I Don’t Typically Do This

by Martin Gordon


Living Without The iPad

Matt Alexander, on what he came to realize after living a few weeks without an iPad:

The iPad is a means for productivity, entertainment, and communication - it encompasses the tasks we have so often spread across mediums into one centralized and fantastic location. But, in doing so, the door is open for inadvertent and helpless absorption into its environment. Into allowing oneself to reach for the iPad when you would otherwise be open for valuable thinking, reading, writing, and whatever else may be of importance to you.

Sent from my iPad

The "Disappointing" iPad 3

Marco Arment, writing about speculation that the iPad 3 will be disappointing, even before anyone has seen it:

Knowing no more than you do right now, I can guarantee you: the iPad 3 will disappoint a lot of armchair tech commentators, “analysts”, and anyone who gets paid by the pageview. (How convenient.)

We see this “disappointing” talk from many of the old-timers because they’ve spent 25 years writing about specs and that’s the lens they use to look at the iPad. “It’s not getting a quad-core processor? Android tablets have quad-core chips. How disappointing.”

They don’t care that Apple and third parties ship software that utilizes both cores (iMovie, GarageBand) and that hardly anyone ships Android software that utilizes more than one core, much less all four. They don’t care that Apple may have tweaked last year’s dual-core chip to get better performance and better battery life. According to them, since 2=2 and 2 < 4, the iPad 2 is a lackluster upgrade and is empirically worse than an Android tablet.

Meanwhile, 50 million people couldn’t care less what’s inside an iPad. All that matters is that the hardware and software work together to make a delightful experience. Just look at what Om Malik wrote about giving his iPad 2 to his mother in India:

It didn’t matter how it was happening — just that she could talk to her grandson who was oceans apart from her. If there ever was a moment that captured the emotion in a piece technology, that was it. The look on her face made me realize how lucky I am to write about an industry that makes such things possible. I also thought to myself, maybe somewhere Steve Jobs is smiling too.

Like I said before: It’s not about what it is. It’s about what it does.


My biggest fear going into yesterday’s Apple event was that the tablet would just be a giant iPod touch. At first glance, that is exactly what the iPad seemed like – a large iPod touch with revised core apps, and a productivity suite and eBook reader/store to take advantage of the large screen (and no additional new features). Coupled with gimmicky iPhone app support, which allows “classic” iPhone OS apps to run at native resolution with a big old black border or at 2x resolution with a smaller black border, something about this presentation seemed off to me.

I love the iPad hardware – a 0.5" thick, 1.5 pound tablet with a gorgeous screen and great battery life. It’s the operating system component of the package that made the whole presentation feel very un-Apple-like.


iPad runs iPhone OS 3.2. A revolutionary device does not ship with an operating system that is a tweaked upgrade from an OS designed for a device with a screen four times smaller – it ships with an OS tailored to the device’s features. The iPad’s home screen is telling: while the icons have been upscaled to 77 pixels x 77 pixels (compared to iPhone’s 44 x 44), the iPad only displays four icons per row, leaving 460 of the 768 horizontal pixels to uselessly display the background image rather than displaying up to five more icons. Aside from support for background images, landscape orientation and an increase from four to five rows of icons per page, the iPad’s home screen is identical to that of it’s pocket-sized counterparts. The iPhone OS home screen works well under the limitations imposed by a 3.5" screen; bringing the home screen to a 9.7" screen without changes is doing the large screen injustice.

Classic iPhone App Support

The iPad’s value proposition becomes a lot better with its ability to run existing iPhone apps. The execution, however, feels amateurish and rushed. Despite the fact that the iPad’s screen could fit four iPhone screen’s worth of content, the iPad runs iPhone applications either centered in the screen with a large black border, or pixel-doubled with smaller borders. Why not allow a dashboard of iPhone apps, or the ability to run the apps at the iPad’s native resolution?

Background Processes

I used to consider the lack of 3rd party background processes in iPhone OS as simply an inconvenience. My opinion on this changed last week when I was unable to respond to an SMS I received because doing so would cause my Skype call to drop. I now consider the limitation inexcusable on a mobile phone. I find it almost impossible to believe Apple would ship a tablet device that supports hardware keyboards and offers a productivity suite with such a handicap. Have fun begging developers to make their apps remember previous state and to work on improving launch times. The iPhone has limitations that restrict productivity that have largely been removed with the iPad. Background processes is the last limitation left, but also perhaps the most restricting one.

The Future

All that said, I do believe Apple will ship the device with OS 3.2 in late March. Shortly before that, however, Apple will hold their annual iPhone roadmap event where they will pre-announce iPhone OS 4.0 and it will ship in June for iPhone, iPod touch and the iPad.