how sorry I am

        • No worries! I’m just glad you liked it! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    : I really appreciate this feedback! Amazingly well thought out on the improvements Android should definitely see very soon! And this just scratches the surface of what I know Google can accomplish. Let’s upgrade together everyone.

  • Auronblue

    Well written and explained. I am really enjoying these opinion pieces, if only because they are open and honest about Android’s shortcomings while offering a platform of discussion for improvements. Keep it up.

  • Matthew Morrison

    this is the most in depth post ive read on this site in a while and i totally agree. well said!

  • Anonymous

    I gotta disagree with you Ron.  I personally don’t think the iPad’s relative dominance has anything to do with simplicity.  If that were the case, then we would be seeing the same thing on the smartphone side of things.  Clearly that’s not the case, since Android continues to dominate.

    I personally like the XOOM, and have since I bought the Verizon version on launch day.  I think you should stop basing your decision on a flood model, that people are constantly touching, and is rarely (if ever) powered down.  Do you base your opinion of a car on the rental version?  You shouldn’t.

    Sure, the XOOM isn’t perfect, but so what.  It’s improved tremendously since February, and will continue to, until I sell it on eBay and buy the next best thing.

    I have high hopes for ICS, but I don’t think anyone knows what to expect yet.  Honestly, one of my biggest hopes is the incorporation of BlindType.  I think that will be ground-breaking on both phones and tablets.

    • At this stage in the game we can’t really compare market share of phones and market share of tablets. The iPhone was available only on AT&T until this year. Even with that expansion, many Verizon customers that would buy an iPhone didn’t because it was so late in the product cycle (as far as anyone knew, a new iPhone was expected in June or July). We will never know if Android would have been as successful as it is if Apple had released the iPhone on every carrier. That would have created a totally different market. Also, tablets aren’t as controlled by carriers and many people opt for the WiFi only version of tablets to avoid another contract. 

      Also, if I saw significant lag issues with iPad floor models then I would be able to say that I can’t really speak to lag issues on tablets, but I don’t. Every time I’ve interacted with an iPad floor model there isn’t lag. That said, I noted in the post that the lag that was present on the Honeycomb has virtually disappeared with later releases. That is why my focus was on the platform itself needing to improve, not necessarily performance. 

      Thanks for your input!

      • Anonymous

        You’re only analyzing the iPhone market in the US then, since the iPhone has been available to vast majority of the world’s population for quite some time. I agree that in the US, Verizon customers may have held out for the iPhone 5, but the iPhone 5 on Verizon is not going to make a very large dent in worldwide smartphone market share.

        Especially not when surveys are showing that a larger percentage of current and future smartphone owners are considering an Android device.

        • Because the carrier system in Europe is so different to the one in the U.S. I don’t bother factoring it in. You’re right, world trends indicate that Android is the number one platform, but that is still not true of tablets. 

          • Anonymous

            Of course not, the first real Android tablet just came out 7 months ago. Android smartphones weren’t the leader after 7 months either.

          • Right, but I don’t think the gap in the market is because Android tablets are new. The whole tablet market is new. I think people are choosing the iPad over Android for a reason. 

          • Anonymous

            Guess that’s why the post was tagged “opinion”.

          • Yep. Like I said elsewhere, I don’t pretend to think that my opinions will match everyone else’s. I’m just trying to generate discussion and point out how I think Android could be better. It’s totally possible that Android will dominate in the tablet market as well, but I think for Google to really be successful they need to improve Android for tablets tremendously. 

          • Mike

            The tablet market isn’t that new

          • The first legitimate Android tablet came out this year. The only exception, the original Galaxy Tab, came out last year. The iPad has only had two iterations. Blackberry and HP just came out with their first (and possibly last) tablets this year. Amazon is announcing their first tablet tomorrow. I’d say it’s a pretty new market. Yes, there have been tablet form factors running Windows in the past, but I would not consider those to be tablets in the same sense that we think of them today. 

          • Anonymous

            The Xoom is the equivalent of the G1. We all know how the G1 fared and how buggy and laggy it was. I have one. Why should the xoom be any different? It’s a new idea on a first gen device, but the new idea is what counts. And the lack of lag on the iPad has a lot to do with how iOS renders graphics. Just because you can move the screen around but still only see a checkerboard in the browser doesn’t mean it’s not lagging. It just doesn’t appear to be lagging to the user. The app approval process for apple has to do with iOS apps being more refined too, but that would pretty much obliterate the point of android if el goog were to follow suit…

          • The Xoom should be different because it entered a totally different market than the G1 did. 

