Last week I bought a new Galaxy Nexus 7. I couldn’t help it. At $249 for a fully-loaded, 16 GB, 7-inch tablet running Android, I just had to find out what all the hype was about. The fact that it came with a $25 credit to be used in the Google Play Store didn’t hurt.
I’ve been a big advocate of 1-1 iPad implementations for schools. I don’t think I’ve made a secret of the fact that I think the opportunities for hardware producers are dropping dramatically as software takes over in education. As I’ve said in other posts, the flexibility and extensibility of the iPad makes it a great choice for schools. And I don’t seem to be alone in that opinion, particularly as Apple sold twice as many iPads as laptops into schools in Q2 of this year.
I’ve also been spending a lot of time reviewing educational apps lately. With more than 20,000 of them in iTunes, I’m not running out of apps to review any time soon. And because I only have owned Apple devices, I haven’t gone anywhere near Android apps. But when a friend got a Nexus 7 and was raving about it, I thought I’d better expand my horizons.
I was unnaturally excited when the Nexus box was delivered. And isn’t the most frustrating part of getting a new tech toy the fact that you have to charge it before using it??
Once charged, I jumped in. The interface took some getting used to, as did the download process. It’s not a carbon copy, certainly, of the iPad interface, so there’s a bit of a ramp. But boy, this Nexus 7 is slick. I don’t know if the graphics and resolution are as good as the iPad3, but with the 7″ size it really doesn’t matter. The apps I ran on the Nexus 7 looked beautiful, sharp and bright. I was skeptical that the smaller size would be nice to use, but it was actually much easier to hold in one hand, while touching and swiping with the other, than the iPad. As my friend pointed out, and I tend to agree, using the Nexus 7 made the iPad seem positively bulky. And yes, I realize how completely crazy that sounds!
In checking out the Google Play Store, I found that there are more than 500,000 Android apps, about 30,000 of which are targeted at Education (this number does not include game apps that might still be appropriate for Education). I truthfully didn’t realize that the number of Education apps for Android rivaled the number available for iOS. There still aren’t very many apps that run on both platforms, so a school that is interested in a 1-1 tablet implementation still should choose one platform and stick to it….at least for the time being.
What I’d like to hear from you all is what you think it will take for schools to start considering Android tablets….the Nexus 7 being only one of them, of course, for their 1-1 implementation solutions? Clearly the Android tablets are a more economical solution. A 16 GB Nexus 7, as I said, is $249; a new 16 GB iPad 3 is $499 from the Apple Store. So my back of the envelope math says I can get about twice as many Nexus 7 devices as iPad 3 devices, bulk education discounts notwithstanding. And I’m not convinced that they are inferior to the iPads in any way, much less in ways that will be meaningful for every day classroom use (if you disagree, please educate me!). We know that smartphones running Android are outselling the iPhone and we know that Android is way outselling iOS in global markets.
So cast your vote….are Android tablets the “Next Big Thing” in education? Might this be the answer to getting 1-1 tablet implementations going twice as fast?
P.S. All bets are off, of course, once the iPad mini comes along….
To read a six-month follow-up to this article that I wrote in March 2013, click here.