I’m assuming that Job #1 for all Apple Store employees is collecting the webcam footage they record and forwarding it to a massive bunker under Steve’s house. There, a team of naked Colombians spend their time jogging on treadmills to charge his MacBook’s batteries, while a group of video editors painstakingly sort the footage into two categories: “Chicks Whose Mothers Have Failed Them” and “Fat People Leaving Sbarro Stains On The iMacs”. I hear he jerks it to the former, and whips himself with a USB cable while watching the latter.
For the record, my source for this story was the homeless unicorn who lives in a box behind Cold Stone Creamery, where he works part-time ejaculating rainbow sprinkles into a bucket. So, y’know… it’s pretty much guaranteed to be true. (For certain values of “guaranteed” and “true”.)
You’ve been hearing about it non-stop for months, and now it’s out. The only way the iPad could get more media time is if it fucked Kate Gossellin and sired eight little iPods on her famewhore ass. Obama could take a dump on the White House lawn in the shape of Khrushchev’s face and it wouldn’t knock the iPad off the front page. You’ve heard how it’s as magical as a Disney Princess’s vagina and as pointless as everything Jerry Seinfeld has done since 1998. You’ve even seen the occasional review that tries to balance the critique.
But you haven’t seen mine, and it’s a must-see. Why? Where else are you gonna find a description of the conflict between divergent computing paradigms that features a redneck in-breeding metaphor? Hm? That’s what I thought.
First, let’s address the stuff you’ve heard elsewhere, and try to pick the reality from the fractured shards of what was once considered journalism.
The iPad is just a really big iPod Touch.
I suppose it is, in the same way that a 747 is just a really big Piper Cub, or a mansion is just a really big studio apartment over your parents’ garage. It’s not that the statement is incorrect as much as it simply misses the point. While the iPad is scaled up from it’s tiny ancestor, your fingers have stayed the same size. (Unless you’re Wyle E. Coyote and a train just ran over your hand, in which case, my condolences and thank you for shopping Acme.) That means you’ve got more room to manipulate more virtual objects within the device’s workspace.
As an example, consider a piano simulator on the iPod Touch… it might be able to fit, what, four keys on the screen simultaneously? On the iPad, a similar app could fit ten or twelve keys, meaning richer, more complex music can be played. A bigger control surface equals more control.
So yes, this means that what that hooker in Reno told you was a lie: size matters. Also, she was a dude. And that wasn’t lip gloss.
The iPad is a magical game-changer.
This one depends on your definition of “magic”, and what game you’re trying to change.
If it were really all that astounding an experience, then it would feel foreign and strange… you’d have to struggle to wrap your head around the way it works. In reality, the iPad works exactly as you expect it would. You touch things and they respond. The stuff you touch isn’t occupying some abstract space on a metaphorical desktop; it’s literally in your hands.
Let’s face it: the computer industry has spent the last 30 years convincing us to interact with data in a manner similar a kid playing the claw machine at the bowling alley. Some of us have even gotten really good at it, snagging the stuffed octopus on the first try every time. All Apple has done is show us how unnecessary all that effort has become, and provide us a shortcut.
Does that amount to a changed game? Yeah, I think it does. But we’re still in the first quarter, and making up the new rules as we go along.
The devil went down to Georgia, looking for a chromosome to steal...
The iPad will/won’t replace your laptop.
We’ve been using tools such as keyboards and mice to interact with computers for so long that habits and even core activities have congealed around them. We’re like kids growing up in backwoods Alabama, adapting to the realities of poverty, isolation, and sexy, sexy relatives… at some point, you accept that double-clicked icons and flipper-footed, cyclopean babies are simply Parts of Life.
Once that happens, you build these ideas into the new stuff your develop. Take blogging as an example; it relies on the ability to quickly flip between multiple web pages, copying/pasting bits between them, and streaming Comedy Central in the background as you scan for any jokes you can “borrow” from The Daily Show. That process is currently difficult to manage on the iPad, and not just because Jon Stewart’s lilliputian frame seems even smaller on a 9″ screen… it’s gonna take a while to develop a multi-touch experience that makes that kind of rapid, precise context-switching feel natural.
(‘Cause the trick with multi-touch is this: if it doesn’t feel natural, it’s a failure.)
