Thursday, September 09, 2010

24 Hour iPad People

In preparation for writing a report on the impact of the Apple iPad on the graphic communications industry and the demand for print, I felt it incumbent upon myself to actually get one.

It arrived yesterday, and within an hour I was completely enamored of it. It does almost everything I use my iPhone for, except calling (but then AT&T's reception seems to have gotten so much worse lately, that it's just as well) and anything that requires a camera (like QR codes or WhatTheFont) or a microphone (Shazam). It immediately hooked into my WiFi network (I have the 3G version, but so far have no real need to buy the service; perhaps when next I travel) and it quickly sync'ed (sunc?) all my various e-mail accounts, calendars, contacts, etc. It tried to fit my entire iTunes library on it but, well, my iTunes library is 85 GB and requires a separate external disk, so it was unsurprisingly unsuccessful.

It sync'd all the apps that I had downloaded or purchased for my iPhone, and most of them work OK on the iPad, although some (like Yelp and TweetDeck) do not resize to the iPad's dimensions well.

The onscreen keyboard is very comfortable to type on, much much much better than the teeny tiny iPhone keyboard. In fact, I downloaded Apple's Pages app ($9.99) and it is easy and comfortable to write on the iPad. And I can export a Pages document to Word format and, when next I sync the iPad, can download whatever document I was writing to my Mac and open it in Word. So I have begun writing my iPad report on the iPad itself, which seems apt. Other programs in the iWork suite are also available as apps, including the spreadsheet program Numbers and the presentation program Keynote (which I always liked better than PowerPoint, but then I like leprosy better than PowerPoint). There is an adapter available to connect a projector to the iPad so it could conceivably be used for presentations. Hmm...

I have begun checking out more and more apps. The New York Times app is well done, as is the NPR one. I found a National Geographic one produced by Zinio and it is lame, being just the pages of the print edition, which means two-page spreads are separate pages. Very inelegant.

The iBook app for buying and reading e-books is actually pretty good, although the selection on the Apple iBookstore is still a bit skimpy. I bought Paul Murray's Skippy Dies as an iBook e-book and am about 70 e-pages into it--and iBook is probably the best e-book reading experience I have yet had. Reading on the iPhone isn't bad, but it is pretty small, and oddly, the small size of the device makes it a little difficult to read comfortably, if you're used to printed books. The iPad is about the size of large paperback, and is quite comfortable, ergonomically and visually. (Oh, and Skippy Dies is also a very funny book.)

I tried downloading the Barnes & Noble Nook app and it looks OK, but for some reason the e-bookstore doesn't like my credit card, despite the fact that I had used the same account to buy printed books two weeks ago. I kept getting a "could not authenticate credit card" error message in the app, and it told me to call a phone number, which led to a voicemail system from hell that ultimately couldn't identify the order number. So much for the Nook app. More like Nyuk.

NASA, by the way, has a terrific app that lets you track satellites, see where the International Space Station is, watch video, learn about the solar system, and a million other cool things in a beautifully designed "HD" app.

Already, after only a day, my behavior has been changed by the iPad. While eating meals, I would typically read whatever printed magazines have come in the mail (and I never eat at the computer, for a variety of reasons mostly involving the potential for liquids to blow it up) but now I have started reading iPad news apps like the NYT while eating, although I suspect I should not use the touchpad the next time I have pizza or chicken wings. I spend more time on YouTube now. The Web is now more portable than ever--and the form factor is just about ideal. It's not as bulky as a laptop (odd that I should consider laptops bulky!) but it's easier to scroll around on type on than the iPhone.

Perhaps even most crucially, I downloaded the New York Times Crossword Puzzle iPad app, and it actually lets me sign in using my pre-existing subscription log-in, something the older iPhone app never let me do. I only very rarely used to do the puzzle on the computer, preferring to print it out and do it in pen, but the experience of doing it on the iPad was pretty good. (I did today's in a pretty slow 18 minutes because half of that was figuring out how the app worked.)

In a nutshell, I adore the iPad, but I guess we'll see what happens once the novelty wears off.

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