Android tablets had a rocky start, but since Google released its tablet-specific operating system, Android 3.0 “Honeycomb”
last year, we’ve seen a steady flow of high-quality Android tablets.
And that’s a good thing, since they provide viable alternatives to the Apple iPad,
which has dominated the tablet market since its first release in early
2010. One of the major benefits of Android over the iPad and the
never-quite-caught-on BlackBerry PlayBook, is that instead of a single hardware choice, you can access the OS on a number of different tablets.
The only hitch there: There isn’t a single version of Android. Nine months after the Honeycomb release, Google unveiled Android 4.0 “Ice Cream Sandwich” (ICS)
last November, which takes Gingerbread (the phone OS) and Honeycomb
(the tablet OS) and merges them. Five months later and we’ve only seen
Android 4.0 on a handful of tablets. (Only three of the 10 here
currently run ICS.) Android has notorious problems with timely OS updates.
With ICS, Google continues to fine tune Android, making the tablet
experience a very good one. The biggest issue with the platform,
however, continues to be the lack of tablet-specific third-party apps
and an easy way to find them through Google Play (formerly the Android
Market). Android tablet apps are still in the low hundreds, while apps
designed specifically for the iPad continue to climb into the tens of
thousands (90,000K at the time of this writing).