Nick Page

First thoughts on the iPad

A friend of mine described his iPhone as a ‘transformational device’. He said it had changed the way that he worked and lived. I feel the same way about this iPad. Just a few minutes spent working on it convinced me that things were going to change – most notably in my industry, the publishing industry. It may not be this device which changes things. But it will be devices like this.

Which is not to say that it’s perfect by any means. Here are the good and the bad, so far:

Things I like

  • It’s just a beautiful object. Anyone who cares about design will love it.
  • The size. It’s a Large Print iPhone. Perfect for the optically challenged like myself.
  • The touchscreen. Just… er… magical.
  • The screen. It’s beautiful. Clear, bright. Photos and graphics look great on it.
  • The ease of use. Once I’d got used to the touchscreen, working out what did what was fairly straightforward.
  • Ebooks or iBooks. Never thought I’d say this but they really are part of the future. Maybe not in the straightforward version, but the app versions are great. The Alice in wonderland app is beautiful and compelling. Don’t know a kid (of any age) who wouldn’t love it.
  • Magazines. Just bought my first digital magazine via Zinio – Amateur Photographer, since you ask. Some magazines I love to have the print version of, but the more consumable kind, I can’t see why you would need the print version anymore.
  • Games. Not a great gamer, but some of them are lovely. Zen bound – weird, but beautiful.
  • Web. Browsing is easy, immediate and looks great. (But see below.)
  • Keynote. Looks great. Haven’t tried projecting from it yet, but the app gives me virtually everything I need.

Things I don’t like

  • Flash. Or the lack of it. Not that I’m a big fan of flash, but they need to get this sorted. Half of the BBC Sport site is unavailable to me.
  • Safari. Adequate web broswer but needs another iteration or two to deliver what we need. Writing a blog post on wordpress was so frustrating I stopped. And I like tabs. But the different windows are a decent way round this.
  • The keyboard. Actually it’s not that bad, but the lack of navigation arrows is a pain. And why is the dash key on a different page? I’ll probably get a small apple bluetooth keyboard anyway.
  • Sharing. The iPad is best, I imagine, as a single user device. There is no chance of that in my family. Re-entering passwords for some things hasn’t been straightforward.
  • iBooks: the store. The books are nice, but the store is impossible to navigate, compared to Amazon, for example. Needs a lot more work.
  • Cut/paste/copy.Haven’t worked it out between apps. hard to put a link in a web post for example.
  • Lack of manual/documentation. I’m old fashioned about this. I would have liked a bit more in the box than an A6 card with a picture on. Still, I suppose it demonstrates the intuitiveness of it.
  • Connectivity. Pretty limited. Some kind of usb connectivity would have been handy. But you can store a lot of stuff via cloud services like Dropbox.

Things I don’t care about

  • Lack of camera. I’ve got a camera. And I don’t do video conferencing much.
  • Lack of a phone (I got the wi-fi version.) Why would you use this as a phone?
  • Closed system. Every day we use things which are closed system. My car is a closed system: you have to use certain parts for it that don’t work with other cars. I can’t see what the fuss is about.
  • The arguments. Boy, people get angry about this, don’t they? there are angry PC users, angry iPhone users, angry Linux users. I don’t know what everyone’s so upset about. If you don’t like it don’t buy it. Use something else. It’s a product. A brilliant product, I think. But other products are available. Just grow up.
    My criteria for any mobile device are ‘Is it lighter than what I’m using at the moment?’, ‘Can I write on it?’, ‘Does it access the Interweb thingy’ and ‘Can I do Keynote presentations out of it for my talks?’ The iPad ticks all those boxes for me and more. If it doesn’t work for you use something else.

The fact is, this is going to be my mobile device. I’ll keep my trusty (well, relatively trusty) battered old G4 12 inch for the times I need to work in something more meaty, like InDesign, but for working on the move, the iPad will give me what I need. Sure, it needs more work, but it will change my life. And it – or a device like it – will definitely change my industry.

All I need to do is get it back off the kids…