Well, many of you that have had the privilege of meeting me probably already know my stance on Apple products in general. Needless to say, it's not normally positive.
Recently, however, I was provided quite the gift from my employer: an iPad 3G.
Given my public stance, I was "greeted" with many friendly faces willing to take the device off my hands, but rather than do that, why not indulge in a bit of hypocrisy and keep the fabled tablet and see if perhaps it could convert me?
The First 24 Hours
After arriving home with my new gift (and fantastic accessories), I was anxious to try it out. I removed it from it's packaging (admittedly, the marketing and care just in Apple's packaging almost had me "taken" for a moment) and proceeded to press the power button.
As it started up for its first time I was greeted with...a connect to iTunes logo. Dammit.
I'm not sure I understand this requirement. This device--this "netbook replacing device" is supposed to be my go-to computer apart from my desktop or full-size laptop. But here it sat, unable to do anything without first talking to iTunes.
This is frustrating. Not only because I don't use iTunes, but because I loathe it.
With iTunes now installed on my computer, I hastily connected my iPad and began registering it. In all the excitement of having a new device, a message cheerily notified me of a new update of exciting proportions, what other choice do I have but to click "Install," dear reader? Click "Install" I did and then received a giant punch to the gut: Estimated install time: 2 hours. Dammit.
Let's fast forward a bit, since I started this whole process at about 9:30 on a Friday night--half in the bag, aroused as only the gadget-nerds could be at this point. We're fast-forwarding to...1:30. Don't ask me how I've spent 4 hours just to get this damn thing working. When wine, beer & iTunes is involved--apparently you're in for the long haul, but finally, my iPad was sitting at the home screen.
I begin opening programs and doing things like configuring mail--all things I've done before while working on client devices, but this is the first time I get to keep it. It's a fairly simple device on the whole to configure, my only complaint is that maybe things are a bit too organized--too far deep in menus to get to quickly, admittedly that's a nitpick.
So here I am, Exchange and Gmail are configured. Wireless setup. Let's get this thing on the Internet and do what every webOS user is secretly jealous of: browse the App Store.
Except here, too, I am surprised. I was expecting to see millions of apps for the iPad and all of them to be but a buck a hit. I quickly realized, however, that people had the foresight that perhaps this tablet-y device will be popular, so what iPad optimized apps there are, shall be thrice the price! [sinister laugh]. Also during this time, I notice a very interesting bug. You see, if an App Store page doesn't seem to have enough time to load before you select an App, when you return to the page, it starts you from square one.
Normally, this wouldn't bother me, however, when I'm browsing a category that has 3200 apps in it looking for a blasted note-taking application, take a look at an app in the 1800 range, only to return to page 1 with no way of returning apart from using the arrow keys to go page-by-page, well, I tend to say things I shouldn't.
Oh, and by the way, thanks for prompting me for my iTunes password every time I download an app -- even if it's free. As a matter of fact, you should probably kick me out of the App Store every time I do download an App so I can watch the progress bar fill as my lips quiver in the excitement of a new and untouched app on my home screen comes to be. Let's also keep this taudry affair as low key as possible and default the install to the second page of my Home Screen--even if it is full at this point.
In fact, up to this point, I would have readily slammed the iPad in a car door repeatedly screaming non-sensical things (as I am often apt to do), but I discovered it's saving grace: Safari Mobile.
At one point, I used to think Apple was crazy for not allowing competition or other browsers on their platform (and I know that this is somewhat relaxed now), but after using Safari Mobile on the iPad, I don't understand why you would want to use another browser. It's really quite a polished browser, one that I don't think you get to appreciate until you use it on a device that's basically designed for purely web browsing.
Beyond the First Day
My first 24 hours were the roughest for me and my iPad. Though I'd like to say we're inseparable now, that's just not true.
Granted, as a piece of hardware, the iPad is quite good at what it is designed for, and above all its best feature is its web browser. Yes, I broke down and bought a month of data service for it and stood in line watching Netflix while waiting for my copy of the latest World of Warcraft expansion. Yes, I've asked those of the pro-Apple persuasion to give me app tips. Truthfully, though, this device has just kept me wanting more. It did, however, give me faith in it's form-factor. Excitement for the competition.
I still feel that iOS's multi-tasking implementation is lazy. I can't tell you how many times I tried changing apps like I would in webOS, only to be greeted with the page still loading.
Oh and let's talk about using the Apple case with the Apple Keyboard dock. You can't. Nevermind, that wasn't very interesting.
All in all, I was wrong about the iPad, sadly though, not in the areas that justify the price tag. And as we all saw at CES, the tablet market is about to get some interesting competition.
So no, the iPad didn't convert me, but just as the smartphone market existed before the iPhone, the tablet market existed before the iPad--it did take Apple to prove to everyone that people want these devices--but only if they can be usable, too.