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ISBS Review: The Apple iPad

By Brian | August 26, 2010 | Share on Facebook

When Apple’s iPad first came out, I wrote this:

As things stand today, if someone were to buy me one as a gift, I’d gladly give it a permanent home in my laptop bag, where it would replace my (old and aging) iPod and probably also my Kindle.

I also linked to this nifty flow chart, which made the (rather satirical) point that while the device is super cool, there’s no real reason to own one, and that this sticking point, along with the high price tag, was going to keep all but the uber-fanboys away.

In the ensuing seven months, I found myself a good rationale reason to own one, bought it, and have been cataloging its pluses and minuses in anticipation of writing this review. For the ADHD crowd, I’ll start with the conclusion, and then we’ll get into the details below the fold.

Conclusion

Overall, I’ll give the iPad an A-. It lives up to the hype in almost every way that matters – coolness factor, ease of use, convenience, functionality, and its ability to integrate itself into one’s daily life. Like any device, it has its downsides, but most of them are relatively minor, and almost all of them are software based, which means they will likely be solved in the coming months. The “why do I need one?” problem still exists, and many people will reach the opposite conclusion that I reached, opting instead for a netbook, an iPhone/iPod Touch, a Kindle/Nook/Sony Reader, or some other combination of gadgetry that checks off the list of iPad enabled functionality. If you get past that question, though, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be satisfied with your purchase.

For those who would like to know more, proceed below with reckless abandon. For everyone else, here’s a video of a man with no arms who plays the piano with his feet.

Why Do I Need One?

My commute to work is roughly 90 minutes each way. During that time, I would typically read something (on the Kindle), watch a video (on my laptop), or sleep. When I got home from work, I’d eat dinner, spend some time with my wife and kids, put the kids to bed, and then sit down to 50-100 personal e-mails, a hundred or so Facebook posts, and a few blogs I like to stay current with. Before I knew it, it was somewhere between 10pm and midnight. From there, it was 30-60 minutes of DVR’ed television, and then off to bed to start all over again. Heck – there’s a reason why this blog is called I Should Be Sleeping.

Not that I’m complaining. The 2-3 hours of computing each night involved catching up with friends and family in a way that wasn’t possible just a few years ago, and I certainly wouldn’t trade it for a world which offered more free time in exchange for being completely disconnected from so many people. That said, there are things missing from the above-described routine. Down time, for example. A full day of staring at a computer screen, followed by most of the night staring at a computer screen, can wear on anybody. Another is exercise. I’ve been promising myself I’d spend more time in my basement workout room than I have been, with the treadmill almost always losing out to the siren’s call of e-mails and Facebook status updates.

So, I decided to buy an iPad to quite literally add three more hours to my day. When I get home from work now, my personal e-mail inbox is basically clear and I’m all caught up with everyone on Facebook. Sometimes, I’ve watched some video or read that (e-)book I’ve been meaning to get to. And, occasionally, if the mood strikes me, I’ve indulged in a video game or two. I have more time with my kids, more time with my wife, more time to exercise, and yes – even more time to sit on my butt and watch some television.

As I said in my intro, this could theoretically have been accomplished without an iPad, but it would have involved a series of devices, all of which I’d have to lug around each day. And now that I have the iPad, I’ve got functionality I wouldn’t have had otherwise, in the form of apps I’ve discovered or apps that have been recommended by AppStore-aware friends and colleagues.

Is this enough of a reason for you to buy an iPad? Maybe not. But it worked for me, and that’s what counts here.

The “Pros”

As I said above, the iPad lives up to the hype. First, there’s the stuff you’ve already read about: the super-slick touch screen interface, where you interact with objects not by pointing an arrow at them and clicking on a mouse button, but by grabbing them with your fingers and moving them around; the “pinch and spread” motions, which quickly become so intuitive that you don’t even realize you’re doing it; and the big, high resolution screen which makes everything from e-mail to pictures & video to the web comfortable to read.

