Posts Tagged ‘iPad’

IPad 2 First Thoughts

March 12th, 2011 No comments

Spot the difference

What is it that drives someone to stand in line for three hours just for the privilege of spending $800 on something they don’t even need? Consumer society, anyone?

Anyhooo… After parting with said $800 I got my hands on a shiny new 64GB black iPad2 with an orange Apple Smart Cover.   After a brief detour for dinner on the way home I spent the remainder of the evening backing up iPad1 and restoring its contents to iPad2. After a very brief play with it last night, this morning I’ve started to dig around and see whether it really is any different.

Upgrading via iTunes: the process was relatively painless – backed up my iPad, plugged in and registered the iPad2, restored everything (slowwwww) and off we go. A few niggles – I had to re-enter all my email passwords (I have seven email accounts), and verify my credit card details for the Apple Store, AND re-enter all my account info for the various Twitter, Facebook etc apps. But overall was an easy process and everything went smoothly.

And 64GB is a lot more space than 16GB (yes, I know, 48GB) so I can finally have iTunes sync all the video podcasts and pictures that I want.

Camera: to quote Sebastian Page “Wow. The cameras on the iPad2 are really shit.” Yup. Really. The front camera has truly awful low light performance – trying to use it for FaceTime was not a good experience. The other tidbit is that the rear camera saves stills with less than 1 megapixel resolution. Welcome to 1996.

Weight: A year ago I wrote that iPad1 felt heavier than expected. iPad2 is 0.2lb lighter than iPad. It feels considerably lighter, but I think that my brain is being tricked by it being thinner and hence expecting it to be lighter. And it really is very noticeably thinner. The iFixit teardown says that this has been partly accomplished by reducing the thickness of the glass itself – only time will tell if this makes the iPad2 more susceptible to damage.

Screen: the screen looks very similar to iPad1. It should – it has the same resolution. Engadget has reported light bleeding from the side of the screen, and the poll on the site shows and many as 20% of other people have too! This is BAD. So far I haven’t noticed any problem with mine.

Performance: the iPad2 is noticeably faster, in some cases dramatically so.  Infinity Blade is still one of my favourite games. It loads A LOT faster, and responds much faster. I lost many matches on iPad because the touch interface wouldn’t respond fast enough. Not so on iPad2. It kept up easily. Bring on the monsters!

Smart Cover: Again to quote Sebastian Page “the smart cover is smart enough to protect the back, but not the front; I’m returning it tomorrow”. The cover is OK, and the magnetic attachment is really clever, but I think I’m going to switch to the MacAlly Bookstand 2BL cover when it comes out at the end of April. The MacAlly cover for my iPad1 has been great, and with the new one costing $29 (versus Apple’s $39/$59) it is a bargain.


FaceTime: just tried FaceTime for the first time with my cousin Jim and it works great.  The larger screen size really helps compared to the iPhone 4.

Overall: initial reactions are good but not great. Definitely feels much lighter and thinner; definitely faster and more responsive. The cameras I can take or leave.   If I hadn’t upgraded from 16 to 64GB I don’t think it would have been worth the money, but as it is I’m very pleased to have the iPad2, and I think Linda is going to love the iPad1.


p.s. Apple sold 300,000 iPads on the launch day nearly a year ago.  Judging by the line at the Apple Store in Boca Raton yesterday, I’ve got to believe they’ve beaten that number hands down this time around.

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Why PopSci mag on the iPad sucks

April 8th, 2010 No comments

Am I the only one who is profoundly dissatisfied with PopSci on the iPad? I ** love ** PopSci magazine and was so looking forward to the iPad version.

For me it utterly fails in UI design. It is totally unintuitive, has few visual cues and behaves inconsistently. Do I swipe up, down, left or right? Is the missing text below or to the right of what I’m reading? Where did the two finger drag come from?

USA Today and Marvel comics have shown what happens when great UI design is applied to a familiar subject. Why can’t I browse PopSci on iPad like I can with the magazine? Popups? Drill downs? Embedded videos? In app browsing?

Sorry PopSci. Don’t even get me started on the pricing, but without a back to basics rethink of the entire concept behind the iPad version I’ll be sticking with good old fashioned paper version.

