Funny thing about being a technology writer. You have to use a lot of technology. Different devices, different apps, different technologies. It’s key to keeping a perspective on the mobile landscape. But then, it’s a funny thing about haters – the abject rejection of…anything…regardless of quality or any arguments approaching logic. Don’t try to reason, it only irritates us. And there I was, smack dab in between these two perfect storms just waiting to be swept away.
I started off my technology career years ago as a dyed in the wool, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead Apple hater. From iPods, to Mac books, and everything in between, I wanted nothing to do with it. I’ve rejected Apple for as long as I can remember. The darn things were always so expensive – twice or three times as much as comparable products on the market. It just didn’t make any sense why people would buy these things. This trend continues to this day, and it still makes no sense to me.
By the time I’d started here at Pocketnow, just shy of one year ago, I’d swallowed the hatred and settled into a nice pattern of “live and let live.” I’d adopted Windows Phone as my platform, and I remained interested in Android for some of its more interesting facets, but hey, you want an iPad and an iPhone and an iMac and an iBuprofen (see what I did there?), well then who am I to complain? But you still couldn’t pay me enough to use one. But then just a couple weeks ago, I discovered you actually can pay me enough to use one.
I started a new job and when I showed up on my first day they handed me a Macbook Air and an iPad 4 and said, “Go”. Okey dokey then. This makes sense since my job is to provide support for an iOS app, so I need to know the platform to know the product. I knew this going in, and I anticipated it would be an interesting time. I anticipated correctly.
I’m not going to talk too much about the Macbook – that’s not what we do here at Pocketnow. You can follow me on twitter for those observations. But I will give it a paragraph here to say that this is a pretty nice piece of hardware with a relatively decent set of software. Apple is doing very nice things with hardware that would be dog slow running Windows within 6 months. Sure, this laptop is only 2 weeks old from my perspective, so the honeymoon is far from over. But I’m going to give a nod to Apple – I don’t hate it.
Now the iPad is also a pretty decent piece of hardware. But I’m going to call a spade a spade here. I don’t think I’m going to be overly harsh in these observations, but I’m also not glowing with excitement every time I pick up this “magical” device. But this is not going to be a review. We’ve already covered that.
The iPad runs pretty decently. The interface is what I’ve come to expect from demos and videos and the like – it’s pretty boring. Here’s some apps, use them. I’m not completely blown away by things like the control center which I have found limited use for. The pull down calendar thing just irritates me. The overall user interface is clean and easy and something a grandmother would appreciate. That being said, I’m not a grandmother.
The iPad itself is a bit on the heavy side, in the same way as the TouchPad was heavy and the Surface is heavy. The 4:3 aspect ratio makes the iPad less awkward than its Windows-based cousin, but it’s still heavy. I would rather cut my hand off than read a book using it. Maybe the iPad Air solves this problem (doubt it), but that doesn’t help me now does it? Typing on the iPad is as much of a pain as typing on anything else, which is why I brought my HP Bluetooth keyboard to work on day two.
The multitasking on the iPad is hilariously inferior to its webOS inspiration. Just waiting for those cards to slowly creeeeeeeeep their way to a stop before you can finally tap on them or toss them away is maddening. In fact, I find the touch responsiveness of the screen in general to be very slow. A couple of games that I play that require quick fire taps that often fail on the second tap, unlike the same game on an android device. It could just be me, but I’ve had a couple of weeks with it as a daily driver to acclimate myself, so I don’t think it is just me. But it could be just me.
One thing I do very much like about the iOS experience is the app ecosystem that comes with it. You can seriously want to do just about anything on this darn thing, and there will be an app for that. I just got done using the scratch my back app and it did a pretty thorough job if I do say so myself. You can find everything from eFax to PayPal and browsers and golly. Now if only there was an app to get this idiot train engineer to stop leaning on the freaking horn.
Sorry. Train commute flashback.
Bottom line, the iPad isn’t the magical experience that it’s advertised to be and that its users claim it is. It’s just a freaking tablet. It’s a good tablet, but it’s just like almost any other good tablet that’s out there. If you’re going to argue app ecosystem over Windows, and especially Windows RT, I can’t argue with you. But without conducting an in depth study of the App Store versus the Play store (Something I’ll undoubtedly be doing over the next few weeks) there’s nothing special there either.
The Apple tax is alive and well in the tablet department. There really is no reason why Apple should be dominating this market, and yet it is in a big and powerful way. Android OEMs and Microsoft should study Apple’s every move closely because it is cleaning up with a product that is no better than anything else. If someone can figure out this formula, the game may change. But in the meantime, Apple is still outselling everyone else by a wide margin for absolutely no reason whatsoever.