Raised on a steady diet of 80's sci-fi, I found the technical symbols of the year 2000 kind of visually underwhelming. The most significant technical achievement of that time was the rapidly expanding internet, and that didn't look remotely like a hover board. So, while I'm blase on the outside about this magic window I can hold in my hand, rest assured, the 1984 version of me is soiling himself.
I call my parents every week. Actually, I FaceTime them on their iPad, mainly so my mom can gauge the accelerating retreat of my hairline. Last week the conversation opened with the new third generation iPad, aka, 'the iPad'. "Stupid name", my dad said. "Stupid, stupid, stupid." I politely disagreed and pointed out that the numbered naming scheme wasn't very extensible without rapidly becoming ridiculous (introducing, the iPad 14!) and just calling it an iPad is consistent with other Apple products like the MacBook and iMac.
Then my father went on to complain about the iPad's lack of USB port. "Why do you want a USB port?", I asked. He wants to plug in a keyboard and memory stick. He also wants to run Microsoft Office. I suggested a laptop. His response, "but I like my iPad!"
Apple products are defined as much by what isn't there as what is there. Apple is obsessed about Quality of Experience and pretty much every controversial design decision they've made can be tied to this impulse. They're not interested in compatibility with the status quo, they see a better way of doing things. Some consumers, my Dad included, feel like Apple is being belligerent.
Consider the USB port idea. On the surface, it makes sense. People could plug their USB sticks in and move files around. It isn't as simple as providing a USB port, though. You're talking about opening up the file system and all that entails. Yes that would give users more freedom, but that doesn't necessarily translate to a better experience.
The iPad is the ideal computer for for the things most people want from a personal computer: surfing the web, checking Facebook, email, watching video, and reading books.
I got my first iPad on Friday. I finally have some specific interests that would be served by the device and it was the right time to get in on the product's lifecycle. It seems that some consumers really don't have any idea why they want an iPad.
I'm heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem. This is the result of a conscious decision and years of curation. Before the iPod and iTunes, I spent a few minutes each morning determining what CDs I was going to bring to work with me. I started using SoundJam to encode music that would stay put on my work computer so I wouldn't have to go through the daily selection process. After iTunes came about, I quickly got used to having a large library of music to shuffle though and installed a dedicated iTunes machine in my home that served various clients on our local area network. I encoded all my CDs and stuffed the originals in a corner in my basement. As storage costs dropped, my media server expanded to include video, banishing DVDs to the basement as well. Apple TVs replaced DVD players. Deciding to encode for an Apple format, instead of something more open and generic seemed risky, but (right now) I'm glad I did. It wasn't a decision I undertook lightly due to the labor involved. (I had similar blind faith when I decided to go Apple Lossless for all my audio).
So, before this iPad arrived, I could already play any media in my library on any TV, computer or iPhone in the house. The iPhones and computers can also forward content to a target device via AirPlay. For example, I can use my iPhone to wirelessly stream music to my Genelecs, or multiple simultaneous sets of speakers around the house. I can't overstate how useful Airplay is. A friend of mine just sent me a dropbox link to an audio file. I was able to click on the link, send the audio to my monitors and then move back to mail. No drama, it just works. I'm not saying this feature is something exclusive to apple, but it's so easy to use and the interface is consistent across multiple targets (computer, iOS, AppleTV)
Speaking of which, I realized (cheap) first generation AppleTVs have a digital audio out. I haven't tried this, but you may be able to hang a nice D/A convertor off an AppleTV, and use it as a dedicated high quality AirPlay device. This would sound far better than an Airport Express. One strangeness I ran into was I can send audio from my Mac to any Airport Express or 1st gen AppleTV, but the iOS devices only see my Airport Express.
I was pleased that after entering my home sharing information, I had access to my entire media library on the network. The lack of video genre browsing or search is annoying and slows down the loading of thumbnails as it attempts to deal with hundreds of videos. I suppose I'm an edge case.
I already have devices that cover what I'd use the iPad for. My MacBook Pro covers most of it. I have an iPhone for mobility. I have a kindle for reading. I was very curious how the iPad would affect how I feel about the kindle. The iPad is sexier and more flexible, but for plain old reading, I still prefer the kindle. The iPad is uncomfortably heavy. I found myself wanting to prop the iPad against something because it is fatiguing to hold. I ordered one of those magic iPad covers that can be used to prop it up on something flat. This will help, but it isn't a solution. When I read a book, I hold the book and shift in various positions. One major reason why I prefer the kindle to a book is because it is less fatiguing to hold.
