There will come a day when we look back at the complexity of using a Mac or PC and consider them the not-so-good-old days.
Apple’s iPhone has shown users that there is a better way to use a cell phone. The new iPad will do the same for every day computing tasks. The iPad is an appliance, a modern non-tinkerable automobile, instead of the complicated computers we have today.
iPad 2010, version 1.0
Though I pre-ordered my iPad on the day it was introduced by Steve Jobs, I stood in line for hours at Apple’s 5th Avenue Store to receive my 32 gigabyte model. Lines were long for both pre-order customers and the lucky few who managed to get an iPad without ordering first.
Unboxing an Apple product is a treat in itself.
Like every Mac, every iPod, and every iPhone before it, opening a new iPad box is a delight for the senses.
For whatever reason, Apple made the iPad’s box bigger than it really needs to be. There’s plenty of air inside. Manual? We don’t need so stinkin’ manual, amigo!
After plugging it in to my iMac, the iPad started right up and I managed to play around for about 30-minutes before I began shopping for iPad specific apps, and there are plenty.
The Feel, Boss. The Feel
Here’s the deal. Just as the iPhone felt right at home in your hand and fingers from the moment you touched, so does the iPad. Apple gets feel and it gets it right.
The iPad feels hefty and firm but not heavy (at least, not yet—I’ll report back after my hand is tired from holding the iPad for a few hours while reading a book—Kindle light it is not). The screen is freakin’ awesome. It’s bright, vivid, with strong contrast, and rich with vibrant colors.
Screen contents move with ease up, down, left, right, pinch, zoom, whatever. It’s liquid-like digital magic, the perfect mash of whatever can go into a screen—text, images, video, audio, packaged into a singularly intuitive tool that’s easy to master, then gets completely out of the way. It’s just screen—a window to everything else that’s useful, cool, and interesting.
Remember using the iPhone the first time (even without all those tens of thousands of apps, games, utilities)? It felt natural, compelling, useful, likable. Ditto for the iPad.
It’s half an inch thick but feels thinner. The Home button is on the bottom, just like the iPhone. Despite the so-called oleophobic screen, turn the iPad off and every place you touched becomes a fingerprint or smear. Turn it on and they disappear. Is that the phobic part? Smears are afraid of light?
The first thing I noticed was the sparsity of apps. The few apps included are spread out over the screen as if they didn’t want to touch a nearby app. That changes after the first sync with iTunes, of course.
The Apps, Boss. The Apps
There are apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, most of which seem to run just fine (in a crazy sort of way) on the iPad. Then there are iPad specific apps, usually upgraded big-brother (as in, more expensive) iPhone apps.
When the iPhone launched in mid-2007 the number of apps could be counted on your hand and you’d have fingers left over. Not now. Already there are about 1,000 iPad-specific apps in the iTunes App Store, and nearly all of the 150,000 or so iPhone/iPod touch apps also run on the iPad.
Well, they run, but it’s just not as pretty.
Regular iPhone apps can display in the center of the screen in normal size.
They’re not floatable Dashboard Widget-like apps. They’re stuck in the center of the screen. One at a time. They can also be blown up, enlarged to cover the whole iPad screen, and, well, they’re OK, a little blurry, but fully usable.
Apps for the iPad are clearly different. Touching the menubar brings down more menus. Email has a split pane view making it easier to see what’s actually in your inbox.
The second thing that’s noticeable is the speed. Apps open in an instant, clearly faster than my iPhone 3GS which now feels old and slow by comparison. Touching an image in a browser window instantly zooms the image.
Likewise, the photo app for iPad is far removed from the iPhone and iPod touch version. Much faster, easier to navigate, much easier to view many different stacks of photos.
The iPad Mail Man Cometh
The iPad’s Mail app surprised me. The onscreen keyboard is much easier to use than I expected. Plunk the iPad in your lap in landscape mode, touch to create a new email message and the keyboard pops up. It’s wide, with much, much larger buttons than the iPhone version, but you get the same auto-suggest-correct options.
I wouldn’t want to compose a 30 page report on the iPad’s keyboard, but it’s not a laborious effort to type email or write text.
Forget about all the trash talk regarding multi-tasking. The iPad, like the iPhone, can multi-task just fine. For crying out loud, I can play games and listen to music and use the phone all at the same time. The limit is how many different tasks can go on at one time, and what tasks.
The iPad model I bought is the 32 gig with WiFi. I plan to give this one to my parents after the 3G version comes out (unless I can manage to be patient enough to wait for an iPad with a built-in camera).
What about battery life? What about iWork for iPad? I haven’t had to recharge the iPad yet, but all reports indicate that Apple’s 10 hour battery life is likely achievable. I’m downloading iWork apps (sold separately) now, and worrying about how much money I’ll spend on other iPad-only apps. So far, iPad apps are more expensive than their iPhone brethren.
In addition to MobileMe (which synchronized in minutes to my iPad), I use iWork—Pages, Numbers, and especially Keynote—on my MacBook Pro for work, so it’ll be interesting to see how much I can use the far more portable iPad instead (for business purposes).
Once I have a full day of use I’ll do a more detailed review of the apps, settings, and iBook Store, both on Mac360, and on my site, PixoBebo.