As a change of pace, I’d like to start my comments regarding my initial hands on experience with the iPad by listing some things that I don’t like about the device. Too often I feel thrown into the fanboy camp by people who don’t realize that I do my best to consider all sides of the various arguments, and I’m not in fact happy with every little thing that Apple does. So without further ado, here are some frustrations I’ve had with the device after a few days working with it.
The browsing experience isn’t quite the same as on a PC, and I’m not talking about Flash. The omission of Flash actually makes me happy. I’ve always disliked it, and have blogged about it when the fabled Apple Tablet was only a whisper. My main gripe with Flash is that it breaks the consistent user experience of the web, and in a few places, I feel that the iPad has done that too.
- Links: In many places links don’t seem to activate on initial touch, but require a double-tap to engage. Whereas in other places, a single touch seems to suffice. I don’t exactly know what the differentiation is, which makes it frustrating when that first tap doesn’t do what I expected. Maybe there are cues about what type of interaction is desired that I’m not privy to, but it’s frustrated me more than once.
- Scrolling: Okay, I had written a complaint about not being able to scroll an individual content pane in a website (such as the article list in Google Reader). I have since stumbled on the fact that using two fingers instead of one doesn’t scroll the webpage, but it actually scrolls the underlying content. So, this is now more of a frustration with a new UI interaction that wasn’t communicated to me. Fortunately, it was easy enough to stumble upon by myself.
Given all this, there is somewhat of a bit of ‘magic’ behind browsing on the iPad. It’s really fluid and enjoyable. Whoops, sorry, back to annoyances.
Global Data Store
Let me go on record as saying I don’t want a traditional file system. A good portion of my time is wasted navigating the file systems our current computers have coalesced. They’re deep, ugly, and many of the files are of no concern to me. But storing, organizing, and sharing user generated files is an important task to many (if not most) people. This frustration came up last night when I was helping create a keynote presentation for a friend to use on a weekend business trip. Now a lot of people have become really accustomed to sharing files via email, and the iPad handles this pretty well. But you run into a problem when the 14MB presentation file is a little too big for Hotmail’s attachment limit. Perhaps we should blame Hotmail, but all the email providers have some limit. Who’s to say my file will never be 50MB. This is a problem you can obviously get around in a hundred ways. I happened to share it on Dropbox, but chances are people with less savvy might have had a harder time than I did. If I encountered this problem in the first few days with the iPad, other people are likely having it too. Unfortunately, I don’t have a solution to offer to Apple. I can think of many concepts for global file storage, but none are a clear winner. Besides the fact that I’m really behind Apple wanting to maintain the inherent simplicity of the iPad. I’m hoping they come up with a great solution for this. You never know, maybe we’ll see it Thursday.
If you track with Apple news (which seems to be indistinguishable from the mainstream press recently), you’ve probably heard that some iPad users are experiencing problems with WiFi. I happen to be one of those users. A few times a day at work, my WiFi connection has been dropping without warning. Granted, our WiFi network doesn’t have the greatest track record. However, it works with my iPhone, so I would expect it to work at least as well on my iPad. Once it drops, it usually won’t reconnect right away. Sometimes it asks for the password, which doesn’t seem to help to reenter. A few times restarting my iPad has seemed to fix the problem, but it’s hard to pin down the real cause. Most of the home networks I’ve been on seem to work fine. Perhaps it’s an issue with the wireless security type being used at work. When connected, the WiFi seems to work great, so this is something I’m assuming will get fixed shortly via a software update.
Now that I’ve aired some of the issues I’ve had, I want to point out that I think my iPad is great. It certainly performs above my expectations. Everyone I’ve given a hands-on demo to becomes visibly excited, and I can see people really understanding how this new computer could fit into their lives. Stay tuned, as I’m planning to post some more impressions in days to come.