I’m currently watching Steve Job’s latest keynote speech where he’s showcasing the iPad, and I’m very underwhelmed after all the hype. It’s essentially an oversized iPhone, and while I love the iPhone, there are a few things that I don’t think will translate to a larger device like the iPad.
My main concern is Apple’s proprietary hardware/software approach. For an iPhone, this isn’t a concern, every phone I’ve had has a proprietary operating system. The trouble is the iPad has the potential to be a proper handheld computer, and if the only software I can download is through Apple’s App Store, the same way I would on my iPhone, that will severely limit what I can do on my iPad.
Firstly, even after loads of complaints, they still don’t support Flash. I can accept that on my phone, because when I use it for browsing the internet, it’s usually on the move, I don’t use it to browse while lying on my sofa the way I would expect on the iPad. Without flash, half the films and TV shows I watch are inaccessible, I will still need to watch them on my laptop.
This is the problem with Apple’s proprietory approach and App Store, I can only download what Apple wants me to download. They shut off Spotify for ages cause it competed with iTunes, Flash is still barred because it competes with their AppStore. On a larger device, I expect more freedom, to install more complex programs and more choice, to download the way I would on my laptop – go to a website and download/install.
Secondly there’s no multi-tasking, something I’d expect from a larger device. I don’t want my apps to close so I can open another one, if it can run “powerful” applications like iWork, surely they can multitask some of the more basic apps like email, web, tweetdeck, skype etc. Which brings a 3rd point, without any microphone/camera or USB port, I can’t do any video conferencing or phone calls on Skype!
However, one thing I did like – essentially the main use I would every buy a tablet PC, is the iBook application. When I was a teenager I used to draw designs (very similar to the iPad) for an electronic book reader, this is the ultimate application for me, especially when I travelled so much and couldn’t carry a bookshelf with me. Add magazines and newspapers to this and you’re on your way! Like other Apple products, they’ve taken what I think are clunky devices like the Kindle and Sony Reader, with very basic and unintuitive displays, and made it better. Easy to browse and purchase eBooks, add them to a library and read them the same way I would on paper. The only concerns I have are the screen will be too bright to read for long periods of time, and the battery is about a 1/3 less time than other eBook readers, only 10 hours (and of course you can’t change the battery like all other Apple devices!)
The iBooks app did change my mind at the end, I am looking at getting an eBook reader, so for that purpose I may get it, now I just need to get over the fact I’m paying paper book prices for electronic books! (£20 for an eBook is a rip off, the pricing margin on eBooks is way too high considering distribution and “printing” are free!) But overall, considering all the hype, it really is just an oversized iPhone, so 3 years ago!