Apple Thoughts: The iPad from an Android Userís Perspective

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Monday, November 1, 2010

The iPad from an Android Userís Perspective

Posted by Jeff Song in "Apple iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad" @ 11:33 PM

Product Category: Tablet computer
Manufacturer: Apple
Where to Buy: Amazon (Affiliate)
Price: Starts at $499 USD for the WiFi 16GB Model; see the Apple website for other models.
System Requirements: Compatible with Mac and Windows; see the Apple website for requirements.
Specifications: 9.7” IPS display at 1024x768, 1GHz Apple A4 processor, 16GB internal storage; WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR technology, up to 10 hours of battery life.

Pros:

  • Availability of apps;
  • Great battery life;
  • Smooth, fast interface;
  • Beautiful, easy to use screen.

Cons:

  • No multitasking until iOS 4;
  • Empty space on the homescreen (widgets?);
  • Random Safari crashes.

Summary: As an Android user, the iPad offers a unique experience that is a different philosophy. The adjustment took a few days, but as I continued to use the iPad, I realized that it was meant to be used differently than a smartphone - it's far more of a companion device than a standalone device that is meant for casual consumption of information from all aspects of my digital life.

Introduction

“Magical.” “Revolutionary.” It will change the way you use the Internet. Apple’s iPad had finally arrived after months, even years of speculation. I read the news, followed the blogs, and talked to my friends about this brand new creation. However, I couldn’t help but brush off this so-called magical piece of technology. What could I, a former iPhone owner and newly converted Android user, see in Apple’s latest and greatest? My current smartphone is an HTC Evo 4G. As a heavy user of Google services, particularly Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Voice, Android was the perfect choice for my smartphone. And don’t forget about all of those useful homescreen widgets, a fully multitasking OS, and of course, that massive 4.3” screen.

Initially, I didn’t think very highly about the device because I thought of it as a giant iPod Touch. I told myself that I would wait for a nice Android or even Windows 7 tablet to be released before I jumped on the tablet bandwagon. But half a year later, here I sit with an iPad. Is the iPad here to stay?

Figure 1: So just how "magical" and "revolutionary" is it?

Searching for a Tablet

When I looked at the tablet market this summer, I saw no other compelling options. The Notion Ink ADAM was still vaporware, the Archos Internet tablets were too small and uninspiring, and HP had seemingly killed off its Windows 7 Slate. So my attention turned back to the iPad. I visited the Apple Store, I kept up on the news and reviews, and read about the new apps. In early July, I was back at the Apple Store and I naturally gravitated toward the iPads on display. As I was playing with one, I heard all I needed to hear: “We have all iPad models in stock right now.” Sold! I took my new 16 GB WiFi model home and began to play with it. I had 14 days to try it out, and a modest 10% restocking fee didn’t scare me away. I was too eager to try out the various apps like Netflix, Marvel, and the games I kept hearing about.

The Honeymoon Begins...

After activating my new iPad, I immediately downloaded some apps and tested out Safari. Netflix worked flawlessly - I watched an episode of 24 and the quality was pretty good - not really HD quality, but very watchable. The Marvel Comics app was smooth and made reading comics even more fun. Safari worked as one would expect it to on a near 10” screen. I could easily read webpages and view videos like they were meant to be seen on the larger, higher resolution screen. This becomes especially important at night after I take out my contacts - no more squinting to see what was on my Evo’s screen. “No wonder this thing keeps selling out!” I thought to myself between swipes, pinches, and flicks.

Daily Life with the iPad

As I used my iPad those first days, the initial joy of using a new device started to wear off, and some of my initial doubts crept back. My experience when trying to juggle a Google Talk conversation and web surfing was obtrusive, clumsy, and ultimately an annoyance. I responded to an email using the onscreen keyboard, and realized that I was a much faster on my laptop. To be honest, the experience of typing felt like a chore. I couldn’t really figure out how to hold the thing while I was responding to posts in a forum or playing some games on it. When I was browsing with multiple tabs open, Safari would just close once in a while. Safari on iPad didn’t play well with one of the non-Flash websites I use for work, one that works well on my Evo and other Android devices. “Maybe I WILL be utilizing that return policy after all” I began to admit to myself...

Later than night, I was lying down on my couch watching TV. I got bored, so I thought I’d finish reading the Google Reader items I didn’t get to on my commute home. I reached for my Evo, but changed my mind and went for the iPad. As I was reading through Google Reader, it finally hit me - the iPad is NOT a laptop. It’s NOT a PC. But for the first few days I was using it, I was trying to use it like it was my laptop. I was trying to do multiple things at once that the iPad was never really designed to do. No wonder I was unhappy with the experience! When I realized that the iPad was a companion to a smartphone and laptop, it made more sense to me. This was the perfect device for consuming content as I watched TV, cooked dinner, or needed to check a few things in the morning before I left for work. It was perfect for watching the last 10 minutes of the movie I was streaming via Netflix as I got ready for bed. It was perfect for watching all of the online videos I had “starred” in Google Reader to watch later. It was perfect for reading a few chapters in the latest book I bought. It can’t do everything, but that’s why I have my laptop.


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