The iPad in Use

Now that I have been actively using the iPad for a bit more than a week, including on a round-trip to Las Vegas for the NABshow, I have a much better sense of how it works for many areas of my daily usage... And also some areas where it doesn't work as well or where it could use some additional capabilities. Overall, though, the experience is revelatory. For reading a book using any of the reading applications such as Amazon's Kindle for iPad, Apple's iBooks, or specialty applications like Logos for Bible study and reading, the experience is unique, stunning, and so personal and intimate that it is difficult to describe in words.

Using the iPad to read email is very effective, as well, allowing me to move through my high volume of email at a very effective pace. Using iPhone applications on the iPad, while lacking in the graphic power of Guardian Eyewitness or the Wall Street Journal iPad application, allow me to continue to work with the applications that I have come to rely upon in my everyday life.

I will begin to review some of my favorite iPhone and iPad applications over the next few weeks to give you a picture of how I'm using the devices, but in the meantime, what about the things that are lacking?

First and foremost, what about typing? You may find it interesting that I am touch-typing this post into the WordPress iPad application. A combination of the keyboard size, layout, and the auto-correction capabilities actually makes this experience much better than I had imagined it could be. While, as with most things, it isn't perfect, it is a pretty satisfying experience, and my speed of composition may rival typing on the iPhone or even, possibly, typing on a keyboard. For comparison, it may be important for you to know that my typical typing speed is 70-90 words per minute, so we're not talking slow typing here! In one online test, my typing was 60 wpm on the iPad. Note: I find it much easier to touch-type with the iPad oriented in landscape.

One challenge to touch-typing on the device is the keyboard itself: it is not standard! This is most noticeable with punctuation and other characters that are on the secondary and tertiary keyboards in the iPhone OS. I would really like to see Apple offer an option for a full real layout, perhaps with an optional Dvorak layout. It's a soft keyboard, after all, so why not?

With the iPad 3G version (which also includes GPS functions) emerging on April 30th, I would recommend you begin to consider if you fit the demographic for whom the iPad is an effective productivity system:

  • Wireless and/or strong AT&T 3G signal in your home
  • Mobile user who doesn't mind the larger form-factor of the iPad over a phone
  • Consumer of written, video, or audio information available in a format usable on the iPad
  • Someone who doesn't mind being tied to the Apple ecosystem

I would suggest visiting an Apple store, using it to read both the web and a book. Try typing on it, especially in landscape. Then, try other things that you would do: watch a video, listen to audio, or play a game.

Then, if you decide that it's right for you, decide if you want to be able to use the Internet while you're away from a WiFi network like in a taxi or on a picnic. Or if you want the device to have GPS accuracy for maps. If so, you'll want the 3G version. If not, the less-expensive WiFi-only version will work for you.

I'd love to hear from you about your experience, as well.