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The Ideal Mobile OS for a Tablet

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First, there is no so such thing as an ideal mobile OS. But humor me a bit here. Using three different mobile operating systems on Tablets gives me the opportunity to sample the best (and worst) of each. Using iOS, Windows RT 8.1 and Android 4.2 there are things to like with each. I’m fantasizing here that it would be great to combine the strengths of each Tablet OS and see what that cobbled together Frankenstein’s monster would mean for a Tablet. Set the hardware aside for the moment (tough to do I know) and let’s fantasize a bit.

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Here’s What I Would Take From Android 4.2

Google Now and Voice Control: Google Now and Google’s voice search are better than Siri. The predictive nature of Google Now is all about providing me information within the context of what I’m doing or where I’m going. Combine this with an always on listening mode (that is now on some Android devices) and this is a great feature.

Google’s Method of Sharing: Google lets developers plug into its APIs so you share just about any piece of information with another App. The other two competitors allow this on a limited basis.

Google Services and Apps: While I sometimes prefer other App or service solutions to Google’s, those that Google provides are good enough to use as daily drivers. The integration with Android is about as complete as you can get.

Notifications and Controls: I prefer the way notifications are handled in Android than on the other two systems. I also like the fact that one swipe down gives me access to both notifications and controls I use most frequently.

Here’s What I Would Take from Windows 8.1 RT

Snap and multi-tasking: Windows 8.1′s snap feature is more than about multi-tasking. It’s about the ease of having info work automatically in multiple windows. Click on a link and a snapped window opens with that info in some circumstances. The user doesn’t have to manually open a second window (you can of course), and you don’t have to keep switching back and forth between Apps. This seems to be the most intuitive use of having multiple windows open and multi-tasking that I’ve used so far.

Skydrive Integration: Each OS has its own syncing and cloud service. In my usage, Skydrive has been the most consistent and the most tightly integrated. I’m not a fan of Google Drive and its integration with Google+ when it comes to photos, scans, and PDFs. They are only an errant click away from begin shared inadvertently.

Easy and reliable access to SD storage: Microsoft makes it easy to store and retrieve data on a SD card installed in your system.

Lock Screen Slide Show: It may be a minor thing, but I like that on Windows 8.1 I can see a slideshow of photos on the lock screen.

Here’s What I Would Take from iOS 7.0.4

Touch Integration: iOS on mobile devices still has the best and most consistent Touch UI of the three.

Touch ID: This is a great feature when it works well. I’d like it on a Tablet.

Camera Integration: Though I haven’t used some of the higher end Windows Phones, the camera integration on iOS devices impresses me the most of what I have used from a UI experience.

Do Not Disturb: I prefer how this feature works on iOS than on the other systems.

Take all of the above and put them in the form factor of an iPad Air and I think we’d be on to something. Now, below are some things that I would jettison from each of these three operating systems.

Here’s What I Would Not Take from Android

OS updates: Both Windows 8.1 and iOS 7 have a far better strategy for updates than anything Google offers. It’s the lasting (and ongoing apparently) shame of Android that this hasn’t been fixed.

Settings: While I appreciate the number of settings one can tweak on any Android device, finding a particular setting requires a bit of hunting. While there is a search function in settings in some versions of Android, I think we might have gone overboard when we need a search function to find and adjust a setting.

Here’s What I Would Not Take from Windows 8.1 RT

Desktop: Let’s move on and get rid of this.

Live Tiles: Cute, clever, ultimately useless on a Tablet.

Here’s What I Would Not Take from iOS 7.0.4

Sandboxing: Apple doesn’t like Apps to talk to each other. This is ostensibly to keep things running smoothly. The difficulty is that you can’t easily share info from one App to another. Given that iOS 7.0.4 doesn’t run smoothly at the moment (too many Spring Board crashes) there’s no reason this needs to continue.

iCloud: Forget about it. Apple apparently has.

Now, again this is just fantasizing and certainly I’ve not discussed many features that probably should be thought of in cobbling together an ideal mobile OS for a Tablet. These are the things in the user interface of each that I come into contact with each day that I would like to see in a Tablet OS.

 

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

6 Comments

  1. Ronald Geiken

    01/20/2014 at 9:19 am

    Personally I like the frequent updates to apps and O/S that come from Android. Most of the time it doesn’t take much of my time to have them put in place. I don’t know about ios, but Windows comes through with major updates almost every month and the updates can get get up to 100 meg level and take a significant time to update.

  2. t

    01/20/2014 at 11:05 am

    Completely wrong on the desktop bit on windows RT! These comments are way off
    as the desktop has an unbievable amount of power that is unrecognized by you tech writers. I would be really upset if they took away my desktop view from Surface RT or Surface 2.

  3. t

    01/20/2014 at 11:08 am

    I also like the live tiles. Just admit it, you didn’t have things to write in the “not take” section for windows RT. How did you pick two things that were so loved by RT users?

    Is there a way to filter your writing out of my google news reader?

  4. Woody

    01/20/2014 at 3:05 pm

    You are dead wrong about iCloud. iCloud can save complete backups of any ios device, including icon arrangements, folders, settings, everything. This is built in aspect of Apple’s cloud service is something that is sorely lacking in other mobile OSs.

  5. mschoneman

    01/21/2014 at 1:59 pm

    I love the live tiles. True live tiles may only make sense in some cases (e.g., weather, calendar, sports scores) but in those cases they are great. Quick access to the info I want, with the ability to dig in if I need to. What’s not to like?

    • runegood

      01/30/2014 at 3:29 am

      The only thing I love about iOS is that its from Apple, and Apple’s current line of iDevices have great battery life and charge really really fast! other than that…… My Surface RT is my go to device to do everything on. I take it to work and school everyday and it comes to bed with me every night. I love that Windows and Android both allow for easy torrent downloading. ES File Explorer on Android was great, but obviously the Windows File Explorer on the desktop of every Windows 8.1 device is as good as it gets. I can easily move stuff across my home network and copy files from network devices onto my Surface. You can archive data however you want on Android and Windows, but again, Windows wins this category by a mile every time. I love the speech to text and voice commands on my HTC One and iPhone 5 and can’t wait until Microsoft finally rolls it out onto Windows. The USB drive and kickstand on my Surface are priceless. It has excellent battery life and the build quality is sooooo good. I love clicking on a link or a file and having the content snap into a new window right next to the one I’m working in. I love opening a new app when I have multiple windows open and it hovers over my screen until I decide where I want to put it and then it snaps exactly where I want it so seamlessly. I am using the original Surface RT. Not the Surface 2. The one everyone said was junk. The one everyone said Microsoft failed with. This thing is AMAZING!! I will never use an iOS or Android tablet because they can’t hold a candle to this thing.

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