            There is a massive difference between a product that stops responding or responds slowly and a product that is just as responsive, but still loading. Those are two very different things and they create a very different user experience. 

            The app approval process may have something to do with their better apps, but that’s not an excuse for less quality apps or even less quantity apps for Honeycomb. I’m sure development will continue to increase and hopefully quality will continue to increase, but that is up to developers. There are crappy apps on iOS too. Google adding more control wouldn’t obliterate the point of Android, if anything it could help filter out apps with poor quality. 

          • The Xoom entered a totally different market than the G1 did. And to say that the Xoom gets a break because it’s a first gen device is insane. No one else ships a product that is clearly in beta except for Google. There were a lot of great things about the Xoom when it first launched, but there were a lot of issues as well (some of which are still not resolved). Besides that, Google didn’t market the Xoom as a beta product; it was marketed as a competitor to the iPad. 

            There is a major difference between an OS not responding or working slowly and a website that hasn’t finished loading. The Xoom had some serious lag issues that affected performance. When the iPad is still processing a webpage, the device doesn’t slow down as a whole. There’s a big difference between those two things. Honeycomb has significantly improved since launch to the point where I can’t say I’ve seen any lag in recent builds, but that was definitely an issue early on. 

            As for app approvals, that certainly wouldn’t obliterate the point of Android. If anything, it would encourage developers to make more quality apps. Standards aren’t always a bad thing. 

  • LionStone

    “The only way to customize the iPad with quick information is to jailbreak it, whereas Android has widgets that can quickly show information like the weather, a new email, or upcoming calendar events. There is a point at which extreme simplicity means a lack of innovation. Despite these shortcomings, I still think the iPad betters any Honeycomb tablet available today.”

    I disagree…I have a GT10.1 and I will never give up my weatherbug, calendar, GoogleVoice, Pandora and FlightTracker widgets! This is where Android soars above the ipad. I have no lag issues, this thing flies…I travel a bit so its quite convenient to text while in the air with Google Voice whereas regular text on the phone wont work. They do sync with each other.

    When I played with the ipad2 at BestBuy, I found just doing a simple GPS location fix was buggy and laggy and doesn’t do as nearly a polished job as Google Maps. I didn’t enjoy the experience very much and especially the one main button deal. I prefer the controls on HC and once you adjust to the layout it really is quite seamless. I think you may want everything now and need to just be patient as Android for tablets is still growing and innovating and in due time it’ll be quite vast and extensive even more than it is right now.

    • I think you may have misunderstood the point of that paragraph. I agree with you that widgets are something that makes Android superior to iOS. I hate that in order to check the weather on an iOS device I have to open an app, versus on an Android device all I have to do is unlock my phone and look at the widget (or if I have a device like the Sensation, just turn on the screen). 

      As for lag, everyone’s experiences will obviously differ. In my many encounters with the iPad I’ve only seen one device that suffered from lag. Every other iPad I’ve played with has had no such issues. I haven’t seen lag in the latest crop of Android tablets either – like I said in the post, that was an early issue. 

      I personally don’t mind waiting a bit longer for Android on tablets to mature, but the point of the post is that if Android is going to surpass iOS in market share, it needs to out innovate Apple quickly. I’m worried that won’t happen, but we’ll see. 

  • Anonymous

    Brilliantly written

  • And next week on “As the Droid Life Turns”….Dan rewrites the bible for our reading pleasures!

    JK.. I agree that Apple will continue to dominate the tablet market until someone gives us some real innovation in that area!

  • Google needs to hire this guy for innovation ideas. I would pay apple prices for things like phone/tablet unity and technology that doesn’t get in the way of what you want to do. ICS could be the next thing Apple wants, just like the notification bar and true multitasking. I spend all day using technology. I want my droids to assist me in my life and work, not be another item I have to slavishly manage.

  • Anonymous

    Honeycomb is a nice opperating system but i do agree that it is akward in were things are located, it needs to keep similar locations of items to Gingerbread, but still be as advanced as it is. Just keep in mind you never want android to be simple, androind needs to be diffeent then apple. I think the most important thing that needs to be done is for google to create, simply a google tab alone. Give it a good name and make it dominant to compete directly with the ipad.

