Touted as a magical and revolutionary device, the iPad has hit the shelves with a big splash. Is Apple really that good? Can they create a device that on the surface lacks many basic features and still receive overwhelmingly positive reviews? Apparently they can. I was a bit skeptical when I started seeing all the glowing reviews flooding the internet. That being said, the iPad does have a bit of magic to it. It's not the instantaneous response of zooming in and out on the touchscreen, though that certainly blew me away initially. I suspect I'll soon take the speed for granted. No, what makes the iPad magical is that it is essentially a blank slate that can become just about anything an app developer can conceive. The user experience is so refined that you almost forget that it's an electronic gadget. The iPad comes alive in your hands, and for the first time, truly puts the digital world at our fingertips. Everything is possible. Here are a few initial responses from our iPhone Life bloggers.
The iPad is For Writers
By John Painter
Is the iPad "magical?" No. Is it pretty darn impressive? Absolutely!
After picking my iPad, I got right down to business seeing just how well I can blog with this thing. Setting up MobileMe is just like on the iPhone. Go to Settings > Mail > Add Account. Then enter your MobileMe account info, and you're in. Connecting to the Internet is also done in the same easy way as the iPhone or iPod touch. If you're a brand new convert to the iPhone OS, it's about as intuitive as you can get. Just go to Settings, > Wi-Fi and select the Wi-Fi signal. No surprises with taking a screen shot either. Just a quick press of your Home and Power buttons simultaneously, and it's done.
It is indeed a LOT snappier than I thought it would be, having been conditioned by my iPhone 3G where there's some lag when you're on the Web. There's no lag to speak of with the iPad. It strikes me that using the keyboard/charger is going to be a hassle because there is no mouse! You better get ready to do a lot of typing on your lap. Downloading apps from iTunes is, again, just like the iPhone, though I have to say that I love typing with Pages ($9.99; app2.me/2412)—it's so smooth!
Well, enough for now. I'm off to see if my 80-year-old parents will give this thing a try.
Pages shines on iPad
Well, I've had my iPad for a few days now. The hype is slowly wearing off, but let me tell you, this thing is amazing. It is definitely not just a big iPod Touch or iPhone. Where to start?
Anyone would have to address the iPad's virtual keyboard in any discussion where there is an assertion that the iPad is a netbook, let alone laptop killer. I don't see the iPad as "magical," but does it have any teeth? I'm typing this right now on my iPad. The keypad is more than adequate for typing projects that are maybe several hundred words long. Why do I say this? Well, the keyboard is amazingly accurate, buttons are well sized even for large fingers, and it's feeling more natural in landscape mode now— I'm really impressed.
That said, you can't escape the fact that you're typing on a totally flat surface. Also, the keypad is compressed compared to my iMac, even in landscape mode. Not being able to feel the keys on your fingertips will certainly slow some people down at first, particularly if they touch type.
So with these pros and cons in mind, let's take a look at Apple's iWorks Pages ($9.99; app2.me/2412), the preeminent iPad word processor.
For anyone expecting a full blown word processor, I'm sorry to say this is not what you'll get on the iPad, but it's pretty darn close!
You will find it also takes some getting used to not having a mouse. Granted, if you've been living without one on the iPhone or iPod Touch, it won't be a system shock to you, but it will likely take some getting used to. Here's the thing though; it's totally intuitive to use your fingers on the screen to do the functions a mouse would perform when you're using the virtual keyboard. For those unfamiliar with tapping, pinching, un-pinching, flicking, etc., it will take a little time to get used to, but not too much. The touch screen is starting to feel like a real game changer. Whatever you feel about the iPhone touch screen experience, this is much better. I'm happy without the mouse. So what's the layout of Pages like? On the top row of your screen you have all the controls:
- Documents— this is where your documents are stored and laid out like saved pages on your iPhone's Safari,
- Undo— this undoes any mistakes,
- Info— controls your font size, styles, etc,
- Tools— controls your page layout, setting your header and footer, spell checker, etc.,
- Control Minimizer— hides all controls except the keyboard.
Below that are the more familiar features for controlling body, bold, italics, underline, justification, etc. Below that you've got a basic ruler for adjusting your margins. At the very bottom is the virtual keypad. By the way, if you add an image, you can rotate it by touching and holding opposite corners and then twisting your hand.
