Which smartphone or tablet? The question that no one can answer

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I have a huge interest, as do many, on the latest and greatest smartphone and tablet gadgets. I am constantly on the look out for an upgrade, moving to a new and better ecosystem and trying to best what I currently use every day in my life, iOS.

I have an iPhone, iPad and a Mac which makes what Apple can offer so bitter sweet. iCloud. The integration of everything that you do between all your devices is such a simple idea but very difficult to implement intelligently. This is something that has been done quite well. Yes, Google have offered similar offerings in the past and have recently pushed it further and done quite a good job at it but on the PC it is very much based on browser based solutions. Apple have stuck with applications, Mail, Calendar, Address book, Reminders, Notes, even iOS apps between the iPhone and iPad are in sync. This is definitely my prefered method as I am constantly underwhelmed with Google’s design of cloud services with the exception of Google Docs and of course, the Google homepage!

However, iOS is becoming dated. Where they excel is in integration of products and services into your daily life. Where they fall is the dated look and feel of iOS products. The core design has not changed since the first iPhone back in 2007 and it is showing more than ever. Whether this is their fault or not is debatable however. There is a good argument that the reason for this is that Android stole the look and feel of iOS, made it freely available and brought it mainstream whilst including some new features that were deeply desired by the hardcore iOS users such as widgets. Many of my ‘techy’ friends have moved from iOS to Android for the open-ness of it all and simply because the iOS OS is now no longer seen as cool or hip as the design of the phone and OS has remained largely the same since it’s birth And yes I am counting the new iPhone 5. Adding height to a phone does not change the design or screen size although I agree with Apple that adding width does make the phone far more difficult to use in one hand which is why I am sticking with my 4s.

But with manufacturers putting Android and well designed hardware at a fraction of the price (Nexus 10) on the market, with new features such as profile switching, how are iOS supposed to compete? What about beautiful, intuitive and unique design from Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 which offer a completly new way to interact with your digital life? Simply put – they’re not unless they do something about it. Do something radical again. Bringing out a taller phone, smaller iPad or new apps that sync your life together is not enough. They need some jaw dropping in the software department. Something that says, “Holy shit, I gotta have it”. Profile switching would have been it if they released it last year. A better way to organise your apps would be great although they will just look as if they are copying Android… What they really need to do is revolutionise the UI again. Stop arguing with Android on who copied who. Just do something spectacular again. Impress us. Impress me. If you do – I promise I wont be moving to a Windows tablet within the next year.

So what brought this on? A simple trip to PCWorld. I had a play with some of the new Windows 8 all in ones with touch screens and wow it is amazing. The design is beautiful, a joy to use and fast and fluid. How practical is would be in the long term on a desktop is still up for debate however the tablet space is theirs for the taking. They have a brilliant product ready to go and all they need is the manufacturers to create some excellent hardware, the developers to develop some top notch software and the retailers to put it all on show so that consumers can actually try the product before they buy. This will generate some momentum although for al the reviewers and power users.

The big question is how much time and effort are they actually going to invest in their OS and how easy will it be to upgrade? Once a year? Every 3 years? What about older hardware? Microsoft have already disappointed early adopters of their Windows Phone 7 OS which is very similar to Windows 8. Those phones cannot upgrade even though it has been out for less than a year. I don’t know about you but that information in itself is making me feel reluctant to move (yes I love the Windows phone OS also. Its stunning and beats iOS and Android hands down).

Re-reading this article what I can see is that I am clearly torn. Choosing a mobile OS shouldn’t be such a big dilemma in life but given that your digital life is now always in your pocket I completely disagree. Choosing your OS is a very personal choice and it should factor into your decision. iOS if you want polished through and through but at times limited functionality baked in. Android if you want cheap or substantially more power and customisability but with a less cohesive experience with the OS and the countless really bad applications in the Google Play store. Windows if you want to take a risk but go for something very modern and very classy with similar consistent experiences with iOS. Come to think of it. iOS or Windows for consistency and polished software design and development. Android if you want power and incredibly customisability functions.

For now all anyone can really do is stick with what they know. I will be sticking with iOS. The apps and experience in my opinion is superior but depending on how Windows decide to implement future updates may change that. Investing into a smartphone or tablet keeps you locked in and moving to a new platform is expensive. Seeing how things will pan out will be interesting over the next few years.

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