  • Anonymous

    I think it’s as much about marketing as anything else. Google needs to step up and be the face of Android and not leave it up to Verizon and a bunch of manufacturers. If they spent some money to get some TV time, show what the products can actually do, and start winning some mindshare, I think Android tablets would be doing much better. Google needs to get involved in a more public way.

  • Anonymous

    i think google needs to offer an itunes-esque computer syncing program.  this should be #1 on the list.  how we still can’t backup apps and data [without root] is beyond me.  i feel like i only have my phone rooted these days so i can backup my apps’ data and sync to my xoom, and then to a new phone once that happened (yes, i’m actually enjoying blur on my bionic, aside from the horizontal app drawer grr). i don’t really have much time switching roms and themes these days.

    i think this absolutely needs to be on google’s immediate radar, before motorola and the other companies figure it out and start implementing their own systems, “fragmenting” android even more.

  • Ry D

    Good article, let’s hope the Android team is listening!! Can definitely be frustrating!

    Sometimes I feel they’re just satisfied with having a product good enough for the masses to continue there ad revenues by taking it mobile. Still a big fan of android and other Google Services though.

  • Anonymous

    A lot of good points, but here’s what I think will happen…until Google puts their foot down and tells manufacturers to stop putting skins on top of Android, then there will never be a unified Google experience.  I am willing to bet that once ICS is released, most manufacturers will start skinning the tablets.  I don’t think that should happen, I wish Google would put their foot down, but I just don’t think they will.  But as it was pointed out in another post, look at the parade of Android phones out there and how different they look and what the user’s experience is from Moto to Samsung to HTC to LG.  I had an OG Droid, recently moved to a Bionic, my dad has a Samsung Fascinate.  He asked me to show him some stuff on his phone when I got it and I said, “Sure”  I should easily be able to hook him up with some widgets and show him some tricks on the phone.  When I got it in my hands, I had to play with the thing for like 15 minutes because it was SO different from my OG Droid at the time.  It shouldn’t be that way.  That’s the real advantage that Apple has right now.  An iPhone is an iPhone (and an iPad is a big iPhone).  For that matter, take a look at Windows.  Sure things change from version to version, but just because I have Windows on my home-built PC and my Dad has it on his HP that he bought from Best Buy, there aren’t different skins on it that prevent me from walking him through something over the phone.  Windows is still Windows.  Android should be Android.  And that goes back to the whole “fragmentation” argument which I think is more fragmentation about skins rather than versions of the OS.

  • Eli Stuy

    I dont like the screen ratio of android tablets, also, the apps on both phone and tablet are worse designed then on ios. Lastly, google should be thinking up new features and making both phone and tablet platforms far more process efficient and stable, they need a developer app platform with unified ui elements that looks good. Apple is always ahead of the ball because they constantly come out with features that everyone copies after the fact, sure the notification bar is a win for android, but apple has way better multitasking in my opinion. I dont understand why I cant control apps through the notification bar, and why widgets are soo damn slow. apple innovates and android play catch up, its about time google started innovating some new ideas and features into their os’s   

  • Anonymous

    I think the standard OS approach with ICS will address a lot of those concerns.  If someone who uses an ICS phone can pickup an ICS tablet and just know how to use it without learning anything it will be a dramatic step in right direction.  Right now that obviously doesn’t happen, when I first picked up a HC tablet I had to figure out how to use it and I agree that doesn’t work well with the casual user.  They just want to buy something and be able to do all the basics without having to learn it.

    • Binglut9

      And what is it you have to learn? I picked up my tablet and was fine…it says apps in the right corner there are your apps seems simple to me

      • Anonymous

        The fact I couldn’t go from my android phone to the tablet and know exactly where all the same functions are was a negative. It’s not that it is rocket science, but it is not familiar. A big part of that is there are no buttons of course. However as an enthusiast it didn’t put me off, I take the few minutes and learn where everything is. However I have seen how it has put off casual users. Go to a Verizon/Best Buy store and if you actually see someone pickup a Android tablet watch as they spend more time figuring it out then actually using tablet optimized apps. I think that is impacted sales.

