JCL Blog

My iPad is Just a Toy

There was a time that I worked hard to improve my golf game – as if a steadily declining score would justify the time I was spending.  I found I enjoyed the experience much more when I started thinking of it as a walk with friends through a manicured park interrupted by the occasional swinging of a club.

I have had the chance now to get used to my iPad and to show it to interested onlookers.  Even though no one has yet asked me directly if this is a device for serious work; it does seem to be on the minds of the curious.  So my intro now goes like this:  It is an amazing piece of technology that is a delight to use – but in the end it is a toy.  It is not going to replace any of my other devices and it will travel with me from time to time, but mostly it is a device that lives at home.  This may seem like a denigration, but it is not intended as such.  I think I will be much happier with my purchase when I consider my iPad ancillary to the technology tools I use for work.  I will never be a pro golfer and the iPad will never be a professional work device.

Yes there are the work use cases with the external keyboard and the productivity apps, but I doubt anyone really thinks work can be done on the machine.  Even someone who’s job is just reading the newspaper will find themselves sitting in front of their PC or laptop.  The mind is a nimble thing, and when I pick up the iPad, mine already separates activities into iPad friendly and not – and I don’t even try to do the unfriendly ones anymore.  Here is a list of things I do and don’t do on my iPad:

  • Do:  Read the paper:  I read the NY Times and Wall Street Journal on the iPad because I can bring the thing with me to the kitchen and sit with my kids.  I do not use the Apps – the NY Times Editor’s Edition is inferior to the NY Times web page and a big step down from the Times Reader on my PC.  I did not even try the Wall Street Journal app.  Who would pay more for the app than the online version – don’t know what they were thinking there!
  • Do:  Check the weather:  I Installed The Weather Channel app TWC Max+.  It is OK, but not as good as the native weather app in my iPod Touch.  Half the time I go to my favorite local weather web page instead. 
  • Do:  Check the stock market:  I installed iStockManager but again, it is not as good as the native iPod Touch app.  But if I am on the iPad at the time I use that.
  • Do:  Tweet:  I do post from the TweetDeck app, but it is a strain to copy and paste links, and believe it or not while reading tweets on TweetDeck, you cannot click on the links – weird.
  • Do:  Maps:  I do look stuff up on the native maps app.  It is pretty cool, but it does not show traffic, so for that – back to Safari.  One amazing thing however is location based services without GPS.  I use both my iPad and my Touch with a Verizon MyFi device.  With that connection, the maps application and pinpoint my location to within about 100 yards – incredible.  I guess we know how the cops find the bad guys these days.
  • Do:  Read email.  I think the native email app is good enough for reading and I can reply from time to time, but typing on the Touch is considerably easier than the iPad – and you don’t look so stupid.  Same goes for notes.
  • Don’t: Google Reader:  I am a big Google Reader user and the Google App for the iPad is not very good.  The Touch one is better, but not enough.  So I read my RSS feeds at my desk.
  • Don’t: Work:  Craft documents, emails, spreadsheets, reference databases…  no point in even trying.  Why spend twice the time and burn cycles on work arounds when you can save up that stuff for later and spend half the time.
  • Don’t: Watch Video:  I tried to watch a movie and that was a joke.  I am just glad no one could see me holding the thing awkwardly in my lap.  Home video – which I thought would be the killer app is still something I cannot figure out how to do. 

So I do like the iPad a great deal.  Mostly because I have accepted it’s place in my computing life and I don’t try to make it something it is not.