I am a middle school multimedia/computer teacher. Our district is currently exploring options to replace textbooks with tablets and it's coming down to Android vs Apple. I obviously support and favor Android. I have begun to develop an outline to present to the powers that be in attempt to persuade them to see the benefits of Android in education. I will be posting this on several forums...all I'm looking for is some feedback/suggestions/things I may have missed from members of the Android community. Please forgive the formatting. I cut and pasted from a word document and it did not translate very well. I appreciate your reading and suggestions. Thank you in advance for your time.
Before I begin, it is important that we keep a few things in mind. The subject of this document is NOT about the Nook vs the Ipad, it is about Android tablets in general vs the Ipad. As a school district, we are trying to find a device that provides the greatest benefit for our students while at the same time keeping bottom line costs at a minimum. Although it is not an exhaustive list, below are a few reasons that I believe make upcoming Android tablets superior to the Ipad.
- Android is based on the Linux operating system. You can install the newest version of Android or Linux on older hardware and it actually improves the performance of the device. (I have proven this by installing the current version of Linux on over 25 of our school's EEEpc devices, essentially turning outdated paperweights into functional machines for students to use – potentially saving the district thousands of dollars that it would cost to purchase new hardware and keeping technology in our students' hands)
- Android is open-source. This means that anyone can legally modify the operating system to suit his or her needs. Apple, on the other hand, is proprietary, and only legally allows their operating system to be installed on Apple hardware.
- Many Android tablets are expandable via MicroSD cards. In order to expand the storage of the Ipad, an external card reader must be purchased. (once again, this is proprietary, and it's an external device. In other words, if you want to expand the Ipad storage, you're going to have a plug-in card reader sticking out of it).
- With the Ipad, you have only one option. With Android tablets, you have many options, similar to purchasing a computer. If you purchase an Apple computer, you're limited to a few Apple brand configurations. If you purchase an HP, Dell, Toshiba, Acer, etc, all of these brands are reputable and will accomplish the same tasks.
- As more manufacturers begin to market Android tablets, this will drive prices down. Apple has traditionally been FAR more expensive than equivalent specced PCs. I expect this trend to continue with tablets in the long run...(when I say the long run, I mean starting as early as June, if not sooner.
- In order to administer and back up an Android tablet it's as simple as putting data on an SD card and then copying it to the device. Back up is done from the device itself, requiring no additional hardware. In order to administer and sync a cart of 30 Ipads, it is necessary to purchase an Apple laptop. As I said earlier, Apple is expensive...In my professional opinion, this is an unnecessary additional expense at a crucial time for our district to save money).
Q: If Android is so great, why aren't other schools in the area using it? Most of them are using Ipads if anything.
A. There could be several reasons Android is not being used by other schools in the area:
1. Quality tablet technology is a relatively new concept:
a. The Ipad itself is only about a year old.
b. One of the first true quality Android tablets is the Motorola XOOM and it has only been out about 2 months.
- the XOOM carried a hefty $800 price tag when it was released and was sold by Verizon (schools would not be interested in this tablet because most would have no use for a Verizon wireless service contract...schools would want a wifi only version.)
- The wifi only version of the XOOM was just released last Friday. It carries a $600 price tag (which is still pricey, but Motorola is able to price high because it currently is one of the only companies that has an Android tablet with its specs).
1. This will change dramatically in the coming months, for example, in June, Samsung will release an Android tablet comparable to the XOOM (actually better in several aspects) with a $500 price tag.
2. In other words, as more tablets are released, competition will cause prices to drop.
2. Currently, Apple does a better job of marketing than Android.
a. Turn on your TV for a few hours, chances are you're going to see people in your favorite shows using a computer with a huge Apple logo on it...for years, Apple has successfully marketed their products in movies and television shows.
b. Android is free and open source, (where Apple software is restricted to Apple hardware)
1. The fact that Android is open source is both a positive and a negative when it comes to marketing.
- It is a positive because this allows Android to be installed on devices by several manufacturers. (think of it in the same way that you think of Windows being able to be installed on Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc computers)
- It could be a negative because Android could be the best operating system in the world and if you install it on a poor quality device, it's not going to work as well as if you installed it on a high quality device.
c. Apple as a company has been around since April 1, 1976, The Android operating system was released on October 21, 2008. Apple has enjoyed a 32 year head start on marketing.
3. Because the Android is new, it is very possible that personnel in various school districts currently do not fully understand Android, and therefore may be hesitant to adopt it.
Q: What is the Nook Color?
A. $250 (approximate) E-Reader device by Barnes & Noble. It is capable of being rooted to run a full version of the Android operating system.
1. 8 GB of internal storage
a. can be expanded with external micro SD cards
b. external cards can be up to 32 GB
Q: We are purchasing a tablet to be primarily a textbook replacement. Why not just leave it at that, and be satisfied. The device will be serving its intended purpose.
A. I compare this to purchasing a satellite dish with 250 channels and only watching PBS, or
Q: What is “rooting”? Are you going to “hack” this device? Is this legal?
A: When referring to a Nook Color or any other Android Device, I have used the terms “rooting” and “hacking” interchangeably.
1. Rooting simply means overriding any lock downs on the device and granting administrator access to it. (modifying it to allow the injection of additional or altered code)
a. This also means that you will get more bang for your buck because you are essentially giving a $250 device many of the same capabilities that much more expensive devices have.
b. This means that a person can install the base Android operating system on the
device and customize it.
2. Rooting is COMPLETELY LEGAL! (The worst that could happen is that Barnes & Noble releases a future software update to make the device more difficult to root)
3. The bottom line is once you buy the device, it's yours to do what you want with.
4. According to the Barnes & Noble Terms of Service, rooting the nook color will void your warranty.
a. This is true, however, it is possible to restore a rooted device back to stock (the way it was when you first opened the box).
-Restoring the device back to stock (and therefore preserving your warranty) can be done easily in under a half hour in the event you needed to make a warranty claim and ship the device back to the manufacturer.
b. It is also possible to run Android entirely off the SD card, leaving the stock operating system intact and STILL giving you full customization ability. This will NOT void your warranty because you are leaving the base system untouched.
- I compare this to playing Nintendo. (Your experience depends on what disc or cartridge you have in the device).
- If you have the SD card in, the device runs the custom Android (with all the extra bells and whistles)
- If you do not have the SD card in, the device will run the basic Nook Color operating system.