It’s very embarrassing, but I think my iPad annoys me. Baruch feels that he should be raving about his iPad. It’s the biggest thing to hit consumer tech since, well since the iPhone 3G took off. When the history of early 21st century tech is written, it might even be a more important product than the iPhone. And here am I, on record, complaining about it. I’m going to be that guy from IBM who said in I think 1945 that there would only ever be like, 5 computers.
So, why don’t I like my iPad?
1) Flash — ahh-aaaaahh! I miss Flash on my iPad like I don’t on my iPhone. I (mostly) understand The Great Jobbso’s reasons for treating Flash like a vampire looks at garlic, but I have somehow failed to make my 4-year old understand them as well. All he knows is that he is unable to play his favourite Flash-based Teletubbies game on the CBBC website. It doesn’t work, and he wants Daddy to fix it. Obviously Daddy can’t. He gets cross. So the poor little tyke’s had to go back to the PC for his Teletubbies.
Daddy had a similar experience with the Daily Show. Watching the Daily Show online is, for Baruch, almost the whole point of having The Internet. And it’s flash based. And its not just John Stewart, it’s like half the commercial video on the internet, from retail sites, to (I am told) porn, to hotel websites. Baruch hates those little lego blocks in the middle of the space where his video should be. His heart sinks when he sees them. He wonders what he’s missing.
I don’t have the same level of expectation with my iPhone. After so many false dawns in the mobile internet, I secretly think I am not supposed to surf the web on my phone, so anything I can do on it in that direction I still find mildly incredible. I don’t typically use it for streaming video. And I didn’t buy an iPad as a replacement for my iPhone.
Anyway, lack of Flash is a major problem on the iPad that I didn’t think about when I bought it. Here are more:
2) It needs to decide which way “up” is, not me. It is too polite. The start of a session on my iPad is always preceded by a period of negotiation where I have to flip it around before we both agree which side of the screen should be the top. It’s like when you meet someone in a narrow passage, and you both shuffle off the same side to pass, blocking each other repeatedly and grinning sheepishly. I don’t have very strong opinions about which side of my iPad should be up, and am happy to let my iPad decide.
Actually, thinking about this, it is sort of cute that my iPad does this.
3) Aren’t I supposed to be watching movies on my iPad by now? Well I can’t. It was part of the story I was sold. I wanted to keep the kids happy on long aeroplane trips, making them watch educational videos about quantum physics or C17th philosophy, but don’t have any idea how to get any video on it at all! I can’t load anything on it except from iTunes and the App Store. iTunes in Switzerland only got music on it. No video as far as I can see. I am sure someone will write in and tell me how to get movies on my iPad, but as it will probably involve downloading all sorts of software and dropping things in my iTunes folder, reconverting them to H.S24 or whatever and then. . . no. Forget it. I’m not going to do it. I want to do it easily. Multiple steps to do things which should be simple intimidate me. I am supposed to get 8 hours of video off this thing. Well, maybe I could. IF I COULD WATCH ANY EFFING VIDEO ON IT YOU APPLE FRIGTARDS. I am a bit cross about this, I have to admit.
4) My iPad is sort of slow. Maybe I am imagining it. But when it’s processing big multimedia websites I feel I have more latency than on my PC. My expectations, I think, are unreasonable: the iPad processor is a pimpsy yet efficient A4 from Apple itself, that sips power from an external battery. My PC is a 2.2ghz dual core Intel monster with what was 2 years ago the top of the range NVIDIA graphics, which is has access to all power in the mighty grid itself. Of course it is faster, what should I expect, my analytic brain tells itself? However my lizard brain, my consumer brain, which has absorbed the hype and the marketing of the iPad, is disappointed.
So those are the key reasons why Baruch is cross with his iPad. What did I have in mind when I bought it? I was going to have a neato replacement for my 2 bulky old notebooks, which are big, heavy, last 30 minutes away from a plug and burn sweaty patches onto my lap they run so hot. I cannot tell you how annoying I find the constant updates (many of them from Apple) that make my PC want to restart itself all the time, the incredibly frustrating antivirus prompts, all the crap that keeps asking to be my primary video player or music player or whatever. Finally, with the iPad, I would find true mobility. I also liked the idea of watching movies on it.
My iPad has — mostly — delivered. Having it now, as I do, I can’t go back. But on none of their products I have used have Apple’s pathologies been so stark. The company’s preference for closed systems and their need for total control makes this revolutionary device not all that it could be.
So it comes to this. I am going to want an Android tablet. It will have Flash. It will have multiple ways in which to download films and TV shows. I will still not have to deal with crapware; Google and the ecosystem know we won’t put up with that any more, a realisation the Wintel world still has problems getting their hands around. Hats off to Apple for that. And I will have the opportunity to buy many different Android tablets early next year, probably before the RIM Playmate Playbook finally graduates from vaporware to concrete reality. Acer will have one, so will HTC, Dell, Lenovo, Motorola, uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all (sorry, HP, I don’t think I will want to go the Palm OS route). I have great faith that all these tablets will have great specs, superfast processors, lovely screens, and be even cheaper than the iPad!
I have great fear for the PC industry next year. So far as I know, none of these tablet computers will have a single Intel chip in them. None of them will use Windows. Great changes are afoot, dear readers.