Sunday, April 11, 2010

A week with my iPad

As promised, here are some thoughts on the iPad I bought last week (on which I'm writing this very post, using the onscreen keyboard).

Positives: The screen is gorgeous. Pictures and (non-flash) video are delightful on it. It's particularly useful for streaming video, such as the anime simulcasts on Crunchyroll using the Crunchyroll app (I hope the iPad optimized version of the app comes out soon) and ABC shows (again, using the ABC app).

Negatives: It won't replace a laptop or net book for creating content. The onscreen keyboard is nice and large, but still doesn't replace a physical one-- especially when you have to switch keyboards to pull up numbers or symbols, and when the device limits the keys available (such as when I type in the web browser window, and the device won't give me a spec bar). The limited multitasking and the Balkanization of the apps are also limiting -- each app has a different method for transferring data to and from the iPad and there's no guarantee that stuff pulled in through one app will be available for other apps. It's not as useful for book reading as my Nook; the Nook is lighter, easier to work while handheld, and has that e-ink display that can be read for a longer duration.

Overall, I'm happy with the iPad, and excited to see what app developers will come up with for this new platform.

1 comment:

Donald Burr of Borg said...

Multitasking support is coming with the release of iPhone OS 4, which will be available for iPads this fall. They are implementing several different classes of multitasking, including background task completion (i.e. uploading photos to flickr, uploading a blog entry, etc. - so that tasks such as those can complete while you're in another app); background notification and status updates (GPS, social networking, etc.), background media playback (Pandora,, etc.). As a programmer I was delighted at the way they chose to implement this, as this is exactly how I would do it - it is the perfect balance between functionality and conservation of device resources (cpu, battery life, etc.)

Also, programs will be able to "freeze dry" their state when you exit it, so switching between apps will be much faster, and will put you back at exactly the point where you were at when you left the app in question.

The "getting files into and out of programs" may also be better. There is some sort of new "file type registration" mechanism in iPhone OS 4, where basically you can tell it to open a file and it will open in the application that registers itself and "claims" that particular filetype. The details are pretty vague (and since I am not a paid member of the development program, I don't have access to the iPhone OS 4 beta materials) but this is certainly promising.

Also the iPad will pair with a Bluetooth keyboard. I re-purposed the keyboard I've been using with my media center and it works beautifully.