8 Things Android Tablets Need To Get More Users

by: glennSeptember 9, 2011
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It’s no secret that Android tablets need a lot of catching up to get ahead of the game. I’m going to expand on a few points from this article and talk about where slates can do better to become better accepted by consumers.

1. Make them talk better with peripherals

One thing that makes notebooks and netbooks a preferred choice by the regular consumer is that most of the stuff they already have–speakers, keyboards, external drives–already work with that device. With tablets, it’s a bit more tricky since you often need to buy additional cables and adapters like the one above, or even have to get an extra app in the off-chance that you do get peripherals to work. There are manufacturers moving to creating better docks (such as Asus through the Eee Transformer) but a tablet needs one simple thing quite frankly: a built-in USB port like that in the Acer Iconia.

2. Printing should be fool-proof

Like on the desktop, printing should become a standard with all apps that need them. It’s really frustrating that you need to hack together a solution just to get your tablet and your printer to play well with each other. One easy solution is the USB port I mentioned above, but another is just giving Android the ability to send data to printers in the same network. Also, the solution has to be systemwide so that apps can easily bake in the ability without any additional blood, sweat and tears from the dev. A docking solution like the one above is also an option, though it still needs yet another peripheral.

3. Chrome, get your tablet on!

Ever wondered why Chrome isn’t part of Android even though they are both from the same company? I do too and Google is indeed taking steps to make it so (hopefully it comes sooner rather than later). What Chrome needs on the tablet are a few of the basics: syncing with your desktop browser, easy to use tabs, extension support and of course, it has to stay lightning quick.

4. Beef up the storage

This one might take a while. Even though we technically should be seeing huge drops in price of flash memory due to the widespread adoption of this form of storage as well as through Moore’s Law, we’re not seeing it on our tablets. Many buyers expect their bigger device to have bigger storage rather than having the same as their smartphones. MicroSD is a solution but it would be better if we had 256GB on deck, don’t you think? Let’s hope that manufacturers get this going in the next couple of years at the very least.

5. For crying out loud, handwriting recognition!

We used to call it a slate, now it’s a tablet. That’s because slates are used for writing and tablets require you to chip away your letters or in the high-tech sense, tap on your keyboard to write. Tablet PCs are still more widely used in business because of this and some makers like HTC and Samsung have seen the light, thankfully, and are providing solutions. It’s best though if every tablet, at the least all coming Ice Cream Sandwich ones, have handwriting recognition available and for all apps at that.

6. Make external storage slots a standard

Oddly enough, while microSD is a mainstay on most smartphones, it mysteriously vanishes when it comes to a few Android tablets. Every tablet should have a slot for external storage so people aren’t forced to pick and choose files to save on their device. Number 4 above isn’t coming any time soon so external slots are really a must. Even better are ones that can accept regular SD cards.

7. It’s not a toy, it’s a workstation

I’ve tried explaining to people that I do indeed use my tablet for work but no matter how I present it, all they see are my apps for games and social networking. Okay, so it might be partially my fault for not putting in work apps in there but seriously, have you really done any real work on it? One way to break away from this line of though is to make tablets less than “oversized smartphones” and more like “portable workstations”. It’s a niche that netbooks have filled up which sadly should be under the tablet’s domain already. The new ThinkPad might soon break the mold though.

8. Lower pricing

Lenovo is on the right track here when it announced its $199 IdeaPad A1 last week. It’s a decent offering and we’re hoping that other tablet makers will follow suit with more powerful devices. And it’s not just the consumers that will be grabbing those tablets. It will be enterprise customers as well, giving them the push they need to adopt tablets as part of their workflow and making it cheaper for everyone around by buying in bulk.


I’m pretty sure some of these issues are already solved but they don’t need to be solved, they need to be easy to use. To get users to accept tablets, they need to even be more user-friendly than they are now. Ice Cream Sandwich will hopefully be the key but on top of that, the entire Android environment should work to that end so that it can shed the “too technical” belief that people have of Android into something that even your grandmother can use in her sleep.

