Darren and I both got our iPads on May 28, and I’ve been asked by a friend to give a review of what I think of the iPad now. In the past I’ve said that it’s effectively a new computing platform paradigm – neither desktop nor smartphone, but somewhere inbetween. And it’s a paradigm that’s going to have a big impact on business.
I’ve just scrubbed out a lengthy commentary – I pretty much stand by everything I’ve previously said, and was just repeating myself anyway. So instead I’ll cite just a few tidbits with the caveat I’d still get one today if they were only just coming out, even knowing what I’m about to say.
- Software is everything. I had my first experience with that when my original iPhone 3G was replaced. It had developed a small crack in the case, the Apple Genius wasn’t happy with it, and so I had a new one whipped out and provided. When I got home I restored from my previous iPhone backup, and suddenly I had exactly the same phone again. So the period between when I got the iPhone 4 running iOS 4 and when iOS4.2.1 came out for the iPad was extremely frustrating. That was the only period where I limited my use of the iPad to just essentials.
- Hardware is everything. It’s amusing watching all the Android tablets hitting the market. They fall into one of two categories: cheap and not too cheerful, or expensive. The cheap and nasty tablets are just a repeat of netbooks, with a different set of deleterious effects. The expensive ones are usually still 7″ form factor and cost more than the iPad, just because they say, come with a camera. That’s bullshit.
- Apps are everything. As I type this the 10 billionth app download is soon to come. And there are some brilliant apps on the app store for both the iPhone/iPod Touch as well as the iPad. I love Pages, Numbers, Keynote, AirVideo, Parallels, iSSH, etc. On such a screen the app becomes fully immersive – you’re not using a device, you’re using an application.
A few things that do annoy me though:
- Document syncing is … average. I’d like to see a better solution than this. It’s not as bad as descriptions I’ve seen for syncing music to an Android device, but it’s not much better.
- Publishers need to remember they have a back catalogue. I don’t see this as a problem with Apple, Android, Kobo, Nook, Kindle, etc., but simply a big problem in the publishing industry. I’m not just interested in the latest books, I want entire back catalogues. Over the course of say, the next 10 years, I want to replace my physical book library. I want to be able to spot an old M. K. Wren book at buy it for $2.99. I want to buy the Milieu Series and Saga of the Exiles by Julian May for $3.99 a pop. At the moment the eBook market is like iTunes in its first year – limited, and frustrating. When a favoured author does appear on an eBook store (regardless of which one), I’ll invariably find that 3 out of 4 books in a series will be there. That’s just crap.
- Wireless sync my arse – I run a LAN at home. I have ethernet. I have a Mac Pro. Darren has a Mac Pro. I’ve been sucked in a few times to buying apps that offer iPad/iPhone <-> Desktop sync, and the buggers normally insist on it being over a WiFi link. And if you don’t have WiFi? Well sometimes it’s a case of “screw you”. Developers need to take a leaf out of the book of Things. Sure, they’ve been promising cloud sync for like, 7 billion years now (or so it seems) and not delivering, but at least they’ll sync based on any network.
There you have it. Sure, the iPad has a few niggles – I’m not a fanboy – but it offers a portable, immersive app experience you just won’t find in a desktop or laptop system.