In such cases, the iPad isn’t ideal, and you’re gonna be reaching for your Logitech more often than not. But even then, the Jesus Slate can be occasionally added to strategic points in your workflow, replacing the mouse for selected sub-tasks. I’d much rather research a new blog entry on the iPad than stare at my laptop’s inferior LCD for a couple hours, and given I keep all aspects of my work in the cloud, switching between machines doesn’t cause me pain.
Your mileage may vary. (Particularly if you drive a Toyota, which is likely to get three head-on collisions to the tank.)
He's right. Your face is no bueno!
The iPad doesn’t have USB ports/isn’t an open platform/won’t give me a BJ no matter how much a stroke it!
All of that is true, except the last bit. It just won’t blow you because you’re ugly. Your iPad thinks of me while you touch it. But again, we’re firmly in point-missing territory here.
Right off the top, forget USB. Full-sized USB ports are thicker than the iPad, which means Apple would have had to make the thing chunkier just to accommodate them. And yeah, they could have fit Micro USB in there, but then you’d need an adapter for almost every device you wanted to plug into the thing. You’d end up with this dangling mess hanging off the side of a handheld computer, which makes no real sense.
If anything, folks should be bitching at Apple for not providing us with a robust means of wirelessly moving data on and off the iPad. That’s one place where their initial design falls down, and falls hard. Having to go through iTunes to add files to a given app’s allotted file-space is an enormous pain in the ass… hopefully the OS update coming this fall will make some positive changes.
But what about openness? Fuck “openness”, you whiny anarchist bitches! (Message from 2010: punk is dead and all you have left is Avril Lavigne. Commence weeping.) Openness is great for experimentation and exploration, and if those are big things that you want from a computing device, the iPad is not for you. The rest of us are tired of Facebook viruses, antivirus apps that slow down our machines while trying to kill Facebook viruses, and OSes so ill-conceived that antivirus apps are necessary in the first place.
‘Sides, “open” is a matter of perspective. It was great, back in the day, before everything was networked and you could run whatever shitty code struck your fancy without significant fear. But y’know what? A web browser –like the iPad’s Safari– is more programmable and more powerful than any of the Commodore 64s and Apple IIs of my misspent youth. If the only machine little Johnny Hacksalot can get his grubby mitts on is an iPad, there’s still plenty he can do to develop software and manipulate his computing environment. He just can’t completely fuck it up without buying the SDK and working at it.
And if that isn’t enough, hell, I have an Atari ST in the garage that he can have for the wholly reasonable price of a CD full of naked pictures of his sister.
If Leo had an iPad, I might still be with him...
So what do I love about the iPad?
It’s fast. Really fast. I mean “wow, Bar Rafaeli just materialized and is lowering her naked body on to me, holy shit I see God, gosh I’m sleepy” fast. You tap an icon, and you’re working in a second or two. The relative sluggishness of the iPhone when switching from portrait to landscape is gone. ‘Tis heaven.
The screen is the best I’ve ever seen. Period. You won’t find anything like it on the $399 netbook you picked up at Best Buy. I haven’t watched any porn on it yet, but only because I’m afraid all that beauty will make me weep from my eyes in addition to my penis, and I like to keep my tissues single-purpose.
It just feels right. When you inevitably find yourself on the crapper watching a YouTube video of some kid setting his own pubic hair on fire, you’ll understand. It’s like you suddenly know what it must be like to be in James Kirk’s loo, squeezing out the Captain’s Mess while going over dilithium storage charts on one of those space-clipboards that hot-ass Yeoman Rand was always handing him. It feels like the future, is what I’m trying to say here.
On most portable electronics, “battery life” is a deceptive term. In reality, you’re really just counting the minutes until the fucker dies. The exception to this rule has been the Kindle, which can run for weeks on a single charge, but only manages that feat by pretending that colors don’t exist. (I suspect someone at Amazon never had his own box of crayons as a child.) The iPad strikes a splendid balance, running all day with ease and charging overnight while you sob quietly into your pillow and mourn all the things you never did because you were too busy buying gadgets.
Defying all expectations, the virtual keyboard is pretty frakkin’ good. In landscape mode, I can actually crank out text at a fair rate, and the autocorrect catches most of the mistakes I make. Oddly though, even though quieter than a conventional keyboard, the tap-tap-tapping on the glass screen is a little annoying… probably because the iPad is otherwise completely silent.
It’s all about the apps, man! The stuff that developers have cranked out so far barely scratch the surface of what the iPad can do, and they’re already pretty impressive. Within a couple months, there are gonna be some amazing tools out there to match up with all the amazing hardware.