  • Kianjudah

    I agree with much of what was said. But, I’m more than satisfied with my Xoom. Looove it. I’ve owned an iPad as well as a Xoom, and I find my Xoom to be much better.

  • “Why is there still not an official Picasa application for Android?”The gallery app already syncs your Picasa images, so why would you need a Picasa app?

    • I want to be able to control which images I do and don’t sync. To my knowledge, we still don’t have that kind of control. Also, I’d like the option for the gallery to control my local photos and a Picasa app to manage the rest of my photos. Hopefully that makes sense. Thanks for the input! 

      • Actually, you can control which ones you sync using the Gallery app. It does it by album, not individual picture, so it could be tweaked, sure, but it does indeed work.

        • Right, but that’s not anywhere near the level of control that I want. If anything, that’s a very Apple approach: simple without a lot of control. 

  • Anyone that plays with my honeycomb powered tablet always says how fast it is….I don’t know I just don’t think you can reserve judgment just from a display model at your local best buy…this article would of been more credible if you actually owned one…

    • Brian, I like your point, but the issue is therein. Most people don’t drop big money on a device they haven’t already tried. If you have someone who isn’t as tech savvy, they will pick the iPad over the Android tablet because they have played with display models. I agree 100% that the Android powered one has the greater potential, it’s just that people don’t take the time to learn that. It’s all about instant gratification.

      • Binglut9

        Yea I agree, but as a writer for a tech site you should use the device before writing an entire article about the software…ios you will get the same expierence from a 4 inch screen to a 10 inch screen and people like familiarity so its easier for them to use, but I think writers don’t give enough credit to consumers…consumers now a days are a lot more aware of what they are going to buy because there are more resources to get information about products….to be mad about placement of search is irrelevant and opinion I personally like the design of the software are there some problems…yes but it is all fixable….yes…..for a first try I think google did a great job (except with app selection)I use the xoom as my daily driver now and my laptop is dusty….I agree on one thing my android phone does need a way to communicate with my tablet and I will be happy

    • If you’d like to donate some money my way so I can buy one, be my guest. 😉 Jokes aside, I have yet to experience any lag with a display iPad. The early iterations of Honeycomb certainly had lag, though it has improved quite a bit since launch. 

  • Jmanin

    Great job with this article.

  • Anonymous

    I saw a video somewhere when a person was reading something and from a move of his finger he shifted that article to his smart phone so he could take off and continue to read….what about something like that?

  • ksat

    First off – good article.  You’ve touched on one of the difficiencies within Google – they do a lot of things very well, but, not one thing very well.  Google has every potential to crush Apple in the mobile market, but, I feel they are taking the low road and releasing things that simply work – not taking time to really be innovative with their talents. 

  • Anonymous

    how about they make gchat less cumbersome and give us a reply box in the status bar so i don’t have to launch the full app everytime I get a message

  • Anonymous

    Disclaimer – I have never owned (and only played with for a short time) any iDevice that ran iOS.

    I did read this entire article and found it completely worthy of the time spent. I will honestly say that before I started reading it, I sincerely wanted to comment with a “TL;DR”. Alas… I did not. 

    Joking aside – this is a very well written article. As mentioned in a previous comment, you did a very good job of separating yourself from Android, and focusing on an unbiased article.

    I will also say – that although there are applications out there that will suit the needs (remote desktop, document editing etc), I am guessing that it is something that hasn’t been implemented in the stock OS, due to the federal laws surrounding “monopolies”. Microsoft lawsuit anyone?

    Last thing I will mention – is that I too jumped fast to get a Motorola Xoom. I got it early in the game, before many reviews were put out there. I fell in love with it. To be honest, I had never even tested the device, and went on full trust when it came to Motorola and Google. My first (and current) impressions are that I love the device. I have never experienced the lags that people have experienced, nor have I had any of the issues that have since spackled the web. In fact, I would still be ok with not having the SD slot functional.