But there are also things that people don’t mention as much. For instance, the gyroscope functionality is hugely under-appreciated. When I hand the iPad to somebody, it literally doesn’t matter how I do it. However they look at it first – portrait or landscape – the image is right-side up and formatted to the screen. If I want to use the device while charging it, I’ll often use it upside-down, so the charger plug is on top and doesn’t press against whatever surface I’m leaning on. The sleek exterior design (just one button and a completely clean bezel) make these actions completely transparent to the user. For those who have been reading my blog for a very long time (and that might literally be just one or two people), it’s the first Internet device in history to register a perfect score on the Mom & Dad Test. If you don’t know what I mean by that, click on the link and read my wisdom from twelve years ago… ;-)

One other thought: the iPad makes the Internet always available, as opposed to an iPhone or Blackberry, which makes the Internet always there. Some may see this as a negative, but having spent time with people who own iPhones, I consider it a major positive. With an iPhone or Blackberry, if one receives an e-mail or an alert message of some kind, there’s a strong temptation to respond immediately, even if you are, let’s say, engaged in conversation with an actual human being at the time. This has quite literally changed our culture. It is now somehow permissible to ignore the person in front of you, or at least divide your attention between him/her and the message you just received on your phone. Heck, some people even think it’s OK to do it while driving a car!

An iPad isn’t like that. If I need to Google something, or write something down, or send an e-mail, I can always pull it out of my bag and do so. If I’m waiting on line, or for a train, or just bored for a while, I can always check my e-mail, read a book, or play a video game. But its size and bulk make it less readily accessible if the e-mail “Bing!” goes off during a conversation. Again, this comes down to personal taste. I like the social behavior the iPad encourages for me. You, of course, may disagree. Excuse me! I’m TALKING HERE!!! WOULD YOU PUT THAT DAMN PHONE DOWN AND LISTEN TO ME?!?!? Sorry, I digress…

The “Cons”

Yes, Mr. Apple Fanboy, there are downsides. I know, I know – it’s sacrilege to even say such a thing, but it’s true. First and foremost, it’s a little heavier than it looks. If I’m using it for a long time, the wrist I’m holding it with starts to hurt a bit and I have to shift positions. A good cover/case, most of which come with some method of propping it up for ease of use, can help in this regard (on the recommendation of a friend, I got this one, which I heartily endorse).

Next is typing. Someone once told me that the typical computer is used for 60% media consumption and 40% media creation, and the iPad is more geared for 90% media consumption and 10% media creation. I have no idea if those numbers are based in any scientific fact, but I can tell you that, as a user of both, they feel about right to me. Don’t get me wrong – Apple did a fine job with the on-screen keyboard. It’s much bigger than the iPhone’s, obviously, and in landscape mode, I can actually touch-type with it (an online typing test scored me at roughly 100 words per minute on a PC and roughly 45 words per minute on the iPad). The thing is, because there is literally zero tactile response on the iPad, you are forced to look at the keyboard the entire time you’re typing. That means two things: first, you’re entirely too dependent on the iPad’s (rather impressive) auto-correct feature, and second (and somewhat related), you really need to re-read everything you type before you send it to someone else. To say I make more typos on the iPad than I do on a regular keyboard is a large understatement, and while auto-correct catches a lot of them, it will miss a few or, worse yet, substitute a word that is either non-sensical or downright embarrassing. So when you factor in the time to proofread everything you’ve typed, the actual speed drops significantly. Bottom line: iPhones encourage Twitter-like messages. iPads allow for longer e-mails, assuming the user is a little patient and willing to proofread. Something like this review, though, still requires a PC.

My third criticism is the reliance on iTunes. The iPad is, simply put, not a thumb drive. Unlike the Kindle, which opened a file folder on my screen when I plugged it into my PC, allowing me to simply drag and drop files onto the device, the iPad consumes media purely through synchronization with iTunes. So, for example, if I wanted to transfer a PDF file to my Kindle, I would just drag it to the Kindle’s file folder. To get it onto my iPad, I have to launch iTunes, click on “Books” in the Library menu, drag the file into iTunes, click on the iPad icon, and press “Sync.” Then I have to wait until iTunes backs up all my iPad files, installs any new applications I bought in the app store, and synchronizes all the files I’ve changed since my last synch (including the PDF I’m interested in). Worse yet, if I want to transfer a file that’s not natively supported by iTunes (say a simple text file – filename.txt), I need to go find an app in the app store that supports .txt files (I chose Quick PDF+), install it, and then drag the file to the special area that iTunes creates for the new app to receive files.

