Apr 10

iPad finally comes home

Saturday morning, a very jolly UPS driver pulled up to my house. He said he felt like Santa Claus, because his entire truck was literally filled with goodies. Delivering iPads was his only mission for the day.

My mission, of course, was to suppress my giddiness and experience iPad like any new customer. Here’s how it went.

The packaging was beautifully simple, though not nearly as jewel-like as iPhone. I was pleased to find that my iPad came with a full tank of Chinese electricity. When I powered it up, my heart sank as I saw a series of horrible scratches on the screen. False alarm. They weren’t scratches, they were part of the home screen photograph Apple had chosen for me. Don’t scare me like that, Apple.

From the moment I turned it on though, one thing was clear: it’s every bit as fast as the reviewers have been saying, especially in the screen orientation department. I found myself wishing iPhone would take a few lessons from iPad.

It took only minutes for iPad to melt my heart. It takes no effort to see the mega-potential in this device. There isn’t a single medium iPad doesn’t handle well. I do, however, have one complaint. And it’s a biggie.

Following the launch, I had wondered how iPad would handle “user switching” in Mail. The answer is: it doesn’t. This will be highly disturbing to the many who loved the idea of a “family iPad” that would be used all over the house.

You can have multiple email accounts, but there’s no switching. All accounts are seen by everyone. To make it worse, you can only sync one set of Contacts, Calendars and Bookmarks. So it will work fine for one person, but everyone else will have to write emails without the convenience/necessity of an Address Book.

Obviously, iPad needs its own approach to privacy. Its music, movies and photos are meant to be shared by everyone, and you’d set it up with that in mind. But email is a different animal. It’s too personal. Little Suzie’s best friend shouldn’t be reading mommy’s email. No doubt there is a technical reason why there’s no email privacy in iPad right now. But this needs to be fixed asap. It will be a deal-breaker for some.

Zooming back up though, I’m extremely happy that my UPS man showed up and I’m sure the other boys and girls on his list are pretty darned happy too. iPad is lighting the way to a very interesting future vision of computing, and I’m already anxious to get there.

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  • t

    Those star scratches are inexplicable, I wonder if there’s supposed to be some kind of reverse psychology in that.

  • Glenn Fleishman

    I’ve long thought that Apple current group talks a good line about using stuff in family settings, but creates software for managing things that works best for one person, whether email or media or otherwise.

    I believe that Fast User Switching finally works correctly in Snow Leopard with multiple MobileMe accounts, for instance, after years of .Mac/MobileMe/OS development.

    The Home Sharing option for media in iTunes is still sort of ridiculous, not offering centralized management for a family’s media, but simply copying stuff around, and only automatically copying purchased media.

    Still solipsistic!

  • Ken, I feel like you read my mind. This is EXACTLY my complaint about the iPad as well! The iPad can NOT be used as a family device if everyone has to share the same email mailboxes and contacts and calendar and bookmarks! They really need to add multiple users for the iPad, pronto. Hopefully, you’ve sent your feedback to Apple. Maybe even sent an email to Steve Jobs himself?

  • rd

    Easiest way to get multiple mail user
    is for Apple to duplicate the MobileMail.ipa
    into multiple apps with the user names.
    change the app name
    change the plist domain from com.apple.MobileMail
    to match the duplicated name.
    change the executable file as well.
    Probably should be done thru iTunes.

    Not very complicated.

    Send the feedback to Apple.

  • neilw

    The multi-user complaint is absolutely valid. I hope this will be addressed in the soon-to-be-previewed OS4.0, along with multitasking, and other stuff.

    Keep in mind: Apple chose to get the iPad Out The Door (“real artists ship”), despite being at the tail end of the OS3.x cycle. They therefore could not (or would not) add any major new functionality to the iPad OS, instead holding out for 4.0. And, being Apple, they could not show the iPad running beta 4.0 builds because it was too early to announce 4.0.

    So, they delivered the iPad with a mostly unchanged 3.x OS. They could do this only because they are so confident that they have a compelling offering even with the “limitations” of the current OS, and were willing to shrug off the critical firestorm that ensued. Few companies would have had the chutzpah to take this approach.

    The best thing they’ve done here, IMHO, is to leave a very small window between delivery of the iPad to the masses and the announcement of the features that are coming next. This is a brilliant bit of timing. The earliest adopters would purchase even if there were never another OS update, but by announcing next-gen OS features shortly thereafter they help ensure that ongoing sales won’t sag due to feature doubts.

    Of course, if the features in the upcoming OS don’t impress, then things could play out differently, but I suspect it’ll be a good update (minus Flash support, of course).

  • Tiny

    Little typo: second to last paragraph starts with “Obviously, iPad is needs its own approach to privacy.”
    Is that an extra “is” in there?
    Also, “Little Suzie’s best friend email shouldn’t be reading mommy’s email.”
    Extra “email” in the middle there, I think.

    I bet you were just too eager to keep playing with your new iPad that you had to rush, all is forgiven. (And I’m sorry I only post about typos!) Great articles though, I love coming here.

  • Shehan

    i gotta admit. My friend bought one as well.. I was not for the iPad and stuff.. especially the name. But this has sunk it. What really sold me on this device was Apple’s iWorks suite.

    This could be a serious contender in the business environment as well as for students.

    I am getting one today!

  • Glad to read a positive view from you Ken. I look forward to getting mine soon in Athens Greece. Alas not by UPS but from a good friend who is currently visiting NYC. I cant wait!

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  • Hi Ken,
    This is by far my biggest complaint, too. Sharing email accounts, Safari bookmarks, even apps… It could be a lot better. I guess this is a consequence of using the iPhone OS, which of course was designed to be extremely personal (not many people share their cell phones!). Thanks for the great post.