I think everyone should have one of these badass glass-topped and sealed easy to use powerhouses.
My iPad showed up yesterday around noon, and I've been playing with it since. I've downloaded a dozen or so apps, including iBooks, Pages, Plants vs Zombies, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Marvel's comic app, and a pack of others. I'm even typing this post on my iPad.
If you already have an iPhone or iPod Touch, getting started with an iPad will be a breeze. If you're new to Apple's phone and consumer device scene, it'll take you about fifteen minutes longer. I know grasping Apple's OS's is supposed be intuitive. Unfortunately none of us share the same code, brain, a priori knowledge, automatized whatever, so there are idiosyncrasies you'll have to get used to–that either arise out of the device's portable nature or Apple's sense of how things ought to work, which may not match yours. Nothing extraordinary, but don't be surprised if you hit a couple behavioral expectation anomalies. It won't take you long to get it all down.
Again, I'm typing this whole thing on a keyboard made of glass. And my expectations were low for actually typing anything serious on this flat virtual keypad. I even ordered the dockable keyboard, certain that I'm going to need it. I still think I'll use a real keyboard for writing, but I'm really impressed with the usability of the on-screen deal.
Apps and books
On day one, April 3rd, there are a bunch of necessary iPad-specific apps available like Apple's own iWork apps–but not thousands. I'm typing this in Pages, which I don't really like on the Mac. There are just better alternatives available. It's more than adequate on the iPad.
Here's a screenshot of the top grossing apps in iTunes, with some good stuff, including the rockin' OmniGraffle. Notice also the prices of the ipad apps, all of them higher than typical iPhone apps. I'm putting that down to the ability to offer and do more on the iPad platform over the iPhone/touch. The apps I have on both platforms, like Sketchbook Pro, tell me that the iPad versions are just going to be bigger more-featured versions of their iPhone counterparts, and consequently pricier.
The iBooks app is stunning. In terms of book-like beauty, iBooks sweeps everything else away. I have a Kindle2 and a Sony Reader. I love them. I love reading ebooks. I'm a fan of eInk's reflective technology. But I'll come right out and say it: iPad with the iBooks reader kicks their asses. This is the closest I've ever seen to reading a real book on a device.
On the other hand, iBooks, in terms of content, is a total disappointment. Some solid bestsellers, big non-fic titles, but it's going to have to really ramp up if Apple wants to take on Amazon, B&N, Sony, and anyone with more than a thousand books and a delivery process. I fully expect them to, but if I could have wished for one thing to have at the iPad launch, it would have been a gigantic pile of content available in the book store. Sigh.
I don't want a camera on this thing. Now that I have it in my hands, the last thing I'd want to do is take pictures with it. It's just too big. Until I had the iPad in my hands, the lack of a camera bothered me. In the future? It would work, and it would be a nice extra. But now I see what Apple's designers saw. It would be like taking pictures with a dinner plate, little bit silly. I have cameras on several other devices. I can shoot and send the pic to my iPad. The lack of a camera just doesn't seem like the problem it did a couple days ago.
File importing and exporting
As it stands, this is a pain in the ass. I'm hoping for an cleaner, easier way to get files on and off the iPad in the future. Here's the File Sharing section at the bottom of the Apps tab when your iPad is connected. I didn't even see it at first, didn't even know I could scroll down, or what I would find when I did. (I searched Apple help for this one).
Locked into Apple and iTunes?
Maybe. I think DRM is a waste of time and money, and I don't think Apple would disagree. Even so, I don't feel locked into much with my iPad. I only buy about half my music from iTunes. Importing music, video and audio books is simple. If you really need something write it yourself. I've written a batch of iPhone apps, a couple in the app store, and I'm already writing iPad apps, stuff for the App Store as well as utilities for myself. Complaining about Objective-C I can understand–and I have a fairly strong C and C++ background. Still think we should have been able to develop apps in Lua, Python, etc. all along.
The sealed, glued device you don't own because you can't easily take it apart?
I say "easily" because that's exactly what they did on iFixit.com, and they make it look pretty easy.
This is probably the least understandable argument against the iPad. It has a Luddite fear of technological change hysteria to it. A Luddite may even want technological change, but at a snail's pace and only if it uses last century's materials, tooling methods and design constraints. It's a fear felt by those who want technology to remain at a comfortable level, a level they can understand and work with. While I just see smaller, sealed, easier to use nearly-unbreakable devices as the future–and I don't know about you, but I see a future where homes, cars, furniture, and consumer devices are sophisticated enough to self heal, powerful enough to evolve and grow new parts instead of requiring firmware upgrades and replaceable batteries, devices you can communicate with, devices that can tell you how they work if you want to know. Sorry to say we're not going to get there with screwdrivers.
Technology is what I want
Yeah, there's been some iPad-bashing, some of it well-deserved, some of it just makes me shake my head. I can understand slamming the hype machine, because so much of the time that's all a product is, a lot of talk, bright colors, the big and loud stage show. Not the case here. And yes, the Apple freaks can get out of hand sometimes, ooh-ing and ah-ing and sacrificing blood relatives to Vengeful Cupertinoea. You know who you are. We all know you're excited. Come on, break it up.
Here's the thing, I genuinely think the iPad is a revolutionary device, and it will change everything–or maybe a better way to put it: the iPad will drive everyone else into this tactile slate format future with a device that's easy to use, that's as powerful as any computer without the system and config hassles, and solid enough to use as a weapon. .
That's it for now. I'm going to write the other half of the book I'm currently writing in Pages on my iPad. I'll be posting on progress, the good and bad.