Meanwhile, what sucks about this thing?
Hm. The hardware itself? Little to nothing. It’s a delight to the fingers and the eyes. I’d definitely have preferred onboard stereo speakers, and it could stand to shed an ounce or three, but that’s nit-picking. The software could use some scrutiny, though.
Goddamned iTunes! The first thing you have to do when you fire up the iPad is sync it to the most annoying app on your computer. And you have to do it tethered, since (as mentioned above) Apple hasn’t yet cracked the code for wireless backups/updates. If they’d just make iTunes suck a little less it would be more acceptable, but they’ve had most of a decade to work on it, and they’re clearly content to keep pissing me off.
The iPad ships with OS 3.2, which doesn’t include the fast app switching functions due to arrive with OS 4.0 in the fall. What this means is that trying to get serious work done can be hit or miss, depending on how much effort each app’s developer has applied to saving and restoring the state of the app when exiting and returning. Some do a great job, some blow horse cock. (Some do a good job of blowing horse cock, but enough about my Uncle Ralph.) Until the OS update comes to rescue us, we’re stuck with a variable quality experience.
Safari tends to reload pages a lot when switching tabs or apps. If you’re in the middle of writing an epic comment on some douchebag’s blog and this happens, you’ll lose your epicness and be struck by the urge to chuck the iPad across the room like one of those oversized throwing stars from Krull.
Even on a bigger device, text selection is still more awkward than I’d like. From what I’ve read, a Bluetooth keyboard helps a lot in this regard, but it’s still something Apple should consider an unfinished feature.
No clock app means no iPod sleep timer, which means I fall asleep listening to the History of Rome podcast and it keeps playing episode after episode, forcing me to spend all night dreaming about sweaty, half-naked dudes in togas. This might be okay for Ricky Martin’s iPad, but not mine.
Beyond that, there are a number of other complaints to be voiced, but I just watched the OS 4.0 keynote, and virtually all of them will be addressed six months from now. Multitasking, app navigation, you name it.
So what’s the verdict?
The iPad is fantastic. I love it, and use it for hours every day. If you do a lot of web browsing, spend a lot of time on Twitter, watch endless YouTube videos, or otherwise burn daylight typing in brief spurts and reading for long stretches, it’s for you. Absolutely. If you like to play games but don’t want to hog the TV with your Xbox, or need something bigger than even a Nintendo DSiXL, you’re set. And if you’re the kinda person for whom the iPhone has already replaced the laptop/desktop computer for a host of tasks, well, prepare to experience pure awesome.
If none of that describes you, the iPad will still impress you… perhaps enough to keep you using it long enough to perceive the possibilities it holds. And when OS 4.0 debuts, you’ll be able to turn all your new multi-touch experience into real work/play.
But if you’ve got a short attention span, you’re not a web power-surfer, and completely lack a soul like some sort of sparkly-skinned Twilight pansy, you’ll probably be kinda “meh” about it. For now.
What’s the future?
I say “for now”, first because I needed six letters and a space to satisfy my paragraph-based OCD, and second because you will own an iPad eventually. One developer is already working on a set of apps that allows the iPad to take control of individual windows on a Mac desktop… that means you get to leverage the full CPU, memory, and storage of a desktop machine on a gorgeous touchscreen that you hold in front of you.
I doubt it’ll be perfect out of the gate, and it may not be suitable for hardcore stuff like video editing. But the idea is there, and you can bet Apple will seize on it at some point. Once they build a similar system into the OS, touch interfaces will be on their way to omnipresence.
Don’t waste your breath telling me this video is a goof, a self-promotional comedy clip produced by a British tech blogger, or anything else. Because ladies and gentlemen (yes, I give my audience too much credit), this is one of those times where I want to believe. I need to think that –somewhere out there– I can one day find a cute girl so emotionally damaged that she has given up on all hope of finding a mature, responsible, warm, and nurturing human lover, and has settled instead on a cold, unfeeling hunk of sexless nothing that can only manage to robotically repeat empty phrases that simulate affection. ‘Cause I was born for that relationship!
Also, I’m pretty sure that –if I strap an empty Mac Pro chassis to my head– she might wear this shirt while we make sterile, hopeless love:
Be mine, Hermione!
All of my best dreams start like this. Only with less microphone, and more buckets of room-temperature Country Crock.