Do You Still Like It

or... only time will tell.

Earth Date 2010.08.21

Posted by Rich Wheadon | Permalink

When I pre-ordered my iPad 3G in April I had a lot of people say they were going to wait for the prices to drop since the tablet probably wasn’t going to take off like Apple was saying it would. Then my iPad arrived in May and people looked at it and said they would rather have a smartphone. As I began to use the iPad and enjoy it as a casual computing device people began complaining that the iPad (which they didn’t own yet) couldn’t print, it couldn’t upload files to websites, it couldn’t save things from websites, it can’t play flash games and movies, and blah blah blah.

More and more people are now coming to me with a new question…

“Do you still like your iPad?” they ask me.

I love my iPad. I am beginning to get much more comfortable with all the things I can do with Apple’s tablet computer. I even downloaded Canon’s app that allows me to queue jobs on mywifi printer. (photos only) For 3.99 I bought an app that turns my iPad into a GPS. The iPad has almost become a fixture, but not quite.

First a shortlist of things I do on my iPad:

I now use my MacBook Pro a lot less at home. I don’t take the time to open my MBP anymore unless I’m doing “real” things like development, blogging, Woot-Offs and any heavy browsing. Let me explain these few focus areas that aren’t a good fit for me on my iPad… yet.

As an application developer I read books and tinker with code. I need to be able to access a file system, a terminal window, a text editor, an IDE and a server / database. If I were to ever expect the iPad to provide support for my developer needs then I would be living in a pipe dream. I’m fine without being able to write code on the iPad, but there are some folks out there that seem to want to push that envelope.

I still love my iPad even though it’s not a development tool for me.

First a little background. I run my blog on an inexpensive VCS. The server image I run on is fairly low in resources so I choose to serve up static pages. The benefit of these static pages is speed to retrieve them and high probability that they will cache very well. Since there is no processing of data out of a database or application server container I have a very trim and speedy site.

I’ve blogged about what I use before so I’ll be brief. To forge content for my blog pages I only need a text editor to write my content and a file system that allows me to save things in the proper directory structure. The only part of what I need existing on the iPad is the text editor. The foreseeable future of an iPad does not fit my current blogging model.

I could switch to something else, maybe write a little UI for entering my blogs… but I’m not really interested in changing my blogging paradigm to fit the iPad.

I still love my iPad even though it’s more for reading my blogs than writing my blogs

Woot-Offs and Heavy Browsing
I’ve confessed to my Woot! addiction in the past. I am fairly engaged during their selling frenzy called a Woot-Off. Part of the fun in a Woot-Off is following several categories at a time. I currently use Firefox and several open tabs so that woot, kids.woot and whatever other Woot! I want to follow are all running and being updated.

Safari, the only viable browser on the iPad does not have tabs. Without being able to open multiple tabs for the Woot-Off I find the iPad amazingly useless. The net of the Woot-Off weakness in this case means I have the MacBook open and full volume for 24 -72 hours of a Woot-Off.

Similarly heavy browsing is not enjoyable on the iPad. We are limited in the number of Safari windows we can run at one time and navigating between them is clunky compared to how tabs work on the full client browser found in OSX and Windows. If you are like me and work across more tabs than the screen can fill, then you browse on more than a casual level.

I still love my iPad even though it stinks for Woot-Offs

So many still think the iPad will fall flat, other tablets are touted as viable candidates to trounce it into minimal market share. I would try another tablet if it looks truly viable, but if what I’ve seen positioned as rolling out on Android is what is considered the “killer” part of this equation I’m out.

Yup, I still love my iPad and they’re only going to get better.