14 Things the iPad Does Better Than Android

The entire iPad family: Pro, Air and Mini. Image © Apple, Inc.

The iPad didn't invent the tablet, but it did define it. And while the competition has played catch-up, the iPad spawned a juggernaut of an ecosystem, extending its abilities via thousands of accessories and hundreds of thousands of apps designed specifically for it. These improvements extend to the operating system, where Apple has consistently remained a few steps ahead of the competition.  

So what make the iPad better than Android tablet? There is no doubting that Android has a few advantages over the iPad, but it has been Apple that led tablets into the land of high resolution screens and 64-bit processors. Here are a few areas where Apple remains firmly entrenched in the lead:

  • Controlled Hardware and Operating System. A big part of Apple's secret sauce is the control it exerts over the hardware, operating system and the App Store. While Android's open architecture has its benefits, it also leads to a more disjointed experience. In comparison, the iPad tends to be easier to use, runs smoother and has fewer bugs. It's also able to deliver the same user experience across its platform.
  • Use All of the Screen. Success breeds success. The popularity of the iPad has led to enormous developer support for the iPad, which includes user interfaces designed specifically for the iPad's larger screen. While many popular Android apps enjoy tablet-sized versions, too many Android apps are simply smartphone apps blown up to fit the bigger screen.
  • A Safer Experience. Both the iPad and Android are fairly impervious to viruses, but both run the risk of malware-infected apps. On the iPad App Store, every app submitted is tested by Apple before being released. This stunts the risk of downloading malware. But Android's Google Play store doesn't have any such protection. Google Play has a publish-first mentality, which means Google lets anyone publish anything to their store, only removing suspected malware after it has been reported. Or, in other words, they removed offending apps after they have infected Android devices.   This doesn't make the iPad completely safe as hackers constantly target the world's most popular tablet, but it is much safer than the wild west of the Android marketplace.  
  • More Exclusive Apps. The popularity of the iPad's App Store, the fragmentation of Android across multitudes of devices and the proliferation of piracy on Android devices has led to some developers becoming Android-shy. This includes Epic Games, who stated the Infinity Blade series would not be arriving on Android.
  • Accessories. Being king of the mountain has its perks. The iPad is easily the most supported tablet among accessory manufacturers, with a lot of cool iPad-only accessories and gadgets.  Have $2,500 burning a whole in your pocket? Buy an iPad-controlled Robot. Need to potty train your toddler? Yeah. There's an accessory for that. (Check out more fun iPad accessories).
  • Siri. Both Android and iOS have fairly good voice recognition engines that can answer simple questions and perform basic tasks, but with each release, Siri gets better, keeping a step ahead of Android's voice recognition.  Siri isn't just about looking up answers on the web, it is tied into the calender, reminders, events, contacts and even Facebook and Twitter.  It's also much easier to use, with Siri activated by pressing the Home button rather than navigating the Android interface and tapping a microphone on the screen. And here's the kicker: Siri can even give you Google's answers. Instead of asking Siri to find "nearby pizza places", ask it to, "Google nearby pizza places." How to use Siri on the iPad
  • iBeacon and AirDrop. Apple answered Near Field Communications in iOS 7.0 with iBeacon and AirDrop. Each solution has its advantages and disadvantages, but where AirDrop reigns supreme is the ability to share files at distance with an encrypted connection, which means you can do it from another room in your house rather than bumping devices. iBeacon is designed for commercial uses and is seeing its first rollouts in Apple stores and select grocery stores.
  • AirPlay. Apple has its own way of doing things. And while the iPad supports Bluetooth, including Bluetooth speakers, Apple has its own proprietary way of communicating with supported speakers and media devices. AirPlay uses Wi-Fi rather than Bluetooth, which means it is faster and has more bandwidth. This makes the iPad a great wireless media device when combined with AirPlay speakers.
  • AirPrint. The iPad is increasingly being used as a productivity device, which is why the ability to print from it is so important. AirPrint is another feature that has its match on Android (Google Cloud Print), but has a better integration. AirPrint just works. No setup. No worries. If you have an AirPrint-compatible printer, your iPad should have no problem finding it. Google Cloud Print can print to remote locations, but you have to use the Chrome browser on your PC first to set it up.
  • Game Center.   Until recently, Android was without an official game center, relying on third-party game centers like the now-defunct OpenFeint.  Recently, Google introduced the Google Play Game Services, which includes much of the same functionality of Apple's Game Center.  Unfortunately, Google's Play Game service is still rough around the edges.  Not only is it confusing to log into the service, only newer Android devices come with it preinstalled, so many users need to download the app to get the service working.
  • FaceTime and iMessage. The iPad's integrated iMessage and FaceTime services makes it easy to place free text messages, voice calls or video calls to friends, family and co-workers that also have an iOS device. These services can be duplicated on an Android, but you'll need to hunt down apps to perform these tasks.
  • iWork and iLife. Both iWork and iLife are now free to download on new iPads, which means each iPad comes with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, video editing capabilities, photo editing software and a music studio. That's quite a bit of free software.
  • Virtual Touchpad.  Never heard of the virtual trackpad?  You aren't alone.  While it is not exactly a secret, it is definitely one of the coolest unheard-of features.   Simply put two fingers down on the on-screen keyboard at the same time and move your fingers.  This makes it much easier to position the cursor within text.  Find out more about the Virtual Touchpad.  
  • Find My iPhone. When you first setup your iPad, you'll be asked whether or not you want to turn on Find My iPad. It's a good feature that makes its way into the news a few times a year as a would-be robber is caught using the service. Android has a similar service called Android Device Manager, but for some puzzling reason, it doesn't even come pre-installed on Android devices.
  • And more... Want to find out more fun things the iPad can do? Check out the Best Uses for the iPad.

Read the other side to this story: 14 Things Android Can Do That iPad Can't