iPad Mini – an agnostic mobile user review

IMG_20140324_162709If you glance around my computer museum (I mean office) you will see the following mobile devices:

  • WebOS
  • Maemo
  • Android
  • PalmOS
  • Blackberry (no 10 devices yet)
  • WinCE (don’t ask)

And up until a few years ago many an iOS device scattered around. Part of my job is learning what the latest and greatest is capable of and implementing for my customers. It was after helping one of them recently that I realized my iOS knowledge was becoming a little dated and as such I found myself in the Schiphol Airport paying way too much for a Retina iPad Mini 32GiB.

After a few days worth of usage I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the device and platform since my migration to a fully Linux/Android world:

Hardware:

  • It feels so more solid and beautiful. From the packaging to the tactile feel of things…just something there that I can’t really put my finger on. Compared to the Nexus 5/7 in the house it just feels more special
  • Lightning Connectors, while a stupid connector in the PC world, is magic for charging. When I plug my Nexus 5 in at night I sometimes struggle in the dark to get the damn thing charging. iPad, no issue.
  • Screen is gorgeous and great for reading. I never did enjoy reading on my Nexus 7, but have found myself reading Kindle books now
  • As someone who very rarely ever used the USB connector on my Android devices for anything (without root and stickmount it is kind of pointless) I do not find the hardware limitation to be an issue. The one time I plugged an Ethernet adapter in my Asus Transformer it was more “look what I can do” and less “this is making me more productive.”
  • Even though I purchased the device in Europe, it lacks the Micro-USB converter for the lightning end for charging. I think once I get one of those I will be more happy
  • Battery life is great

Software:

  • iOS 7 is so “meh”
  • Mail client is far superior to the Android Gmail client. Two big reasons for that: S/MIME encryption and single mailbox
  • Without jailbreaking and setting Chrome/Google Maps as the default I want to punch puppies. Why this isn’t an option in 2014 is crazy
  • Every app without a doubt is more well done on iOS. Twitter clients, games, travel, productivity, and the list goes on. Even the Google Apps have more polish than their Android counterparts. Why is Hangouts so much better on iOS?!?!?!?! GOOGLE WHAT THE HECK!
  • I hate…HATE…that I cannot just drag a stack of video files from my Linux laptop to the device. Now with that said, all the MTP implementations within Linux to date (and I have tried them all) lock my multiple Linux machines up. I primarily use this for video and the VLC wifi server built-in to the iOS version is beautiful.
  • Limiting. It is a pretty jail cell, but a jail cell nonetheless.
  • Reddit Sync Pro is not on iOS and this makes me sad :( Maybe I just have more muscle memory after all these years, but I was a hardcore Alien Blue user back in the day. It just seems off now.
  • Siri is stupid compared to Google Now. What a wasted opportunity on Apple’s part with such a head start.
  • Keyboard drives me batty after being on SwiftKey so long, but with the past few releases on Android bugging me this is going away. I can type pretty quick on the iPad after only a few days.

Security:

  • No Touch ID on this device, but I can see the future for multifactor authentication on mobile devices. I use the fingerprint reader on my Linux laptop consistently and I would love to have finger+pin to perform actions on my tablet. I notice in the Cydia repos that there are ways to use the Touch ID for locking down apps and passwords. Once Apple opens this up they will win the hearts and minds of CSO everywhere.
  • S/MIME is so much better on Apple Devices. Unless you are doing GPG, Android is light years behind. As the owner of a company I find myself more inclined to lean iOS for our enterprise standard just for the toolsets. It is the better of the two by far for managing in our BYOD environment.
  • You know what works out of the box and with no user intervention? Device encryption. No issues. Android WTF. It is embarrassing that in 2014 I am still writing about this.
  • Jailbreaking is still a requirement to make iOS livable for me. Part of me loves the community that creates this stuff, but man it is scary that these security holes are out there. In some cases it is more secure to do this (see SSL 7.0.6 quick fix from Apple), but in most cases it is opening your device up to hackers everywhere.

Just my quick hits of what I have enjoyed from using the tablet…

 

Updated: