iOS and Android

I thought it a good idea to talk about the benefits and challenges I had with both the Apple and Android os and devices. I don’t want this to be a comparison or face off in the traditional sense, there are plenty of those floating out there already. Instead this is just things I noticed as a lecturer about the devices that made my life easier or harder. While the grant was only for an iPad mini, I actually had an iPhone 4 in my drawer which I had never used. I thought to immerse myself in the Apple experience it would be best to use both devices together. Previously I had been using a LG Optimus and Galaxy Tab 10.1, both of which I liked.

The setup was fairly easy on both platforms, and syncing them to all my accounts was super easy.

One thing I really admire about the Apple devices is they do what they are primarily designed for well. Texting, calls, email, and the calendar are all very easy to use on iOS. I have found Android devices not as easy to use, especially in the calling and texting camps.The interface animations are on iOS are fantastic, and always smooth. This was a stark contrast to the Android gear. I never realized how jumpy the transitions of the Galaxy tab were until I used the iPad. That said, the jumpy interface on Android were most likely due to the widgets I used, and really missed on the iOS gear. For example on galaxy tabs home page I had the weather report for the area I was in, my daily calander, and email notifications. This was incredibly handy as I could unlock the device as I got up in the morning, see my teaching timetable and meetings, latest emails, and if I needed to grab an umbrella. To get this same information on iOS requires opening and closing several apps.

Both the tablets came with devices to wireless connect them to either the classes projector or the Mobile Airplay Screens (MOAs) we had on loan. These were the apple TV and a Sharecast dongle Both devices connected with ease and I never had any problems with the connections dropping on either. The problems with both devices connecting was highlighted when students wanted to connect. The all share cast works on a pairing system that takes a minute or two to setup initially. Once a device is paired all it needs is to be plugged in and a switch flicked on the Samsung tablet and the device connects. This system made it so much easier to connect than apple devices so long as you only ever want to use one device. The pain with this system is that as soon as someone else wants to connect it requires the device to be paired to their device which is slow. It also does not remember previously paired devices so you need to constantly be pairing it. This hindered the class joining in with their own devices. Apple TV was much better for collaboration as once setup on a students device could jump on or off as they pleased. The problem with the airplay as it involved checking you are on the right WiFi network and sometimes required telling the device to “forget” other WiFi networks in order to work. Of the two I felt apple provided the best solution for collaborative class room sharing of mobile devices by a significant margin.

The inability to use Apple devices as a portable drive, and the inability to simply transfer files was the most annoying. With my Galaxy tab I could drag and drop an entire papers curriculum to the device and know its there whether I want to revise a lecture on the bus, teach from the tablet during a class, or use it as a flash drive. It meant my tablet could act as a one stop shop for every resource I needed as an educator. But this simple drag and drop operation on android takes constant fiddling on Apple. To do the same you need to upload all the files to cloud storage from your PC, then pull the files back down from the iPad. Even then you don’t have the ability to save all the files to the device, as iPads are picky about what they except. Often the apps would then need to process the files making what should be a something simple into something very roundabout.

Apps as a lecturer I found an interesting subject when it came to the OS. Both devices had a range of handy apps for helping out with learning. Both devices supported all the apps we wanted to use. Apple had less apps but more quality apps. Also worth noting that apps on iOS tended to work better. I am sure that this is a result of apple only needing to cater to a few devices as opposed to android which must cater to a wide range of devices from different manufacturers. This saw apple have a huge advantage.

What the students bought along to class was a mixed bag. Most students owned a smartphone. But the range was everything from the latest iPhones to $99 no brand android devices. This caused problems. Only a few students ever had the ability to connect to the AirPlays and Allshare Casts. Going forward if there is ever going to be hope of students sharing there will need to be standardized equipment they will need. Another option is to have all work students want to share online in some form or

One of the classes we were teaching how to create web apps then wrap them with phone gap. There is a clear cut hands down winner here and its Android. With an Android device a student can pick it up and transfer an app installer to it and open it on the device. Its a incredibly simple process that works well. Getting the same app onto an apple device required much work. You first need to be an apple developer. This takes a while to register. For individuals this costs $99 a year, but to apples credit there is a free university program which we opted for. The registration process required me talking to several people on both my end and on Apples and took 2 weeks to complete. At around this point apple shut down the developer community for roughly 10 days due to security issues. After just shy of a month Apple had granted me permission to install an app on a student project that runs for only six weeks.

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One thought on “iOS and Android

  1. My thoughts:
    I think the iOS approach requires a rethink of process and approach – particularly wrt to file transfer and sharing – from a device storage and manipulation framework to a cloud-based framework. This is much less so with Android devices, and even less with Windows 8 based devices. While the advantage of keeping existing workflows on mobile devices the same as desktop computing is minimising learning processes the downside is the less opportunities there are for new thinking and collaboration than a cloud-based approach that iOS forces you to engage with.
    As a musician and audio engineer I also find that the depth of capability of iOS Apps far exceeds what is currently available on Android or Windows 8 mobile devices – see my curated Flipboard Magazine on iOS Musicians http://flip.it/Aqy3S
    The Apple iOS developer walled garden is painful – but does mean there are significant quality and ethical boundaries imposed that I find reassuring in an educational environment, unlike the Wild West of the Google Play store or the barren wasteland of Windows 8.
    For student owned devices I think we should be providing students with a recommended minimum spec for mobile devices, or else they buy whatever a salesperson recommends, and often opt for the cheapest possible device rather than the device that will do what is needed. Android devices are not cheaper than iOS devices when they are matched for specifications – cheap Android devices are cheap because they are low specced and have an old (and unupgradable) version of the Android OS.
    From a teaching and collaboration perspective an iOS device coupled with Airplay is far superior to anything Android or Windows 8 yet offers.
    There are many areas where both iOS and Android devices can learn from earlier Symbian devices – e.g. bluetooth implementation, although I think this will improve significantly with iOS7 once developers start harnessing some of its updated bluetooth features.
    Focusing upon cloud-based services that are multi platform is the best way forward currently, rather than focusing upon specific hardware, but making sure that the mobile devices are capable of utilising the cloud based services that are appropriate for your context – i.e. Windows 8 devices lag behind in many cloud-based Apps (Instagram, Vine, etc…)

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