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iPad

Posted on Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Dave!I fully admit to being a total Apple Whore. I love Apple. I (heart) Macintosh. I worship Steve Jobs. If Jonathan Ive were to ask me to have his baby, I'd look into the necessary surgery. My MacBook Pro is more important to me than tacos. If I had to choose between losing a testicle or losing my iPhone, I'd give it some serious thought... and then say goodbye to one of my testicles. I don't just drink the Apple Kool-Aid, I have a constant supply being fed intravenously. I stop short of masturbating during a Steve Jobs keynote, but just watching him on-stage as he changes the world is enough for me to want to touch myself inappropriately.

This is not news. I've proclaimed my slutty predisposition so many times in this blog that if you were to Google Image Search "Apple Whore" I come up at #5. Literally...

Dave really IS an Apple Whore!

Well, okay, it's me as a Lil' Dave cartoon, but you get the picture.

And yet... my being an Apple Whore is not a totally unhealthy relationship because there are things I don't like about Apple and their products, and have never been afraid to say so (how else will they learn?). In this respect I have no problem being proud of my whore status.

Which brings us to Apple's latest miracle on earth... the iPad...

Apple iPad

Glorious, isn't it?

Well, kind of.

If your need of a "computer" extends to casual email and web surfing, renting an occasional video, looking at an occasional photo album, and perhaps playing a few games from time to time... well, it's great. And there's even bonus stuff like a calendar, address book, e-reader, and various cool apps you can add. This puts your "digital life" in the palm of your hand in a way that most people would absolutely love.

Myself included.

Except this device isn't really made for me... both because of what I need out of a "computer" and what Apple left out. Sure I want an iPad (I'm an Apple Whore, after all), but I certainly don't need an iPad. In all honesty, it's just an unnecessary extra piece of equipment that my MacBook Pro and iPhone already have covered (and covered much better).

That being said... this is just fantastic for its target audience.

But not flawless by any means.

I'm not going to nitpick the thing apart here with my personal wish-list for a tablet machine. That would be kind of pointless given that I need an actual "computer" and this is more of a "device with some computer functionality." I'm not who Apple built the iPad for, so complaining that it doesn't have a 500 gig hard drive and run Photoshop is just plain stupid. What I will do is list the two things that most bother me... keeping the intended user in mind.

• No iChat Camera.
This is simply unfathomable. Apple will stuff a camera in a freakin' iPod NANO... but doesn't put a camera on the iPad for video conferencing ability? And I don't want to hear about how this would adversely affect AT&T's already overburdened network... they could have easily limited it to just WiFi connections. It's insanity. I keep thinking how cool it would be to get an iPad for my grandmother and video-chat with her when I'm traveling. This device could make it so easy for her. Such a huge missed opportunity, and impossible for me to understand...

iPad Video Conference Concept

• Shitty E-Reading File Format
Newspapers and magazines are dying because they can't survive in a digital world where people expect everything to be free. Apple had a golden opportunity to address this with their iTunes book store for iPad, but then dropped the ball because they went with the shitty "ePub" file format. Sure it's great if all you want to do is shove book text to the reader like a Kindel. But forget about having any decent formatting tools. This pretty much kills any magazine, comic, or book which requires any kind of layout for proper visual presentation. It's most certainly a decision based squarely on helping book publishers create content with a format they already know, but I can only hope that Apple eventually adds an "iMagazine" reader and backs it with PDF-like control over elements for everybody else. I was hoping... praying... that Apple would come up with something that would allow indie publishers the same kind of ability for magazine sales that indie musicians have with iTunes for music sales. Alas... not. Not yet anyway. Sure there are third party apps that can do something similar, but they don't have the power and ease of iTunes distribution behind them. Heck, I'd be happy if Apple just allowed some kind of PDF conversion to run through the iTunes Store for document sales, that would be fine. But we get nothing? Sad.

