iPad: One Month On

I have had the device now for just over a month. With the honeymoon period now over, it’s time to reflect on my decision to buy it and how I’ve found the device and various apps I’ve been using.

Battery life

I can leave it on standby for several days and use it for hours in a day without worrying about where the nearest socket is. Even using wi-fi, video and sessions of typing. Brilliant.

Apps

Along with the built-in Safari browser, video player and Google Maps I regularly use Dropbox, Sketchy, Gusto and more recently iA Writer. Sketchy is great for wireframing and Gusto is a fairly competent code editor. Dropbox is vital in allowing me to easily transfer files between the iPad and my iMac. iA Writer already supports this and I hope Sketchy and others will introduce support shortly. I also find Evernote, Adobe Ideas, WordPress, OfflinePages+ and Palettes rather useful. A mixture of both cloud-based apps and local-based apps that have the ability to link with cloud storage mean I can easily use the device both at home and remotely.

Some apps seem to crash too much

TweetDeck primarily, rather irritating, it doesn’t happen too often with most apps but things crash significantly more often than on other iOS-based devices.

Rather surprisingly, typing is fairly good in both portrait and landscape format.

I like being able to watch videos and podcasts almost anywhere.

Reading on iBook is also great, the device feels comfortable to hold while reading. The weight and size are pretty much spot-on and it’s well balanced making it comfortable to use for reading, browsing and typing in almost any position. I will say though that I would need some form of stand and probably a hardware keyboard if I needed to use it on a desk for long periods of time. It’s definitely a device to use on your lap on hand.

Connectivity

It’s nice to have such a portable device with Wireless-N built-in. The signal strength is good throughout my house and even in the garden so it absolutely laps up web browsing, podcasts, YouTube and BBC iPlayer.

I can’t comment on the 3G as I went for the non-3G model. I didn’t feel it was worth the extra £100 just for a 3G modem. It’s not much of a disadvantage as there’s lots of wi-fi hotspots about and I have a BT Openzone subscription, which seems to be popping up everywhere as time goes on.

I’m not sure I miss having a USB port or SD card slot (available as an add-on for photos), though I would like to be able to sync over wi-fi rather than plug it into the Mac all the time.

Web Browsing

Browsing the web on an iPad is a great experience. Swiping and tapping the large touch-screen feels natural. The vast majority of sites I’ve visited work and appear perfectly though there does appear to be an issue with some positional CSS properties. I.e. Things that are supposed to be fixed to the bottom or top of the screen move when you scroll so they will cover some content. I will post a fix for this when I’ve found the best way to achieve it.

Auto-correct and auto-capitalise on some websites winds me up something rotten, especially with entering usernames and email addresses. You can disable this with some simple HTML properties so, developers, please think about this when developing your forms. I’m certain many users will get confused if they get an error when they’ve submitted what they think is the correct information only for their device to change it without them noticing… I find it a frustration at the least.

Typekit often crashes Safari. I don’t know why but it’s only certain sites so, again developers, please test properly or leave the current ‘beta’ support switched off! I will note that my iPhone runs iOS 4.1 and TypeKit has never crashed Safari on that so I’m hoping the situation will be resolved when iOS 4.2 is released.

It’s disappointing to come across websites that rely on Flash with no good HTML version, I have never liked sites that work this way and now I find it infuriating and take my interest elsewhere. It’s an old, amateurish practice and now proof that Flash was never designed to be depended on in this way. Regardless of your opinion on the whole Adobe vs. Apple issue, HTML technology is now as capable as providing a good experience that rivals most common and now completely unnecessary uses of Flash. It’s an open platform which is developing incredibly rapidly so hopefully things will start to change. Obviously Flash still has its uses and can’t be avoided in some situations but it should be used as the multimedia enhancement it was designed for, nothing more. I will go so far as to say the same for most of the new CSS3 properties too, you can’t rely on them completely because not everyone can see them.

Conclusion

On the whole, things are very positive. It’s far more portable and easy to carry round than a laptop/MacBook or whatever yet still capable of performing the tasks I need it to.

As I said before, I never thought 3G was worth the extra £100 plus data charges. I also have iPhone but feel paying extra just to tether my iPad to get online through 3G is a total rip-off, I already pay to get 1Gb data with my tariff so why can’t I use that? I may consider a ‘mi-fi’ device if I find I need more access on the move and the price is right.