Oh, and yes those fiery comments you had in mind: I’m ready for them.

  • Pitming
    • I’m thinking more or an OS-based solution so we don’t have to rely on apps. Most regular users will just use the stuff on their phone, not bothering to go to the Market to search for solutions.

  • Brianmctrust

    Instead of putting more storage on the tablet, how about an easy way to mount a NAS drive or shared folder?

    • Yes, exactly! An easy, no brainer way to access external storage is a welcome improvement over what we have now. Like tapping on the built-in files app should show me not just the files on the tablet and SD, but also drives on the network I can connect to.

  • Jr_enver

    Great page. one more thing i consider necessary.
    Also ethernet port. must have for tech support, we’re the once who will be selling this solution to clients….. make us happy.

    • This solution is more for support right? I’m guessing USB to ethernet should work for it. It’s not something the average user will be hankering about anyway.

      • Jr_enver

        spot on, yes usb Ethernet would work, but always asking for trouble to have 2 cables plus a big lump of plastic hanging of a USB port.
        true that the average user wouldn’t need it all the time. But one of those things you really need when things go wrong.
        but at least one mainstream manufacturer should consider it. looking at all the varieties on any type of device, still confuses me why all android tablets are basically the same. other than the eee pad. all doing the same thing.
        and as a second point, android/ tablet companies biggest market is corporate. until the techies are happy they won’t encourage their respective companies to even try them.
        make tech for techies first. once we’ve signed off on them companies will follow.

  • Jon Garrett

    This article was lame as hell and I dont think you gave it much thought when you decided to write it.

    its titled, “8 things Android tablets need to get more users”

    the iPad don’t have these things and probably will never ever have most of them not now or in the near future so why are all these things “must haves” in order for Android to succeed?

    the only thing Android tablets need to get more users is a better job at promoting their tablets than manufacturers currently do. and developers porting iOS apps over to Android.

    most of what you listed is already available on Android tablets and you cant say the same for iPads.

    • Ouch Jon.

      Yes, they are available already but as I mentioned, will the average user bother to find the solution for his/her particular tablet? These are things that should come standard, not through the Market or through third-parties.

      And these aren’t must haves to succeed. Tablets are already a success, technically. What is needed is to push it out more and make it a mainstream solution just like how cellphones have become ingrained into our lives.

      Promotion isn’t where companies are lacking. Heck, they even show up in TV shows and every company is trying its darndest to get their tablets selling.

      If they make tablets better, users will promote the devices themselves and they will eventually become so popular that ported apps and sponsored airtime come to Android without second thought.

      I’ll try to be less lame next time for your benefit. :)

      • Jon Garrett

        Sorry dude,

        I didn’t mean that in a bad way and certainly wasn’t attacking you personally.

        sometimes I say what Im thinking and not thinking of what I should say. :-)

        I appreciate all your hard work and your efforts to bring us all these great articles.

  • PAtrick GF Evans

    I love your insights daclectic…. Amd this Lamo who is under me can blow chunks… ,y iPad sucks dick and I will for sure buy a new tablet. A non apple tablet in the future.. I like the ideas.. As I form my new world the tech world is forming a device for me, one day I will be on my farm, and able to work diligently on an android tablet.. Not ts piece of crap iPad I am stuck in Mexico with. Tablets are better that computer because they are more user friendly and compact, the interface is way better that all that start up shut down bull shit of the past? I really don’t know what they will do next, but Darcy does. THATS IT FOR NOW

  • Bobby Zio

    Apparently, you do not think apps are important? Android tablets needs better applications.

  • Jameslynn

    I would buy one today if the manufacturers supported the devices. A lot of them are stuck at old OS levels for some time. I already went through crippled by os throwaway devices with mp3 players and I’m not included to do the same with android tablets. I would be happy to pay for major os upgrades up until the hardware cannot handle the OS.

  • Maureen

    Is there a tablet that receives calls?