To be fair, if I wanted to synch a file that the Kindle didn’t natively support, I’d be out of luck entirely, so while the iPad is more complex, it’s also much more flexible. Also, Apple offers (for a monthly fee) a service called MobileMe, which is basically a glorified FTP site. With MobileMe, I’d be able to post files to a website on my PC, and then access them through a MobileMe app on the iPad. There are competing products (Evernote, for example) that offer a free (though limited) version of this functionality as well. So there are workarounds, but it’s still not as simple as a regular old thumb drive.

There are other complaints as well, but they’re all software-based. The e-mail client, for example, has multiple problems. It doesn’t allow you to sort your messages in any way other than Order Received, Descending. Nor does it allow you to select a group of e-mails and act on them together (i.e., delete a whole series of e-mails with one tap). It has a search feature, which can simulate e-mail threading, but when you read the mails in a search result, you can’t file them, delete them, or even mark them unread! Finally, you can’t apply any text attributes to your e-mails (i.e., no underlining, no bold or italic text, and no in-line hyperlinks assigned to your text). These problems are surprising, but also very temporary. I’m already told that the mail client in iOS4.0 allows for threading, and I’m patiently waiting for an upgrade to magically appear one day which will solve all of the other problems as well. As a constantly connected device, bug fixes and software updates can happen at any time and in any place. This removes all buyer’s remorse, even in an app as poorly designed as the iPad mail client.

The eBook Reader

Many people have asked me how the iPad compares to the Kindle as an eBook reader. My answer is, “Very poorly.” I say this not because the screen resolution isn’t as good (it isn’t, but not enough to really matter – at least not to me), or because the eReader application, iBooks, is not intuitive (it is), but because on the iPad, the book I sat down to read is always, at best, the third most interesting thing the device has to offer at that moment (behind my e-mail, and whatever web pages/Facebook updates I suddenly realize I need to read). With the Kindle, I’d pick it up to read a book and, without fail, would read the book. For my first couple weeks of iPad ownereship, every time I sat down to read a book, I wound up having to put the iPad away before I even opened iBooks, because I got distracted by everything else it offers.

Now, obviously, this says a lot more about me than it does about the iPad. But, if you’re like me and are easily distracted by shiny new toys (and let’s face it, if you’re considering buying the iPad, you’ve got to be at least a little like that), then it’s definitely a factor you’ll want to consider. The Kindle is very good at what it does, but it doesn’t do much else. The iPad is fine book reader (not as fine as the Kindle, but when I did get around to reading that book, I never once had “tired eyes,” issues with ambient light, etc. that I thought I might have), but it does SO much else, that it just might lure you away from your book. Buyer, as they say, beware.

The “Life Stories”

So, there you have it – the pros and the cons. But no review of the iPad would be complete without a few of the “jeez, I couldn’t have done that before I got my iPad” stories. I suspect that every iPad owner (and probably a lot of iPhone owners) have a few of these. Here are some of mine:

1) Driving around the traffic
I was driving to my home in North Jersey from Atlantic City, and became stuck in traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike. I turned to the Maps application on the iPad, and enabled the “traffic” feature. The resulting map told me where the traffic started and where it ended (amazingly accurately, I might add). It also put a pulsing, blue dot on the map, which indicated my current location. So, I was free to get off the Turnpike at the next exit, drive on whatever road presented itself to me, confident that as long as I could track the blue dot on the map, I knew where I was going. Eventually, I wound up driving around the traffic, and then guiding the blue dot back to the Turnpike for the remainder of my trip. To this day, I have no idea what route I took, nor do I care. I won’t be taking it again. If another trip involves traffic, I’ll simply take the most efficient route as is called for at the time.

