I’ve always despised the Apple brand. For all of their hoopla of making things easy to use and streamlined, they always priced items outside of my reach and without much attention to my desires. iPods, iPhones and iPads flew by me without so much as a glance. When they announced the new iPad I thought the same thing.
My commute changed about 5 months ago, and I now had time to use a nice big electronic device on the metro. Add to that the fact that I had just lost my 3rd kindle (that’s right folks, 3 kindles), I was itching to try something new. I looked at the Android tabs and I thought about iPads, and I finally just looked for what I wanted: the best tablet on the market. For those who owned iPad2s, the 3 wasn’t supposed to be a big upgrade, but no one disagreed that it killed the competition…so I put in my order.
It’s a sexy piece of machinery, of that there is no doubting. Holding it in my hands and swiping the screen made all those visions of Capt. Picard handling his data report tablets seem not only possible, but incarnate in my palms. I quickly found other features like my 2 favorites: no memory management and incredible battery life. I could play games on this thing for 3 hours (and did during the power outage) with a friend and only drop 20%. Absolutely unreal. Add that to the screaming fast Verizon LTE (when I can get it), and I’m a mobile warrior.
What did I find that I hated? iTunes. It’s still a giant steaming pile of bloatware that barely functions on modern operating systems. I’ll grant them that they’ve streamlined purchasing to an art, but that’s because they want clicking “buy” to feel like popping a kernel of popcorn in your mouth. Likewise, their push notifications support and background processing makes it extremely difficult to find the ‘right’ chat app to work with services like Google Chat.
The biggest let down is Apple’s continued “my way or the highway attitude”. This shows itself mostly in how they’ve crippled developers like Google from entering their app and sync space. The Google Maps app is still recovering and picking up steam, and the boondoggle that is the “Gmail” syncing is an embarrassment on the level of Microsoft’s IE monopoly in the mid-90s. Lastly they really, really need to follow Androids “Share” model for apps to swap information objects through user commands. If I want to tweet a url I have to maintain multiple apps with my Twitter details or manually select, copy, find my app, open, start sharing, direct, paste for every link that I want to share.
What I miss about Android is the sheer amount of small-party apps of a decent quality. Apple apps are either expensive or garbage with only a handful riding through the middle in any strength that aren’t big players (Google, Spotify, Twitter, Netflix, Amazon…). I also miss the security controls informing you about what the apps were accessing, and the granularity of switching on/off my wifi/gps/cellular lookups for location services. I also couldn’t give a flying cantaloupe what “content rating” an app is. I miss open markets where Steve Jobs’ ghost isn’t worried that I’m a 10 year old trying to sneak in inappropriate materials.
I appreciate that it’s a “family friendly device”, but shouldn’t these devices start to build profiles to allow users the freedom of a personal experience on a shared device. Lord knows I’d love to let my friends play around on my iPad when they come over and we watch movies, but the fact that my personal emails and photos are one click away makes me hesitant to leave the device around.
Sounds pretty negative, right? Well, the biggest fact speaks for itself: the iPad is the only electronic device that I have used every single day since purchasing it. There are many days I go without using my supercharged PC, and a few days when I never even touch my cell phone, but I use my iPad every single day. With the bluetooth keyboard it’s as functional as any netbook (with some occasional mouse-missing-moments), and the touch screen makes creativity (music, imagery, and more) so much more compelling.
My strategy is continuing as I’ve previously done. Android phone, Apple Tablet, Windows PC. I like the variety; I think it adds a healthy biodiversity in the event of a robot apocalypse. And I’ve started to consider Apple products for other purchases (like an iPod for my Dad’s Birthday / Father’s Day). It’s not a floodgate, but it’s infinitely better than my previous experiences in the product. It’s funny how I find things just before they take a sharp turn for the worse. (WWDC snorefest, anyone?)