    Anyway – Just me saying my two cents 🙂

    GREAT article guys. Well written.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    I had a Honeycomb tablet, then got a Touchpad when they had the firesale.  I got rid of my Honeycomb tablet and only use the Touchpad.  May not have all the apps, but has the apps I want, with a few of the Homebrew patches, works amazing, very fast and handles multi-tasking way better than Android could ever imagine.  The user-interface looks “prettier” than Honeycomb and is easier to use.  My brother picked up my Honeycomb tablet and didn’t know how to do anything, could only open YouTube, I had to show him how to use it.  He picked up the Touchpad and had no issues.  I do miss the widgets, but other than that and the apps, no reason to go back.  Also when people ask me about tablets, as much as I love Android, I tell them just to get an Ipad, because “anybody” can just pick it up and use it without having to learn the system.  Hopefully ICS will fix all of the issues with Honeycomb and Apple can finally stop acting like their sh** don’t stink and they’re not the only phone/tablet making out there.

  • Anonymous

    Could not agree more. What I’d give to have a native word processor with all the functionality of MS word, or OpenOffice… I have yet to find one that I can make a decent outline with, and that’s what I got the Transformer for (suggestions are welcome!). Here’s to hoping for some legit ICS upgrades!

  • Scott Willenborg

    Will this break my root?

  • Brent Stewart

    Well said. I’m a huge Android fan and I’ve been saying a lot of the same things even before Honeycomb. Android needs to simplify its experience but in a manner that does not shut out the power users. In the end Android is more powerful than iOS because of the things it lets you do. But the more power you give any piece of software you generally end up taking from usability – power adds complexity. It’s just the nature of the beast in the software industry. But I’m a strong believer that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive. 

    I wanted to like Honeycomb, I really did. But I’ll be honest (and I’ve been in the tech sector for a couple decades now), even having owned, rooted, and flashed my Android phone, using Honeycomb was far from intuitive. Top that off with a buggy and laggy and terrible sticker shock value and you have a recipe for disaster.

    As Google+ makes more headway I would like to see all of Google’s web products and Android integrated into a seamless experience. When I go to my albums on my phone or tablet I want it to be integrated with Picasa. When I listen to music or podcasts I want it to be integrated with Google Music, etc. One cohesive experience across their entire product line. That’s how you beat Apple at their own game. And better pricing!

  • Anonymous

    Nice article.  And I agree with everything you said.  I use a bolt as my daily phone and will likely get a vigor or prime as my next one, but I use my ipad as my daily tablet.  I only use my ipad for 4 things and it does them all extremely well:
    1. Checking my email
    2. Browsing news websites
    3. Checking twitter
    4. Watching videos – netflix, networks, or my own
    5. Occasional facetime use.
    That’s it.  I usually do this in the early morning while exercising and it does these things without problems.  Every android tablet I’ve looked at doesn’t do them as well or as simply so I choose to stick with the ipad. That might change in the future, but not the near future.

  • ML

    Great piece.  I generally agree with your conclusions.  It would be nice to have greater integration across google products.  

  • shdowman

    Completely agree.

    I just sold my Galaxy Tab 10.1 last night as after two months, I can’t keep trying to find justifications for having it.

    I think Samsung (and I can’t believe these words are coming off my fingers) did some things right with TouchWiz on the tablet.

    But, there is a lot to be done before these devices are more than 10″ “aPods”.

    Ultrabooks are coming REAL soon and I think most people will find that they would rather fork out the $$ for something a bit more productive.

    The game is about to get real interesting, I hope Google has something up their sleeve.

  • Billy Jenkins

    The OG Droid is better then the Ipad. Sure the Ipad is much bigger but its nothing more then an oversized Ipod touch. Or an oversized Iphone if it has 3g

    • shdowman

      Same thing can be said for any android tablet….

    • Balls

      +1 for OG droid

    • kretz

      you’re an idiot

    • Anonymous

      Nice well thought out post.  You’re a credit to the site with your insightful comments.

  • Anonymous

    “Maybe I’m reading an article on my phone and I want to switch to my tablet. Instead of emailing myself the URL, doesn’t it make more sense for me to be able to push my browsing session to my tablet?”

    Just want to say that I love this. I would also like to see these in addition…

    Chrome to Google TV
    Chrome to Tablet
    The reverse of these and really any combination of Chrome, Phone, Tablet, Google TV .

    It would be great for sharing YouTube videos to your Google TV (Especially as there is more and more free HD content available online) allowing you to watch what ever it is on your TV while continuing to browse.

