iPad Follow-up

Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Unfortunately I haven’t blogged in a while, I aim to remedy that….

I wanted to follow-up on my iPad post now that I’ve had a while to think about it and that it’s almost out now.  There were a lot of people criticizing the critics of the iPad and basically calling them geeks that were too obsessed with features and miss the point of the transformative nature of the device.  They specifically pointed to the early critics of the iPhone who were adamant about some missing features.  I thought this was a somewhat justified criticism and point and decided to examine it.  I remember those critics and the associated missing features, as I was one who lamented those features and thus waited to buy the 2nd generation (3G) iPhone.

Initial things that bugged me about the iPhone:

– At&t Network – had terrible reputation even then

– No 3G data

– No removable battery (worried about replacing after deprecated battery life)

– Completely closed platform (no 3rd party apps at all)

– No physical keyboard

So some of those concerns were addressed in the release of the 3G and some I learned to live with (e.g. keyboard). However, those issues that remain are still some of the most frustrating things about the iPhone, frustrating enough to make me consider Android for my next phone:

– At&t Network

– Battery life is terrible

– Platform is still controlled by Apple – hence Google Maps is crippled (no turn by turn directions for example) and no Google Voice

So, while the argument has some merit, I’m not sure that the criticisms from my original post should be dismissed offhand.  With all its faults and frustrations, the iPhone has transformed the world of mobile and computing, and my own life as well. I’m not yet convinced that the iPad will be such a transformative device, but remain open to seeing how it plays out.  I was certainly much more excited about the iPhone even though its initial feature issues kept me from buying one for a full year until the 3G came out.

My biggest gripes with the iPad are:

1. Seems that the iPad will be awkward to hold/use while typing and perhaps even just while passively reading/watching.

2. I still can’t decide which device this would replace for me.  Since the answer right now is none and most people don’t have tons of spare cash laying around these days, unconvinced about widespread adoption.

Certainly early demand for pre-orders and associated hype show that there are a good number of people who are anxious to try it.  I’m anxious to see how they like it and will adjust my opinions when I see/try it in real life.

What do you think? Are you ordering one?

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15 responses to “iPad Follow-up

  1. Hey Ron…
    First visit to your blog!
    So this is unrelated to the ipad but rather to your comments about the iPhone…What do you mean google maps has no turn by turn directions (it does) and no google voice (there’s a google app for that)? -jen

    • Hey Jen! Welcome!

      To answer your questions:

      1. By turn-by-turn directions, I mean like a true GPS device does, it tells you when to turn, not just step-by-step by clicking “next”. Google offers this on the latest version of Android for free making it a complete replacement for a standalone GPS. Apple’s version of Google maps is controlled by Apple, not even Google branded and is intentionally crippled.

      2. Apple never approved the Google Voice app (they claim to have not denied it either but it’s been over a year…). Google released a website version, but it’s not the same… BTW – I’m talking about https://www.google.com/voice, not voice search.

      Happy early birthday!

  2. I had a chance to spend an inordinate amount of time in an Apple store last Saturday. I am impressed with the Mac, enuff to declare my next pc will be a Mac. Beyond that, this I pad can definately fill a void for a lot of people. Sure you can’t make a call with it, but thats the only downside to it I see. Follow along with me here, just how many people use more than about 5 features on thier phone now? How many apps are there that are more than just novelties? Something you can’t live without and must use every day? Count em, I bet 5 is the real answer. BUT what about people that don’t need and programs like Word, Excel, or Powerpoint? More people than you think. I bet better than 90% of the people will use this for what it does and with a screen you don’t have to squint to see! Email, check! And the biggie: plain old making a lot of foam while you surf the web! News, at your fingertips. Email, ditto. Need directions? All web based and again on a screen you can actually see. Music, yes! Books, yes! Does it take pictures? I don’t know, but maybe 2.0 it will. Not everyone needs to spend a lot of money for a laptop when this can do it and be much more user friendly. I’m just saying…

    • Hi Leonard – I take your point, but I fail to see how any of the things you mention are better on an iPad than a laptop. Screensize isn’t larger than most laptops, so shouldn’t be any more visible. The big difference is the touch interface, which is great, but sacrifices the ergonomics of resting it on a table/lap to type, which is a huge issue I think. We’ll see, perhaps I’ll see how easy it is to get used to!

