iPad – an interim report

I have now lived with my iPad for a little over two months. Soon after I got it, I blogged about my initial impressions. Looking back at those comments, my feelings have not changed much. I now have access to the App Store [as my credit card bill will testify] and I am continuing to learn about what the thing can do. I use it every day; many times every day.

When I first bought my iPad, I did not know what use it would be – what place would it have in my life? I still do not have the definitive answer – that will take many more months – but I do have enough experience to report about my progress …

A very large amount of my iPad usage is accessing the Internet – mostly, of course, when I am not in front of my computer. The instant availability is great. What I do find interesting is that my Internet usage is not necessarily using a Web browser. I am finding an increasing number of specialized apps which present and manage online information for me more effectively. For example, looking at the weather forecast or perusing a selection of RSS feeds instead of browsing news sites and blogs.

For me, email is a very important communications medium in both business and personal life. The built-in email program does a great job. I can, at a stroke, access my personal [gmail and Yahoo] and business [Exchange] email all in one place, which is very efficient. I was surprised that no third party email apps seem to be available. Someone told me that Apple just do not allow access to the right system resources. I wonder why?

The calendar app is very attractive and straightforward to use. It wirelessly synchronizes perfectly with my Google calendar, which I use for my personal life, and with my business Outlook calendar. I keep all my contacts in my Google account. This also synchronizes with the built-in app, but annoyingly requires a wired connection to iTunes. I cannot find a way around this, but would welcome advice.

The built-in speaker is amazingly good, considering how small it is. As a result, I have been using the iPod app, which I like very much. This has highlighted my error. I bought a “compromise” 32Gb iPad. My music collection runs to something like 35Gb. I wish that I had bought a 64Gb device now, as I could then download my entire library and not need to be selective.

Some software I really miss is a good mind mapping app. There are some available, but I am not sure any address my needs. I want something like the functionality of MindManager and compatibility with that program, along with wireless synchronization to my desktop.

I confess one area of disappointment. One application of iPad that I was looking forward to was photography. It is certainly a great way to share pictures. Initially I could synch sets of images using iTunes, then I got the [not inexpensive] camera adapter, which enables me to collect images from my camera directly. This seemed very nice, as I can easily take iPad with me when I am out shooting and quickly get to peruse the images on a nice screen. So far, so good. The problem comes with the “Apple knows best” effect.

What I wanted to be able to do is take some pictures, download them to iPad, sort them [deleting rejects etc.] and later upload them to my PC for longer term storage and maybe further work. This looked like it should be OK. The upload from the camera works fine and, when complete, offers to delete the images from the camera, which, on the surface, seems OK. What it does not tell you [and I can find no documentation that warns about this] is that the transfer includes a downsizing of the images to around 3mpx! So, if you agree to the deletion, you have cheerfully thrown away your “originals”!!! Although I would have no problem with this being available as an option, I am very frustrated that there is no way to upload full resolution [JPEG] images directly from a camera to an iPad.

Apple: please fix this. I know that it is not a bug, but it is a very bad design decision.

On a positive note, I do think iPad is here to stay. At least I think this kind of device has enough to offer to enough people to survive. Whether Apple will own the market, like they do with iPod, remains to be seen. Incidentally, these devices need a generic name, instead of “tablet computer”. I think just “pad” would fit the bill, but maybe “PADD” would be better.

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0 thoughts about “iPad – an interim report
  • Hi Colin. You can sync your google contacts, gmail and calendar wirelessly using Google sync, rather than choosing to do so via the iTunes option. It’s fairly straightforward, and google detail the setup instructions perfectly clearly here: http://www.google.com/support/mobile/bin/answer.py?answer=138740&topic=14252

    The instructions shown are for the iPhone, but I would imagine they are identical to an iPad, or iPod touch for that matter.

    As for the photo resizing issue, I had a quick search and found there should be a way of keeping the full resolution photo with EXIF data after transferring from camera>iPad>computer. The iPad appears to resize to around 3 megapixel size when emailing, but should be able to transfer the full resolution photos when syncing with your computer. I’ll check out this behaviour later on tonight when I visit an iPad-blessed friend.

    I think what makes the iPad great in my eyes is what you briefly picked up on – the instant-on satisfaction of using one. Some commenters argue that the technical specifications are low, and, compared to most laptops and computers, the iPad is inferior with regards to the processor speed and RAM. However, it feels incredibly fast, instantly opening apps or browsing online, and it is this speedy task completion that makes the iPad a brilliant piece of technology, regardless of its actual (relatively) low specifications.

  • Thanks for the excellent input Tom.

    I was excited to investigate the wireless Contacts sync solution, but disappointed. As OS3 only supports a single Exchange account [and I use that for my business email], I cannot set up another one to handle my Google stuff. Hopefully, iPads will get an update to OS4 later in the year and that will help.

    I can transfer full size photos from a computer to iPad using a non-Apple app, as iTunes “optimizes” [Apple’s words for downsizes] the images when synchronizing with iPad. However, what I want to do is eliminate the computer from the loop so that I can take just the iPad out with my camera.

    You are quite correct about the speed of an iPad being a great virtue. I hope that providing the wholly unnecessary [IMHO] multi-tasking in OS4 doesn’t compromise this too much. I am not interested in specs of anything really, just results. For that reason, I have a modest camera, which is easy to carry/use and produces excellent images; I have a small diesel car and love the way it hacks up a hill effortlessly.

    BTW, it was your enthusiasm for your iPhone [Boscastle last Summer] that planted the seed of my interest in getting an iPad.

  • Ah yes, sorry to get your hopes up, I forgot iOS3 only allows for one Exchange account. It’s been confirmed that the iPad will get an iOS 4 update this ‘fall’, so hopefully you’ll be able to go fully into the cloud with that. I’m glad that you seem to be (mostly) enjoying your iPad.

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at https://blogs.sw.siemens.com/embedded-software/2010/07/08/ipad-an-interim-report/