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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Why I forgive the iPad its faults

I'm sad the iPad has received so much criticism, but pleased to see the bigger blogs are now standing up for it.

The fact is Apple cut corners to deliver an interesting price. That's the reason it's not living up to what a lot of critics seem to think their expectations were. But what did they want, a $1000 device? They'd have panned it for being too expensive. Because that seemed to be the big concern pre-launch.

This is what Brian Heater on feels is missing:

Video Camera
Expandable Memory
Flash Support
Other Carrier Support

The only thing that I think is really a missed opportunity is the camera. But I still accept that there had to be compromise for the sake of price. And that's just the way it is.

In fact if Apple took a risk at all it wasn't with any of the things above. It was with the internal memory. Sure people think expansion cards are nice, but the iPhone has proved nobody really cares. Internal memory is stable (I've had a nasty corrupt microSDHC card experience on my HTC Kaiser). Internal memory also falls under your Apple warranty.

So back to the risk Apple took on internal memory. I miss memory on my 8GB 2G iPhone. It's full of apps, and apps, and music. And I'm constantly having to delete old material to make space for new material.

16GB really does seem far too paltry for the iPad. A few games and videos and apps that eat up storage, and your music collection.. and you're stuck. Remember people don't like deleting stuff. But hey, the 16GB model lets Apple quote the magic <$500 price.

But on the same note 64GB also only just about does the trick. I mean considering one can buy tiny flash devices that pack in 320-500 GB storage, it does seem they could have offered more. But back we come to the price goal.

So, now about Flash Support, HDMI Out, Other Carrier Support & Multi-tasking.

Well Adobe has confirmed we'll get flash on the iPad. Thanks for that Adobe. Steve'll post the cheque first thing ;-).

HDMI out? Ok, it would've been nice to have, but that's all really. With a Blue-Ray player in your home, and only 16-64GB to play with, your not going to be storing much HD video on your iPad.
But for streaming, yes, HDMI out would have been nice. So for HDMI out, I vote a definite nice to have.

Other Carrier Support? Well I'm in The Netherlands, so maybe I look at this differently. But to be honest I don't expect my hardware manufacturer to do wonderful deals with all the carriers. It's highly likely in The Netherlands iPad will hit stores on all carriers. Because 3G subscriptions are in full swing, and all carriers will probably be selling 3G subscriptions on a rolling monthly contract by June anyway, with or without iPad.

And the big cheese, Multitasking. Of course we want multitasking. But we won't miss it much. Maybe Apple will make apps like iWork retain state when they close, so when you open them they'll go straight to what you're doing. Because that's really the only reason for multitasking. iPhone already lets you play music in the background, so that's not going to change. I don't think this will really bother many people when the time comes.

As with the iPhone, I'll be eagerly awaiting the jailbreak community to open this baby up. and Apple will let them, just as it has done with iPhone. What, you think if Apple really really didn't want people to jailbreak they wouldn't have found a way to do so? Jailbreakers are like Apple's rogue R&D wing. They make the device do stuff that Apple didn't risk doing officially. Then they get to see how devices perform in the real world when other people take those risks.

So coming back to multitasking, using Backgrounder on my jailbroken 2G iPhone is fun. But it requires constant memory monitoring (literally, I use SBSettings to put the free memory on the iPhone status bar). On the 3GS I guess the memory requires less monitoring. But Apple obviously still saw multitasking as too much of a risk for the user experience. And remember it really does all hang on the user experience.
If you allow users to multitask, and they're not tech-savvy, they'll multitask everything! And the other apps will just get closed in the background anyway, and they won't understand it, and they'll complain, So that really compromises the overall experience.

Multitasking would have required more processing power, which would have hurt the battery. And 10hrs video is really only just about gives the iPad an edge as it is. Any less and it would have been simply OK.

So I love the iPad. I still think my iPad model of choice will be a bit expensive for me, and I also worry the old law of "$ = €" will be put into practice when it comes to the NL launch. But maybe by June, when it's supposed to touch our euro-shores, Apple will have boosted some stuff that gets us a bit more excited. Hell, they even have 60 days to make US users happier :-)

I'd say to Apple to at least give us Europeans the following:
- A damn camera ;-) (Steve, you have heard of Skype right?!)
- More memory options (I want to see 32GB-160GB at least. And you can drop the 16GB option Steve-o)

Other than that I await the iPad with a smile, and with the distinct feeling like something big just happened at 19:00 CET yesterday in the Apple camp (once again).

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