  3. Ron, I think for many people (not us) it will replace the actual computer. Most people just use the browser. I’m faced with the same question as you: I already have a laptop, and iPad won’t cut it as a replacement for my needs. But maaaan, it’s pre-eetty…

  4. I don’t think Apple created the iPad to replace any device. That’s why in their keynote they placed iPad right between the laptop and the iPhone. From my point of view, iPad would be a new genre of device or should I say, a re-do of the tablet. It’s not a netbook and it’s not a laptop, but of course people would compare iPad to those devices coz of the overlap in features. I think perhaps the closest comparison is Kindle but of course iPad has a lot more to offer than a Kindle with its color and touch sensitive screen.

    Based on Kindle’s popularity, one can see that a device with iPad’s form factor can be a useful device for reading. I do think magazines and comics which often have color images can do very well on the iPad. Of course, iPad is capable of media beyond still images which makes it even more fun.

    For me, I would think my iPad would live in my living room and not my computer room. It would be a device where I would use to do casual email checking, browsing internet, magazine/newspaper/comic reading and also use as an amazing remote control. Of course, i can’t even start to imagine what kinda crazy apps/games people can come up with using that kind of capacitive touch screen real estate.

    • Gene – there’s no question that additional devices can be added to one’s life and routine and perhaps that its Apple’s hope. However, I contend that people have limits. Budget limits, time limits, carrying limits. There’s no doubt that I’d love an iPod touch and a Macbook Air and more to complement my iPhone and Macbook, but that’s just not practical. The functionality is not differentiated enough. Maybe the iPad is differentiated enough to get people to spend $400-$1,000 and change their behaviors, I just don’t see it’s fundamental difference. Would love one for free, as I would one of just about any of Apple’s products, but I can only choose a few in reality and so far the iPad isn’t one of them. Maybe when the price comes down and the functionality proves itself out, I’ll change my mind (like I did with the iPhone).

  5. i agree for the most part about the iphone, except that battery life is not that bad for a 3G smartphone. Droid has a bigger problem due to background apps. The next iPhone will blow every other smartphone out of the water in terms of battery life – i.e. will have a lithium polymer made by Apple.

    Also, check out BlackSwan for a google voice app. Works just as fine, if not better than a google voice app would.

    In terms of the iPad, it think you missed the lack of background apps, which makes the iPad difficult to use as I think it’s intended…a web portal on the couch and in transit. But I’m convinced that’s coming in June/July…

    I don’t plan on getting one because I don’t see justifying it just yet. But I am tired of holding my laptop on the couch to browse the web. If someone want’s to get one for my birthday though, I won’t return it 🙂

    Oh, and they need to figure out multi-user use, especially for e-mail. I’m not going to go buy 2 of these (at least not yet). Maybe after 2 new iPhones in June 🙂

    • The battery life is terrible, largely owing to the compelling features which make you use it all the time, but also and more disappointingly, the way that the iPhone uses Voice over At&t’s 3G network. I hope you’re right about the next iPhone!

      BlackSwan is a web app it seems, just like Google Voice’s own web app. Not the same as a native app.

      I wrote about the lack of background apps in my first post. It’s of course a big issue for the iPhone also. Will be interesting to see if that changes.

      Interesting that you’re tired of holding your laptop on the couch but would rather get something that you actually need to hold vs. rest on your lap? To me I have the opposite issue, I don’t see how holding the iPad for long periods could possibly be comfortable.

      Good point on Multi-user use. Multi-user use is a problem these days for almost all devices and applications. It’s as if developers can’t conceive of sharing anything…. I imagine though that the web version of GMAIL for example will be better than Mac’s native iPad mail app, like it is in OSX.

      • Jen's Brother

        good point about the web app. still an issue in terms of profile. don’t want to log in and out (got around that finally by creating multiple chrome profiles in osx and putting pictures of each user 🙂

        black swan is a weblication. and it’s more than a standard web link on the home screen. runs with the safari engine but just like an app….you’d never know. try it before you knock it 🙂

        weblication is what most apps on the iphone should be, actually….

      • Yeah – profiles are an issue for sure with the web also…. Have heard rumors that Opera for Iphone might be coming, at least an alternate browser could help with that.

        Agree that many apps can/should/will be web apps, but for something that’s intended to take over the voice/calling/SMS aspects of my phone, that 100% should be native, too slow otherwise and misses access to key parts of the SDK.

  6. Lots of iPad discussion at SXSW. The publishing industry is really gearing up to deliver custom apps for the platform. Most is stuff which should have been done a long time ago for the Web, but the iPad launch seems to be a chance to finally get it right. Let’s hope so…

    • I hope you’re right Aaron, but I think that publishers falsely see the iPad and other tablets as a false holy grail. I don’t think this changes any of their issues. They need to develop more compelling advertising models and leaner methods for producing good content. The form factor won’t save them….

  7. Pingback: Why I was Wrong (& a little bit Right) about the iPad | Ron Feldman's Blog

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