If just those two things were addressed, I'd feel a lot better about pronouncing iPad a triumph. Yes it would be nice to have some other stuff... an external memory slot... removable battery... 100% DRM-free media... a GPS... multi-tasking OS... color e-ink non-glare screen... free network access for purchases... and on and on... but those can all be explained away logically for one reason or another (whether I agree with the reasoning or not). I just don't see how leaving out an iChat camera and lacking a decent publication format can be put in that same boat. I honestly feel they belong there, or else the iPad is incomplete.

In the final analysis, I just don't know. The "iMagazine" stuff could be easily added... but a camera (if it ever comes) is a second generation hardware feature that early-adopters will miss.

Still, if you're just looking for a way to handle email, surf the web, and play with apps, I admit the iPad is an attractive alternative to a netbook. The fact that Apple put so much into polish and ease of use is just icing on the cake.

But that's always the case for Apple, and why I continue to be an Apple Whore.

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Categories: Apple Stuff 2010Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. muskrat says:

    What’s funny is that a year ago, I laughed at people like you and called y’all pretentious. But now, here I sit, typing on my Macbook, my iphone a few inches away playing Pandora. I guess it took being able to write off pretty Apple toys for me to finally buy them.

    That being said, I’ll stick with my Kindle for now. It was a gift and is great for what I use it for–reading nonfiction and making outlines of what I read with the “clipboard” function. This thing seems cool but extraneous, as you opine, for those of us with Macbooks and iphones (and certainly for those of us w/ the Kindle, too!).

    • Dave2 says:

      It’s funny though… two profession genres that I feel are going to benefit from the cool stuff that’s bound to be released for iPad are medical and legal. The potential for managing and accessing large amounts of data quickly and easily seems like a natural fit for the multi-touch interface. You may end up with an iPad in your briefcase yet!

      • muskrat says:

        I think you’re right. I’m part of a “Macs in Law Offices” listserv, and they are going crazy over this thing! Hey, if I can use it, write it off, and play with it from time to time, I’ll likely find a way to justify getting it!

  2. B.E. Earl says:

    Without putting my greasy mitts on it yet, of course, I’m a little underwhelmed.

    I’m not an Apple Whore. Far from it, in fact. But I was looking forward to their tablet. As it stands (and I know they are going to improve it soon) I won’t be buying it. It just doesn’t do enough. And as an e-reader, I don’t think it can compare to the Kindle yet. Especially when you factor in the eye strain.

    But it sure would be fun to play with for a weekend, wouldn’t it?

    • Dave2 says:

      I don’t know about eye-strain either. E-ink is pretty good for reading books, which is why the Kindle probably doesn’t have anything to fear from iPad.

      And any new device is always going to have people wishing it “did more”… that’s the nature of the business. I think iPad has plenty enough features that people are going to want it for exactly what it does now. That says nothing about the amazing stuff that’s sure to be released in the app store… once developers unleash their imagination on uses for a large multi-touch display, I think things are going to get very interesting with iPad

  3. Beth says:

    I agree with you, but from a parental standpoint I think this would be a super fun device to have – not truly needing it for ‘work’, but for entertainment and important stuff like WEBKINZ! Oh wait, it won’t play Flash….

    I’d still like one, but I’ll wait……it will only get better!!

  4. Sarah says:

    Can I just say I love your apple posts?

    It’s true, I do.

  5. Nicole says:

    I was wondering what you’d think of the iPad. I agree that it’s not something I need, but definitely want. It would be perfect for couch surfing. Was curious about one of the specs I saw. It says the device cannot function over 10,000 feet. So no go on an airplane? Wouldn’t that be one of the places you’d really want to use one? Am I missing something?

  6. Yeah. I’m not sold. My iPhone and MacBook give me everything I need and the iPad doesn’t me offer anything above what they can give me. So, no for now.

    I’m still waiting for the Nook to work out its bugs, though…

  7. I was waiting for your take on this :) Super-bummer about the no iChat!

  8. I agree with the camera issue, it just doesn’t make sense not to have it there. As someone that does a stupid amount of one fingered writing in notes on my iTouch, the iPad made me a little giddy.

