May 022010

I got my iPad with 3G a couple of days ago, and I have some initial thoughts.

First off, by and large, this is possibly the most amazing device I’ve ever used. It’s beautiful, it’s fun to use, and it seems perfectly suited to replace my laptop for those basic tasks that I used to whip it out for: email, general web surfing, quick blogging, etc.

Obviously I’ll be keeping the MacBook Pro for heavier-duty tasks.

However, I thought I’d sum up a few specific things that occur to me as I use it.


Browsing the web works pretty well in Safari, for basic surfing tasks. It feels quite natural, by and large, and pages render cleanly and quickly.

However, I do have one specific nit to pick: when you switch between tabs, about 90% of the time, Safari reloads the tab you switch into. This, for my needs, is a serious drawback.

One of the major tasks I plan(ned) to use my iPad for is basic maintenance of the Mozilla Developer Center wiki. That is, reading the recently changed articles list in Google Reader and opening up articles that need re-editing in new tabs to tweak them or proofread them, and also occasionally opening up the user ban panel to ban users.

This is all technically possible, except for this common usage scenario:

  1. A user creates an account.
  2. The first thing they do is post spam.
  3. Now I need to both delete the spam and ban the user.
  4. So I click the link in the RSS feed to open the article to delete it.
  5. Now I switch back to the Google Reader tab so I can click the “ban user” button.
  6. But the page reloads, and that item in my Google Reader tab, now having been read, is no longer available, so I’ve lost the “ban user” button.

Frustrating. There are workarounds, but they’re tedious and require significant changes to my workflow over how I do things on the desktop.

I fail to understand why Safari insists on reloading tabs on switch. Especially when it doesn’t do it every single time. I’d very much like it to stop, please.


Mail is good but not awesome on the iPad. To be fair, doing mail “awesome” is a difficult task, one which I don’t think anyone has really achieved yet.

My main gripe about Mail on the iPad is that it insists on opening messages automatically. This same thing frustrates me on desktop clients. Having to turn off a “preview” mode on the desktop is annoying enough; having it be the only way to fly on the iPad is annoying. I only want to see the content of a message when I explicitly tap on it. Until then, I’d rather see a blank panel next to it. Seeing the content of messages automatically makes it too easily to accidentally mark a message as read before I’m actually ready to read it, let alone act on its contents.

I’m pleased to know that unified inbox support is on its way in iPhone OS 4. I hope other improvements are coming as well.


iBooks is the hotness. That’s all I have to say about that so far. I’ve not spent enormous amounts of time reading yet, so I don’t have more comments than that yet.

Third-party Apps

Another gripe, although not an overly important one, is that many of the apps I use on a daily basis (often many, many times a day) haven’t yet got iPad versions, or have iPad versions that aren’t quite ready for prime time.

High on the list is the Facebook app, which hasn’t been updated to use all that screen space yet. Yes, you can do Facebook in Safari, but I find I actually prefer the iPhone app’s experience over the browser experience. Curious to see what Facebook will do on iPad.

I also would like a good Google Reader-syncing RSS reader. On iPhone, I’m a huge fan of Byline. I bought “My Times” yesterday for a couple dollars, but it crashes pretty often. According to the developer, an update is winding its way through the approval process. However, I prefer the Byline UI and suspect that an iPad version of that would be nicer.

I love Rooms for IRC on iPhone, but it doesn’t have an iPad version yet. I bought a copy of LimeChat, which works well, but in landscape mode, it insists on having two sidebars, one for your channels, and one for the users in the channel, and there’s no way to hide either or both of them, meaning you’re stuck with the chat squeezed in between them. I’d like this to let me use more of my screen for actual content. The user and channel lists could easily be drop-downs.

I’m a long-time Twittelator user on the iPhone, and the iPad version was one of my first purchases. By and large I like it, but IMHO it uses too much of the screen for borders and cute effects and not enough for content. And in landscape mode, it makes the friends timeline very narrow, using most of the screen for a box that lets you look at various other views, such as @mentions. I don’t use any of those views very often. I’d much rather be able to have my friends timeline use the majority of the screen.

 Posted by at 5:55 PM

  13 Responses to “Thoughts on my iPad”

  1. It isn’t out yet, but Reeder is making an app specifically for the iPad.

    One of the reasons I am waiting on getting an iPad is because so many of my favorite apps won’t have an iPad app out for a while.

    Plus I would probably be frustrated that despite all the screen real estate you can’t make music playlists on the iPad (I know this is changing in OS 4.0).

  2. For Safari, isn’t the amount of RAM the main reason ?

  3. Memory may be the reason, but I’m not sure it’s as relevant a reason in the iPad era as it used to be.

  4. You mentioned the irc chat. Is it correct, that you can’t be on irc and do something else in another thirdparty app? or more general, it’s not possible to run two thirdparty apps parallel at the moment, isn’t it?

  5. The iPad has 256MB or RAM. This is significantly less than the typical desktop computer, and than most netbooks nowadays.

  6. In other words, the iPad is just another stupid new toy for people who’d spend their money on it rather than in a vacation week in some tropical beach or something like that.

    It’s not that practical to use when compared to a netbook or a laptop, it’s not nearly as useful and is a closed platform.

    I understand that people would buy it (I didn’t), and I also understand where they’re seeing its qualities (I saw a few), but that they’d think the latter outweights the former is completely incomprehensible for me. In a way, it’s very much like an iPod, or an iPad: pretty, trendy, expensive and missing functionality.

    Two months ago I bought a Lancer Evo. Why? Because it’s awesome and fast and awesome. I didn’t buy a Prius… The iPad is a Prius. Only it has nothing to do with it. I’m talking fashion in this comparison.

  7. NetNewsWire supposedly has an iPad app…

  8. It’s true that you can’t currently run multiple apps at once. Fortunately, the IRC client has an integrated mini-browser, which at least lets me follow links in channels.

  9. I have a net book and hate it. Shoehorning a desktop OS onto a small form factor results in what, for me, is a horrible user experience.

    I find the iPad to be quite enjoyable to use, and I expect it will do most or all of the stuff I want to use it for well. It won’t, of course, replace my primary computers, though.

  10. Yes, you can do Facebook in Safari, but I find I actually prefer the iPhone app’s experience over the browser experience.

    Revealing thoughts on the-Web-as-a-platform?

  11. I think it’s more a statement on the design of the Facebook site than on Web-as-platform. :)

  12. I believe the iPad is the best gadget ever made. However, it lacks something. something very very important. the capability to multitask. I hope apple will work on that matter coz I’m not planning to buy one unless they do…

  13. Well, iPhone OS 4 includes multitasking, and is coming to iPad in the fall, so…