Saturday, August 28, 2010

A week with an iPad... some thoughts

Last week I was asked this question from a friend on Twitter...
" you think the iPad a must have or simply an awesome toy?"
Last Friday... whilst sitting in the best Indian restaurant in Glasgow (IMHO) - The Dhabba in the Merchant City - Olly gave me a 32gb wi-fi only iPad. Yes, it is an extravagant gift but its been something I've had my eye on for a while. I'm not a car man nor am I a golfer... and whilst this may seem tenuous rationale to some... for me this is my hobby, along with photography.

230810_ me & my iPad

For me, the iPad is about the consumption of content. Using apps like reeder, pulse and flipboard to consume the blogs I would normally read on my MacBook Pro... either in their native habitat or via Google Reader... is a very pleasant experience indeed. The iPad allows me to read in portrait as well as landscape... which makes for a better experience, in my view, than the landscape only of my MBP... and the screen size makes it easier on the eye compared with the smaller screen of my iPhone4 (the iPad does make the iPhone feel smaller).

I am now consuming existing content in new ways... in addition to the apps mentioned above that handle my RSS feeds very well... I use the BBC's news app rather than logging onto the website. I am also using the fab app Discover to read content within Wikipedia in a magazine-style format. Its 100 times better than reading Wikipedia on their website. It presents topics for the day but also allows you to search for articles you wish to read.

I am also able to share what I have read. The apps have a neat way of incorporating twitter, facebook and the fab instapaper to allow me to share what I have read.

Instapaper is a great example of integration... enabling me to read "offline" articles or save longer-form articles for consumption in my own time. I am a huge fan.

That said, Instapaper is one specific way of sharing content... I also have my Google Shared Items for when I share content in Reeder and I have a "Pulse meme" (which is built using Posterous a blog format that I already have and use for posting content from my iPhone to this blog) for sharing content I like on Pulse. What I would like is better integration with my tumblr - its not impossible on my iPad but it is easier on my MBP.

Twitter integration is good... with a number of Twitter apps available. I use the free version of Twitterific on my iPad because there isn't an official version of "Twitter" (what was "Tweetie") for the iPad. Twitterific does a fab job... but I do actually prefer to use my iPhone4 for Twitter... it feels better on the smaller screen.

I haven't used my iPad for consuming photos... but this will come. I have an app that allows me to view my Flickr pics and download them to my iPad. I have yet to use it to its fullest but it does make for a fab viewer. I will continue to use my MBP for editing my photos... I don't see the point in editing photos on my iPad... especially when I need to buy a connector for it.

I find the iPad's size pretty ideal for my consumption needs... either in the house (on the sofa or in bed), on the train or in Starbucks. I bought the Apple case that compliments the iPad and feel it enhances my usage.

I haven't used it to create content yet. I did buy BlogPress with the intention to blog whilst out and about. I think this will come.

I also bought QuickOffice which is an awesome Office suite (text documents & spreadsheets) that I have used for meeting notes. My colleagues take the mick but the ability to email notes to my work PC is fab and will save me time/hassle. I also love the integration with Google Docs, Dropbox & - three services I use and will use more off with my iPad.

I have purchased books for the Kindle app... which I find a better app than iBooks... and do enjoy reading them on it. I think it will be some time before I give up paper-based books for good... especially since you can't buy eBooks in charityshops... but I think I will start buying selected new books in eBook format... especially good reference books.

Getting an iPad has changed how I consume the content... especially the content I love on the internet. For me it has become welcomed addition to my kit. It isn't essential - I consider my iPhone4 and my MacBookPro as being essential - its more a very welcome addition. That said... it has transformed my alone-time visits to Starbucks and, when I feel less self-conscious on the train, my commute.

It is a toy in many ways... but it is a wonderful toy. Calling it only a toy kind of misses the point... it is far more than that... and has so much potential for more... but calling it a toy gives a flavour for the playfulness and tactile nature of the device. Its just so much fun to use and has a can't-put-it-down nature to it.

Don't get me wrong... its not perfect and I have a few criticisms.
  1. The screen get marked easily. Olly actually suggested I get a cloth and a wee bottle for carrying liquids onto planes and fill it with glass cleaner... so I could keep it clean on the move. I am seriously considering it.
  2. Using iPhone apps on the iPad is a big con, in my opinion. They noticeably pixelate. This is annoying considering some developers do produce universal apps for both the iPhone and the iPad. Just because I have spent a lot of money on a device doesn't mean I should pay out for all the apps I have already paid for. I celebrate apps that are universal - Instapaper, Wunderradio and Zenbe lists, for example - and will now only consider buying universal apps.
  3. Lack of iOS4 - folders. I love folders on my iPhone4 and can't wait for the software upgrade to bring them to the iPad.
  4. Lack of iOS4 - multitasking. As with 3, I can't wait to multitask on my iPad.
  5. Lack of quality free apps for the iPad. As per 2... it seems app developers see the iPad as a cashcow. I happily upgrade apps I love... but once I've played with the free/lite version. Lack of these versions will mean I don't try apps... simple as that.
So... in closing, I do not consider the iPad a "must have" device in the same way I see the iPhone as being essential. However, I do believe it is a welcome addition to my kit and will, if it hasn't already, become a "must have" for me. I don't think it is simply an awesome toy but I do think it is an awesome toy... there is no "simply" about it. It shares characteristics with the best toys... but is so much more.

I love my iPad and am so grateful to Olly for giving me it. She is my world... and she just made it even more awesome.

If you have an iPad, what do you think of it?


The battery life on the iPad is pretty awesome... and nothing like the iPhone. You can get at least two reasonably heavy usage days out of it before needing to charge it again. I like this fact.


Phil said...

I bought an iPad about 2 weeks ago now and i am loving it. I was holding off for the longest time, just because it seemed more of an extravagance than anything. I, too, am a techie hobbyist. I got the 16gb version with 3G. I am loving consuming content and I've also written a couple of blog posts on it as well. What tipped me toward buying it in the first place, though, was the idea of using it as an ultra-portable recording device. I bought a Blue Yeti USC mic and downloaded a multitrack recording app - works a treat. And with Apple possibly rolling out Garageband on the iPad next week, it could be even better.

Angus Mathie said...

I found your article interesting. I think it is similar to having tools that may do similar jobs with a bit of overlap but each one does what it is particularly good at well.

I think the most important reason for having/ using any item is the resultant benefit to yourself and others. What you use the iPad for will become evident in time.

weareallghosts said...

Thanks Phil. If Apple roll out Garageband for it then I'll be sold... albeit how do you connect your USB mic to it?

Thanks dad... I hope to use the iPad for good and for sharing awesome content with others.


Anonymous said...

Oh, oh, oh! I have the keyboard dock and this changes how you use it. It becomes something you can use to create content as well as consume - to say nothing of the fact of that in tandem with Pages/Keynote it works almost as well as a Macbook!


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