iPad, Therefore I Am


I was going to put up a mammoth, exquisitely detailed post on how I was faring with the iPad after a month, but that ship has sailed because there were a lot of changes on my usage patterns – at least enough for me to bin the bulk of the post and just put down that even though I’m going to get a new laptop at work, the iPad is currently my primary personal computer.

And I mean that in the sense that it is not only the one I carry around with me all the time (to, from and inside work) but also the one I choose to use at home for just about anything but coding. I write these posts on it, draft presentations on it, review spreadsheets on it, and, of course, take in and interact with all sorts of media and services, including a growing collection of e-books.

It is a drag not being able to code on it, but I strongly suspect that day will come (in fact, I already code on it, but only to the extent of tweaking existing code via Dropbox or creating short snippets for later inclusion in other stuff).

Regardless of that, and since I still rely on mostly the same apps since I started using it (with the recent addition of the brilliant TaskPaper, which I keep hoping will get a Dropbox-enabled version soon), creating stuff on it has been an interesting experience.

Yes, I do mean create – whomever tells you that the iPad is only good for media consumption is an idiot, period – I’ve probably typed more e-mails and drafted more documents on it for the past month or so than on anything else, and it’s all due to the incredible focus it brings to using it. All those lines about it becoming the app you’re interacting with are true, and that matters a lot as far as productivity and usability are concerned, although I’ll freely grant that the current iWork suite has quirks and shortcomings.

In fact, I dread the upcoming 4.2 version of iOS because it will likely make the iPad less of a productive environment due to the way it’s going to make it very easy to switch apps and lose your thread of thought.

Also, I keep wondering why Apple hasn’t done (on any device) a touch-oriented way to switch apps – a triple-finger drag, for instance, could be used to push the current foreground app sideways and reveal the next background one, a la Spaces or the ancient, pre-Multifinder Switcher.

And yes, there is a degree of deja vu to the way Apple is developing iOS, but that would warrant an entirely different post and my attention span is currently impacted by a rather annoying cold.

As to its competition, and picking an example I’ve had plenty of time with, having handled Samsung Tab prototypes of various provenances and revisions, I’d say they’re still miles off.

A Tab is, physically, almost exactly half the size of an iPad, and although we could go on about specs, features, ergonomics and whatnot, the mere fact that the built-in productivity apps are shameless dumbed-down rip-offs of Apple’s (without addressing functionality gaps or providing distinctive features) kind of sets the tone for the first generation of wannabe competitors.

Addressing one of the “selling points” of the Tab directly, it being “pocketable” (an interestingly ludicrous assertion that assumes you have a counter-weight on the other side of your jacket or vest to prevent them from sliding off your shoulders) is not an improvement or a distinctive feature – it’s a gimmick, and as most gimmicks, not that important in the long run.

So I’m a convert, even if the current iPad hardware (and apps) are yet far from perfect. But as in many other cases, the path is more important than the destination – and it’s going to be a lot of fun following it.

[d]apps/Dropbox

[tp]apps/TaskPaper

[mf]Wikipedia:MultiFinder

[sw]Wikipedia:MultiFinder#Switcher

[kn]apps/Keynote

[mm]MobileMe

[b]Bluetooth