2) Remote Control DVR
I went to a Yankee game on July 23, 2010 – the day after Alex Rodriguez hit his 599th career homerun. Everyone was very excited to see #600 which, alas, did not happen that night. On the way home, I searched for and downloaded the Verizon FIOS application, authorized it with a code from their website, and within minutes was staring at my home DVR’s current recording schedule and the FIOS program guide, just like on my TV. I was able to record the next day’s game without going home. And, when he didn’t hit #600 the next day, I was able to delete the recording of that game, and set the DVR to record the next game. I realize that for many Cable TV services, this is possible on the web, but most portable internet devices make it difficult or impossible to navigate those websites remotely. In this case, I went from no capability to downloading, installing and using a fully-functional application in a matter of minutes.

3) Flickr
At a family discussion over one weekend, someone mentioned a trip we had taken some time ago. I knew I had posted pictures of the trip to my Flickr account, but didn’t have the pictures with me. Out comes the iPad: app store, search for Flickr app, download, login, click on photo album, pass the iPad around for “flick & view” viewing by all family members. Flickr just became a whole lot more useful…

4) What’s the Name of that Song?
My younger son was the lead in his camp play this summer. He had four songs he had to learn by show night, which they had given to him on a CD. I offered to put them on his iPod for him, but to upload them into iTunes, I wanted to properly categorize them by Artist, Album, Year, etc. (I’m a bit obsessive about my iTunes library, by the way). Some of these songs, though, were completely unrecognizable to me. Once again, out comes the iPad: download Shazam (which, by the way, allows full functionality for free on the iPad, even though iPhone users only get 5 songs per month for free and have to pay for the rest. I don’t know why, but I’m not arguing). Anyway, I cue up my son’s CD, put my iPad to the speakers, and in a few seconds, the iPad is telling me everything I needed to know about each song. My iTunes catalog remains pristine…

5) Buying a Webcam
My in-laws asked me to buy them a webcam, so they can Skype with their grandchildren. I went in search of a cheap, but decent quality, webcam and found myself staring at two Logitech products in a store display. One was $10 cheaper than the other. I asked the store worker what the difference was, and he told me that one provided a 640×480 display and the other provided a 720×480 display. In his opinion, he told me, the extra $10 was not worth it for such a small increase in resolution. Still, 720×480 seemed very odd to me. Out comes the iPad: Google search “Logitech webcam specs,” select the one in question and, sure enough, the more expensive one provided 1280×720 resolution. The store worker, upon seeing this, apologized for being “confused.”

Conclusion (again)

As I said at the top of this piece (remember the top? All those hours ago?), I give the iPad an A-. It does everything I hoped it would do, plus a bunch of things I didn’t expect it to do, and while there are a few things I wish were better, they are either livable and/or fixable with the next software upgrade. Bravo, Apple. Job (Jobs?) well done…

Topics: Tech Talk | 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “ISBS Review: The Apple iPad”

  1. Jeff Porten says at August 26th, 2010 at 9:30 am :
    Apple announced today that their next Music Event is 9/1 — that’ll be the announcement of the new iPod touch, and most likely, a date certain for the rollout of iOS 4 for the iPad. (I seriously doubt they’d release the new touch without the iPad upgrade.)

    Also, check out this web OS I reviewed today at Macworld; it sounds like it’ll solve some of the problems you listed here, and I’m curious to know which of the included web apps work on your iPad.

  2. Suzanne says at August 26th, 2010 at 12:18 pm :
    Nice review, Brian. If you want to get documents onto your iPad without going through iTunes, email them to yourself. The email app is capable of opening PDFs, TXTs, and MS Office docs.

    If you want something more sophisticated, try ReaddleDocs. It can open many different formats, suck attachments out of email messages, download PDFs from the web for local storage, and will connect to online storage sites like Google Docs. Best of all, the app can be mounted as a shared folder over a wi-fi connection. Drag and drop from your laptop, just like a thumb drive!

