The iPad and Doing Stuff

I got an iPhone 4 almost 2 years ago when it came out. It was the first Apple device I had owned, and it really changed the way I did day-to-day things. I put my calendar, to-do list, odds-n-ends bucket, pretty much everything in the “cloud” so I could access everything on the iPhone, Windows, and Ubuntu computers. I almost got an iPad 2 when it came out but wanted better resolution…so waited until the new iPad arrived, with 4 times the pixel density as the prior models.

There’s nothing wrong with the new iPad, least of all its screen. But after all of 2 days using it, I’m rather let down. I expected it would completely replace my Acer netbook and reduce the amount I used my desktop computer…but I don’t think it will. The reason is simple: if you’re trying to do something more than tapping around the web viewing sites or using apps, the iPad is hard to use.

Here’s why. First, it doesn’t have a keyboard of course. It turns out that those who touch-type–or have acquired speed in two-finger typing–need a real keyboard. Full-size is best but even my slightly reduced netbook keyboard is OK. It’s simply too frustrating tapping virtual keys on the screen for more than about one sentence.

Yes, I could get a Bluetooth keyboard but there are other problems.

A big one for me is the difference in web browser capability between iOS and other systems (Windows and Ubuntu for me, but also MacOS). On other OSs you have full-featured browsers, and I’ve setup ad blocking, do-not-track, Evernote clipping, powerful tab handling, and so forth. iOS browsers (I’ve tried a few) allow a small fraction of those capabilities. Even something simple like opening a like in a webpage in a new tab is awkward in iOS, trivial in other platforms. This really slows down my use of the web.

Then there’s the iDev paradigm of no tiling. That made sense with the small iPhone screens, but not now on the iPads. C’mon Apple, it’s last-century to permit the user to see and use only one app at a time on the screen. And some apps annoyingly lose track of what they were doing when you put them away and bring up another app…it’s hardly true multitasking. An aviation app I have, for instance, periodically has to download a few hundred megabytes of maps, and it cannot do this in the background.

All-in-all, the iPad is really, really nice for a shiny toy. But it’s simply not something to be productive with.

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