Tablet deathmatch: Motorola Xoom vs. Apple iPad
As Apple prepares to ship its iPad 2, the first viable Android competitor packs a punchFollow @MobileGalen
The Xoom does separate Google email into the separate Gmail app -- a longtime Android OS behavior imposed by Google. Although you must have a Google account to use the Xoom, you don't have to use Gmail if you don't want to.
The iPad has a message threading capability, which organizes your emails based on subject; you click an icon to the left of a message header to see the related messages. That adds more clicks to go through messages, but at least finding the messages is substantially easier. (The iPad's iOS 4 lets you disable threading if you don't like it.) The Xoom has no equivalent. Instead, it lets you flag emails, then see all flagged emails via the virtual Starred folder.
Using the basic version of Quickoffice included with the tablet, the Xoom can open PDF files, images, and Office files; after tapping the Attachments link, you get a list of attachments and an option to view or save each one. The iPad's native QuickLook viewer handles a nice range of formats, and it opens attachments with one tap (downloading them if needed at the same time). Of course, on either device, to edit those files you'll need an office app such as Quickoffice Mobile Connect Suite or Documents to Go Premium. The iPad doesn't open Zip files unless you get a third-party app such as the $1 ZipThat. Neither does the Xoom, even though opening Zip files is a standard capability on Android smartphones.
Both the iPad and Xoom remember the email addresses of senders you reply to, adding them to a database of contacts that they look up automatically as you tap characters into the To and Cc fields. Both devices let you add email addresses to your contacts list, either by tapping them (on the iPad) or long-tapping them (on the Xoom).
Contacts and calendars. Both the iPad and Xoom offer three of the same calendar views: day, week, and month. But only the iPad supports the list (agenda) view. Moving among months is easy on both, as is shifting between weeks on the Xoom, and both can display multiple calendars simultaneously. The iPad makes it slightly easier to switch through week or month views, thanks to on-screen buttons and sliders -- but this is a minor advantage. The two devices also have comparable recurring-event capabilities.
Both the Xoom and iPad can send invitations to others as you add appointments, but whereas the iPad invitations are sent immediately, the Xoom invitations take tens of minutes to show up. On the iPad, your invitations for Exchange accounts show up in your calendar as a pop-up; you can accept them there within the full context of your other appointments. For both Exchange and other email accounts, you can open the .ics invitation files in Mail, then add them to the calendar of your choice. On the Xoom, the Calendar app automatically adds Exchange invitations to your calendar with Maybe status, which is not apparent until you open the appointment. You can open Exchange invitations in the Email app, as well as accept or decline the invitation. But you can't open .ics invitations sent to POP or IMAP accounts.