Sunday, February 6, 2011

The iPad sucks!

Ask an expert and they will tell you, the iPad sucks. They a only any good for media consumption, You can only do what Apple allow and it doesn't do Flash. All in all, it is a severely gimped toy, an expensive one to boot. So, I've had my iPad now for about 8 months now and with the release of iPad 2 imminent, I thought I would have a go at tackling some of the more ridiculous criticisms of the device.

1. IOS is no good for production of content

Well, if this blog doesn't count as production of content, or indeed any of the files embedded in it, then yes, IOS is no good for content production. There are no decent productivity apps for IOS, Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Blogpress, iDraw, Notes +, Sketchbook Pro, iThoughts and a multitude of music apps are all figments of a deranged fanboy imagination!

The iPad is a superb productivity device, it is my personal choice for production of documents. Pages is possibly the greatest app ever, the touch screen, multi touch gestures and slick programming make Word processing a joy. Honestly, I love using the iWork apps, I also love all the other apps I have used both in the production of this blog and other work I have done for school and home. I will admit, the iPad cannot do everything (complex spreadsheets instantly spring to mind) but what it cannot do is minor compared to what it can do. I am gutted if I cannot use the iPad and have to resort to a "proper" computer.

Edit: just put together a flyer for our next gig using PhotoPad and iDraw on the iPad. Sent straight to Dropbox via the Dropbox app and also as a PDF via Pages and dropdav. Took me about half an hour, started with a colour photo, converted it to greyscale and adjusted levels in PhotoPad, exported to Photos, imported into iDraw, added text. Converted text to paths, adjusted lime and fill, lined everything up and voila!

2. It's an expensive content consumption device

And so is a television, only the iPad can do more than a television, is portable and costs less (ok, last one is a bit tenuous as TV,s range in price and are getting cheaper all the time but you get the idea). Also, as pointed out above, you can produce content on an iPad, just look at the 1000’s of apps, a great deal are for production of documents, music, artwork etc. About 90% of this blog content is produced on an iPad. Also, the iPad isn't expensive, other computers may be cheaper but that doesn't make the iPad expensive! Try driving an Italian car, then you know what expensive is.

3. There is no file structure

Yes there is, it's called Dropbox, it's free and it absolutely rocks. Get a Dropbox account, get the free app, read my how-to's for setting up WebDAV (or read other peoples how to's) and you have files wherever you have an Internet connection. The nice thing about this is the average user needs to know nothing about file structure or saving files. If there was a file structure, users would lose files, period. I know this because I teach school children who just press the save icon (even though I have told them and showed them a million times how to correctly save files, use folders etc). IOS is fine the way it is, it is designed for average (not computer literate) users but has the ability (thanks to the developer community, a superb SDK and a way to seamlessly deliver apps) to be customised to work the way you want it.

4. iPad will get completely owned by Android

Bring it on, I am a huge fan of Linux, I regularly use (and highly recommend) Ubuntu Linux. I have used Mandriva, SUSE and Fedora on Netbooks and even wrote an Ubuntu based distro for use on our Netbooks at school (but we decided they would run too quickly and might be useful so we went with Windows XP!) so if Android (which is based on Ubuntu) can offer the same slick user experience, range of apps and reliability of IOS, then that is a good thing. I'm not sure Android is quite there yet but then I haven't tried Honeycomb so really can't comment. Just remember, IOS is not about specs, it's not necessarily about features either. It is about a slick, easy to use interface and Apps. This is what Android has to compete against.

5. It will only do what Apple allows

Well, yes. But is this such a bad thing? You can only get Apps from the App store and only ones that Apple has approved but then you get quality (iFart apps aside!), code is checked and you generally don't get the dodgy code, malware, and general misbehaviour of stuff downloaded straight from the Internet. Because you need to use iTunes, you always have a backup of your IOS device (come on, be honest. How many of you have lost a hard drive and never bothered to back up your files, let alone the entire operating system?). This is vital to non ICT savvy users, the experience is slick, loading Apps is seamless and, as long as you have synced, you always have a restore point. Apple also provide an easy to use developer kit so writing Apps is pretty straightforward, anyone can develop Apps and the channel for distribution is also there. As a result, there are some really superb Apps available for IOS, it is Apps that have driven the platform. Want do something Apple doesn't provide (like printing or wireless file transfer)? There's an App for that. Apps are cheap, plentiful, safe to use and allow you to customise your use of the device whilst Apple maintain quality control and a good user experience. Personally, I would rather work like this than have a device I am constantly having to maintain due to broken permissions, orphaned files and the like. Anyway, you can always Jailbreak the device, it's not like Apple put a lot of energy into stopping you.

