Using iOS on the move
Our Apple tester is a BlackBerry and Windows guy. When exposed to iOS for the first time he was impressed: he found it well laid out, and the app system simple, intuitive and consistent. This, he said, made him feel confident and in control of the experience. Our tester found plenty of positives about the entertainment and app experience as a whole.
It wasn't all good, however. Our iOS tester just couldn't get on with the onscreen keyboard. There were also problems with some of the tasks we set: he couldn't watch a clip on 4oD without Wi-Fi, the lack of Java and Flash support occasionally reared its ugly head, and he struggled to download and edit an Office document.
Using Android on the move
Our Android tester is a regular user of iOS and Windows. She quickly became familiar and comfortable with the interface. Finding, installing and deleting apps was a cinch, and she found Google Voice search to be a big a positive.
She had some issues getting started, but they were more to do with the inexpensive hardware on which Android often runs than the software. Our tester also struggled to get Flash or Java working, but did manage to edit Office docs.
Using Windows on the move
Our Windows 8 tablet tester is used to Windows, but that of the Windows 7 desktop variety. She also uses iOS.
Her initial experience of using Windows 8 on a tablet with a mobile-broadband connection was poor. While our tester felt that things look simpler than Windows 7 in terms of layout, she found the user experience anything but simple, and struggled to complete simple mobile web-related tasks.
She was also confused by what she perceived as a lack of distinction between what is an actual app and what is an old-style Windows program. Because of this even traditional Windows staples such as Word and Excel became a problem. Using SkyDrive was a particular challenge when using a flaky mobile-broadband connection.
Ultimately she found she could achieve all the tasks we set her, but that it was more of a struggle than she would have liked.
What's the best mobile platform to use on the move?
It is impossible to draw firm conclusions based on this test, but there are some general points that we can gather.
iOS is a stable and intuitive platform. It is the most immediately easy to use mobile OS. But it is limited: even with the plethora of apps available our tester found it difficult to complete tasks involving Office or Flash. These things are possible, but in the time we allowed he found the constraints of iOS prevented him being entirely productive.
Windows 8 offers almost the opposite conundrum. It can do it all, but the learning curve is steep. There is literally nothing you can't do on a Windows 8 Pro tablet that you can do on a PC.
Android sits somewhere in the middle. Now that Google Play offers a comparable selection of apps and media, it is a genuine rival to Apple's platform. But this customisable OS remains a compromise: it is not as polished as iOS, and it offers not as much in the way of true functionality as does Windows 8 Pro. (Check out the Best Mobile Broadband Deals.) You can read Broadband Genie's take on this with their best mobile broadband winners and best mobile broadband analysis pieces.