The iPad is a great social computing device

I was reading a post on my iPad about the usefulness of the iPad and I thought I’d chip in some of my own experiences.

For me the iPad has a couple of huge advantages and several important drawbacks.

The good
1. It’s easy to carry around due to its light weight and incredible long battery use
2. The screen is great, no retina, but still great
3. Any task that requires little input is perfect for the iPad. Playing a game, reading browsing, searching, watching a video, browsing through photos, it works great on the iPad
4. It is a social computer, unlike any other. By social I don’t mean the ‘hey I can connect to my friends online’ kind of social. I mean it is nearly impossible to use your iPad without anyone sitting next to you to see and interact with what you are doing. It replaces the TV for my kids most of the time now.

The bad
1. Entering stuff is a pain in the ass for me. Sure I can type in landscape mode. But it isn’t as good as having a physical keyboard with tactile feedback. The keyboard is a bit too small, but the lack of tactile kills it for me.
2. Selections, replacements, copying, pasting, etc. are usable, but thats about it. Not having a cursor or an alternative can make life hard. I am writing this post using the iPad and I’ve added only one link. It is just too much of a pain to accomplish the task.
3. Touch simply isn’t very accurate. There are times when I need to be accurate (click in something small) and it irritates having to zoom and then select all the time

The ugly
1. Only one word: KeyNote. My initial enthusiasm “wow, this looks cool” was instantly blown to pieces when I actually tried to create a presentation with it. It blows, completely! And I mean everything. Selection is undoable, selecting multiple items impossible. Manipulation looks cool using your fingers, but it just isn’t accurate enough. Apple went a long way to hide menu options available on MacOS on the iPad, and they have done such a poor job at it with KeyNote that I find it hard to believe it got approved in the app store. So much for the “Apple approval process leading to high quality apps”. I could go on for ever here, just take my word for it. Don’t waste your money on the iPad version of KeyNote.

The iPad isn’t revolutionary in every way. It is by all means one of the best social computing devices I’ve owned in a while, apart from the Wii 😉
But for the rest, it’s just not ready to be used professionally yet. Removing complexity, the touch interface, the lack of accuracy and the infancy the UI is in.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Apple went further than we could have imagined or asked for. But it isn’t there yet. And until we find a way to deal with the issues, the iPad will be nothing more (or less) than the perfect social computing device it is now.


About vanelsas

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4 Responses to The iPad is a great social computing device

  1. Scott G says:

    Great article. I agree on all points, including the drawbacks. I have a slightly different take on Keynote, but that is mostly because I use it to present content rather than develop it. From the few small changes that I have made to presentations on the iPad I can understand how frustrating it would be to develop content there from scratch.

    When I get too focused on its shortcomings, I try to remind myself that it is a version 1 product. Apple has a way of spoon feeding us features over a period of time (a practice ripe for discussion in itself), and when I think about how different the current iPhone is from its first version, I get very excited about the future.

  2. vanelsas says:

    Scott, fully agree. It’s a first version, and a better attempt than I would have imagined. I still think KeyNote should have been thought through more. It is clear Apple thought about the visualization, but I actually boug it because I was exited to create using the touch interface. It didn’t remotely live up to my expectations 😦

  3. What I don’t get is that a lot of people have spend a good amount of money on an iPad just months after the netbook got impopular for some reason and while we are in an economicly bad time they still choose the (in my opinion) overprised iPad against (again in my opinion) at least equaly good/bad devices available for hundreds of euro’s less. Why?

    • vanelsas says:

      It’s a babe attractor 🙂

      But seriously, it is a completely different device from a netbook. I bought it for two reasons:
      1) I develop software for it and
      2) I wanted to get my kids away from their computer every once in a while and sit together to do stuff. And that worked, it is a super social device.

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