Apple kicked off its annual developer conference – WWDC or Worldwide Developer Conference – this week in San Jose, California. As is the case with most developer conferences, it started with a long keynote on Monday. Where Apple's executives and team leads, announced a ton of new software (and some new hardware). There was something that caught a lot of Android users eyes though, and that was iPadOS.
Since the iPad launched in April 2010, it has run on iOS (which was originally iPhone OS until the iPad came). That kind of restricted what it could do, since it was essentially running the same operating system as the much smaller – at the time – iPhone. But with iOS 13, Apple is breaking out the iPad operating system, and naming it iPadOS 13. That goes along with the recent rebrands of tvOS, watchOS, and macOS. And it only made sense.
Features on features on Features in iPadOS 13
iPadOS 13 is probably the biggest update to the iPad, ever. Apple is bringing over a ton of features that many thought would never see the light of day on the iPad. that includes some proper USB-C support for mice and keyboards (as well as Bluetooth support). There's also an actual Finder on iPad – or for those using Windows, a Windows Explorer to find your files. Basically, Apple made the iPad a true laptop replacement with this newest version of its software.
As if that wasn't enough, Apple has also made multitasking even better on the iPad with iPadOS 13. Including plenty of new windowing features, so you can really multi-task and take advantage of that 12.9-inch display on the new iPad Pro.
Want to add some more storage to your iPad? It can be done. Which is actually pretty insane, given the fact we are talking about Apple here. But you have the ability to plug in a USB-C hard drive, and access those files on your iPad now. You can also move files from your iPad to that drive and vice versa. This is also thanks to the new Finder in iPadOS 13. So if you have the new iPad Pro, you can basically do whatever you want with it. It's pretty crazy, we've seen some people plugging in a 4TB drive, and it shows up on iPad OS 13 just fine.
We're still not done talking about the new features that Apple has added to the iPad with the latest operating system. It is also adding support for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers. Allowing you to essentially make your smartphone or tablet, a console. And with as powerful as the recent iPad Pro's are, this is actually a huge deal for iPadOS 13. Not to mention the fact that there are a ton of great games on the iPad already, as well as the Apple TV.
iPadOS 13 is not yet available for everyone, only for developers. The public beta will start in July, with the public release coming in September. Very similar to Google's beta program for Android these days. Things might change, but Apple doesn't typically remove features before releasing the stable build of an operating system.
At this point, it just seems like Apple is showing off, when it comes to tablets. It has had the lead in the tablet space, basically since the iPad launched. And it's not virtually the only tablet worth buying, even for Android users.
That might sound familiar though. When the new iPad Pro's launched late last year, many outlets said that Apple was "just showing off now" with the new iPads. It took a tablet that was already killing the competition – and basically put them all out of business – and made it infinitely better. The new iPad Pro had thinner bezels, larger displays, and a USB-C port. Making it a "true" prosumer tablet.
So where's Google?
Yeah, about that. Google, like with a ton of its other products, isn't too sure what it wants to do with tablets. It has basically stopped making Android tablets itself – though it is still licensing Android tablets made by its partners like Samsung and Huawei. Instead, it is focusing on Chrome OS tablets, and so far, those haven't turned out well.
The only Chrome OS tablet that Google has done, is the Pixel Slate. And all you need to do is take a look at the headlines for a couple of Pixel Slate reviews to know that, it's basically hot garbage. Actually, it's expensive hot garbage.
Google needs to take some cues from Apple, if it really wants to make a tablet that consumers will buy.
Chromebooks are great. They can actually be laptop replacements for a lot of people. But somehow, translating that into just a tablet, just hasn't worked for Google. Chrome OS is still pretty barebones, even with Android app support, there's still a lot to be desired, when it comes to a tablet. It's no wonder Google's tablets have failed miserably in the past few years.
The Pixel Slate isn't Google's first tablet to be total trash, there was president. Like the Pixel C and HTC-made Nexus 9, as a few examples.
Google wasn't always bad with tablets
Anyone remember the ASUS-made Nexus 7 from 2012 and the follow up from 2013? What about the Samsung-made Nexus 10 from (later in) 2012? Those were good tablets. That was when Android sort of supported tablets. It wasn't perfect, but it was a step in the right direction. The Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 tablets were good alternatives to the iPad at the time. The iPad was hovering around $500 for the entry-level model, while the Nexus 7 was around $199. Sure it wasn't as powerful as an iPad, but it got more users in the door.
When the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 launched, in 2012 and 2013, Google was focusing a lot on Android for tablets. It was even working to entice developers to make their apps work better on tablets. Android apps always worked on tablets, but they weren't optimized for those larger screens. It was fine on the smaller 7-inch Nexus 7, but when it came to the larger 10-inch Nexus 10, they needed to be optimized.
Somewhere between 2012 and 2015, Google basically decided that we didn't need tablets. Sure, the fact that our smartphones were getting larger and larger definitely helped kill off tablets, but for many, there's still a place for a tablet.
Google has tried doing more expensive tablets, but it just can't find the footing to compete side-by-side with the iPad at that price. It always worked better with cheaper tablets – going back to the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 again.
Want an Android tablet? Get an iPad
This is not a joke, people. If you want an Android tablet, the best one you can buy is an iPad. Why? It's simple. The iPad is the best tablet running any operating system. But every single one of Google's apps are already available on the iPad. Which means that you don't need to use some of Apple's key apps on the iPad, like the Mail app, or the Notes app, or even the Calendar app. All of that is available on the iPad, from Google.
Sure, it's not really an Android tablet, but it might as well be. It runs smoother than most Android tablets (except maybe the Samsung Galaxy Tab S4, but that's the same price and has a ton of bloatware that no one wants). It also has all of the Google apps, that you'd want on an Android tablet.
How do I know this? I own an iPad. And I've owned one for a few years now. Using an iPad along with an Android smartphone is not easy, but the experience is so much better than using an Amazon Fire tablet, or a cheap Galaxy Tab A. Which are essentially the only options right now. I'm probably not the best use-case for this, since I use the iPad mostly for consuming media (YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, etc), and not for actual work. But I do have every Google app that I use, installed on it. And honestly, they work better on the iPad than on Google's own Pixel 3 XL.
Apple has virtually no competition in the tablet space. One might argue Amazon or maybe Samsung, but they aren't really competitors for them. The iPad is pretty big in schools, while Fire Tablets and Galaxy Tabs are not. So why is Apple going to hard, making the iPad so much better in the past year? iPad sales are down. Much like smartphones, many are keeping their iPads longer. Instead of upgrading every year, many are keeping them for two, three, four, even five years. I bought my iPad in 2017, so it's just over two years old, and I have no reason to buy a new one. Why? Because it still runs as well as it did the day I got it. Which is impressive.
Google's not serious with tablets anymore, it's pretty clear. But many die-hard tablet users are still hoping that Google will get its act together and put out a pretty good tablet. Though, that likely will never happen, unfortunately.