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Is the iPad user agent string a problem?

April 7th, 2010 No comments

I’ve run into my first real problem with the iPad (well, second if you count the the lack of Flash). The problem is a combination of poor web site design and something called the ‘user agent string’ that browsers send to websites.

When you use Safari on the iPad, it identifies itself to the web site using the following string:

Mozilla/5.0 (iPad; U; CPU OS 3_2 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/531.21.10 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0.4 Mobile/7B334b Safari/531.21.10

Some websites interpret this as a mobile browser and force you to a mobile (i.e., cut down often text-based) version of the site. This is frustrating, but is made unacceptable when sites don’t provide any mechanism to go to the full version of the site.

I haven’t done enough research to know whether this is an Apple problem (they should use a different browser string) or a web site one (they are interpreting the string incorrectly), or a combination of the two. Regardless, it is a pain!

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Top ten iPad apps

April 4th, 2010 No comments

Here we go with a first pass at my top ten(ish) iPad apps, on the second morning with the iPad. I’ve excluded the built in apps from my list, but I’ll comment on a couple of them at the end. All apps listed are iPad versions unless otherwise stated.

1. USA today – this is exactly what an app on the iPad should be. It looks just like the paper version with all the familiarity that that brings, but fully exploits the iPad screen, UI and gestures. Excellent.

2. RealRacingHD – you are in a racing car. The iPad is your windscreen and your steering wheel. What more do you want? Good graphics and impressive performance make this a winner.

3. The Weather Channel (TWC MAX+) – the best weather app I’ve found so far.

4. FlightTrack Pro – builds on the iPhone version by adding flight tracks (with real time position info if the flight is in the air) overlaying a map.

5. F1 Timing 2010 – real time or recorded telemetry from official F1 timing-and-scoring. See the data the commentators use – in real time. Also includes real time track position on a 2D or 3D accurate representation of the track. See things unfold in real time, or watch practice, qualifying or the race as they happened.

6. Twittelator – current favorite Twitter app (thanks to @leolaporte for the recommendation). Previous to that it was Twitterific. Not impressed by the iPad version of Tweetdeck. Still like Reportage on the iPhone.

7. Dragon Dictation – absolutely impressed by the speech-to-text capabilities of this app. In some ways I wish that the iPad keyboard wasn’t quite so good. Although there is an iPad version, he minimalist interface doesn’t require the iPad, or benefit from it.

8. Photogene – great image editing app with a nice new interface for the iPad. Perfect for tidying up images for blog posts.

9. WebEx – haven’t had chance to try it in anger yet, but I loved WebEx on the iPhone and from the demo video included with the app, the iPad experience should be great.

10. See the images below for other honorable mentions – everything on the two screens are native iPad apps.

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iPad – the first hour

April 3rd, 2010 No comments

This is the first thing typed on the new iPad. I have to say that the onscreen keyboard is much easier to use than I thought it would be, and it is possible to type as quickly as with a normal keyboard almost immediately.

I’ve also downloaded Dragon Dictation, and if the first few attempts to use it on the iPhone are anything to go by it should make document creation on the iPad a doddle.

First impressions of the iPad generally?  Smaller than I expected, and much heavier. I knew it weighed 1.5 lbs before I picked it up, but the reality of it in your hands is deceiving.  It looks so delicate, but it seems to be built like a tank.

As an iPhone/iPod Touch user of two years, the user interface is utterly familiar and welcoming. Apple has done a great job of scaling the OS interface up to the new resolution, though why they chose the sparse icon layout is beyond me.

Haven’t had much chance to try many of the applications yet, but what I have tried works pretty well. The first minor disappointment is that I’ve yet to track down an iPad version of Facebook and the iPhone version looks lost in the middle of the screen. The ‘2x’ feature demo’d by Jobs at the launch is a stopgap at best, and makes iPhone apps look clunky.  The second is wiggy the WordPress app that I’m using to write this. Cutting and pasting doesn’t work, and there is no way to detach pictures that are added to a post.

Despite these teething troubles, overall the experience is better than expected – especially the typing.  The iPad definitely does not feel like a “big iPhone” and the experience is much more akin to a Mac with a different UI. I like it. A lot.

More news in a little while.

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