Apr 10

iPad hits the road

The timing was perfect. After spending a day with iPad, I found myself taking a 36-hour trip out of town — so it was sink or swim for the little fella. I was determined to put my iPad through the paces in airports, planes, hotels and bars.

No incidents at security, though the guard did demand that I turn it on just so she could play with it.

No incidents at any of my other stops, aside from the fact that everyone wanted to get their greasy fingertips on it.

Not unexpectedly, everything worked as advertised. On the plane, I listened to music, watched a movie and did some reading. Perfect. I roamed the Internet and did my email pretty much everywhere. Sweet. If I had to sum it up, I’d say that iPad is one of those rare bits of technology that just makes you smile. So many things are right about it.

A few things I should highlight. First, typing on iPad is more than usable. It’s actually pretty good. I never warmed up to typing on iPhone, but doing email on iPad is a surprisingly happy experience.

Interestingly, the thing that felt most like the future of computing to me was our old friend, Safari. I never really thought about how much I had to mouse around a web page to navigate before — until I no longer had to do it. Directly tapping links with my finger was so natural, and so fast, by the time I got home iPad had become my favorite way to browse. The fact that I can do it anywhere is icing on the cake.

Last, I think the disappearing OS is one of Apple’s greatest accomplishments here. With iPad, you just do what you want to do. No OS to mess with, no file hierarchies to navigate. Why should an app even be able to see files it can’t open? iPad truly is the computer for the rest of us, and in time will probably become the computer for most of us.

Obviously, iPad is not the device to use for serious creating. But only a fraction of we earthlings create content, and only a fraction of the content creators do their creating on the road. Given my experience on this trip, I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to recommend iPad to anyone as a mobile computer or, depending on your needs, even a laptop replacement. You barely notice it in your briefcase, the battery seems to last forever and it does all of its jobs beautifully.

Of course when I returned home I once again had to confront iPad’s horrendous flaw — the total disdain for privacy I mentioned in my previous post. I had to delete my email account, though I was able to keep my Address Book, Calendars and Bookmarks. I know it’s not Apple’s normal policy to acknowledge such deficiencies, but in this case I wish they’d just fess up and give us the plan. I’d cross my fingers for this week’s iPhone OS 4.0 event, though it’s hard to believe they’d schedule a fix one week after the product’s release.

But let’s not let one flaw rain on our parade. No doubt there will be many improvements to come, privacy included. As it stands, iPad is incredibly fun and incredibly useful. If you have a family, you may need more than one.

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  • Kesey

    I think Apple wants every family member to have their own iPad, so no need for multiple email accounts. But I see where you’re coming from. I share mine and because of that I won’t ever use Mail on it.

    The biggest gripe I have right now however (aside from the usual Camera, Multitasking, and Flash Support) is the Photos app. Its dependance on iTunes is frustrating. You cannot delete, rename, or organize photos on the iPad whatsoever and synchronizing photos through iTunes took 40 minutes for about 700 photos using my Macbook Pro.

    Really, the whole device’s dependance on iTunes and a physical computer is probably more frustrating than anything.

  • We won’t get the iPad here in the UK until the end of the month. It is the product and form factor I’ve been waiting for for 10 years. The fact that it works so well is icing on the cake.

    I expect to buy 40-45 units for participants to use in my mentoring workshops. Right now we hire in iMacs. They’re big. They need setting up. And it’s expensive. I’ve longed for the day when we could put 20 into an easily transported box — now a real possibility.

    I would love to use one as a replacement for my laptop, but my concerns on that front are lack of disk space. I need 500GB storage. 64GB isn’t close to enough. The ability to work between windows. Not possible currently. The ability to print. As far as I can tell, this isn’t a possibility yet.

    Additionally, I have a couple of mission-critical applications that I’d be lost without until they can run natively on the iPad. Filemaker Pro and DevonThink Office Pro. Until native versions of these are available, I may not be able to do my heavy lifting on the iPad. But I really would like to, as I see it as the future of computing.

    Roll on the iPad Pro!!

  • rd

    how can you ask for privacy on an appliance.
    if file system are hidden. then so is

    256 MB precludes any wish for
    multitasking, fast user switch, etc.

    how would that work. ipad recognizes
    the user and shows private data. then hides
    it when another person is next to you.
    might as well use gmail with no auto log-in or cache.

  • Kesey

    @rd The RAM in the iPad is proportional to the RAM it needs to run its smaller brand of applications. I’ve had no issues running the iPod app in the background while using Safari. I should be able to multitask by doing the same thing with Pandora or any other 3rd party application. RAM/hardware limitations are not the issue.

    Also, just because the file system is hidden doesn’t mean you can’t allow multi-logins. The file system is hidden from you as the user, it’s not hidden from the OS.

    Not everyone uses a gmail address.

  • ken segall

    @Tom & rd:
    Yes, I could use gmail. I could also use Apple’s me.com webmail. I know there are workarounds, I just think everyone in the family should be able to enjoy the beautiful Mail app iPad provides.

    I’m not expecting any magical way for iPad to detect who’s using it, or who might be watching — just looking for some common sense. Making it possible for anyone who picks up the iPad to see everyone’s email doesn’t make sense (to me).

    My suggestion: every user sets up a Mail account connected to its own Address Book, Calendar and Bookmarks. You can keep it all public, or set a log-in if you wish privacy. When you log out, your connected files are no longer visible. I’m sure there are many variations possible, including Calendar and Bookmarks or not. That doesn’t seem like such a tall order to me. Then again, I’m not a coder….

  • Amen, Ken! Great post!

  • Looks like direct printing is part of the iPhone OS 4 feature set, together with running multiple apps concurrently. Good news.

  • Liebman

    Have you tried to use me.com webmail? My experience was that me.com detected I was using an iPad and did not allow logging in via Safari. Instead, I was presented a page explaining how to set up the iPad mail app to retrieve messages.