So I spent my Saturday morning in line with a bunch of other dorks, gleefully handing over a silly amount money for the latest from the temple of Apple — an iPad. I wanted an iPad for a “sofa computer”, something convenient for checking email and Twitter, or browsing the web, while sitting on the sofa with my daughter. I knew the limitations, and actually appreciate some of them (no Flash). But after using it now for a few days, I’ve come to respect the iPad for being much more.
First, the iPad makes for an awesome media player. The screen is bright, sharp and has vibrant colors. I will definitely be using it to catch up on movies and TV that I normally can’t dedicate the couch time to watch.
Social networking on it also rocks. Tweetdeck is awesome on the iPad, and mobile Safari does a pretty good job with web content, but has some flaws. The only glaring holes right now are missing Facebook and iChat applications. The former should be corrected pretty quickly, but on Apple can fix the latter.
One surprising area for me has been using the iPad as a media reader. The New York Times Editor’s Choice application really shows off the promise of the format, and I look forward to seeing their full application. iBooks is also suprisingly good. Being a gadget geek, I have a Kindle, and it is clear the iPad is going to crush it unless Amazon cuts the price in half. Reading books on the iPad is a better overall experience than on the Kindle.
The biggest surprise has been the iPad as an application platform. I’ve thought about developing for the iPhone, but found the screen too small to build the kind of applications I would be interesting in. The iPad is a near perfect form factor with enough screen real estate to build some exciting applications, enough so that I’ve actually dived in to learning the bastard language of the world: Objective-C. I’ve got some ideas in head already for applications, so that makes learning it a more goal-oriented task.
Safari on the iPad is good enough for the basic web tasks (Google, GMail, Slashdot), but it is not ready as an application platform. Native applications will be the way to go, and I think the iPad is going to lead to a lot of demand for Objective-C developers who will be writing tomorrow’s world changing applications.