    I agree that the email client sucks, but it seems you missed the mass delete/move feature. It’s cleverly disguised as an “Edit” button.

    I’ve got the latest OS on my iPhone. The collapsed conversations, a la GMail, are nice, and the automatic spell check is helpful. Still not great, but better. The lack of rich text in email is unfortunate, but not surprising. It took Apple 2+ years to add cut/copy/paste and picture messages. They move at their own pace.

  3. jason says at August 26th, 2010 at 7:50 pm :
    Brian, if you ever lose your current gig, you could probably find a new career in copy writing. Seriously, your “life stories” sound like the scenarios my copy people make up for brochures! (Actually, yours are better.)

    I recently played around with a friend’s iPad, and while I still don’t think I have much practical use for one, it is a very groovy piece of hardware. I’m especially intrigued by the possibilities of a “digital photoalbum.” I’ve got one of those digital picture frame things, but it’s not quite practical for sitting in a comfy chair and browsing — the ergonomics are wrong, the interface isn’t quite right, etc.

    I also like the idea of catching up on Facebook, blogging, etc., while on the train, but I think for my purposes, a regular keyboard would be needed.

  4. Brian says at August 27th, 2010 at 12:21 am :
    @Jeff #1: Glide provides the same workaround for the “thumb drive” problem as MobileMe (although Glide does it for free – like Evernote and several others). The thing is, these are web-based storage solutions, not local solutions. I’m rarely in a place without 3G coverage, but there are times when I’d prefer my content be on the iPad itself, not on accessible via web server. (NOTE: Evernote does make local copies using its iPad app). And none of them are as simple as an actual thumb drive.

    @Suzanne #2: the e-mail solution works for a while, but iPad e-mail is IMAP, not POP3, so when I open Outlook on my home PC and it downloads all of my mail (Outlook is POP3), then the mail disappears from my iPad. This makes the e-mail client an inconvenient place to store important documents. You could literally lock yourself out of your home e-mail if you didn’t want to lose a document on the iPad.

    @Suzanne #2 again: Yes, there is an ‘Edit” button, but it only provides mass-delete functionality in the “Trash” mailbox. If you want to delete 100 e-mails from your Inbox, you must tap “Edit,” and then individually tap each of the 100 messages to select them. Then you can tap “Delete.” Ideally, I’d like to search for a common term in those 100 e-mails, generate the list and then tap “Edit” and “Delete All.” But after you search, the Edit button is gone! For shame, for shame…

    @Jason #3: Glad you like the life stories. It’s good to know I have a career to fall back on. ;-)

  5. Suzanne says at August 27th, 2010 at 11:42 am :
    @Brian #4 – Trying to figure out where all of your email lives is making my head hurt! Nevertheless, I see your point. Using email as document storage is a lame workaround. Using it as a transport, however, is better than having to hook up to iTunes. Use an app on the iPad to permanently store the attachment for you, and your disappearing email issue goes away.

    Do you literally want to plug a USB thumb drive into your iPad? If so, have you investigated the camera connection kit? I’ve seen posts about mounting external sticks/drives via the camera kit, but it requires that you jailbreak the iPad.

  6. Brian says at August 27th, 2010 at 11:32 pm :
    @Suzanne #5: I did buy the camera connection kit, which does let me transfer pictures from an SD card directly to the iPad’s Photos app. I haven’t tried the USB attachment yet, nor have I tried non-photo files. That said, yes – the camera connection kit is the simplest way to get files onto the iPad (drag & drop, rather than using iTunes or e-mailing/FTP.

    My only issue there is once I sync the iPad with the PC, I don’t know where (or even if?) the files are on the PC. I know this sounds like me being very picky, but I like to know where the files are, physically, and is method is a little obscure. I need to Google a bit to learn more…

  7. Suzanne says at August 28th, 2010 at 11:15 am :
    @Brian #6 – I don’t have the camera kit, so the following is based solely on posts that I’ve read.