6. Windows 7 tablets are coming

Shut up! We've had Windows XP tablets for 10 years, hardly anyone bought them, they where an awful device, slow, buggy and not really touch screen devices. They where also expensive. I use an ASUS Eee Touch desktop every Friday and the first thing I do is plug in a mouse and keyboard. It creaks along on an Atom processor and the touch screen is appalling. I hate the device, it is a bad Windows machine (slow processor) and a really bad touch screen device. If Microsoft really want to get into the Tablet market, they need a proper touch interface (Windows Phone 7?) and proper touch enabled Apps. Word etc where designed for a mouse and keyboard, Apple might restrict the device but what it does it does very well.

7. I can't connect it to my work network

Actually, you probably can, its just some clown in the basement doesn't want you to connect it to the network, lest you see how easy it actually is and then we realise they have been telling porkies* about how difficult stuff is. IOS does Exchange out of the box, it does it really well so if you use Exchange as your e-mail server, you should be OK, go online and find put how to do it. As for Wireless, you will probably find that that too can be done but they just don't want to do it. Also, you may well find (especially in schools) that any sites you want to visit are blocked for "security" reasons. In my local authority, most Google services are blocked as are any sites that mention games, so when we want to look at games reviews in Product Design...

8. It doesn't have a camera

And neither did most computers until a few years ago, back then we had to buy a decent camera, use it to take photos and then load them up to a computer to edit. Funnily enough, you can do this with an iPad. I don't know about you but I don't want a rubbish, fixed focus lens camera thrown in to the device just to add another feature. Also, the iPad is completely the wrong size and shape to take photographs or shoot video (we use the webcams on our Netbooks to shoot video and they suck big style!). No thanks, i'll continue to use my decent camera and load up the photos using the camera connection kit or, i'll shoot photos/video with my iPhone and then use the said camera connection kit or one of the many Apps that allow iPhone to iPad photo/video transfer.

9. It doesn't do Flash

True. This may be a deal breaker and it may not. I spent a large part of my life trying to get people to use Flash to produce interactive content and I hate it. Flash has had its day. It can be a pain as a lot of online content production such as Prezi, Zoho Office, Voki etc are all Flash based. There are ways around this, Skyfire allows you to watch Flash videos and Always on PC gives you a full desktop OS (Fedora) online. The App costs £14.99 and I haven't tried it out yet but as well as giving you full Open Office and GIMP online, it also gives you Firefox so you can view Flash content if you desire. I assume other thin clients like Citrix do a similar job.

I have probably missed off a couple of excuses but I think this gives a reasonable response to some of the criticisms of the iPad and IOS. As I have said elsewhere in this blog (see reasons why the iPad rocks #3-it annoys IT departments), the iPad isn't fully understood by some ICT types. Those stuck in the world of desktop OS's and registry problems often don't understand the need for simplicity, a bit like a teacher doesn't understand when a child cannot get how to solve equations. More worrying, some ICT types feel threatened by devices like the iPad. They give power to the users and they feel threatened hence all the FUD about iPads etc.

To those new to this blog, I say this. Try an iPad, think carefully what you want to do with it and read around to see if you accomplish your tasks. It might not be for you but please, take advice, especially criticism, and treat with caution. A lot of people don't understand the device but a lot more cannot stand to be wrong!

Rant over.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Mr. H said...

As usual its not about the tool but how you can use the tool and Apple has always been about making things easy for the user.

RandomNoiseGenerator said...

Indeed, I do find that Apple are very good at making the tools easy to use or, if they are difficult, making it seem like its easy. I find that although the iPad is limited, I find I want to use it and will find ways around its perceived limitations. What I do find more and more is that people don't want to see beyond what they already know which is fine,each to their own and all that. I just wish they would stop with the hatred.

