In case you have been living under a rock the past few days, and the rock doesn’t have Wifi access or any trade publications being delivered with any regularity, Apple’s iPad has landed! But the online reception has been far less than stellar, in fact it has aired a little on the cold side. Naturally in cases like these, there are going to be your regular throngs of Apple-haters who automatically come out against any new additions to their product line, but in this case, it seems to be a little bit more than that.
Now admittedly the expectations that the iPad is already failing to live up to may be completely self-induced and spurred-on by social media murmurs. It may also be because Apple has this perceived public persona as an industry leader. No matter which way you look at it, the initial reaction shows that the public reception is off to a rocky start, and that is never the way you want to get things going. Even though the iPad launched at half the price it was initially rumored it would cost, which may have also played a part in the public’s inflated performance perception, many still feel it to be lacking.
Apple bills the iPad as bridging the gap between smart phones & laptops, and in the unveiling, Steve Jobs said that the iPad would have to be better in all of the following areas than both smart phones and laptops to be successful. Otherwise there’s no reason for it’s existence.
So according to Apple’s founder, if the iPad does not provide a superior experience in each of these categories then it is a superfluous addition to the Apple product line, and unnecessary to the community. And so far, it seems to not be fairing well. Now the iPad has certainly demonstrated some pretty impressive and exciting technological advancements, that will pave the way for the future, but does it really deliver on the promises of the ‘amazing’ and ‘magical’ beat all performance? Not so much.
So What is Missing
Well many of the masses have spoken, and so far, they have been saying some key things are missing from the iPad. Some features that a large segment of the tech-craving public were really expecting to be included once the first release hit the shelves were disappointingly absent from the iPad’s arsenal. Seeming to suffer from a lack of a fixed focus or direction for the tablet, it seems to come up short in several areas where users have been promised greatness. It pushes its way into many areas for sure, but it often lands shy of fulfilling what users have come to expect from such a peripheral, and also what Mr. Jobs told us it would live up to. Here is a bit of a rundown on the reactions en mass.
Where Have All the Flash Apps Gone?
The first major fail that stung not only the online public yearning for this new Apple release, but also stung Apple in their big unveiling presentation, was the lack of Flash inclusion. Apparently, Apple is not a fan of Flash, even though it makes up a high majority of all online gaming and video content presentation. Unreliable? Really? Hello, pot. Apple called, apparently having forgotten their recent reliability issues with the iMacs and Snow Leopard to inform you that you are black. Even if the argument is made that most online based Flash would be unnecessary on the iPad anyway, we say, then don’t bill it as a media center, since a majority of people turn online for their media these days.
The main problem this presents for Apple is how difficult it is to top all other browsing experiences without the use of Flash, given that so much of the web is Flash based. Like it or not, it plays a large role right now in our online lives. We understand why many people do not want flash on their Apple devices since it tends to be glitchy and somewhat of a resource hog. However, if you really want to offer the best browsing experience then perhaps the choice should ultimately rest with the user? It seems the better route would be to at least offer it and let the user decide whether they want to utilize it or not. So while it may provide a better browsing experience than the smart phones, it does not beat a laptop.
High-Tech Finger Painting!
As a drawing tablet, the iPad does not rank that high either, given that you cannot use a drawing utensil on the screen, only your fingers. No stylus and a lack of the standard software that digital artists have come to rely on, basically calls on digital artists seeking to use the iPad as a drawing tool to refamiliarize and relearn what they once knew. Apple made sure that the only software that is compatible with the iPad is proprietary, so the usual tools most designers turn to won’t be able to run on the iPad. So it certainly cannot stand alone as a drawing tablet, despite the drawing demo that was offered in the keynote presentation.
Got Widescreen?…Not if You’re an iPad.
When it comes to the video category, Apple and their media campaign really boasts on the interface of the video player, but it takes more than an interface to make the ultimate video playback user experience. For one, you have to a true widescreen video ratio not the 4:3 aspect ratio that the iPad contains. The images are clear, yes, but if your videos tend to be purchased in the 16:9 widescreen ratio then they will be adjusted to fit, not fully displayed. Again, how does this rank as optimal over other devices.
Also if you were expecting to watch any widescreen movies, then hopefully they are not Flash based, or you are going to be doubly disappointed. But there was not a lot of clarity on whether or not you would be able to play any videos other than those you have acquired through, any guesses…that’s right, iTunes. If it is possible to play other sourced material, there is little wonder why they have remained tight lipped over it, because they are really excitedly pushing the three Apple stores you can automatically access via the iPad to purchase your media from. Cool, maybe, but cool enough? Not likely.
Not Much of a Multi-Tasker!