All in all, this is a very powerful and intuitive little word processor that you are going to quickly fall in love with. The love grows when you realize you have three format options for saving; Pages, PDF and .doc. You'll also notice that you can not only export by e-mail, but also share your work via iWork.com beta.
This is where it's all going, folks. If there's anything about the iPad which is magic, it's the simple and direct act of using the Cloud to share and save your work. If you didn't take advantage of a MobileMe account yet, give it a shot. It's only $99/yr (less if you buy an iPad), and you'll be amazed what you can do with it. If you do, don't forget to download the iDisk app (free). Granted, you need to be connected to the Internet for it to work, but these days a lot of us are. Don't despair if you're not connected. You can, of course, work offline and save everything on your iPad for uploading when you're on Wi-Fi or eventually 3G.
Am I comfortable writing blogs on the iPad? Yes. Will I be writing my dissertation on it? No. The fact is, on the iPad, you can't easily add references, citations, and all the other things necessary in larger written works— for me this rules out the iPad as my primary workhorse. What about everything in-between? Well, this is where the battle line is drawn in the sand as people start to see what the iPad is capable of. For just about anything other than a novel or dissertation, the iPad and Pages shine!
Joint Custody of the iPad DID NOT WORK!
By Cindy Downes
Uh oh! My husband just "borrowed" my iPad. We were going to "share" this one until the new version comes out. Is it possible to share an iPad? Can we wait? Fast forward 13 hours.
After playing with it all day and having "discussions" over who was going to get custody and when, we decided to save our marriage and buy a second one!
I ran out of memory rather quickly with the 16 GB model so I upgraded to the 32 GB. MUCH BETTER! After uploading all my apps, photos, songs, and videos, I still have 19.69 GB left. And my marriage is saved!
The skeptic's iPad review
By Todd Bernhard
I am on record as having some reservations about this new device so I am obliged to give credit where it is due.
This thing is fast— zippy even! I never would have said that about my netbooks, one of which I sold to make room for the iPad that I am typing this on. I am sure there will be frustrations, such as when I visit a Web site that requires Flash, or if I have to type at length, but so far I do not feel as if I am missing out on anything. If anything, I am getting faster at typing with this virtual keyboard. The trick is to make a leap of faith and trust the auto correction. That— and find a comfortable way to hold the iPad.
The device is heavier than I expected. Heavy may not be the right word. It has more heft. It is substantial. My iPhone 3G makes me miss the metal back of my original iPhone. When Apple switched to a plastic back, the phone felt more disposable, like a toy. I hope Apple brings the iPad's aluminum back to the next iPhone.
Apple has removed screen protectors from their stores. Apparently they interfere with the new oleophobic covering. But it is clear to me (pun intended) that I will need a screen protector. This thing has my fingerprints all over it! I just want one that doesn't interfere with gestures as some screen protectors do.
I am glad I got an iPad when I did since I am a developer, and I need to be able to test my apps. However, it is becoming apparent that a 3G version will be desirable. As I type this in my in-law's home, I have no Wi-Fi access. I can use my iPhone to get my e-mail and browse the Web, but I can see how this will be an issue. It would not surprise me if AT&T offers a subsidized 3G model, removing the $130 premium, if users sign up for a one-year contract. That would make me upgrade. But for now, my iPhone is always with me.
After the iPad's announcement, I wrote about being disappointed that there was no camera in the iPad. I am confident there will be one in future models, but I am finding that there are so many other features and uses for this device that I will be happily entertained in the interim. For example, I hope to read more books thanks to the elegant iBooks (free; app2.me/2403) app! But without a standard keyboard, I certainly won't be typing any books on this! I have an Apple Bluetooth wireless keyboard which I prefer to the keyboard dock which doesn't offer multiple angles or fold up for transport. Again, I expect third parties to fill in some of the gaps.
I also complained initially about the lack of full multitasking capabilities. I started this article by writing about how zippy the experience is. Perhaps that is the tradeoff. I don't want a slow gadget, so I will accept this limitation for now. I hope the A4 chip, found in the iPad, makes its way into the next iPhone so that will be faster too! [Less than a week after the iPad became available, Apple announced that multitasking would indeed be making its way to newer devices. They appear to have figured out how to do so without putting a drain on performance or battery life.]