    Out of the box, the iPad will not import non-picture files through the camera kit. It only recognizes specific picture file formats stored in a DCIM folder and imports them into the Photos app.

    See here for the hack to access other types of files:

    http://www.tuaw.com/2010/05/11/hacksugar-working-with-ipad-mounted-usb-drives/

    Once you’ve got your external drive mounted, you use an app like GoodReader or ReaddleDocs to manage the files.

    From a purely academic standpoint, jailbreaking the iPad and mucking around at the OS level looks likes fun (which is why I’ve been reading about it). Practically speaking, it’s a lot of effort and the usability of this method is poor.

    I still think your best bet is an app that allows you to connect directly to the iPad over a network. I’m very happy with ReaddleDocs. I can open an Explorer folder on my laptop, copy files into the folder, and I’m done. If you were using a USB stick, you’d only be half done, having transferred the file to the stick but not yet onto the iPad. Physical connections are so 90s! Harness the power of wireless networking!

    As for the syncing part, what iTunes does with some stuff is a bit of a mystery. File transfers, however, are more transparent. If you get yourself set up to pull files off a thumb drive, you’ll be copying them into a folder managed by an App. File syncing for the App through iTunes is manual, i.e. you’re using the same File Sharing facility with the Add/SaveAs buttons that you’re probably already familiar with.

    No matter which method you choose, I think you can do better than QuickPDF. GoodReader has much more functionality and is only $0.99 right now. ReaddleDocs is a bit more ($4.99) but in my opinion has a friendlier looking interface than GoodReader.

  8. Brian says at August 28th, 2010 at 12:33 pm :
    Wow, Suzanne, you’ve clearly researched thoroughly. Thanks for all the info!

    To be clear, I agree that mounting a thumb drive on the iPad would be 50% of a solution, and I’ll probably check out Readdledocs. The ideal setup, though, would be what the Kindle does, which is making the iPad itself act like a thumb drive – plug it into a PC with a USB cable and just drag files from the PC directly to the iPad. The files would then be available without a network connection in their native application. Stuff like Readdledocs get closer, but the iPad just isn’t set up for that exact scenario.

    The point from the review was that this wasn’t entirely clear to me until I owned one, so hopefully this discussion is informative to someone else who’s shopping around…

  9. Jeff Porten says at August 28th, 2010 at 1:40 pm :
    I don’t recommend jailbreaking your iPad right now — iOS 4 is right around the corner, and until that drops, there’s no way of knowing how annoying it will be to undo a jailbreak (if necessary) before upgrading.

    The “Mac way” of managing files on an iPad is through iTunes — although this is limited to the (surprisingly large) range of files that iTunes can handle. Theoretically, if you use iTunes as it’s intended, you never need to dig into your HD filesystem, because iTunes manages that for you. But right-clicking on any file in iTunes gives you a “show me where this is” on the Mac, so I assume it’s the same on your side of the Great Divide.

    Alternately, we have a great excuse to get together sometime with your laptop, your iPad, and a couple of beers and figure out how to solve these problems….

  10. Brian says at August 28th, 2010 at 10:01 pm :
    Yeah, I’m not jail breaking my iPad for any reason. As Suzanne said, it’s an interesting theoretical discussion, but the iPad works now, and taking it off the upgrade path seems silly to me unless I really need it to do something it doesn’t do.

    As for iTunes, I like your terminology – it’s the “Mac way.” It “just works,” although the details are sometimes a little fuzzy. There is a right-click “show in Windows Explorer” option, but your statement about iTunes’ “surprisingly large” range isn’t accurate (at least not on the Windows side). Each media type offers one or two common choices, and there’s a few important ones missing – .pdf, .avi, .txt, .doc, .prc, .wmv, and so on. For these, you need additional software, as we’ve been discussing, and once you go that route, the amount of convenience and/or transparency you get varies pretty widely.

    As I said, the alternative devices (like the Kindle) are less flexible. With them, it either works (very straight-forward) or it doesn’t work at all – period. I much prefer it the iPad way, I’m just pointing out the ideal solution.

