As the owner of both an original iPad and iPad 2, I was pretty excited about the “new iPad”. I wasn’t willing to stand in line Friday morning, so I waited until Saturday to take a look.
I headed down to the flagship Apple store on Knox Henderson and was prepared to be amazed. Much to my dismay, I wasn’t. Yes, the screen is beautiful, and yes, LTE is awesome. But as a happy iPad 2 owner, the device was completely underwhelming.
I still do most my real reading on a Kindle DX, so the iPad 2 is still a device for wasting time. Twitter, Facebook, Flipbook and the rest all look perfectly fine on my iPad 2.
The biggest steal at Apple was the price cut of $100 off an iPad 2. If you don’t have a tablet today, the device to get is the iPad 2. At the current price, it is a real steal and it is this device which really puts the screws to the Android tablet space.
The device I really want is the one I’m still waiting for Amazon to build. So dear Mr. Bezos, listen up! I want an updated Kindle DX. Same size, but with a better eInk display, higher contrast, faster page turning, and lose the keyboard and go with a touch sensitive screen. That would be the device to die for. Unfortunately, I think Amazon is too fixated on the Kindle Fire to really build it.
On its usual springtime schedule, the new iPhone was announced today. I didn’t take the plunge on a iPhone until last year’s 3GS, and I don’t see any reason to upgrade, but the most exciting part of iPhone 4 is what it means for the evolution of the iPad.
First we have the “Retina Display” with its ungodly pixel density. We’re still talking about a 3-1/2 inch display, so the ability to render microscopic text still doesn’t change the fact it is microscopic. It is still too small to read. But I can imagine the next revision of the iPad getting the same screen, which would be incredible with that much real estate.
Next, the front-facing camera for video calls. This is one of those features that should have been available for years, so shame on Apple for waiting this long. On the iPhone, this will just be more of a nuisance. We’ll see stupid teenagers and blondes in SUVs driving around talking in to their phones. Not a good idea. And let’s not even think about the implications with Chatroulette. Ick.
But on a iPad, the same front-facing camera becomes much more usable. I have family scattered all around the globe, and having the camera along with the big screen on the iPad would make it much more pleasant to do video calls. You would actually be able to see detail on the bigger screen. And the iPad would be big enough that you wouldn’t see anyone other than an absolute idiot driving around talking in to it.
Finally, the last major improvement I care about is multitasking. This was one of those abilities that will really allow the iPad to penetrate into what was low-end PC space. No more having to completely load an application from zero when hopping around, and you can have processes running in the background. I really see this as having much more useful potential on the iPad than the iPhone.
While I’ll definitely upgrade to the new iOS 4 on my 3GS, I’ll be keeping the wallet closed until the next iPad picks up these killer features. If we actually see a Google Tablet with a similar set of specs, we’ll really see an acceleration into the next era of touch-driven computing.
So I spent my Saturday morning in line with a bunch of other dorks, gleefully handing over a silly amount money for the latest from the temple of Apple — an iPad. I wanted an iPad for a “sofa computer”, something convenient for checking email and Twitter, or browsing the web, while sitting on the sofa with my daughter. I knew the limitations, and actually appreciate some of them (no Flash). But after using it now for a few days, I’ve come to respect the iPad for being much more.
First, the iPad makes for an awesome media player. The screen is bright, sharp and has vibrant colors. I will definitely be using it to catch up on movies and TV that I normally can’t dedicate the couch time to watch.
Social networking on it also rocks. Tweetdeck is awesome on the iPad, and mobile Safari does a pretty good job with web content, but has some flaws. The only glaring holes right now are missing Facebook and iChat applications. The former should be corrected pretty quickly, but on Apple can fix the latter.
One surprising area for me has been using the iPad as a media reader. The New York Times Editor’s Choice application really shows off the promise of the format, and I look forward to seeing their full application. iBooks is also suprisingly good. Being a gadget geek, I have a Kindle, and it is clear the iPad is going to crush it unless Amazon cuts the price in half. Reading books on the iPad is a better overall experience than on the Kindle.
The biggest surprise has been the iPad as an application platform. I’ve thought about developing for the iPhone, but found the screen too small to build the kind of applications I would be interesting in. The iPad is a near perfect form factor with enough screen real estate to build some exciting applications, enough so that I’ve actually dived in to learning the bastard language of the world: Objective-C. I’ve got some ideas in head already for applications, so that makes learning it a more goal-oriented task.
Safari on the iPad is good enough for the basic web tasks (Google, GMail, Slashdot), but it is not ready as an application platform. Native applications will be the way to go, and I think the iPad is going to lead to a lot of demand for Objective-C developers who will be writing tomorrow’s world changing applications.
So it has been a few weeks since Apple announced the iPad. I was pretty excited when I saw it, but gave it some time to digest what everyone else was saying and also the implications. The iPad definitely has its detractors, with most somehow working a feminine hygiene joke into their rants. But in the end, I’ll happily be first in line to buy one. Why?
Check out the Safari Developer Documentation on Apple’s site sometime to really understand the vast programming playground Apple is creating for us. I’m actually excited about web development for the iPad and am looking forward to getting mine to play with.