Monday, 18 April 2011

Blogging from the iPad 2

I just downloaded and installed a blogging app for my iPad called BlogPress. Seems quite good so far, this will be my first post using it so this is really just a test. Thought I'd write down a few of my thoughts on the iPad 2 while I am here. They probably won't be much different to any others you've already heard or read elsewhere though.

First of all, the actual device is gorgeous, from the moment you first power it up the display pops out at you. The IPS panel gives stunning quality, even if it doesn't have the much touted "retina display" resolution. Text is clear and easy to read, viewing angles are brilliant. Although the screen goes a bit darker at extreme angles you can still see everything without trouble.

The battery is good, even when the device was new and I played with it for almost a full day, the battery still had life in it by the end. I can imagine under more normal demands I could be going a full week without going near a power socket. Of course, I can only imagine that, because after almost a week, I'm still using it constantly, for almost everything. From email to twitter, web browsing, gaming, iPlayer viewing and now blogging. The iPad can do it all! In fact, maybe my current iPad usage is going to be normal from now on?

Many of the apps designed for the iPad are a joy to use. The slick fluid interface of apps such as Twitter are quick to navigate and intuitive to use. The ones that aren't are fairly easy to avoid thanks to the app store reviews.

The implementation of multi-tasking is very good, I was never sold on the fake pseudo version Apple devised. But having used it, in practise you'd never know any difference. You can switch between apps in an instant and pick up exactly where you left off. Certain processes can even continue running in the background when you switch, such as music and the ability for apps to send notifications when they aren't running helps with things like alarms, email and twitter.

Of course it's not all good! There are a few niggles (some bigger than others) that are frustrating and others that are inexplicable. For example, the iPhone and iPod Touch both run the same iOS, yet the iPad lacks some of the core apps. The Clock, Calculator, Weather and Stocks apps are all missing in action. This seems utterly mad considering they must be there in the source code of iOS, but simply locked out on the iPad. Finding replacements for them on the app store is fairly simple, but the good ones have to be paid for which is annoying when the Apple versions were already excellent.

The keyboard, whilst easy to type on, particularly in landscape mode also gives some minor annoyances. I'm now fairly accustomed to the Android keyboard used on my mobile phone. On that I can long press a key to get alternative characters, such as numbers and other commonly used symbols. On the iPad I have to switch to the numeric keyboard to access those keys. Worse still is that when you do so, the few symbols that are included on the main keyboard actually move to a different location!! Who the hell thought that was a good idea?

Sticking with the keyboard for a moment many of the common symbols have been relegated to a third keyboard layout. The +,=,#,$,% are all three keyboards deep. But why can't they adopt the Android method and have all the numeric and common symbols on long presses, with other symbols just one keyboard change away. Or if not that, then make one of the two buttons that currently change it to the number keyboard change it to the symbol keyboard instead. That way it's not so much effort.

The only other real annoyance I have with the iPad are the notifications. Now notifications are a great idea, they notify you of stuff which is great :-) The problem with notifications on the iPad and iOS in general is they are far too intrusive. When a notification appears on the iPad it opens a dialog box in the middle of the screen to inform you about whatever it may be. A new tweet directed at you, your turn in an on-line game, a calendar appointment and numerous other app specific things. This can be very inconvenient, especially if you are watching a video, or playing a different game. It will simply interrupt whatever you are doing until you dismiss the pop-up dialog. It gets very frustrating when you are as popular as me :-) I was watching something on the iPlayer last night and my video was being interrupted every 4 or 5 minutes with a notification of some sort.

Why can't the OS just put a little icon in the status bar so I know something wants my attention but doesn't demand I deal with it at that very moment? Yes, I could turn off notifications, but that would be just as inconvenient as then I wouldn't be informed of anything.

Hopefully iOS 5 will help address some of these issues, I don't know. But I'll be disappointed if they don't! Especially when far better solutions are already in use by Android.

Well that was a much longer post than I'd intended it to be. Creating it on the iPad has been fairly easy. I haven't even mentioned the Smart Cover which I promised someone I'd write about. That will have to be another post because it's lunchtime now!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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