    One other thing I just thought of – with a Kindle or other such device, I could use my laptop (or even yours, I think) to transfer files. With iTunes, you’re synching with authorized machines. So it would HAVE to be my home office PC. Otherwise, I’d lose all my other content in the sync, and I’d have to authorize a new machine to sync with (putting me closer to the limit, which I think is 3 or 4). Again – the “Mac way.” As long as you don’t do anything unexpected, everything works great. Go off the beaten path, though, and obstacles arise…

  11. Suzanne says at August 29th, 2010 at 1:32 pm :
    I guess I spend a lot of time looking into these things because the “Mac way” kind of annoys me. I like the nuts and bolts. Occupational hazard, or maybe it’s 20 years of Microsoft brainwashing.

    Let us know how you get on Brian. I’d be interested in seeing how your review might change six months from now.

  12. Jeff Porten says at September 4th, 2010 at 7:40 pm :
    Coming back late with a few thoughts.

    1) It’s always possible to reverse a jailbreaking by reinstalling. So you could fiddle with it and return to the upgrade path. Again, though, it’s not something I recommend unless there’s a compelling Cydia app you need.

    2) Announced Wednesday: iOS for iPad not due until November. So I was wrong in my predictions, and mea culpa.

    3) I’m pretty sure your iTunes will handle PDFs, as those are a possible media type for podcasts. Try subscribing to some iTunes U content: the WWDC lectures, for example, show up as a video and a PDF. I’d be very surprised if that doesn’t work for you.

    4) FWIW, I’m generally opposed to closed systems like the iTunes ecosystem. The “Mac way” is closed and straightforward when you stick to the iLife apps like iTunes, but in almost every case that I’m aware of, nearly everything is possible with sufficient hacking. (Possible, of course, need not mean desirable.) My guess is that 95% of what you want your iPad to do isn’t unique, so chances are, someone will have published a workaround.

  13. Brian says at September 5th, 2010 at 2:57 pm :
    @Jeff #12:

    1) I’ve had a long-standing policy when it comes to computers of not doing anything that’s untested/unendorsed by the manufacturer unless it’s absolutely necessary. Over the years, it’s occasionally kept me away from the bleeding edge, but it’s also allowed me to avoid wiping hard drives, cold resets, complications during OS upgrades, loss of entire drives worth of data, etc.. As such, I won’t be jail-breaking my iPad, even if there’s a way back. The long-term cost/benefit just isn’t there…

    2) I don’t know, November’s pretty “right around the corner,” so you weren’t that far off. Either way, I’ll be sure to report back on what, exactly, changes…

    3) no need to download content I don’t need. What I will try, when I get a chance, is dragging a PDF file into the Podcast section of iTunes. If it works, it’ll be interesting where they show up on the iPad. To be fair, though, .PDF was the least of my worries, because the “extra app” that handles them best is iBooks, which is not only free, but also integrates natively with iTunes (in that it creates a “Books” section in iTunes, where I can drag/drop .PDF files). So this will be more of a theoretical exercise than anything else…

    4) I guess what we’re discussing here is the differenve between “it just works” and “nearly everything is possible with sufficient hacking.”. You and I have spent many megabytes discussing what would change for Apple when their marketshare got out of the single digits, and this was always one of the things I predicted: the illusion of “open standards” gives way to the reality of “everything works as long as you use our stuff 100% of the time.”

    If they follow the IBM/WordPerfect/Lotus/Netscape/AOL/Microsoft pattern (which I see no reason to believe they won’t), complaints about closed systems that are bubbling now (not just iTunes, but also multi-tasking, Flash, direct USB storage, etc.) will eventually come to a boil (as multi-tasking already has), then the devices will become more flexible, then people will create more complex configurations of both hardware and software, then they will complain about more frequent system crashes, then Apple will begin taking steps to distinguish between OS problems and third-party software issues.

    Their current strategy of “we’re not changing, the rest of the world should do things our way” has never lasted before. Well see if Apple turns out to be different than all the rest…

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