Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Apple could learn from Android: My experiences with an Apple iPad

So I've been an Android user for a while now - I love Android and the
freedom it gives me - my phone is a Nexus One which I ordered the day
they came out in the USA and had it shipped over especially to me in
So when the iPad first came out I wasn't really interested - it's a
big fricken iPod touch!

Well.. until I saw it - and used one.. and I slowly changed my mind.
My Boss got one and showed it off to everyone and loved it - and I
started appreciating the appeal of a well designed tablet device -
which the iPad definitely is.
My wife noticed this and with my birthday coming up she was wondering
what to get me - out of the blue she asked me - would I like an iPad.

At first I thought.. nah.. what would I use it for, etc.. but the more
I thought about it the more I was drawn to the idea - so in the end I
pleaded guilty and so she ordered one for me.

I love my iPad - don't get me wrong with the rest of this post - it's
an perfect size, well designed, fast, and has an awesome screen. The
battery life is incredible (more than 8 hours of constant game/movie
The Apple App Store is also pretty good - lots of well designed apps
and games and plenty more appearing every day.

So what could Apple learn from Android then if they have such a great device?

Well.. there's a number of flaws with the whole iPhone/iPod/iPad
environment unfortunately..

iTunes sucks - I mean.. its a great music player - but the rest of it
is pretty awful and feels like it was just tacked on.
It's painfully slow to browse the app store in their in-app web
browser - and if you're syncing at the same time its near on
It crashed about four times for me in the first few days - mostly for
totally innocuous. But then I'm using Windows - and Apple has made it
pretty clear that they consider Windows users as second class
citizens. Or maybe they think 'Ahh.. noone will notice - its on
WINDOWS - everything crashes all the time anyway!' .. meh!

Notifications on the iPhone/iPad are primitive - they're all mode-less
dialog boxes that pop up in single file and interrupt whatever you're
doing. There's no way to see them all at a glance or dismiss just the
ones you want to - you need to wade through them completely - very

Soft Keyboard - the soft keyboard on the iPad is actually pretty good
- though I really miss Swype and voice input is also lacking. Apple
don't let you replace anything - so if you don't like the keyboard -
bad luck!

App Crashes/Memory issues - seems that apps/games can chew up memory
and have memory leaks and the OS isn't smart enough to clean up after
them or limit them in any way - no wonder this thing is easy to
jailbreak! Unfortunately it means that eventually you'll go to start
an app or game and it'll run out of memory and bump you back to the
home screen. Apple have a support page for this - all of the game
FAQ's from different companies seem to redirect to it -
Basically the only way to solve the problem is to Reboot!

Lack of Multitasking - iOS4 is out.. why not for iPad! Yeah.. okay..
minor issue and we'll get it eventually.. but why have we been left
out - this device is sorely in need of some multitasking (even if its
only what Apple calls multitasking).

Impromptu Reboots - I've had a few weird reboots from the device since
I got it - one I was able to repeat every time as it seemed it didn't
like an episode of House I was watching. I got to watch the first 10
minutes and then it decided it didn't like the rest and if I play it I
get 2-3 seconds and then boom - reboot to broken Apple symbol.
Totally reproducible - even tried skipping further into the episode
and the same thing happened.

No Back Button - It really needs a back button. I mean.. you're in an
email and click on a web link.. it closes your mail and opens up
safari - sounds fine.. but then to get back to your mail you need to
close the browser and re-open your Mail again. What if you have been
sent a bunch of links! How frustrating! In Android you can just use
the back button and jump back into the app you came from - whether it
be twitter, mail or anything else.

No Widgets - c'mon.. even Windows Mobile has widgets!

So there are my main quibbles so far - I'm loving the device so far
apart from these problems - I spend a fair amount of time on the train
so using this to amuse myself on the trip - and I've found I do like
using it at home too - while sitting on the couch or relaxing in bed
its much nicer than my phone screen. I enjoy the collection of games
too - there's some great ones available for it!


  1. I had my boss' one over a weekend (he didn't have a 'net connection and felt it would be useless without one). I definitely like the size.

    I feel the device is way too heavy. I may have "typical" geek wrists, but I just couldn't get comfortable with it and had to put it down after 20min. This is an RSI machine, alright. My neck also felt some strain, as it's far too heavy to hold at eye level. Looking down at your lap for long periods of time isn't healthy. I am shocked that Apple designed such a beautiful device with no regard for ergonomics.

    Applications are pretty good. I got addicted to Harbor Master and will be hoping there's an Android alternative when those tablets eventually arrive. My boss and I are both power surfers, so Mobile Safari is still a poor substitute for a desktop with a real browser.

    I agree with all your lamentations from the Android perspective. This device would be so much better with the UI features you highlighted. Swype for iOS would be a killer keyboard, although it's incredibly frustrating when you are trying to type unusual or mixed-case words.

    I'll definitely look forward to your thoughts on iPad with iOS4, assuming you'll write an article. :)

  2. For sure - will provide feedback on iOS4 - but gotta wait for them to issue an iPad version first - apparently its coming in 'the fall' - which I guess is around September or so?

    I have a cover with a stand (Macally Bookstand) so it props up quite nicely and gives me the perfect angle to use and type on - so ergonomics wise its not too bad I've found.

    I've also not found it that heavy - but then I tend to rest it on things and not carry it around a heap - so I would recommend a cover for it with some kind of stand.

    There's some awesome games for it - NFS Shift, Harbour Master, Bruce Lee Dragon Warrior, Angry Birds, Newtons Gravity, Warpgate HD and more just to name a few I've enjoyed so far. More are coming out every day so its a fun platform to be on.