What is an operating system?
An operating system, or OS, is a piece of software that’s preloaded onto your tablet. It manages your tablet’s software and hardware.
Should I buy into an ecosystem?
Already have an iPhone or an Android smartphone? Work on Windows or MacBook? Opt for a tablet that runs the same operating system for a more familiar experience and the ability to share contacts, calendars and files.
Apple – iOS
iPad brought the tablet to the masses. And iPads run iOS, an operating system designed specifically for iPads and iPhones way back in 2007.
Apple makes both the iPad and the software that runs on it, so everything is super smooth. It is easy to set up, and very simple to use. Everything feels logical and natural. Whether adding an event to your contacts or calendar, or scrolling through screens and menus.
Switch it on and built-in apps are laid out before you for things like staying organised (Calendar), speaking with friends (FaceTime), finding your way around (Maps) web browsing (Safari) and downloading apps (App Store).
The latest version is iOS 9.
The iPad Air is a great choice for a student tablet. It’s super-light and thin, great for popping in your bag and has a super-sharp screen. But because there’s a newer iPad Air 2, the original Air is affordable to buy.
Most student-friendly features of iOS
- App Store and iTunes Store: Apple has over a million apps in its App Store - from films and food to games and news. And they’ve all been given the thumbs-up by Apple – so no viruses. You can download movies and albums from iTunes too.
- Sync your iPad with other Apple devices: Start an essay on your MacBook and finish it on your iPad. Make a change to your calendar on your phone and it’ll show up on your iPad. Get your music on any Apple device.
- Make your iPad do so much more: Connect a wireless keyboard and boot up the Pages app to write essays on your iPad. Prefer Office? Download Office for iPad for tablet-friendly versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
- FaceTime: Stay in touch with family at home or friends 2 dorms down with FaceTime. Tap the FaceTime icon to make video calls to anyone with a MacBook, iPhone, iPad or iMac.
- Stay organised: iPad can help you keep everything together. Manage emails from multiple accounts in Mail. Edit and archive your photos in Photos. Add events or new contacts to your calendar by merely clicking on them online.
An operating system designed by Google to run on tablets and smartphones made by many different manufacturers.
Google makes its own Android tablets called Nexus. But Samsung and Asus are among other popular Android tablets.
The version of Android you find on one tablet isn’t always the same as on another. Different manufacturers can tweak the design by running their own software on top of it. This is known as a ‘skin’.
There’s more freedom to personalise your tablet. You can shift things around, change colours and layouts and remove and add things until you create your perfect home screen.
Add a Twitter widget for example to see your tweets, or a weather widget to see whether it’s going to be sunny tomorrow.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S is one of our favourite Android tablets. It has a super sharp screen – great for researching essays or watching movies.
Most student-friendly features of Android
- Connect your tablet and phone: Have an Android phone too? Sync it to your tablet to share calendars, contacts and documents between your devices
- Stay organised: Android is big on keeping you informed. It syncs your tablet’s calendar with your location to remind you of upcoming classes or appointments and loads of other stuff.
- Google Play store: Find over 1 million apps – from films and food to games and news. Also download movies, TV shows, and albums and singles. Apps aren’t checked by Google though.
- Google Docs and Drive: Write essays in Google Docs by adding a wireless keyboard to your tablet. You can also get Office for Android if you prefer Word.
Love working on your Windows laptop and want a tablet that offers a similar experience? Look at a Windows tablet.
The new version of Windows is designed to work on both tablets and smartphones as well as laptops and computers, giving you the same experience whatever the device – whether using your keyboard or your fingers.
The tablet mode looks and feels like the version for laptops and PCs – but resized to fit your tablet screen with full-screen apps optimised for control with your fingertips.
Apps for calendar, music and mail are among those built in. You can download others from the Windows Phone Store – and once downloaded they’ll work on any Windows device.
Most student -friendly features of Windows
- Write essays on the go: Work on essays from your tablet with the Office apps for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Designed for touchscreens, they’re really user-friendly.
- Connect to your phone: Check when your next class is using your laptop, tablet or phone with the Outlook app. Make changes on one device and they’ll show up on your others.
- Annotate webpages: Revising or researching an essay? Scrawl your notes right on your tablet screen with a stylus pen then save online.
- Stay organised: Cortana is your own personal assistant. You can ask her questions, and add new appointments to your calendar with your voice.
The Surface 3 tablet has great features and is really easy to use.
Chosen your operating system? Now choose your tablet.
Whatever tablet you choose to take to university with you we're here to help. Discover everything you need for your studies at Currys.
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