Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

My iPad

I know, after dissing the iPad so much (here, here, here and here), how ironic is it that I got myself an iPad? Well, in all honesty, I don’t mind having an iPad. I wouldn’t pay for one, but if someone were to give me an iPad, I wouldn’t refuse it. The iPad is an important technology trend, and being a techie, it’s good to keep abreast with new developments.

Well, it so happened that I won an iPad in a lucky draw. I must have been really lucky, because I’ve hardly won anything more valuable than an MP3 player, which was spoilt after using only less than half-dozen times.

The iPad was delivered to my office. It’s a Wi-Fi + 3G model with 16GB of memory. It’s somewhere in the middle range of the various iPad variants. I un-boxed the iPad, not unlike how I would do with other new gadgets. I turned on the iPad, and with much anticipation of being able to use the iPad right-away, I was sadly disappointed to learn that I had to connect it to iTunes first before the device is usable.

Sigh. Talk about user-friendliness. Shouldn’t I be able to just turn-on and start using the gadget? If some setup was required, have it done on the iPad itself. But no… one needs iTunes. Fortunately, I’ve been using a number of Apple products, so I already have iTunes and I’m already familiar with it. I had no trouble getting the iPad working. I imagine it might be slightly frustrating for first-time Apple users.

So, I started playing with the new iPad. There are two things that annoy me with the iPad:

  • Many apps are not free. The Apple app ecosystem seems to be encouraging developers to charge for their apps. Most apps want some money. If it is not upfront when you install the app, then it will be later in the form of upgrades, add-ons, etc. It doesn’t seem easy to find useful free apps. At least, the App Store doesn’t help you very much to find free apps.
  • Lack of multitasking… (alright, I know it will come later in a software update). How many times I’ve accidentally “exited” an app, and had to wait for the app to relaunch. Games, for example, often take a non-trivial amount of time to launch. It’s worse when the game needs to connect online to fetch data. I’m sure this is not much of an issue for someone coming from, say, a dumb phone experience. But I’m too spoilt by Android, and how regular desktop operating systems work, so the IOS experience is somewhat disconcerting.

Some “basic” software isn’t included in the iPad. For example, I’d have expected to find a calculator. Nope. Download from App Store. There’s a free version, but it shows ugly advertisements and is only too happy to pop-up reminders encouraging you to buy the paid app. Oh well, this is Apple. Everything pay and pay.

There is one thing that is really very very nice about the iPad though. This is about IOS itself, so it applies to the iPhone and iPod Touch as well. The fluidity of the user interface is just superb. The slides, the zooms, they are all just so smooth and instantaneous. You feel like your fingers are directly controlling the objects on the screen. It’s just so satisfying. (I don’t understand why Android can’t achieve the same thing. Isn’t this just OS?)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in my blog, but I did find one possible use for the iPad prior to this: Entertainment during ICT (reservist). It’s not a computer, and it doesn’t have a camera. It’s just an oversized iPod Touch. Since they do allow iPod Touches into my camp… I don’t see why not an iPad too. It’ll be really cool to see iPads in the field. You know what, twitter could replace the crappy SAF radios.

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