The iPad is both the best and worst kept secret to come from the computing powerhouse / genius of Apple.Like many, prior to its launch, I’ve been reading the various rumour sites imagining what it might be like, what I need from it and trying to discern fact from fiction.Now that it’s here, I’ve done a quick synopsis of what I think are its strengths and weaknesses based on the available Apple information.
Given that the iPad can be considered a larger iPod Touch / iPhone, there are many strengths being carried forward in terms of the included applications, and there’s no point in re-iterating what we already know.I’ve selected a few that I think are noteworthy.
Touch enabled iWork Suite
Having used DocumentsToGo on the iPhone, the addition of a full-fledged word processor, spreadsheet and presentation application is very welcome.The only thing missing is a stylus and inking.But more about that later.
What else is there to say – incredible (and still profitable) pricing.
Full bezel to grip the device
Although not really, a strength, it’s worth mentioning because there’ve been some comments that the bezel is too large and not in alignment with an ‘Ives’ design.But you do need something to grip without putting your fingers over the top of your content.The iPhone design where the screen goes almost to the edge on the left / right (when holding vertically) is fine because it fits in your palm – you don’t really grip it like a book.
No front facing camera
This, along with no apparent MS Exchange support is one of the two biggest weaknesses for the iPad.I want to be able to make video calls, especially with such a large screen available, either direct through a built in 2G / 3G phone application, or a Skype or similar application.
Clearly, the camera would need to make use of face tracking and stabilisation (using the accelerometer) to keep a stead image.
No apparent MS Exchange support
The Apple website notes that the email client works with popular email services such as Mobile Me, Gmail and Hotmail.But there’s no mention of MS Exchange.It seems a bit strange to attract business users with the iWork suite but not include exchange connectivity.I really hope this is just an oversight on Apple’s part.
Screen resolution is too low and 4:3 ratio
For a video playback device, not having a 16:9 ratio is very surprising.Also, the screen resolution should be at least 1280×768 (or 800) or even 1366×768 (or 800) to enjoy a full widescreen movie.
Along with this weakness, the single speaker also limits the video playback appeal of the iPad.
Only one speaker
For a device touted as a multimedia playback device, having only one speaker is amazing.The device needs at least three speakers, using the onboard sensors to determine which orientation the iPad is at.This assumes a speaker is located on three corners (rather than partway down the side), with sound only being played from two of the speakers, depending on orientation.Four speakers could be used orienting them part way down the sides as they are now.
No pen / inking support
This is what I think is one of the killer features for both the education and business market.Apple’s had inking in Mac OSX for a while now.People say Steve Jobs dislikes styluses – maybe this is the reason for its absense.
64GB is not enough
For a multimedia device, 64GB just doesn’t cut it.128GB should be the current largest option.Unless it works like my Apple TV and connects to my iTunes to share files when in range.
Use of a Micro SIM instead of a normal SIM
There is no apparent reason to include a micro SIM unless it’s to support some level of carrier lockin.
Cannot make calls
I’m guessing you think this is a strange one???And no, I do not mean to hold the iPad up to your ear and look like you’ve got a 1970s mobile phone!!
I imagine working on the iPad, and making calls using the headset or handsfree.After all, if you’ve got to have another SIM card, you might as well make the most of it (notwithstanding the cheaper data only SIM cards that the iPad uses).Not everyone uses Skype / SkypeOut.
No wireless syncing
Also missing from the iPhone is wireless syncing.Why would I have to plug in the iPad (or iPhone for that matter) to perform a sync?
>I appreciate that the iPhone (and presumably the iPad) is performing a back up of the various apps and settings and this may amount to several hundred megabytes (especially with, say, a navigation application installed), but syncing could be reduced (e.g. latest settings) when connecting wirelessly, or an option set to sync all, as a hard connection would do.
It’s up to the user to deal with this, especially when the iPhone is docked elsewhere and within range of their wireless network.
No Finder / network browsing
When you start offering productivity applications of the caliber of iWork, you need to provide proper file management, not just some synchronisation folder, especially when in the presence of your wireless network.
On windows, I use the offline files / folders and this works brilliantly.I don’t have to move files around a temporary store and deal with version issues.
For the iPad, I should be able to access my files remotely and work on them, rather than having to make a special copy of it.
Various news sites have reported the following as weaknesses.I’ve included them here because I don’t think they’re show stoppers.
Although there is an adaptor, if the iPad comes with the few extras, such as a built in camera, there’s no need for it.What would you really attach to it as opposed to merely having the possibility of connecting something?
No Adobe Flash support
Having used the iPhone for quite a while and racking up some 500MB per month of browsing (a little or a lot, depending on your usage), I have not missed Flash, although it would have been nice to have on a few occasions.
I did think it was interesting that the initial promotional videos from Apple included websites with Flash content being shown, which have now been replaced.
For me, applications (on the iPhone 3G) start fast enough as you close out of one and start another.The Apple ones and some others behave correctly and resume where you left off.
Key applications like the phone (i.e., on the iPhone), iPod player, and some others are all the ones I’ve found myself using simultaneously (e.g. checking my calendar while on a call).If preserving battery life has the small price of no multitasking, then it’s a fair price.
I can only imagine that the next version will be significantly stronger in terms of some or all of the above weaknesses.I appreciate that including too much functionality from other devices (such as the iPhone, or MacBooks) causes confusion and makes it difficult to establish a new product category, but I think that some of the omissions, for the device it is, are very surprising.
Assuming it’s a multimedia playback device, the following weaknesses are an issue:
- Mono speaker
- 4:3 ratio screen and low(ish) resolution
- Only 64GB of storage
Assuming it’s a low cost, low power computing / productivity device, then the following weaknesses are an issue:
- No Finder / file management / remote file access
- No apparent MS Exchange support
- No front facing camera
Assuming it’s an education device, then the following weaknesses are an issue:
- No pen input / inking (for notes, drawing, etc.)
- No Finder / file management
You can see that the iPad doesn’t quite tick all the boxes, no matter which category it’s in.I’d link to think that Apple is testing the waters with the iPad and will embark on a process of continual refinement.I hope that many of the above issues are addressed immediately in the next version – some of them are pretty obvious.
Perhaps the price is too cheap?A few more of the core functionality and perhaps there really will be a killer category.
However, having said all that, I’m sure it’ll sell like hotcakes.