Another complaint that has initially come to the forefront of the iPad con list, is the devices inability to effectively multi-task. In one of the stronger showings during the keynote presentation, the e-mail feature, which seemed promising, could have been impacted by the iPad’s inability to function on numerous levels at a time. With everything the e-mail app could perform, one that was not demonstrated by Jobs was the inclusion of an attachment. Given the drag and drop functionality that appears throughout the multiple app interfaces, it seems that the attachments would be easy to not only include, but to demonstrate.
Perhaps we are reading too much into this omission, but it seems like in order to be able to drop an attachment in to your e-mail, you might need to be working in multiple apps at once. However, that does not seem to be where this device steps up to the plate. This seems more like where the device twists its ankle on the way up to the plate and never quite makes it up there. Again, this is another area where the iPad does not deliver better performance over a laptop, even though this was not one of the benchmarks Jobs mentioned was a deal breaker. But for techies, this may just break a deal or two and turn some users away.
All Capable Readers Step Forward…Not So Fast iPad!
Jobs mentioned that the iPad’s ebook reader function was another area where it was superior to both laptops and iPhones, but most ebook readers are not using those for the majority of their reading. Not if they are in fact avid book junkies. Fans of ebooks and readers were eagerly anticipating Apple’s contribution to the market, but also have been left feeling slightly slighted by the iPad. You see they were expecting it to not only live up to other readers, but to perhaps surpass them. They were not expecting Apple to compare their apples to oranges to see which made better applesauce, and hype their product as superior.
Perhaps if the comparison was made with other peripherals in that line, then the promise of superior delivery would not have been able to be boasted about as readily. Again, the handy bookstore is neat and all, but it is not enough to outrank other e-readers by far. Going with the backlit option and not offering an e-ink based interface highlights this failure, effectively shining a backlit spotlight as the iPad falls short of fully delivering on this product use directive. For heavy readers, e-ink is the easier on the eyes option that the ebookworms tend to appreciate and prefer.
USB Input & Card Slots A No-Go
Many were expecting easy expansion or at least common connectability with the iPad, but once again, they didn’t get it. With no built in USB connections, and no slots for sim cards to plugin, the iPad does not really deliver on either of those standard extras consumers have come to expect from their comp-related gizmos. Especially one that bills itself as a media center. We tend to expect to be able to connect it with our media hubs (which for a lot of users, means their computer or external harddrives), but this was not a design priority it seems, when they released it into a market saturated with more accessible gagdets and gizmos.
The Proprietary Paradigm
By now, Apple is well known for their tendency to stick only to proprietary software and peripherals, and the iPad furthers this paradigm down to the letter. From the only browser option available being Safari, to the only apps, and perhaps even the media, available on the tablet are the ones from the Apple store. Given that Flash is not going to be playing a part of your iPad gaming experience, new games are in development specifically for the iPad, turning its gaming experience into an impressive one. But a proprietary one. Once again, this does not allow for comparison with other gaming experiences on the laptop and smart phones since they will not be available anywhere else.
And while again, some of the gaming looks intriguing, the motion controls seem oddly similar to the Wii, which as some of you may know if you have played on it requires quite a bit of getting used to, and this may prove to share that burden. Also, with a handful of peripherals and attachments available to complement or complete the experience (i.e. the tactile keyboard peripheral and more) the user ends up having to continue down this proprietary path that Apple loves to push so much to make the most of their new toy.
Long Story Short…
Perhaps they thought the Apple name alone would drive consumers their way, and who knows, it may still go that route. But overall, some of the online populous are feeling the disconnect left by this lack of follow through and forethought. Unless the worse option is true, and they simply wanted users to have to buy a few expensive side-kicks to what some are already dubbing ‘the iPhone you can’t carry in your pocket’, just to make a few extra dollars. When portability is already an issue, do you really want to exacerbate that with additional cargo for your user to have to carry around? Apparently, if you are Apple, you do.
Also, it seems like if you really are billing this as not for your average techie, but more for the common user, wouldn’t common connectivity have been a major focus? The more proprietary it becomes, the less common the user it appeals to. Your average user would want a peripheral that they had more control over, and more crossover capabilities with the other electronic peripherals, especially if they fall under the same ‘media center’ heading that the iPad is supposed to. Also, they would expect their new fancy ‘top of the line’ media center from Apple to at least be compatible with the flawed technology that powers over 70% of the media web users attempt to access. So it doesn’t exactly fit the bill as we have come to know its scope.
While there are some fantastic new tech developments that like we said, may open new future doors, the iPad does not meet Steve Jobs’ modest benchmarks to prove its existence is necessary. And though it may shine in a couple of areas like digital photo albums and the like, does that make it worth its price tag and place in the market? Not according to Apple’s owner, but again, only time will tell at this point. What are your thoughts?
More on the iPad
- Cnet Editor’s Take: Apple iPad
- Apple iPad: The definitive guide (so far)
- Apple iPad: Everything You Need to Know
- Developers, not Apple, will make or break the iPad