I suppose the answer is fairly straightforward. Most people use Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android. Choosing an operating system (OS) is probably a no-brainer for most users. If you have an iPhone, you probably have or want an iPad, too. If you have one of the many Android phones, you probably will opt for an Android tablet.

The choice gets stickier when you’re moving from a smart phone such as a BlackBerry or an e-reader like the original Kindle. My wife is in this situation. She is leaving her job and has to hand in her BlackBerry.

She needs a replacement and was eyeing the Motorola Droid Razr M, which I recently reviewed (see “Hands On With The Motorola Droid Razr M”). She also has an iPad and uses my Kindle e-reader when she reads outdoors. I mention what is hers and what is mine because it goes to the heart of the OS and even the cloud offerings available today.

I told her that rather than the Droid Razr M, she should opt for an iPhone. Apple has been good about reducing the prices of its older models as its new ones come out. She knows how to work with iOS on the iPad, for the most part, and she should find it an easy transition to navigate an iPhone.

The Kindle Fly in the Ointment

Amazon gained such a large following with its original Kindle that it’s hard for most people to give it up entirely. As a sort of transition for diehard Kindle users, there’s a Kindle app for the iPad. The trouble is that it’s a workaround rather than a true app that links to the Amazon “bookstore.”

If I purchase a book on “my” Kindle, she cannot read it on “her” iPad. Essentially, my wife had to ditch her Amazon bookstore account and use mine instead. This allowed her to read the same book on both my Kindle and her iPad, depending on whether she was reading outdoors or indoors. And both devices eventually link to each other to keep up with the latest page that was read.

But buying a new book isn’t so simple. She can’t use the Kindle app on the iPad to do it. If you purchase the book on the Kindle, it doesn’t automatically appear on the iPad. Usually I purchase the book on the Kindle and then go to Amazon.com with my PC and indicate that I also want the book to be delivered to her iPad. There’s an easier way, I’ve found out, by following the instructions at http://aol.it/OLJ8K1. So much for being intuitive.

Apple, Google, and Amazon Stores

The next problem is where you buy your music, games, and other apps and rent or buy videos. If you stick to one platform, like Apple, you might think your content purchases are a piece of cake even though Apple has three separate stores—iTunes, iBooks, and the App Store. Once you purchase content, you know where to find it on your device and can easily share it among devices using a wired connection or Apple’s iCloud.

This isn’t the case, though, with Android smart phones and tablets. On the Droid Razr M, I had the option of purchasing content from Amazon, Google Play, and Verizon. I purchased a song from Amazon and had no idea where it was at first. Finally, I noticed that I had a new icon on my phone called Amazon MP3.

But the song hadn’t been downloaded to the device. It was sitting up in the Amazon Cloud Player, where I was able to get to it with my Android-based Acer Iconia tablet as well. Amazon is trying to make its Cloud Player accessible from any of your devices, including iPhones and iPads.

If you watched any of the baseball playoffs, you probably saw lots of Motorola and Samsung advertising. The Samsung commercials are meant to be particularly offensive to Apple iPhone users, who are seen standing in long lines for a phone that doesn’t even have the latest features of Samsung’s smart phones. What dullards! Instead, the cool Samsung users are using near-field communications (NFC) technology to easily send playlists from one phone to the other.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering how to create a playlist with songs that are possibly purchased from three or more different sources. I’m also wondering if these two guys are purchasing the same songs from the same vendors, since that might be a factor that goes into sharing playlists. Maybe the Amazon Cloud Player is the fix for this mess.

Windows 8 On The Way

To add more confusion to the mix, Windows 8 tablets are just around the corner, including one of Microsoft’s Surface models. How the marketplace will greet this OS remains to be seen. I’ve checked out the Windows 8 beta on my PC, and I think I’ll need some time to get used to it on that platform. I haven’t played with any Windows 8 tablets yet, but I do intend to visit one of the new Microsoft stores in my area to check out the latest models.