Normally, I'm a level-headed consumer, and never buy the first Apple product within the first month of release. We all know in 6 months, whatever it is (in this case, the iPad) will be price slashed, updated, and better than ever. The only boon to buying in the first six months is bragger's rights, or if you're a developer.
Why did I buy an iPad? For one single app. Or, at least that's the justification I'm sticking with...
The Big Annoying Sell
I've never had a more humiliating experience buying a piece of technology than I had buying this damn tablet. The boy and I headed over to our local Apple store, which was buzzing with activity - something we've come to expect after a new product release.
We walk in and start search around for a blue shirt willing to take my money in exchange for something shiny. Blue shirts everywhere, and with the new setup, each one is essentially a human register, if you can pin one down. I see a marginally handsome blue shirt in the middle of the store, he looks important, but uninvolved with a customer.
"Excuse me, I'd like an iPad!"
"Certainly! They're pretty awesome eh? Which model were you looking at?"
"Eh, just the 16Gigger"
"Ooh, unfortunately we're currently out of stock of the 16GB model, but we have more than enough of the 32GB and larger models"
*deadpan... budget check... I know I should go home and buy the damn thing online, but this is the Apple experience...
"Alright then, whatever. That'll do."
"OK great! Now I'm actually managing the queue for all the iPad purchases, but if you go see Kim at the front, she'll find you someone to sell you an iPad."
I head to the front as commanded, and Kim puts me in line outside the Apple store. Yes, I would like to buy this revolutionary and magical device, and I'm giving you around $700 to add to your first month sales, and I have to wait in line outside the store while any old Joe can approach a blue shirt for a mighty mouse? Fine. After all, this is the Apple experience.
15 minutes later, in a line composed of two people, I'm approached and sold my iPad, complete with obligatory Apple Care+MobileMe+PR spiel. 15 more minutes later, my Bank denies my bank card because they think it's an unusual purchase. 45 minutes later I'm humiliated but back home with a shiny new iThing.
Today's lesson: wait six months or buy online.
If you think the iPad looks like an over sized iPod Touch, you are 100% correct. Except for the 1024x768 resolution and a handful of new UI elements, the experience is exactly the same.
At first sync, all of my apps I bought for my old Touch transferred over, though it wasn't immediately apparent which apps were optimized for the iPad and which apps were not. TouchOSC (the "one app" why I bought this damn thing) converted gracefully, while others launched in a tiny frame (2x zoom is a joke). To figure out which apps work and which don't you have to look at the apps tab in iTunes, where they are separated into categories of compatibility.
The iPad can be held in any direction, and will rotate to accommodate your preference. Apple noticed that sometimes the iPad will rotate to a position you don't want it, so they included a hard switch on the side to lock it down. I noticed that some apps like to launch in landscape and if the lock is on can get stuck in portrait mode with half the app cut off. I've gotten used to a process of launch, unlock, shake, lock to get certain apps to sit right.
The keyboard is awesome. In portrait or landscape, I never thought I could type so well (with auto-correct on). I haven't done any long form writing on the iPad, but I don't think I'd ever need an external keyboard.
The iPod app is pretty sweet, and looks almost like iTunes, with the noticeable exception of coverflow. As someone who spent months making sure all my music (and I have a lot of DJ style music like electro and funk and stuff that I didn't get from iTunes) has album art, I'm heartbroken to see that my 500px rule just wasn't enough. If you want yer album art to look pretty, you better find it at 800px or suffer a blurry fate. I'm sure no one else is as OCD and anal about album art like I am...
I love HTML5 and Apple knocked it out of the park. Most of my favorite sites, like Vimeo, TED, and Youtube, have already prepared HTML5 versions. Even the White House blog has a script to convert all of their video to be iPad friendly. Videos play in place, and there is no lag when scrolling, pinching or zooming. Hit fullscreen and rotate your iPad to view any video in glory. I hardly miss flash, though I think it's too early to pull the plug on the it; I wish I could get to all my favorite porn sites on the iPad.
Gaming on the iPad is actually pretty cool. I've been sucked in by the social community games like We Rule and Godfinger; games like this were waiting for a platform like the iPad to shine. I'm not a giant 3D gamer, but from what I've seen, the graphics have put the PSP to bed with a black and blue bottom.
Revolutionary? Magical? Groundbreaking? Sorta.
I work with people with developmental disabilities and have been pioneering a program at my agency to bring accessible technology to the clients we serve. I've began research on the iPad as an affordable and versatile AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) device, and in this area I have found the iPad to be revolutionary.
An AAC is a communication tool made up of pictures that people who aren't able to communicate with voice or signs use to convey their needs, emotions, and act as a hybrid form of dialog. As is everything in the assistive device world, a touchscreen AAC costs about $1500-$3000, a cost that many parents just can't handle, let alone get funding for. With the iPad and Proloquo2Go (an AAC app for iPad) an AAC can be had for around $700.
Needless to say, I'm working on grants to purchase a few systems for my agency to prototype the experience. If anyone knows of anyone in need of something like this, feel free to get in touch with me for more information.
Is the iPad right for you? Well, if you are looking for a tablet PC, this is not it. Even when iPhone OS 4.0 comes out, which includes multitasking, the iPad will still only be a super big iPod Touch.
If that's what you're looking for, great. Just wait 6 months.