We have been using the wi-fi iPad for just under 6 months now and I have a few suggestions to make it even easier to use.
Aside from the problem with lack of Flash support there are a few things that would make websurfing easier on the iPad:
- Tabbed windows option – I use tabbed windows on my desktop/laptop all the time but for some reason on the iPad Apple chose to use a grid of distinct windows accessible via a Safari special purpose icon. While this approach probably makes a lot of sense for the iPhone/iPod, there is little reason to only do this on the iPad. There is ample screen real-estate to show tabs selectable with the touch of a finger. As it is now, it takes two touches to select an alternate screen for web browsing, not to mention some time to paint the thumbnail screen when you have multiple web pages open.
- Non-mobile mode – It seems that many websites nowadays detect whether one is accessing a web page from a mobile device or not and as such, shrink their text/window displays to accommodate their much smaller display screen. With the iPad this shows up as a wasted screen space and takes more than necessary screen paging to get to data that retrievable on a single screen with a desktop/laptop. Not sure whether the problem is in the web server or the iPad’s signaling what device it is, however it seems to me that if the iPad/Safari app could signal to web servers that it is a laptop/small-desktop, web browsing could be better.
There are a number of Apps freely available on the iPhone/iPod that are not available on the iPad without purchase. For some reason, I find I can’t live without some of these:
- Clock app – On the iPhone/iPod I use the clock app at least 3 times a day. I time my kids use of video games, my own time to having to do something, how much time I am willing/able to spend on a task, and myriad other things. It’s one reason why I keep the iPhone on my body or close by whenever I am at home. I occasionally use the clock app as a stop watch and a world clock but what I really need on the iPad is a timer of some sort. I really have been unable to find an equivalent app for the iPad that matches the functionality of the iPhone/iPod Clock app.
- Calculator app – On the iPhone/iPod I use the calculator sporadically, mostly when I am away from my desktop/office (probably because I have a calculator on my desk). However, I don’t have other calculators that are easily accessible throughout my household and having one on the iPad would just make my life easier. BTW, I ended up purchasing a calculator app that Apple says is equal to the iPhone Calc App which works fine but it should have come free.
- Weather app – This is probably the next most popular app on my iPhone. I know this information is completely available on the web, but by the time I have to enter the url/scan my bookmarks it takes at least 3-4 touches to get the current weather forecast. By having the Weather app available on the iPhone it takes just one touch to get this same information. I believe there is some way to transform a web page into an app icon on the iPad but this is not the same.
IOS software tweaks
There are some things I think could make IOS much better from my standpoint and I assume all the stuff in IOS 4.2 will be coming shortly so I won’t belabor those items:
- File access – This is probably heresy but, I would really like a way to be able to cross application boundaries to access all files on the iPad. That is, have something besides Mail, iBook and Pages be able to access PDF file, and Mail, Photo, and Pages/Keynote be able to access photos. Specifically, some of the FTP upload utilities should be able to access any file on the iPad. Not sure where this belongs but there should be some sort of data viewer at the IOS level that can allow access to any file on the iPad.
- Dvorak soft keypad – Ok, maybe I am a bit weird, but I spent the time and effort to learn the Dvorak keyboard layout to be able to type faster and would like to see this same option available for the iPad soft keypad. I currently use Dvorak with the iPad’s external BT keyboard hardware but I see no reason that it couldn’t work for the soft keypad as well.
- Widgets – The weather app discussed above looks to me like the weather widget on my desktop iMac. It’s unclear why IOS couldn’t also support other widgets so that the app developers/users could easily create use their desktop widgets on the iPad.
iPad hardware changes
There are some things that scream out to me for hardware changes.
- Ethernet access – I have been burned before and wish not to be burned again but some sort of adaptor that would allow an Ethernet plug connection would make the tethered iPad a much more complete computing platform. I don’t care if such a thing comes as a BlueTooth converter or has to use the same plug as the power adaptor but having this would just make accessing the internet (under some circumstances) that much easier.
- USB access – This just opens up another whole dimension to storage access and information/data portability that is sorely missing from the iPad. It would probably need some sort of “file access” viewer discussed above but it would make the iPad much more extensible as a computing platform.
- Front facing camera – I am not an avid user of FaceTime (yet) but if I were, I would really need a front camera on the iPad. Such a camera would also provide some sort of snapshot capability with the iPad (although a rear facing camera would make more sense for this). In any event, a camera is a very useful device to record whiteboard notes, scan paper documents, and record other items of the moment and even a front-facing one could do this effectively.
- Solar panels – Probably off the wall, but having to lug a power adaptor everywhere I go with the iPad is just another thing to misplace/loose. Of course, when traveling to other countries, one also needs a plug adaptor for each country as well. It seems to me having some sort of solar panel on the back or front could provide adequate power to charge the iPad would be that much simpler.
Well that’s about it for now. We are planning on taking a vacation soon and we will be taking both a laptop and the iPad (because we can no longer live without it). I would rather just leave the laptop home but can’t really do that given my problems in the past with the iPad. Some changes described above could make hauling the laptop on vacation a much harder decision.
As for how the iPad fares on the beach, I will have to let you know…