  9. Yeah, I think those of us with both an iPhone and a MBP are not really the market for this. Couldn’t agree more with the “sure I’d like one, but I don’t need one” comment.

    It’s like someone at Apple said “I wish this bloody iPhone wouldn’t fit in my pocket anymore” and lo, they made it so.

  10. claire says:

    I’m rather fond of Apple myself, but as cool as the iPad seems, it’s not the right fit for a portable computer for me. Ah well.

    I do anticipate some fun playing with them in stores down the line though. :)

  11. martymankins says:

    I think the lack of multitasking is the biggest omission from the iPad than the camera. While the camera is nice, it only works best if it’s stationary, like the MacBooks. If you have to hold the device with both hands and then need to adjust something, the iPad moves around.

    Just my thoughts on this.

    Overall, I think it’s something I will get. It’s a want, but I can find a use for it.

  12. Iron Fist says:

    If anything I think you should be concerned about how to get your Apple Whore Number up to #1. If that isn’t a first quarter goal worth aiming for, I don’t know what is!

  13. Ren says:

    In all the time that this has been hype (how many years now?), I’ve failed to see the point. The only thing I could think of that would make it interesting was the possibility of video chat. Thus, I was as surprised as you that it is missing.

    What I didn’t expect, however, was the $500 price point. Along with iWork apps. And the apparent blazing speed when compared to the iPhone.

    Given that my MacBook is the 17″ Pro, I don’t actually take it with me anywhere unless I’m leaving town or explicitly expecting to work on something. It’s really just my home computer with the added advantage of being able to take it with me when necessary.

    The more I think about it, the more I think it’s likely I’ll buy an iPad. Sure, it won’t be as ubiquitous in my life as my iPhone, but it will probably be in my car most of the time — available if I want it. It seems that it will fill a niche that I would otherwise have to buy a MacBook Air to fill, at an appreciably higher cost.

    But no, I don’t need it.

    • Dave2 says:

      My laptop already goes everywhere I go, so the portability factor of the iPad doesn’t really push me over the edge. I really don’t think I’ll buy one for myself… but I may end up buying them for family who would have an easier time with iPad than a computer.

  14. Bob says:

    Like some of the other comments, and views around the web, it just wouldn’t do enough computer wise for me to invest. I don’t have an iPhone but, if I can’t do something on my BB Storm, it usually is because I need a full computer anyway. That and since it is basically a hyped up iPhone/iPod Touch … no flash I am told. Kind of kills some of the web functionality for me.

    • Dave2 says:

      I must be in the minority in that I rarely come across Flash in the websites I visit. Since Adobe doesn’t bother to make Flash work worth a crap for anything but Windows, I just keep hoping Flash will go away. Still, apparently Adobe Creative Suite CS5 will have the ability to turn Flash objects into iPhone/iPad apps, so maybe people who use it can offer app downloads for people using iPad? Interesting idea.

  15. Chaz says:

    My problem with the iPad is that for all it’s hype, shrouded secrecy, and grandeur it’s nothing more than a glorified iPhone/iPod Touch. No multi-tasking (not a phone anymore, no excuses). 3G option while convenient isn’t truly open to other GSM networks in the US even though it’s not locked to AT&T (nobody else has microGSM cards and it only supports the AT&T GSM bands). While I’m not a fan of heavily overdone flash websites, Flash is pretty ubiquitous and is almost the standard for streaming video on the web (Hulu, Vimeo, YouTube, Your-Streaming-Video-Site-Here). Consequently, claims of the best browsing experience are not only overstated but just plain untrue if you watch much video on the web. Let’s not forget that it starts out at $499 WITHOUT the 3G option so it’s not an impulse purchase. I’m not really sure what market Apple is going after with this device. All I know is it’s not me. I love my MBP, but I just can’t see the appeal of this device. Of course, I’m just one consumer.

