Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Testing medical apps on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

For the past few days, I've been spending a lot of time with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. This is a super-slim slate tablet running Android 3.1 (Honeycomb) and it's delightfully fast and responsive because it's powered by a 1 GHz dual-core processor. The tablet I'm testing was provided by Sprint and it's the Wi-Fi version.

Given that I have an iPad and several other slate tablets, I'm using reference points that are probably familiar to most of you. If you're familiar with the Android OS, then you'll find that the Galaxy Tab is very easy to use, even though it uses Android 3.1 where all the navigation is done via on-screen buttons. The only hardware buttons you'll find on the Galaxy Tab are the power and volume buttons. There's no back, no home, no menu, no search. All of that navigation is now done on the screen.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 has a nice wide screen and the resolution is 1280x800. App developers are still in the process of creating apps for these larger screens, so you won't find too many Android apps that will leverage the large screens on these tablets. Most of the medical and health apps are still designed for smartphones and they won't run in portrait mode.

Let's look at a few examples of free Android medical apps running on the Galaxy Tab 10.1:

Epocrates  
This app works in either portrait or landscape mode. Nice! The user experience is essentially identical to the experience on a smartphone. This app hasn't been optimized for a large screen yet.

QuantiaMD
The main page only works in portrait mode. You'll view content in landscape mode. This is the same on a smartphone. The QuantiaMD app on a Galaxy Tab also leverages the large screen and displays a running list of discussions on the left column. This is a nice feature. I'd like to see the main page in landscape mode. I'm sure that will be coming soon. I invite you to join QuantiaMD. For a limited time, you will receive $10 for joining and confirming your clinician status on QuantiaMD.

Medscape
This app mainly works in portrait mode. Plus, some of the content is formatted for a smaller screen, so it's not optimized for a large tablet yet. The current version is v1.05 and I'm sure they'll soon release an update that will allow you to use this app in both landscape and portrait mode.

Doximity
Sorry, but it doesn't look like Doximity is available for Android 3.1. You can find Doximity on your Android smartphone running 2.2 or 2.3, but it won't show up in the Android Market on my Galaxy Tab 10.1.

MedpageToday
This app works in either portrait or landscape mode. Nice! The user experience is essentially identical to the experience on a smartphone. This app hasn't been optimized for a large screen yet. I actually don't use the MedpageToday app very much because I'm always online. I prefer to visit the site using a mobile browser.

Skyscape
This app works in either portrait or landscape mode. However, it currently shows up as a really small screen on the Galaxy Tab 10.1. I'm sure that Skyscape will have an update to fix this soon.

MPR (Monthly Prescribing Reference)
This app works in either portrait or landscape mode. Nice!

There are certainly many other medical apps that I could mention, but these are the ones I picked for this review. Eventually, I predict that just about every Android app will work in either landscape or portrait mode. This is inevitable given that the same OS is powering smartphones and tablets.

As I continue to test the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, I'll post additional thoughts, photos, and videos of my user experience, so stay tuned. I want to thank Sprint for giving me the opportunity to test the Galaxy Tab 10.1.

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