Apple's Incredible iPad, One Year In

POSTED ON Apr 12, 2011

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > E-Books & Readers > Apple's Incredible iPad, One Year In

It hardly seems possible that it’s been a year since all the mystery surrounding Apple’s announcement of the iPad was finally made real, and troops of people began filing out of Apple stores everywhere carrying little white bags full of the tablets.

After just a few weeks it was apparent the iPad was a hit, and I went down myself and purchased my 16GB Wifi-only iPad. I’ve written a lot about the iPad over the year. After reading a retrospective on Joe Wikert’s iPad Hound Blog, I thought it would be interesting to give you my take on how it’s gone since then.

  • Consuming content It’s become more and more apparent that this is the strategic activity the iPad is designed for. Brilliant color, fast processing and mobile connectivity make this device perfect for virtually any kind of media consumption.
  • Creating content Apple has long been the champion and partner of creatives, but here the iPad is severely limited. With only the touchscreen interface, you can do some awesome watercolor drawings, but not much else.
  • Touchscreen interface The first consumer-level touchscreens I used were 20 years ago in the Citibank ATMs in Manhattan. They were way ahead of their times. An ATM is a perfect touchscreen experience, because the operations are programmed and repeatable. Poking your finger at the screen is intuitive but not precise and the number of pokes, prods, swipes and pinches you can perform do not create a command language of any kind.
  • Most natural activity Shopping. From browsing products to watching product videos to examining fabric and color swatches, this is the best e-retail portal ever invented. Smart online stores like Amazon have apps optimized for the iPad experience, and it makes a huge difference to the shopping experience.
  • Most-used app Still iA Writer, the stripped-down writing app from Information Architects. I wrote about it in my iA Writer Review.
  • Biggest frustration Why Apple crippled the command structure remains problematic. Touchscreen is the only interface allowed to issue commands, the keyboard is only for text entry and selection. Going back and forth from the keyboard to poking the screen gets old awfully fast.
  • Thought I would use it, didn’t Leading contender is Apple’s Pages. And not because it’s a bad program. If you use Pages on the Mac, the iPad app is a good extension. But the interface is so unappealing that I wouldn’t bother trying to create a Pages layout on the iPad.
  • Best content-delivered moment Probably the bursting animation of a vase of flowers on the cover of the Martha Stewart Living app. It took me by surprise and was delightful, almost springing to life infront of me.
  • Configuration I have the lowest-end iPad, 16 GB and Wifi only. Would I like to use my iPhone as a Wifi hotspot? Sure, but not for $30 a month. I really haven’t missed the cellular connection, since hotspots are pretty easy to come by these days, and the capacity is plenty. If you travel a lot and want to take movies, you’ll want as much capacity as you can get.
  • Most utilitarian app Would have to be Evernote This Apple “Hall of Fame” app is truly indispensable. Syncing between iPad, iPhone and iMac is seamless and life-saving.
  • App Store Mind boggling in the variety of apps that continue to roll into the app store, endlessly frustrating due to the horrible search tools and endless lists of apps you have to scroll through.
  • Ease of use and reliability From unpacking the iPad, which comes with no manual or instructions, to a year’s worth of daily use, the tablet is simple, intuitive, and has had no downtime at all.
  • App I’ve missed Instapaper is supposed to be the best thing since sliced bread. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet, but I will.
  • Newest app Just downloaded the intriguing Zite. From the iTunes description: “Zite is a personalized magazine for your iPad that automatically learns what you like and gets smarter as you use it. Zite gives you personalized news, articles, blogs, videos and other content from a variety of both mainstream and niche publications and sites. Zite can personalize by syncing with your Twitter or Google Reader account or on its own.” Doesn’t that sound cool?
  • Best secret moments with iPad If you plug in your earbuds you can watch movies in a size that’s just perfect for someone lying in bed trying to not wake up a spouse. Fantastic.
  • iPad 2? Nope. Lighter is better, but not enough. Cameras? Sure, someday the iPad or something like it would be a fantastic videophone, but right now there isn’t a big enough base of people who both own and can use the hardware.
  • Versus iPhone I’ll admit that I have yet to read a book in iBooks, although it’s gorgeous. I own more Kindle books than iBooks. Frankly, I find myself doing more reading on the phone simply because it’s so convenient, and the screen is so sharp.
  • Still waiting Publishers keep trying to come up with a subscription model that Apple will like, but the iPad seems a natural for magazine- or newspaper-style subscriptions. And I thought we would see more experimental “books” by now, but I’m sure they are coming.
  • Best thing I do every day Write. The setup I use, with the Apple Bluetooth keyboard (don’t even bother doing more than an email with the on-screen keyboard) and my Compass stand, I write about 1,000 words a day on the iPad, then just press the Sync button in iA Writer to back it all up to Dropbox. This is the sweet spot in my day.

There still isn’t much competition for the iPad, and Apple’s installed base continues to grow. Their iPad 2 has simply widened the gulf between Apple and the companies pursuing in the tablet field.

What about you, what do you think are the hits and misses on the iPad?

Photo by *yasuhiro

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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