Monday, 7 June 2010

A week with Apple's iPad: five more thoughts

1. It really is a great web browser, with simplicity as a strength. In fact, any media created for digital display will look good, which includes traditional documents, photos and video. The noticeable absence of Flash adverts, particularly on US sites, is a welcome side-effect of Apple's shunning of Adobe's ubiquitous web plug-in.

2. It's a poor e-book/e-magazine reader. The intense glare from the backlight can easily be reduced, but not eliminated, which becomes tiring. Specular reflections from the glossy display are a nuisance, but more so is the touchscreen, which begs for interaction, and the desire to tap an icon or swipe away a page can become an overwhelming distraction from reading.

3. The battery life rocks. I run the iPad typically 36 hours or more between charges. The downside: a full charge takes around 3 hours.

4. The beautiful screen easily shows fingerprint marks, but a thorough daily scrub is sufficient to maintain a glossy sheen.

5. Editing paragraphs of text with the on-screen keyboard is certainly possible, but feels frustrating. An external keyboard would be a must for anyone planning to use the iPad as a productivity tool, or as a laptop replacement.

Apps will probably determine the iPad's longer-term value. Many apps offer an enhanced engagement with the web, which is over and above the typical experience of visiting a site. Interactions are often streamlined or supercharged. Apps can also expose and curate content, and can effectively marshall and present information in ways that the site designers might never have considered or afforded.

Apps linked to web sites ultimately leverage the iPad's greatest strengths and qualities. If your digital life is deeply integrated with the web then the iPad provides a rich user-experience through a natural and compelling interface, and comfortably occupies the expanding niche between laptops and smart phones.

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