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Got a PlayBook... For fun... A few features I would like to see on the iPad...

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by DrHouse, Nov 20, 2011.

  1. DrHouse
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    DrHouse iPad Junkie

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    As you may have heard, the PlayBook was available for 200$... Since my sister had one, and I wanted to explore other things than Apple Products, it was a good opportunity to get "another" device to learn about mobile development.

    Yes, I could do the learning on the iPad, but the initial investment is higher: need to buy a Mac, need to get an annual license from Apple... It's cheaper to start with the PlayBook, and the SDK do work with Linux natively (Ubuntu is my main desktop)...

    Anyway, as a long time iPad user, I could not resists comparing both devices from a user point of view. I'm not into specs and numbers. I do consider the experience as my first criteria with any product I buy...

    First of all, I must say that the Playbook is an amazing device. The general experience in hand is quite good, and there are some features I wish would be on the iPad.

    Second: there is ... Let's be frank... About a hundred apps. I'm not kidding, in about an hour I had viewed all the free apps available in the market. Overall, there is around 200 apps. And there is a lot of "clocks" in there... But let's talk about comparable features, those that I found interesting enough to make a post here...

    It's a 7" tablet. So when you hold it with both hands, you can access the whole screen area with your 2 thumbs. That makes it convenient in a way for some quick browsing or games. I never thought that I would like that size, but I do. The navigation between the apps is interesting. You can swipe between apps, you have a top menu when the apps supports it and there is no home button.

    The implementation of the navigation is really smart. The edges around the screen are touch sensitive, just like the screen. So you have specific gestures available by using the edges. To close an app, you slide your finger from the bottom edge and up. To access the menu, you slide your finger from the top edge and down. To switch to another opened app, slide your finger from left/right edge. I must admit, this is way better than using 4/5 fingers on the iPad.

    Another thing that is interesting is you can configure how your apps will behave when in the background. This is a global setting, but you can choose between Suspended, Running or Running until another app is opened... Pretty neat. Also, when "closing" an app, you can really close it by touching the "X" at the bottom of the small preview. Imagine that the delete would be available in the iPad task bar without having to touch'n giggle to close the app for real.

    Even if there is an iTunes equivalent for the PlayBook, it's not really needed. Upgrades are done OTA like iOS5, but the best feature is the sharing of the "documents" folder over wifi or USB. Just drop music in the music folder, a document in the document folder or a movie in the movie folder. The wifi sharing is using SMB protocol (Windows sharing) making it easier to mount a local drive on a computer. And security can be applied on the access from the Playbook configuration.

    Current OS1.0.7 shows the apps by using categories in tabs. I've installed the OS2.0Beta, and the apps are now shown like in iOS, even with the folders... So on that level, both devices are on par.

    Text selection is another thing that the Playbook is doing better than the iPad. You still touch and hold where you want your cursor to be, but a small marker will show below the text, big enough to be easy to use. If this is a selection, you'll see two markers at each end. The marker looks like a small arrow pointing at your cursor location in the text.

    Another thing that the Playbook has better is it has 2 speakers, one on each side of the screen making it sound way better than the iPad.

    Give it more apps, and it would be a great alternative. There is only one Playbook format, only one OS flavor, making this little devil consistent as the iPad with one format, one OS (a few version, but always iOS from Apple).

    The reality for now: "there's not an app for that!". This is an interesting market segment that I will use to learn more about mobile development. And who knows, I may make a little money out of it ;)

    My iPad is the "main" tool that I don't want to screw up. My Playbook will be a nice little toy to experiment my developer's skills.

    Hope you enjoyed that little comparison.

    VicoPad addict!
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  2. djroyjax
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    djroyjax iPF Noob

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    Great post! Thanks for sharing your Playbook experience.
  3. SweetPoison
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    SweetPoison iPad Legend

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    Excellent! Thanks for sharing. I played with one the other day as well.
  4. murshidm
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    murshidm iPF Novice

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    Does it support some of the android apps. I heard it somewhere it does.
  5. thewitt
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    thewitt iPad Ninja

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    Playbook runs WebOS, not AndroidOS
  6. leelai
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    leelai Administrator Staff Member

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    A brilliant write up, I had wondered what all the buzz was about. Thank you for sharing!

    Sent from my iPad using iPF
  7. murshidm
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    murshidm iPF Novice

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  8. DrHouse
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    DrHouse iPad Junkie

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    With OS2.0 it will, sort of... Basically, from what I can understand, the android app needs to be repackage to be available for the Playbook. But not all android apps will work and it it supporting only a specific version (Dalvik?).

    VicoPad addict!
  9. thewitt
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    thewitt iPad Ninja

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  10. DrHouse
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    DrHouse iPad Junkie

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    I've played with the Playbook for a few weeks, and there is one thing that I discovered: Steve Jobs was right...

    Let me explain...

    The screen size of the Playbook is 7 inches. At first, I liked the format as it was comfortable for viewing movies or playing some games. After a few weeks, I came to the conclusion that a 7 inches tables is just a big iPod Touch. It's too small for a lot of things and it's too big to put in your pocket.

    When browsing the web, most of the time, I need to zoom in to click on a link as my finger are too large and I end up clicking on another nearby link. This is very frustrating. Also, when typing some text, the keyboard is too small so you have to use your thumbs like on a smartphone. So any task related to long typing like this post I am currently writing (on my iPad) is a no-no.

    The same problem also occurs in games, where you end up clicking or sliding at the wrong place. Maybe with some practice and time, I would get the hang of it. The games on the iPhone/iPod Touch are designed (generally) for a small screen, and the games on a large iPad will give your more controls or more space to interact with the game. On a 7 inches format, it's too small and too large at the same time.

    For example, fruit ninja which is available on both tablets, it becomes hard to play on the 7 inches as your slice from one edge to the other, thus slicing more than you want.

    So if Apple is seriously considering having a 7 inches for the iPad, this is a bad idea. This format will be seen and experienced as just a big iPod touch. The screen/keyboard is just too small for productivity, too small for the web, too small for a good interaction.

    I would not mind a 20 inches iPad, with more power, maybe some connections for USB devices. This would be a product that could replace a laptop and surely loved by artists and designers.

    Anyway, just my usual 2 cents.

    VicoPad addict!

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