Things I Prefer to do on my iPad versus my Surface

By Patrick Moorhead - November 13, 2012
Last week, I covered areas and usage models where I preferred to use Microsoft Surface over my Apple iPad(s). I was actually surprised I would like Surface in so many areas given it is such a new device and ecosystem.   This week, I will reverse gears and discuss areas where I still prefer my iPad. Games I prefer genres of games like action, shooter, and racing.  With the iPad, I get choices like Infinity Blade, Real Racing, Metal Storm, Modern Combat, Zombie Gunship, and Need for Speed.  The Windows Store is starting to have some decent titles like Hydro Thunder Hurricane that show the potential, but for right now that’s what it is, potential.  With the performance NVIDIA Tegra 3, I hope that the store starts to get filled with good games. Podcasts Since Apple added its own podcast app, they have been so simple and reliable.  On the iPad, I can simply subscribe and auto sync with the bare minimum toggles to manage everything.  Slapdash is a decent start for Surface, but it doesn’t auto sync and gets some nasty errors or crashes if I wasn’t connected. Heavy Social Media The iPad literally has a social media app for everything and more times than not, they offer the first native apps for a new service.  Also, the best apps like Tweetbot are on the iPad, too. On Surface, the apps are OK for some casual social media, but not heavy duty.  They are a bit sluggish and lack key features.  One, for instance, is a very simple one, where you can pin a Twitter list to your start screen.  I can do this on multiple Android and iOS apps but not a single Windows RT app. Viewing Photos  I still prefer viewing and editing photos on the iPad.  It’s fast to open the app, open pictures, view and edit.  The editing tools are more sophisticated, too, with auto enhance and redeye.  While the Surface display is nice, I do notice a big improvement on the Retina display on the iPad 3.  One other pet-peeve I had with the Surface was when I wanted to sync photos.  It never asked me if I wanted to delete the photos on the iPhone.  Therefore, to delete the photos off the iPhone, I needed to add one more step. Taking Notes I take a ton of notes with my iPads using Evernote, unless it becomes unreliable and crashy where I then switch to the Notes app. The Evernote on Windows RT is the biggest disappointment of any app I have used so far.  I consider it Alpha as it either won’t sync, is slow to sync, or cannot view attachments without being connected.  Even though the app has access to the file system, you cannot add attachments other than photos.  Emailing notes works have the time and the other time crashes or displays the following error: “We’re having problems connecting to verify your info. Try signing in again.”  I tried OneNote for the tenth time. Incredibly confusing. OneNote then notes are displayed as “Personal (Web)>Quick Notes”. I’m sure if I used OneNote for years I would know what all that meant but I don’t. Business Collaboration While the iPad is primarily a consumer device, it has support for tools like Webex and GoToMeeting.  As an industry analyst, I get briefed a lot and these tools are invaluable for doing these.  Unfortunately, Surface does not currently have support for these and does not support them via the web browser, either. Wireless Video Mirroring This may sound uber-geeky, but I routinely mirror my iPad to my Apple TV to my HDTV.  I do this for many reasons, including to show off a web site, play a game, show off a new or funny app.  While the PlayTo functionality for non-DRMd video and audio is appreciated over the Xbox, it does not currently mirror the entire device. Managing Contacts I can very quickly and accurately view, open and edit contacts with my iPad.  I really do appreciate the linking of contacts on the Surface, but unfortunately, it is excruciatingly slow.  If I need to edit over 5 contacts, I usually just give up and go use Outlook instead. Cloud Storage iCloud storage for Pages, Numbers, and Keynote for the iPad is nothing short of awesome.  Now, if the apps were more compatible with Office, I’d switch over right now.  Surface does not make it easy to automatically store and update Office documents.  You see, there is no SkyDrive for Windows Desktop, only for Metro.  There is an Office Upload utility in Desktop, but it only works if you pulled the document from SkyDrive or created a document or saved once to SkyDrive.  Therefore, if you created a document offline, there is no way to have it autosave once you are connected again.  Neither Box nor SugarSync have Windows RT desktop handlers, either, which is very disappointing. Where does this Leave Us? Surface and the iPad are very good tablets.  What is most surprising is that Surface is brand new and it can do many things better than the iPad, now on its fourth generation.   I was surprised just how well Surface did “tablet-only” usages like video playback and even surfing the web.There is room for both these devices as they take two very different tacks.  Surface is a PC that’s also wanting to be a tablet.  The iPad is trying to be a tablet, not a PC (or Mac).   Surface will be good for those consumers like me who want it all and are willing to deal with the idiosyncrasies of the PC or have another tablet for 100% content consumption.   This battle is just getting started at a time when many pundits thought it was a closed and shut case for Apple.
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Patrick founded the firm based on his real-world world technology experiences with the understanding of what he wasn’t getting from analysts and consultants. Ten years later, Patrick is ranked #1 among technology industry analysts in terms of “power” (ARInsights)  in “press citations” (Apollo Research). Moorhead is a contributor at Forbes and frequently appears on CNBC. He is a broad-based analyst covering a wide variety of topics including the cloud, enterprise SaaS, collaboration, client computing, and semiconductors. He has 30 years of experience including 15 years of executive experience at high tech companies (NCR, AT&T, Compaq, now HP, and AMD) leading strategy, product management, product marketing, and corporate marketing, including three industry board appointments.