I bought my first iPad at the SF Apple Store a day or two after the launch. I loved it from day one, despite not being a Mac user. It’s the first truly personal computer, in that it is small enough to be always part of my personal space, while powerful enough to serve 90% of my daily computing needs (I’m writing this blog post using the WordPress app).
After 2 weeks it became part of the family. After a month, it was clear we were going to need another one. Now, half a year later, it’s likely that we’ll be getting a third at some point. My three-year-old daughter can now recognize most of the letters of the alphabet, knows her animals, her colours, and assumes all computers have touchscreens.
This is computing for my Dad, who never got comfortable with the Mac/PC flavor of computing. I’m sad that he’s not here to see it. It would have turned his world on it’s head and opened the internet up to him.
It’s not perfect. Much of the net still thinks it’s an iPhone and serves it mobile web pages, although more and more sites detect it and increasingly serve it appropriately formatted media.
Apple are idiots for blocking flash videos. It fundamentally weakens the iPad experience, making it much easier for Android-based and other devices to compete favorably. Eventually, there will be HTML5, but in the meantime, everybody suffers because of Steve Jobs’ hubris.
Typically, Apple didn’t really do any market research – their assumption is that they can design for themselves and that is what everyone else will want. Rookie mistake: Self-referential design results in missed opportunity. As a result, the iPad needs a case because the ally casing doesn’t let it sit comfortably anywhere; Despite being the ideal kids computing environment, it’s not really kid-proof, not is it oriented towards kids. A quick look in the app store to see how many kids apps there are tells you just how much of a marketing mis-fire that was. Maybe overtly doing stuff for kids just isn’t cool enough?; The iPad is great for watching movies – and it would be much better if it came with a stand. As it is, you have to prop it up on something. Don’t even think about the Apple flip-case with the built-in stand – it falls over all the time. In fact, ignore the Apple cases altogether – get a 3rd party one. They’re cheaper and and better designed.
Overall, the iPad is a wonder that has fundamentally changed our family’s computing habits. We surf and read email wherever we want to be in the house – something that laptops somehow never managed to enable. We browse and share web pages by passing the iPad around the table. We watch on demand movies in bed, iPad propped on a pillow. My daughter nagivates apps and menu systems like a pro, even though she is barely beginning to learn to read.
But the we-know-whats-best-for-you-better-than-you-do Appleness still drives me nuts.