Apps and Games
The Android Market and iPhone App Store are the two biggest smartphone apps and games outlets. Both have hundreds of thousands of apps, and both Android tablets and the iPad are backwards-compatible with most smartphone content from their respective families.
Android apps and games tend to be made to that they can scale between a very wide array of screen resolutions (from 240x320 all the way up to the Transformer's 1280x800 pixels) while the iPad 2 takes a simpler approach, doubling-up on pixels. This should ensure that both tablets have plenty of apps and games to be getting on with, but the gulf is much bigger than the numbers would suggest.
In late 2010, the App Store had over 300,000 apps in it, the Android Market 200,000 (other figures are available, but not necessarily reliable). To search through the Android Market though, you'd assume the latter figure to be much lower. Where the App Store is a vibrant place, buoyed by Apple's carefully-picked features slots, the Android Market feels comparatively stagnant.
Google had made some attempts to improve the Market, with more features positions added in May 2011, but it lags way behind Apple's model. The charts remain depressingly familiar month-on-month and a depressingly small number of paid-for apps/games have made it into the 250,000 downloads bracket. Apparently Android users just aren't willing to pay for content.
The problems with the Android apps market have caused some publishers to take drastic measures. Gameloft, one of the biggest iPhone games publishers, has pulled out of the Android Market altogether - virtually an act of mutiny - to sell its "HD" Android games on its own portal.
Android developers find it hard to make money through the Android Market with their apps, and consequently far fewer quality games and apps are released for Android devices than iPhones and iPads. To give you an idea of the severity of the situation, here's a list of some classic games and important mobile titles, and their availability across the platforms -
It's a rather sorry state of affairs, and while the dual-core revolution of Tegra 2 devices like the Asus Eee Pad Transformer have spurred-on some high-end development, we seriously doubt whether Android gaming will ever catch up with iOS. What Android does have though are emulators, which are not permitted on the iPad's App Store. These play games from obsolete consoles like Nintendo's SNES and the Sega Mega Drive, and are some of the most popular apps on the Market.
The emulators do not come bundled with games though, and legally obtaining ROMS (game images) isn't always easy if you don't know where to look.
The social gaming aspect of the iPad is also much greater than the Asus Eee Pad Transformer, thanks to services like Game Center. This is Apple's gaming hub, similar to Microsoft's Xbox Live in concept, letting you compare your achievements and game progress with your friends. Android has no official alternative at present. Apple was very late to the game on this front though - before it arrived there were plenty of unofficial pretenders to this role including OpenFeint and ngmoco's Plus, which still exist and offer some additional functionality over Game Center - but it's improving slowly.