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your points, especially the end about thinking ahead of what you want to use it for and finding out if it is capable of accomplishing that. However, when it comes to printing you say there's an app for that. Well there's an app for my 2010 Canon wireless printer that can print photos, but that's it. No web page printing or anything. This is one limitation in the iPad that is huge compared to any other computer. Why can't the iPad just see my printer on the network and use it? I have to buy a specific HP printer?

RandomNoiseGenerator said...

Hi Anonymous, I agree that it is infuriating that you cannot print to any printer on your network. apple promised this with AirPrint and I can only conclude that there where problems with it which was why is was pulled from iOS 4.0. There are a couple of hacks on the Internet that allow you to add AirPrint functionality to your Mac (can't remember off hand the name but if you post another comment, I will search for you) by adding the necessary config files. Otherwise, I use Printopia, a cheap little app for the Mac that allows you to print to any printer connected to your network (worked great with my old Epson photprinter and my HP multiple function printer). I am sure there are also programs that work with Windows.

Anonymous said...

The fact that u think android is based on ubuntu shows you are sounding off without know much about what you are talking about.

The fact that you quote drop box, essentially a web app to plug some iPad gap/deficiency is a clumsy attempt at slight at hand to avoid the issue.

The fact you think typing a blog is content production pretty much means not only that you think really weak functionality can produce content, but is also available on most any device, its not an iPad thing, another attempt at slight of hand.

The fact that you don't think closed propietary apple only content is a show stopper, just means you are like to be locked in to a small set of options.

My company supplied iPad is in my bottom drawer. The battery is drained out from lack of use. Probably it hasn't been used in so long that the battery is defunct from bottom side batter drain.

I am not sure I care, but I wonder if I have to buy a new one to fix the battery....

RandomNoiseGenerator said...

I apologies for my ignorance on Android/Ubuntu. I had (wrongly) assumed that as Google where part of the Open Handset Alliance, they where carrying in the work down by the likes of Open Moko and had carried on using essentially a Debian Linux port (I dabbled with an Open Moko handset and the phone distro I was using was based on Ubuntu.

The point I made about DropBox still stands, Apple decided not give access to a file system on iOS, DropBox fills that gap. If you feel you need access to a full file system, then fine, get a different device tuning a different OS. I work with school kids, they really don't get file systems and folders, neither do a lot of adult users. iOS is fine for those users as it shields them form a level of complexity. Should they need to access files across devices, use DropBox, it's what I have used for a year or so now and it does me just fine, web app or no.
A blog may be weak productivity but it is still productivity as opposed to consumption. I also mentioned other examples of content creation, the sort of stuff that normal everyday users might do, not specialist work that may require a "proper computer". The iPad is designed for consumers, the sort of people who might want to crop a few photos and post them on Flickr, write a letter, create and show a simple presentation, that sort of thing. My point wasn't that this was only stuff you could do on an iPad, it was that you can do on an iPad, if you wish. The point was to redress the balance vis a vis commentsnon other blogs saying iPad is a toy, only good for content consumption.
iPad isn't for everyone, no one is forcing people to purchase them. I bought mine a year ago (rather reticently as it happens) and I am really glad I did, it open my eyes to a different way of doing things. It might not completely replace a full desktop computer (it wasn't really designed to do that) but for me, it gets pretty close. It is a shame your iPad sits in a draw not getting used, maybe the device isn't for you, maybe you need to give it more time? Personally, I think a lot of fud is spread about iOS devices in general and iPad in particular, I certainly don't think it sucks but I do think that certain ICT "professionals" maybe need to open their minds a little and give credit where it is due.

online software said...

If you wants to touch your friends 24 hour than it is good for you.

Dave said...

As a sometime professonal photographer, I'd enjoy having a far more robust camera.

Given how it would have to be held, I think it could make a great high-def video camera. I admit it would be awkward to hold as a still camera (at least without a holder of some sort, which I'm sure will be on the market one day).

iphone app said...

i found he same in case of i pad, it doesn't sucks but it is not that intelligent as it is expected to be.

