I picked up my iPad yesterday morning while in line with a few hundred other people or so at the local Apple Store. I was definitely a bit nervous about plunking down $500+ on a device I had never seen in person, let alone used. I had tried out Safari in the iPad Simulator, but of course, that’s not the same as using the real thing.
My first impression was, wow this is heavy. It’s a very solidly built device — but given Apple’s fixation on aluminum and glass, it wasn’t completely unexpected. This device is definitely more than a bigger iPod touch — it is more like a smaller MacBook Air without a keyboard and running iPhone OS instead of MacOS X. This really is a different class of device.
So far, I’ve installed about a dozen apps or so — one of my first purchases (or three, depending on how you want to count them) was the iWork suite. I’ve been a happy iWork user now for a couple of years on the Mac side, so spending $30 to get them on the iPad seemed like a no brainer. I haven’t had much time to try them out yet, but I plan to use them for the next document I have to write.
In line with the theme of using the iPad for “serious” work, I finally downloaded iSSH. I was interested in iSSH when it was just an iPhone app, but my thought at the time was that $8 was rather expensive since I was going to be limited to the iPhone’s on screen keyboard and limited screen real estate. But the developers of iSSH added iPad support in time for the launch. With the bigger display, even the on screen keyboard isn’t an issue any more on the iPad. I plan to try my Bluetooth keyboard on it as well, but I can already tell that iSSH is going to be a very useful app on the iPad.
I’ve also installed a few games — I already had Strategery on the iPhone, so it was very nice to see that they updated it for the iPad and made the app universal. For a game like Strategery, I think that model works well. I also installed ngmoco’s We Rule for the iPad, since I’ve played that a bit on the iPhone. The bigger screen makes the game much more enjoyable. You can now see your entire playing area without zooming out, which makes it easier to interact with the game.
Another area that I’m checking out with the iPad is the video players. I downloaded the ABC app and I also plan to check out the Netflix app. For watching some shows, I think the iPad might work out really well. The speaker is loud enough that two people could actually watch something on the iPad together. The screen quality is very nice — I’ve seen really good video on the iPad, but I’ve also seen a lot of bad video as well. I expect that the iPad will kick off another round of using higher quality videos on the web just like the You Tube app on the iPhone did almost three years ago.
And the final category of apps I installed is book readers — I installed iBooks, of course, but I only downloaded a couple of free books so far. I also installed the Kindle application, since I have a few titles that I started reading on my iPhone on it. I like the options the Kindle app has, but I think the iBooks app has a better feel to it. For example, when you turn the iPad on it’s side into landscape mode, the iBooks app shows two pages — just like a real book. The Kindle app instead makes the text go wider. Also the iBooks app has an integrated store front while the Kindle app has a link that opens in Safari. My ideal book reader would combine the features from both. I expect that both will continue to add features, which means that we all win in the end.
I also played around a bit with the SDK. I haven’t really done anything with the iPad SDK the past few months other than play with the iPad Simulator a little bit. Part of this was just because I was busy with other things, but another part was not being able to run the apps on a real device. So yesterday was really my first experience with writing code for the iPad instead of just the iPhone. I was able to convert an application that I wrote to support the iPad in about an hour of time. This mostly consisted of cleaning up my code where I assumed a 320x480 display (yeah, I know…) and adding in some iPad specific resources. Everything else was taken care of by Apple. I am very impressed with the SDK so far. I also have a few ideas for iPad apps now that wouldn’t have been possible on the iPhone, including porting an application that I had been writing for the Mac. Despite having the best outlook it’s ever had, I just can’t see myself writing apps for the Mac now that the iPad is here.
It will be interesting to see where the iPad fits into my usage mix — with an iMac, MacBook, iPhone and now iPad, I have more choices than ever before. I don’t expect to stop using any of these machines completely, but there will be tasks that I currently do on the other machines that will migrate over to the iPad completely for me. At this point, I don’t really know yet — just like how I didn’t know how the iPhone would change things for me three years ago.
But it’s going to be a blast finding out again.