iOS 5.1

Everyone’s going nuts over the new iPad (as usual), and I’ve been enjoying bits and pieces of the fallout, starting with the iOS and app upgrade frenzy.

It might just be a placebo effect, but 5.1 feels somewhat snappier even on my iPad Classic, and the sliding camera gesture is very handy indeed on my 3GS, so 5.1 is a definite plus.

There are, however, a few things I keep pining for and that I think worth repeating - hopefully not in the usual disparaging way most Apple-bashing pundits seem to adopt these days.

The first is that I’m still unable to download hand-picked items from Home Sharing - being able to do so from a Mac but not from an iOS device is infuriatingly inconsistent, and given that iTunes Match is still missing in action in my market, makes rotating the music on my devices (and preloading cartoons for the kids) a needlessly frustrating affair that bugs me repeatedly week after week.

The second is that there is no official Back to my Mac / Apple Remote Desktop client for iOS. There is no end of third-party alternatives (always a good sign that it’s a feature I’m not alone in wanting), but none of them are quite good enough or quite seamless enough for me - while Apple would probably prefer to have iOS as a completely distinct proposition from the “conventional” desktop environment, that doesn’t play well with their current iOS-i-fication of Mac OS X, and there is a lot of stuff that you still need access to a conventional computer to achieve - so why not make it easier for users and have them reach their Mac without hassles?

Finally, I keep hoping that Apple will add Command-Tab app switching when you use a Bluetooth keyboard.

Like I pointed out many times in the past, switching between apps is something that humans do extensively while accomplishing a single task (the cardinal example is writing while looking up references), and using an iPad with an external keyboard is still a pain largely because of that omission1.

As to the new iPad, yeah, I’ll be getting one. Eventually.

Even though it’s a not the kind of thing you’d buy on impulse in the midst of a financial crisis, it’s still the best value for money by far as far as tablets are concerned, and I like to think that the MacBook I’m posting this from will be my last conventional laptop.

Too bad that the entry-level model is a little tight on storage even if you don’t intend to use photos or media - I have most of my iPad Classic’s 16GB taken up by apps and associated data, so I’ll be getting a 32GB model at least. And even if it’s not really LTE for me, having a single device that I can use to get stuff done from everywhere and with that kind of battery life is, well, awesome, and even more so if it can double as a personal hotspot.

The only trouble with this is, as I was reminded of today, that sometimes even 3G coverage is woefully bad, so a separate device to act as a personal hotspot (and to set by the window while you sit comfortably wherever you please) might actually be a lot more convenient for travel…

It’s also going to be a great weekend computer for photography, even though I’m a bit miffed that iPhoto requires a front-facing camera (and, oddly, is unavailable for the iPod Touch), since that means I can’t run it on any other of my current devices.

  1. This falls under the category of things that Android does reasonably well and in a mostly sensible fashion (i.e., as per the principle of least astonishment) and that iOS still hasn’t gotten quite right. Then again Android’s batting average is, well, astonishingly bad in most other regards. ↩︎