Tablet deathmatch: HP TouchPad vs. Apple iPad 2

By , InfoWorld |  Mobile & Wireless

App management. The iPad 2 makes it easy to arrange your home screens to cluster applications both on your iPad and on your desktop via iTunes; you can also put them in your own folders. Just tap and hold any app to invoke the "shaking apps" status, in which you can drag apps wherever you want, or tap the X icon to delete them (press the Home button when done to exit that mode). You can also arrange and delete apps using iTunes on your desktop.

The TouchPad is more limited. Apps you buy are placed in the Downloads pane of the Launcher, and you can move them to either the Favorites or Apps pane, as well as rearrange them within those panes. But you cannot create additional panes or group applications into folders.

The TouchPad's cards interface puts all running apps on your screen, and when you gesture up from the bottom of the screen, whatever app is running shrinks to a window and all open windows and their live contents appear as a row of cards. This is similar to Mac OS X's Dock Exposé feature, and the metaphor that debuted in the original WebOS two years ago, and has been subsequently copied by RIM in the BlackBerry PlayBook and by Microsoft in Windows Phone 7 and the forthcoming Windows 8.

The cards approach makes it easy to see what's running and switch among them, but it also gets clutttered quickly with windows. You can tap and drag apps' cards to create stacks of them, to reduce the on-screen clutter. Any open windows in those apps also appear in the same stack, so the clutter often moves from the screen to the stack. (Yes, you can drag a window out a bit to see its contents.) For accessing your apps, the card-and-stacks approach has advantages, but it would help if you could also see a simple list of running apps (as you can on the Galaxy Tab 10.1) or a separate bar showing the current apps' icons (as you can on the iPad 2, in Windows 7, and in Mac OS X). I like the cards UI, except when it gets cluttered, so an additional app-switching approach would be a nice complement.

Another issue: To close an app or window, you have to switch to the cards view and then drag the card off screen ("toss the card"). That gets really tiresome when you're working with several items. It's particularly annoying when you work with settings, each of which is a separate app, in contrast to the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1, which unify settings into one app. A Close box would be a great addition to app windows.

Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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