Home iPad or Smartphone: Which Has Impacted Your Life More?

iPad or Smartphone: Which Has Impacted Your Life More?

It’s the one year anniversary of the launch of the iPad. But has the iPad had as much impact on the online world as smartphones like the iPhone and Android phones? In an internal discussion here at ReadWriteWeb, at least one of our number uses smartphones far more than the iPad. Personally, I use both the iPad and iPhone frequently – but I’d have to say that the iPad has had a bigger impact on my browsing and interaction habits over the past year. For my colleague, it’s been the opposite.

Below I’ll explore some of the differences, but I’d love to hear your view in the comments. Which has had a bigger impact on your life over the past year: the iPad (or another tablet), or the smartphone?

One of the best ways to illustrate the differences in using a tablet (in particular the iPad) vs. using a smartphone is to look at RSS Readers. Of course, it’s not an either/or thing. Many people, myself included, read RSS feeds on both the iPad and smartphone. Yet there is definitely a difference in user experience. I have a preference for one over the other. Let me know if you’re the same.


Last week we listed the most popular mobile RSS Readers for smartphones, at least among our savvy readers. In alphabetical order, they are Feedly (iPhone / Android), Google Reader (optimized for mobile in the browser, also the Android app), my6sense (iPhone / Android), Pulse (iPhone / Android) and Reeder (iPhone).

Most of those services attempt to filter your feeds, using a variety of recommendation technologies – or just plain selecting certain feeds that it thinks you should see (in the case of Pulse).


On the iPad, magazine-like functionality has proven to be a popular means of browsing feeds. There’s no better exponent of that than Flipboard, which has been one of my primary feed readers over the past year.

A couple of the smartphone apps mentioned above have iPad apps too: Pulse and Reeder. With Reeder, there isn’t much difference – it’s really just that the iPad version has a larger screen, which allows for easier browsing and a better layout.

Reeder iPad app, landscape view; above and to the right is the Reeder iPhone app.

I’ve also experimented with a variety of iPad news apps – such as FLUD, TweetMag, Fluent News and (lately) Zite. Many of them use design flair borrowed from the world of magazines, which I personally find appealing when browsing feeds.

Smartphone or iPad: Your Preference?

In the end it comes down to personal preference whether you like to browse your RSS feeds on a smartphone or on the iPad. Or neither. And of course it also depends on the context. If you’re out at the mall, then you’re likely to only have your smartphone on you – so that’s how you’ll check your feeds, if need be.

For me, the pleasure of consuming content via the iPad usually wins out over the portability of the smartphone when it comes to RSS feeds. That’s just one type of application. I also prefer to watch video on the iPad, make notes in Evernote’s iPad app, browse art works in Art Authority, and more.

How about you – has the iPad/tablet or smartphone had a bigger impact on your daily online life over the past year?

Lead photo: Anthony Sigalas

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