    It would be awesome to have a share button in certain apps that allowed you to choose the device to share it with. Heck, you could do that with your own devices and even a friends device linked through contacts…. hmmm

    • Anonymous

      …Reading an article on my phone, want to push it to my Tablet – I use “Read it Later” or reading a web page in Chrome Browser and want to continue on my Tablet – “Chrome to Phone” extension. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree. I cannot wait for this type of innovation.  Honeycomb is nice (and more robust than iOS) but tabs and phones do need to work together.  If ICS doesn’t do it, hopefully Jelly Bean will.  I think that Google should go just one step further than phones/tablets, but also add in PCs/laptops via the Chrome browser in some way shape or form.  Yes, you may be running WIN8, but you open Chrome, you’ll be able see and do things to your android phone and tablet – unifying your entire electronic life.

  • Last time I checked, the honeycomb browser does sync your bookmarks with Chrome and there is in fact a Citrix App that allows me to remote into my computers at work.  So those two items on your “honeycomb should…” list are irrelevant.

    I do agree however that the iPad2 is a more seamless device.  Sure, Android has some benefits (one being able to actually download things from the web to the device and then of course Flash), but the iPad2 just does more things right.  I’ve got both a Galaxy Tab 10.1 and an iPad2 and I find myself reaching for the Apple product more times than not.  The internet browsing alone is significantly better with Safari which makes it a better couch companion.

    • I wasn’t aware of the browser syncing bookmarks, but I stand by what I wrote – I want more than just my bookmarks synced. I want a full Chrome browser on Honeycomb. Also, there are several remote desktop apps, but I would specifically like to see one built into Android to make it more attractive to business consumers. Thanks for the input! 

  • As an iOS fan this article makes me happy. Not because of any praises towards iOS but because this guy is a reasonable, articulate Android fan. Judging by the 13 year olds on this site who constantly challenge my statements, I didn’t think this kind of Android fan even existed. Bravo to you sir. 

    • ML

      Just curious, but what is an iOS fan even doing here?

    • Mctypething

      u mad bro?

      • furious, thanks for asking

        • billybob

          stfu and go stick your Ipad up your a&&!

      • Azndan4

        Dumb comment. Can’t you think of something more creative?

      • Blood

        Lol he shut you up.

    • Anonymous

      We aren’t all bad 🙂 – This is proof that all of you aren’t so bad either.

      See? We can get along 🙂 For now…. 

      • Anonymous

        remove tongue from anus, please…

    • Anonymous

      Really?  I didn’t think it was reasonable or very articulate.  Some of his points are downright false or unnecessary.

      • something can be both reasonable and false or unnecessary. You are a 14 year old kid who lives with him mom is an example. That is a reasonable thought even though you might be 15. It is also not necessary that you are 14 for my thought to be reasonable based on the information i am presented with. 

        • Anonymous

          you like guessing people’s ages… you should work for the circus! nice tat, btw, brah

        • Anonymous

          Oh, back to no capitalization, well that was short lived.  Sounds like you think about children a lot, might want to see a therapist for that.

          • He does talk a lot about children doesn’t he?

        • Drew Dennis
      • Out of curiosity, what points in particular do you think are false or muddled by my opinion? I don’t pretend to think that everything I write is a fact, which is why these pieces are labeled as opinion. That said, I’d be happy to hear some more precise feedback from you. Thanks! 

        • Anonymous

          The Honeycomb browser does have the option for syncing bookmarks for one and there are other options like Opera that also offer similar functionality while being, imo, far superior to the stock browser in both features and performance (and offering a desktop experience).

          Google doesn’t offer Citrix because it costs money.  Everyone would like everything to be free but that’s not a realistic expectation nor a reasonable argument as a platform negative, especially while you’re arguing in favor of an Apple product which traditionally not only don’t offer those features for free but charge even more for them.  Citrix IS available, if you don’t mind paying.  Having said that, there are OEMs that offer extra features at no additional charge; Motorola for instance loads both Citrix and Picasa support for free (or reduced pricing? I haven’t looked into the details) on their newer devices such as my Bionic.  Same goes for Office programs; they’re available to buy (some free ones as well with locked out features) but most of the larger OEMs are bundling either Quick Office or Polaris Office by default now.

          Also, scrolling through the multitasking view was added awhile ago (so citing it as a flaw is rather pointless).