    • Dave2 says:

      It depends on how you look at it, I suppose.

      Personally, I am hoping Flash disappears from the web. It is a proprietary plugin from Adobe, and your experience with the format is solely dependent on whether or not Adobe cares enough about your platform of choice to provide a decent plugin for it. As it is now, Flash on Mac and Linux is positively heinous. It’s slow, buggy, and crash-prone. I don’t care how prevalent it is, it needs to go. Secretly, I applaud Apple for treating Flash like the “floppy disk” and just not bothering. If Hulu wants their video to play on an iPhone or iPad, then they can develop an app for that. Better still, support video in the HTML 5 standard so a separate app isn’t required, and platforms are responsible for their own implementation.

  16. d.w. says:

    Dave — nice post.

    I’m wondering if you could elaborate more on your objections to ePub. As I read it, it’s just a wrapper for (X)HTML, CSS, SVG, etc. You don’t think it’s possible to do nice comics with, say, an SVG produced from cleaned up autotracing? (e.g. autotrace the line art, then a coloring pass from the artist (or a traditional colorist), plus embedded comic fonts (c.f. ComicLife) via @fontface)? I was personally ecstatic that they went with ePub rather than YetAnotherNotInventedHere file format.

    • Dave2 says:

      Hey D.W.! — Since ePub fully supports customization and encapsulation of DRM, you’re basically going to get YetAnotherNotInventedHere file format, as I’m certain book publishers are going to insist on their property being protected. And since Apple is going to have to do the issuing through iTunes, their solution is bound to be unique and tied to your iTunes account, which means you’re not going to be able to read your purchased “iBook” on any other device except an iPad which has been registered to your account. I suppose that DRM-free public domain ePub books could be read, but that would require Apple to allow file-level access for the iPad, or the ability to access ePub books from places other than the iBook Store in iTunes. This seems highly unlikely, but oh well. The only benefit is that Apple can instantly have access to the loads of books that publishers already have in ePub format, so they can hit the ground running with a massive store inventory. All this adds up to basically a custom formatted file with highly restricted use, just as if they had gone with YetAnotherNotInventedHere format.

      As for the limitations of the format itself, I can only go by my previous frustrations in trying to work with ePub. It is inherently difficult… sometimes impossible… to get highly customized layouts to render properly. Using layout tools like Adobe InDesign don’t solve this because it all comes back to the limitations of HTML/CSS. Even if you licensed all the fonts so they were the exact same as the printed piece, positioning them and styling them so the author’s intent is preserved can be an exercise in futility. Mostly because every device or reader renders the content different… just like browsers do. In the case of iPad being closed, this is a blessing because you can be assured that if you style something specifically for iPad, it will appear the same on all of them… but what about other devices? Should you really have to tweak your formatting to get everything to display as intended on every ePub device? Take a look at a magazine with creative layouts like “Wired” and imagine trying to get HTML/CSS to display it properly! You really can’t, because HTML/CSS just doesn’t have that kind of control… and who knows what Apple iBook Reader will do to the formatting during size and type changes… can that feature even be overridden?

      Sure, if a comic book company could afford to convert their art to SVG, then outline all their fonts, then pay to have it recolored, they could simply display their publication as static page image files to ensure layout integrity… but these are going to be really big files. JPEG might be a better option if going this route, though this limits the reader as to how much they can zoom in, depending on the finished resolution of the images. It’s a limitation, but at least you know things are going to be displayed as you designed it. Yes, HTML and CSS are improving… slowly… and one would hope that ePub will improve along with it. But there has to be a unified display engine that everybody uses or it just won’t matter. It’s browser wars all over again.

      My biggest fear as we enter the age of digital publication is that content creators will start “dumbing down” their creativity in layout so that it will be easy to output ePub versions without a lot of additional expense. And unless some kind of PDF-like format extension or addition goes to Apple’s iBook store for iPad (and next-gen readers like it), that’s a very real possibility. Then we all lose. :-(

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