Anonymous said...

Obviously a fanboy. I agree that there are productivity suite and some of it work well, such as sketching program, but it is still less than stellar compared to my 2 year old Fujitsu tablet running a full suite of sketchbook pro, Adobe design premium suite, Illustrator, Inventor and other programs. But for other productivity suite, nothing beats a full size keyboard and mouse (if only apple would allow us to pair easily with ALL wireless keyboard) and the functionality available in pages/numbers/keynote or even from Doc2Go is ridiculously small and hard to access.

Other criticism are mostly a matter of opinion but I do agree with some of them. But I do think that apple is going to be OWNED by android as long as it still to its own walled garden mentality. Even my wife and relative is getting rather bored and frustrated with the lack of customisation options of apple iOS and drool a little over my new Samsung Galaxy S2 and the "older" android OS. Apple is great for beginners and for people who don't care for customisation but once more and more consumers outgrow that stage, Apple is going to be in trouble. Still this is a matter of opinion and we can respect each other's view.

But the one which says "FANBOY" to me is the statement "Yes there is, it's called Dropbox" and "If there was a file structure, users would lose files, period.". This is an absolute insult to the users and people DO NOT lose files as long as common sense has been applied. Moreover, with autosave functions and adopting a basic filing system (which everyone does when dealing with paper copies anyway), few people loses their files unless they are relatively new to the a computer. Moreover this is an attempt to defend apple's unforgivable lack of concern over the user's convenience and their action takes away essential functions without giving anything in return.

On the other hand, APPLE's app centric file system causes needless duplication and restrict the sharing of files between apps which I would want to use, unless the developer actually bothered to enable sharing between the apps. And this is untenable when there there can be so many apps out in the wild. Even now, the mail program do not support ATTACHMENT!

And just as importantly, it takes up the space. If I want to work on a same file in two apps, I need to create a duplicate of the file in each apps! Apple should really create a common space for files so that different apps can work on the same file. If there is an work around without jail breaking, I would be happy to know about it.

PS. just because dropbox is available and serve as an (albeit inconvenient) work around doesn't excuse apple for foisting this horrible file system on us.

This limitation of the file system is the cause of most of my ire with Ipad and I would gladly but and burn it once android tablet matures and is available. Alas, now I am stuck with a gimped Ipad or immature and clunky android tablet (although samsung and sony's version approaches actual usability)

RandomNoiseGenerator said...

Well, as you say, each to their own. I still stand by my point that people do lose files. I work with 11-18 year olds and they most certainly do lose files and before you ask, yes, they are taught how to save, where to save and everything else. They a kids and they don't care. I also know a lot of adults who lose files as they don't really understand file systems. This is not an insult to all users, it's an observation.

Also, you seem to be someone who understands how tech works, as such, you are in a minority. Most people just want something to type up a quick letter (Pages is more than adequate), surf the web and check out their social networking sites. Then iPad does this with aplomb but it is capable of so much more if you want it too, if you don't, it's hidden away and will never bother you. I prepare worksheets, presentation, simple spreadsheets, edit photo's, create simple movies and make music, all on my iPad. For me it is most certainly a creative tool. It might not replace a Windows tablet but then, I don't want it too. It also cost half of a Windows tablet.

Yes, I'm a fanboy, that is why I write a blog about iOS devices, I like them. As apparently, do millions of others. Android doesn't do it me, it's nice to personalise stuff but it's still (IMHO) not as polished as iOS and the devices just don't seem as well made. Now, that may be matter of opinion and it might not matter to some people but it does to me. That it is not to say Android devices are rubbish, I just think iOS devices are better for no-techie users. More to the point, I get fed up of tech writers saying the iPad is a consumption device only when it most certainly isn't. It fulfills my needs more than adequately , so much that I sold my laptop. Most wireless keyboards seem to work, my ordinary Apple keyboard works fine as do the Logitechs at work although I don't bother as I've got used to the onscreen keyboard now (and was never much of a typist anyway).
Anyway, thanks for the comment. Will be interesting to see how this segment of the market pans out. He fully there is room for several players, then we can all be happy.