          You’re whole argument seems to stem around the fact that Apple’s products are stupid simple and have more and better apps, I can’t argue on the latter as the iPad has been out much longer and has a far larger following for now but on the former I don’t really see that as a problem.  In order to maintain that level of simplicity Apple had to sacrifice many of the advantages that make what I love about android.  I mean let’s face it, the iPad is an iPod touch with a large screen, sure apps are designed to take advantage of the larger space and resolution but that’s about the only difference between them.  Honeycomb tries to offer a more functional desktop replacement.  Do I think Honeycomb could use some work?  Yes.  Does Google know that?  Of course they do.  Honeycomb was very much in beta when it came out, I can fully agree with you there but it’s come a long way since and it will continue to evolve (as it is about to with the next release of Android) as all of Google’s products do.  Honestly now, Apple’s success is derived primarily through its marketing along with attention to aesthetic detail; that doesn’t mean it’s a better product, it just means people latch onto the image and most of them couldn’t care less about the more technical aspects, Apple is very aware of that fact and exploits it.

          Please don’t confuse what I said to mean I think the iPad is a worthless piece of junk, I’m merely of the opinion that it’s not deserving of the amount of praise it gets nor the prices Apple demand.

          • I think you misunderstood parts of the article. First, I know that apps like Opera and Citrix are available in the Market. As you mentioned, some tablets come with productivity apps, which is great. I was arguing that these apps should come built into the system. That Android should have a full Chrome web browser that syncs more than bookmarks, that a remote desktop app should be built in to attract business users (it doesn’t have to be made by Citrix, it was just a suggestion), and that there should be a Google Docs app for word processing. Yes, all of these things are available in the market, but I think a Honeycomb tablet would be much more attractive to consumers and business users if they came with the OS. 

            I know that multi-tasking was added in. I’m glad it was. I was talking about the OS when it launched. I’m sorry if that wasn’t clear. 

            I agree with you that Apple’s products have to make sacrifices because of their simplicity. In fact, I made that exact point in the article, which leads me to believe that you either didn’t read it or skipped over that part. Apple’s advertising does help, but the thing that really sells people is actually trying out the product and seeing how simple it is. Honeycomb is not nearly as simple. I don’t think it should be as simple as an Apple product, but it needs to be more simple than it is right now. Right now the product has a large learning curve. Simplifying the OS would make it more attractive to consumers and offer a better experience for users. 

          • Anonymous

            As I said, expecting Google to include those features in a freely distributed OS is an unrealistic expectation, that’s what the OEMs are for. Most tablets are coming with Office software and/or some form of RDP client already. Again, you specifically mentioned syncing bookmarks in the Honeycomb browser, which it does indeed do.

            I find it difficult to believe and rather pathetic if people can’t basically learn how to use HC in 10 minutes. You have a button labeled apps, I don’t see how much more simple it can get aside from doing what Apple does and making the app drawer the home screen. What you’re arguing is primarily your opinion on UI design which will not necessarily make things any easier for the average person.

          • Google does unrealistic stuff all the time, like downloading the entire Internet or trying to scan all of the world’s books. These kinds of expectations are nothing compared to those. Yes, many OEMs are provided productivity suites and remote desktop clients, but I think those should be built in. If the OEMs can have partnerships with Citrix and others, then so can Google. Specifically, I would really like to see a native Google Docs app. Yes, Google Docs is available from the browser, but apps tend to offer a better experience. 

            In the article I specifically mentioned syncing bookmarks and passwords. The Honeycomb browser only does one of those. 

            I agree that most people could probably learn Honeycomb in a few minutes, but that doesn’t mean it is as intuitive as it could be. I think Honeycomb needs a lot more polish than it has. Hopefully ICS will bring a more streamlined and unified experience. 

            Finally, yes, I’m arguing my opinion. That’s why this article is clearly labeled as opinion. As I’ve said before, I don’t pretend to think that my opinions are fact or that everyone will agree with them, but I do think that the improvements I suggested would make for a better OS and a better user experience. 

    • Anonymous

      lol for realsies? You understand the comments are here to facilitate discussion, right? Of course if you decide to come trol-er-participate in the discussion on an Android blog people are going to challenge you. But furthermore, I’ve never talked to an Android fan that doesn’t acknowledge Android’s shortcomings. My decision (and I’d guess that of many Android users) to purchase an Android phone and tablet is a result of sincere weighing of the pros and cons of the two OS’s, and deciding that Android is right for me, for a number of reasons… if you think everybody who reads Droid-Life is a brainwashed fanboy, then you haven’t been paying attention.

