Just like how operating systems handle a computer’s most basic functions, the operating systems for phones and tablets are the software that essentially makes them ‘work’. Because mobile phones and tablets (which is what we will be discussing) usually have limited hardware capabilities, the OS needs to be efficient and practical.
When buying a tablet, one of the most important things to consider is the OS it uses, because this is what determines its interface, usage, and functionality. Let’s take a look through the tablet OS available.
Which Tablet OS Should You Use?
There are three types of tablet OS available in the market right now. The most popular ones are Apple’s iOS, which is used for iPads, and Google’s Android, which many companies like Samsung use. Both of these are used in phones as well. Apple will soon be launching a dedicated iPad OS, which is bound to increase productivity on the iPad.
Microsoft’s Windows made its way onto tablets initially through Windows 8. The latest Windows 10 OS is available on tablets and is much more suited to a touchscreen than Windows 8 ever was. However, there are still a few problems with the Windows primarily being a desktop OS. The Microsoft Surface Line and further updates are trying to remedy such problems.
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of each system so you can decide which one’s best for you.
iOS by Apple
Apple’s popularity, combined with the iPad/iPhone ecosystem equals many benefits. You can get more than a million apps on the Apple Store, and some of these are specifically designed for iPads, keeping its bigger screen in mind.
iPads can also be more stable than Android tablets. Apple has to approve each app in the Store individually, and since these apps only need to be supported on limited devices (those in the Apple universe), this process becomes more efficient, making it easier to weed out and eliminate bugs.
Some people argue that iOS devices are easier to use, but this is more of a personal preference. Since Apple is the only brand that produces tablets with iOS, the tablets themselves tend to be of higher quality. This is also why the iPad is a market leader. Newer versions like the iPad Pro can even perform better than some PCs.
Being a part of the Apple universe also gives iPad users access to other perks such as accessories (custom tablet cases that are more widely available), wireless add-ons (keyboards, Air Pods) and external devices that you can hook onto the tablet (even instruments like guitars).
The ease of use and a simpler interface that comes with iOS also presents certain limitations. Customization isn’t as easy. And while the individual app approval process reduces the risk of malware entering your tablet, it can also result in locking out apps that might have been useful.
Expansion is also limited with iPads. You can’t expand your storage with micro SD cards because iOS does not support them. You can still use apps such as Dropbox or even use an external storage device, but these options aren’t as convenient.
Android by Google
There is a much bigger range to choose from when it comes to devices supported by Android, which of course includes tablets. This is because Android is open-source, and almost all other brands use it. Samsung, which is Apple’s chief competitor, and Huawei, which is making quite a name for itself these days, both use Android.
Customization is pretty much unlimited after you purchase an Android tablet, which is something iOS can’t offer. Features like widgets can help users customize their tablet interface. The Google Play Store, which all Android tablets use, has also come a long way. It doesn’t have the same supervision as Apple, but it definitely competes as far as variety is concerned.
iPads can have pretty good resolutions thanks to their size, but because of the different sized Android tablets available, you have many resolutions available as well. Many Android tablet makers now also use an IPS display (such as Lenovo) which is what iPads have as well, thus leading to superior image quality.
The endless customization options can also mean difficulty of use, but this is again debatable and depends on the user. The variety of Android tablets also means that the Android OS updates will not be compatible with all of them. This makes it harder for app developers to pick out bugs across all devices, which can lead to instability with some apps.
Google Play Store’s lack of supervision is an obvious downside. There isn’t a problem with branded apps (like Netflix) but you don’t know what you’ll get with the more unknown apps. Some Android tablets such as the Amazon Kindle/Fire try to solve this problem by using their own app store (the Amazon store in this case) but this limits choices.
Piracy can also be a bigger problem with Android tablets. While it can still happen on iPads, it is far easier with Android. For this reason, some app developers (such as those creating games) tend to stick to iPads, rather than risk piracy by creating a version for Android.
Windows 10 by Microsoft
Unlike iOS and Android tablets, using Windows will provide a full-on desktop experience, including desktop apps. This is especially useful if you need a tablet for professional work, rather than just entertainment.
In fact, most of the features of Window’s tablet OS are designed for work. You can use the Windows cloud and account to pick up work from other devices, meaning a more seamless workflow. Most people are already familiar with Windows, so switching from a PC to a tablet won’t have a learning curve.
Windows tablets also boast the highest peripheral support. You can connect your tablet to anything because it’s basically a portable computer. iPads and Androids simply can’t measure up to windows in this regard!
The best Microsoft tablets can cost almost as much as a laptop. While there are more affordable options that compare in price to Android tablets, these don’t usually provide you all the benefits we’ve mentioned. There’s a greater risk for viruses too since you’re using the same OS as a desktop.
The Microsoft Store does have a lot of apps, but it might not have some of the more popular ones that Google Play and Apple do. The touch interface isn’t as good as iOS and Android either and can take some getting used to. Lastly, Accessories aren’t as widely available for Microsoft tablets either.