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The UX of the Apple iPad – Part I

I recently had a chance to work with an iPad.  The different kinds of UI is exploding as Mobile devices, e-readers, netbooks and other devices gain in popularity.  No longer can I design for 1024×768 or better on a modern browser.  Now, I have to think about gestures on mobile devices too.

The iPad is an interesting device, but mostly unsatisfactory.  It really is just a big iPod Touch.  My main source of frustration is figuring out why I would use it versus another device.  For example:

  • I tried using it to read my work email.  I can’t figure out how to connect it to our exchange server.  I will keep trying, but if it can’t show me my work email and calendar, then why would I bring it into a meeting.  Unless I figure this out, I will have to use my Asus eeePC netbook.
  • I installed the Kindle reader on it and showed it to Katie.  She said, “ooh that’s sexy!” (and the iPad is not bad either!  ba dum bump!).  Then she tried to actually read a little on it and said, “Hmm..it’s too big and heavy.”  The kindle is smaller and fits in one hand.  It fits in her purse.  The iPad is just too big.  She will continue to use the Kindle.
  • I used it to read Gmail, which thankfully worked.  Typing on this thing though is making my wrist hurt.  It’s worse than typing on the netbook, and that’s no joy for me either.  Also, the iPad is a bit heavy for it’s size.  The netbook balances on my lap, but the iPad is this tweener size where it’s not big enough for my lap and too big to hold with one hand.
  • Games on it that were for the iPod Touch work in 2X mode (so they are big).  New games still need to be developed.  It’s very possible that the newer games will kick ass.  Games are not my thing, but I will try some out.
  • Note-taking is an interesting use, but I don’t exactly know how I am going to sync the notes back to my desktop or Outlook.  I have multiple machines I use and I am not sure how the whole sync will work.
  • I installed the Skype application for it and it works, but I would never actually use it as a phone.  The call quality was terrible.

Overall, I am frustrated.  I want to use it.  It’s cool!  But I just can’t find a good application for it.  Maybe if I keep at it, something will present itself.  I will update soon.

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10 Comments

  1. working professional working professional

    opinion fail. exchange servers at an office need to be unlocked per device. your blaming the device for your own ignorance. your opinion on this is like a weak whimpering dog.

  2. Wow. Nice. I think I said, “I will keep trying.” In case you didn’t notice, today is Saturday. I’ll try again when I get into work. Chill.

  3. D Williams D Williams

    Glen, the questions you raise are similar to those that many others that haven’t Mae the iPad leap successful are asking. Exchange works great, as long as your Exchange environment is setup correctly for Exchange Activesync. If any device (i.e. a Windows Mobile phone) works, the iPad will too. The rest of your concerns are simply a matter of some friendly community tips or clarification:

    – Typing. I type just as well and as fast on the iPad as I do on any laptop keyboard. It takes time (you must exercise patience and perseverance) and getting a good case that proper the iPad at an angle (like Apple’s iPad case) will help. Oh, try typing in landscape mode…more natural than portrait mode.

    – eReading. Well, you can buy multiple eReaders, or you can simply use the iPad. You have the B&N reader, the Kindle reader, and Apple’s iBooks to chose from. On top of that, it’s a great platform for NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, and most periodicals I read (using the Zinio app). Then there are great mashup readers that do a great job at consolidating news from 100’s of sources, such as SkyGrid and Pulse. No eReader, or net book, will give you the same experience.

    – Note taking. I use this all the time for note taking. I use a couple of note apps, such as PenUltimate and a few others from folks like Adobe. To enhance it’s abilities a bit, a good capacitive stylus will give you that hand-written/hand-sketched result.

    Overall, the iPad is a great fit between a conventional laptop and a smartphone, and that’s where Apple intended it to be. Give it some time, you’ll come around.

  4. Gameboy213 Gameboy213

    No issues with exchange for me whatsoever.

    Check out simplenote for note taking. Syncs to the cloud and it is free. Works perfectly.

    Amazing device IMHO. Love it.

  5. Alison Alison

    I’m a pc user and when I use the iPad the first time I have all the question on how to use it like a laptop. At the end of the day…I love this gadget.
    I can remote desktop via VPN and control my pc as slave. The apps are great source of anything at at cheap price.
    On my trip to Asia , my laptop crashed….but the iPad save my day replying to the emails and working to the other pc stuff.
    keep an open mind when using a new thing like this.

  6. Ric Ric

    My office software is all web based so by simply having wifi I have my desktop computer in my hand – all around the office.
    Mettings are more effective as I can pull up and share reports/data much easier than on a laptop.
    Pre iPad usage: 20% laptop, 80% desktop.
    With iPad: 10% desktop, 0% laptop, 90% iPad. That simple.
    I am traveling right now and did not bring laptop since I only used my iPad on last trip. Will never travel with heavy laptop again. BTW no airport security issues, just leave in your bag.
    Anyone that does not see the benefits of the iPad is just stuck in their ways and will come around with time. Worth mentioning that the iPad will also evolve with time offering a more robust computing experience. An evolution we will start te see once the iOS4 is released for the iPad.

  7. Tom Wardach Tom Wardach

    What’s the bootup time on a net book vs iPad? Maybe the Kindle is lighter, but it’s also another device the you need to haul around. With the iPad, it’s diversity is key. Coming to you live, from the family room chair, on my Ipad……..

  8. Tom Wardach Tom Wardach

    …..oh yea, and one more thing, the Exchange interface (mail, calendar, and contacts) is downright awesome! I bought my iPad for personal use, and darn if I don’t use it too much for work.

  9. Brandon L. Golm Brandon L. Golm

    1) If you can setup iPhone exchange, then you can do it on the iPad. I had iPhone exchange working at your company, so try harder.

    2) You haven’t tried anything good if you still think it’s a giant iPod touch. That was my first impression but I realized the following:
    a) It’s like a computer, but one that the designer knows the exact dimensions of. They design for a fixed screen size (supporting rotation: two). That is coupled with some really nice hardware (the amazingly gorgeous screen being the main one) and a great toolkit of gorgeous buttons and stuff. Any news app (FT, USA Today, NPR) demonstrates this perfectly.
    b) Google Maps and other things that have very complex navigation (sliding, zooming, street-view, searching by typing) have no comparison. iPad is absolutely the best way to use Google Maps. The pinch-to-zoom gesture that sucks on the iPhone is absolutely amazing on the pad, for example.
    c) Apps can be made dynamic and ajaxy, but in a totally predictable way, because they use one browser. For example, Amazon is better on the pad than on their site.

    3) At this point, the only thing that’s better for email is iOS 4. When iPad has the combined inbox and threading, there will be no comparison. I say this mostly for reading email, writing is a bit harder until you learn the keyboard or attach a bluetooth keyboard.

    4) Glen, you’re just wrong on this one! 🙂

  10. You Are Not Holding It Right! 🙂

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