    • kretz

      If you’ve ever read an article on this site you’d know that there are reasonable android fans. As a writer it’s sort of their job to be diplomatic and reasonable. I follow quite a few android sites and rarely find a writer talk badly about ios. To your point about 13 years olds who constantly challenge your statements (opinions), if you don’t like the site don’t post on it or read it. Besides, wtf do you expect to get on a forum based site???? iPhone sites are exactly the same fanboy…

      • Anonymous

        this site is surprisingly refreshing (most of the time) in that it isn’t filled with hateful 13 year olds 🙂

        we appreciate the friendly rivalry, but not the trolls that come along with it.

    • Anonymous

      Sadly, I don’t know that I’ve ever read a similar article by an iPhone fan. 

  • Balls

    iOS is highly supported because Apple has customers that always buy into what ever they make no matter what.  They believe that Apple products are far superior no matter what thats what makes their business run so well.

  • I wholly disagree.  While marketing and the Apple mystique are at play – apps are where its at.  Apple’s tablet apps are not only significantly greater in number, but they are significantly superior in quality.  I had a Xoom, a Galaxy Tab, HTC Flyer, and a Galaxy Tab 10.1 – and while the Honeycomb tablets did some things way WAY better than the iPad, they are crippled as a family device because there is so much less that can be done with them and and are really only great as technical-person devices – which I am.

  • Anonymous

    My hope is that when Google open sources ICS, we’ll see a slew of custom launchers that will allow us to do to tablets what Launcher Pro did for phones.

    Totally agree about Google putting more tablet-optimized apps out there though. The lack of a picasa app and how terrible Google Docs for honeycomb is are shameful.

    • Gallery already shows you your Picasa images…

      • Anonymous

        It shows them, which is awesome, but doesn’t let you upload or organize them.

  • Anonymous

    i love my xoom, don’t experience lag or anything similar. i don’t consider it too heavy (probably because i am friggin’ huge – accumulation of mass at its finest). whatever. no point of this post.

    • Like I said in the post, the lag was an early issue that was ironed out. Some might not consider it too heavy, but I definitely don’t find it comfortable to hold. I think most users would agree with that. Thanks for the input. 

  • Dcon87

    Great article…thanks

  • buying an android tablet is like buying an HD television with very few hd channels to choose from.  android tablets still have a ways to go

  • Taylor Steele

    Great Article, very well written. And I agree with you with Honeycomb not really having that “umph” that it could have had. I refused to buy an Android tablet until it could “talk” with my Android phone.

  • Unexpected62

    I haven’t had much experience on Android tablets much less a Honeycomb Android tablet…… but my experience with the Xoom at Best Buy was definitely disappointing. It lagged like crazy and felt clunky compared to an iPad. I agree that Google needs to iron some things out. My biggest complain with Google is: why aren’t more apps as fluid as their stock gallery app and Google+ app?! The stock gallery app ran smooth as butter even on my D1…. yet other UI is choppy all over Android.

    • With different hardware specs from different manufacturers android will never achieve the consistent user experience iPad has.

    • Anonymous

      Do people honestly base their decision on floor models?  I mean, you seriously CANNOT expect anything but lag on something random people are playing with all day long.  I have had the Verizon XOOM since launch day, and it only lags when I’m doing something to REALLY bog it down.

      • How else would you suppose people base their decision? The only other way is through reviews, and most reviews of the Xoom noted the lag issue. It was ironed out, but it was an early issue that made buyers more cautious. 

      • Unfortunately, for a lot of people a floor model is their only chance to try out a tablet. For example, I don’t know a single person who owns a tablet, so my only experience with using one was when i went into Best Buy and played around with them. Same deal for lots of my friends and family.

        You could always order a tablet to try out, but the vast majority of people are not going to spend upwards of $400 on something without trying it out in a store first.

  • Bob

    I read all of that.  Well said friend-o.

  • So when is ICS coming for the Droid X?

    • Thracks

      Quite possibly never.

    • John

      lol. don’t get your hopes up. 99% sure GB was our last full OS update

    • Root and wait for Cyanomodgen 8