Size is another issue. I can stuff the kindle in a pocket. It weighs virtually nothing so I carry it with me everywhere and read more as a result. The iPad is a great internet appliance, but it isn't going to replace my kindle (yet). The kindle will travel with me and my iPhone. The iPad is going to stay at home.
I could see this as a valid market factor for a 7" iPad. The iPhone is too small (IMO) for book reading. I know people do it, but this isn't for me. A 7" iPad may be the proper size for this application. I envision a 7" form factor to be useful for scheduling and delivery applications. Look at those dedicated devices UPS drivers carry to track packages and collect signatures. A normal sized iPad is too big for this application, whereas a 7" device would be just right. Wouldn't it be useful to increase the granularity of delivery resolution and track the progress of a delivery route. "Out for delivery" could include an estimated arrival time. Imagine the ability to intercept a missed delivery at another point on the route. The UPS driver could take your signature and a photo of your ID.
This hadn't really occurred to me, but the iPad sports a 4:3 aspect ratio, while the iPhone is a 3:2 aspect ratio. Widescreen media fills the iPhone a bit more efficiently than the iPad. Despite the lovely resolution, a 16:9 movie isn't really satisfying on the iPad. (not that watching movies on the iPhone is my thing, either)
The power adapter
The power supply for the iPad is a bit larger than the iPhone power to USB adapter. Sorry if this isn't news to current iPad owners. This is the first time I've seen this. Anyway, at first I thought it was a beefier adapter but then I realized it is compatible with the wall plug Apple provides with their laptops. The idea is you leave the power cord at your desk. Take the power adapter itself and slap on the travel prongs. The design of the iPad USB power adapter allows general compatibility with this cable.
iPad supply (with included blade adapter detached) the others are an apple laptop cable, which can plug into the iPad adapter, a MacBook Pro power supply and an iPhone power supply for comparison
The first thing I did was set up VNC and a terminal. The terminal software I was using on my iPhone isn't iPad savvy so, it isn't worth mentioning. On the other hand, I was pleasantly surprised by Mocha VNC. I've been using Mocha VNC for many years now. I find it useful if I'm pinned under a cat and need to reach around the house. However, VNC on an iPhone screen is pretty cramped. Mocha VNC has improved a great deal since it was introduced and I was pleasantly surprised to find it works even better on the iPad.
Speaking of cats, I can say with authority that an iPad is the ideal device for anyone who often finds themselves with one arm trapped under a feline. If you're catless, you could say the iPad is a great 'couch' computer. Flipboard and Facebook are perfect examples of casual couch computing. The tumblr and G+ apps are iPhone apps that don't translate well to the iPad. You're better off using Safari, although I haven't learned the gesture (if it exists) to force links to a new tab. Favoring tumblr posts often results in tapping the wrong thing, but Safari is pretty forgiving about returning.
I'm not much of a gamer, as I don't have much time to devote to the pastime, but I was curious enough about what the iPad could offer technically to drop $10 on Infinity Blade II and Real Racing 2 HD. They're both quite beautiful. The game play on Infinity Blade feels like an updated version of Dragon's Lair. Still impressive though. The iPad has the same problem as the Mac had for gaming. I'm a bit old-school I guess, but I want to mash buttons when I play a game. It is possible to design successful touch screen/accelerometer games which is why things like Angry Birds HD and Fruit Ninja HD are appealing, but arcade-type games suffer.
I bought iPhoto because it looked like something I'd find useful, and for personal stuff, I use iPhoto on my Mac. I also bought camera+ due to the rave reviews. I'm not sure why I have both. I was thinking it was a better alternative to the built in camera, offering more control, and it does have some features like stabilization and timer that could be useful, but much of the software is post processing features that is better done in iPhoto. I was expecting more in camera control, like exposure controls and Iso. Worse, it is a iPhone app that you have to run at 2x. Don't do what I did, just buy iPhoto.
I'd like to read some graphic novels again, and this is clearly an area where the iPad is a better device than the kindle. Stanza has PDF capabilities, but it seems to be EOL, so I'm using CloudReaders.
iOS Wish: Multiple accounts
The iPad isn't my first iOS device. I've owned a touch, an iPhone 3G, and an iPhone 4S. Those devices stayed in my pocket, they were 'mine' I don't feel the same way about the iPad, It is a general device that my entire family will use. Suddenly I want multiple accounts. I want my notes, to do lists, email, and work stuff to stay locked down.
iOS Wish: notification contexts
I would like to be able to tell (or schedule) notification contexts for my iOS devices A Sleep context would, for example, disable all notifications and send most phone calls to voicemail. I don't want my iPhone vibrating on my nightstand when someone on Facebook invites me to an event. A Work context would open certain notifications and mute others, and so on.