I was quite the skeptic of the iPad when it was first announced, I even foolishly declared it as DOA on twitter shortly after the keynote ended. Which as is obvious, making such a statement about any Apple product is silly, let alone the iPad. So my iPad 2 arrived yesterday rather out of the blue, I had initially been given dates that landed delivery a week into June!
But the order strangely came through. My views on what a tablet computer should be have changed, I saw then as an extension to the regular pc, but I no longer think that. Digital media and the internet provide plenty of information, and I love consuming that information.
After spending a little longer with the iPad’s browser, on that nice large screen and then taking a little look around the iPad specific App store, I’ve realised that this is a consumption device. It isn’t supposed to be replacing your laptop or your desktop computer, they’re your production machines.
When you see the news formatted in such a way that Flipboard, Alien Blue HD or the BBC news app presents it’s information, you realise there are few other ways that are more enjoyable to consume this information. There is something about touching it and moving it around that large screen, and I hate the fact I’ve just written that line, because I’m convinced something similar is used in Apple’s marketing for the device.
To give a little balance to this though, the iPad still has quite a way to go. As far as interface design goes, it has the core elements of what made the iPhone great, and most of that works perfectly here. But the problem is there hasn’t been much more, there is much wasted space, I know Apple’s clean design principles often warrant this, but not on this scale. There is information that can fill up these gaps, that vast empty lock screen, nothing but a clock and the date, fantastic.
There are also some restrictions on the system that don’t help it distinguish between it’s little iPhone brother, and that is the lack of storage functionality. We get it Apple, you don’t want to give us access to the file system, then don’t! Just give us a partitioned off section that is available to all applications, you can flood the rest of the file system with all the protection you want, but something to make passing data around a little easier could transform this device.
Finally, I’d like to note Air Video. It is a third party application that deals with streaming your media over the network to your iPad, that can be a local network or it’s remote streaming feature that allows you to stream your content over the internet, via 3G or wi-fi. It works brilliantly well and even gets around iTunes DRM (by streaming them to the Safari browser, thus allowing it to identify the device as an authorised one to play the content).