Galaxy Tab will soar on Android's key strengths

The Froyo operating system and its Linux base confer winning advantages that will set Samsung's tablet apart.

As the details of Samsung's Galaxy Tab are gradually revealed, it's becoming increasingly clear that many of the tablet's most desirable features derive from its use of Android--or Linux, that is--which, after all, is the basis for Google's winning mobile operating system.

Where the iPad is tightly circumscribed and limited by the confines of Apple's "walled garden" approach, the Galaxy Tab will offer tablet users a new world of open source-enabled choice. It's no wonder Android is stealing market share from the Apple iOS; for businesses, the choice will be a no-brainer.

1. Security

Linux is well-known for its superior security compared with Windows and Mac OS X, and many of those advantages carry over onto Android--and the Galaxy Tab.

Much the way Linux minimizes the damage that could be done by a virus affecting a single desktop user, for example, so Android keeps applications separate from one another, and gives each one a distinct set of permissions governing what they can and can't do.

The result is that Galaxy Tab users will know right away that a malicious app is suspicious, whereas iPad users won't.

In the iPad's closed, "walled garden," then, users must rely on Apple to control security. With the Android-based Galaxy Tab, on the other hand--as with Linux--the relative openness of the platform means that the massive worldwide community of developers and users can monitor and improve security themselves, as the need arises.

Of course, Froyo--or Android 2.2--includes even more mobile security features than its predecessors, including remote wipe, support for complex passwords and policies, and the ability to remotely lock the device if it's ever lost or stolen. All are considerable security advantages for the Galaxy Tab.

2. Apps

Apple's proprietary App Store may still have a larger selection of apps than the Android Market, but not for long. And on the open Android Market, apps don't have to have Apple's parsimoniously granted approval to be put up for sale.

There's no censorship, in other words, but there is a huge base of smartphone-savvy Android developers champing at the bit to support the first major Android-based tablet. Such developers are already creating apps specifically for the Galaxy Tab's screen size and resolution, and--as the first mover--the device will likely continue for some time to get the majority of Android app developer attention. It's similar to the way Canonical's popular Ubuntu gets so much of the Linux-focused attention today.

Then, too, there's the fact that Samsung is creating its own Android applications tailored for the Galaxy Tab's larger screen, and that Flash is fully supported. There will be an explosion of apps for the Tab appearing over the next year.

3. Carrier Choice

Choice and diversity are both hallmarks of the Linux platform, so it's no surprise to see the Galaxy Tab offer users a selection of carriers. When openness is at the heart of the platform, you don't tell users what they can or can't do--or which carriers they have to use. Apple, even if you do add Verizon, it's too late now.

4. Competition

Hand-in-hand with the choice afforded by the traditionally diverse Linux ecosystem comes a greater focus on user satisfaction. When the Antennagate scandal happened in the iPhone realm, Apple's response was seriously underwhelming. A little competition will surely do wonders for its attitude, and that's just what purveyors of Android-based devices like the Galaxy Tab have always had--and will continue to deliver.

5. Hardware

Linux is well-known for its ability to offer unsurpassed power on minimal hardware. No wonder, then, that the Galaxy Tab is smaller and lighter than Apple's resource-intensive iPad, yet offers twice the memory.

Android is simply a better option for business users, and the Galaxy Tab will have the first-mover advantage in bringing this Linux-derived power to the tablet. Of course, the Tab also has the additional advantage of offering dual cameras, tethering, multitasking and support for Adobe Flash; it also permits application storage on external devices.

Price is still up in the air, of course. But for business users, the choice--at least for now--should be clear.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

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Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
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