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Should You Choose Your Tablet Based on Software?

Should you buy the iPad or an Android tablet? What about the Blackberry Playbook or a Windows 8 tablet? Which one is right for you?

It can be a confusing marketplace, and making a decision on which tablet to purchase is often a tough process. For many people, the decision ultimately comes down to software – more specifically, the associated app strategy and the operating system capabilities. Here are a few considerations to help you choose a tablet if software is a crucial component of your decision-making process:

The App Strategy: If you have favourite apps that you use on your smartphone, the apps will usually run on a tablet with the same operating system  (Note: an operating system is the software platform, like Windows, that all other programs run on). In some cases, an enhanced tablet version of the app may be available. If the app you use is key to your productivity, then choosing a tablet that runs that app will be important to you.

Many app publishing companies build apps for both smartphones and tablets across all platforms, but it’s always smart to check the availability of your favourite apps before making a purchase.

The Operating System:  The operating systems that power today’s top tablets and smartphones all have key strengths and weaknesses. A certain feature or capability that is a must-have to some of us may be a showstopper for others. Here’s a quick rundown of the major choices out there:

iOS – On Apple’s mobile products, there is only one operating system: presently, that’s iOS 6. The next version that comes out will be offered to you automatically if your hardware supports it. iOS currently has the most apps available – approximately 700,000 in total, with 250,000 of those optimized for the iPad’s larger screen.

Android – The Android world is very different, and you’ll want a device with a tablet-optimized version of Android. That means at a minimum, you’ll need Android OS version 3, also known as Honeycomb. Most new devices will come with (or be upgradeable to) version 4.0, also called Ice Cream Sandwich. The newest Android operating system, Jelly Bean version 4.1, is becoming available on some tablets now and will be widely available by spring of 2013.

Android’s openness makes it easier to tweak the device to look and work exactly as you’d like, making it an ideal choice for more technically inclined users who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves every once in a while.

BlackBerry – The new Playbook OS 2.1 release for RIM’s tablet lets you run many Android apps. These apps now have access to the device’s camera so more productivity apps that capture images will work on the Playbook. The app strategy for RIM is leaning heavily toward Android compatibility, so a RIM tablet is still a viable option if you are patriotic and love their mobile approach.

Windows – By all accounts, Windows 8 should put Microsoft in the tablet game and usher forth a solid mobile strategy for the company. Popular Windows software programs will be able to run on the Microsoft tablets.  Apps for Windows Phone devices will run on Windows 8 tablets as well. These factors make Microsoft-based tablets a practical option toward the end of this year and into 2013.

In the end, your tablet choice is as personal as the software you use. Select it based on the productivity you can gain from the apps and operating system that works for you.

Do you own a tablet? What options, features or benefits led to your decision? We’d love to know what it is you value when it comes to this rapidly expanding mobile market. Or, if you’ve got any questions that’ll help make your tablet purchase easier, let us know in the comments section below!

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