iPad Frustrations (or how I learned to stop worrying and love Android)

by Stephen Fluin 2010.06.21

iPadFor work I have needed to become accustomed to and extremely familiar with Apple's iPad. Part of that process has been using it off and on for about two weeks now. In that time I have learned many things. I found out that to turn the device on for the first time, you need a windows or mac computer running iTunes. I found out that every time you install an application, the device takes you to the home screen, and you have to manually relaunch the marketplace to install another from the same list or category. I found out the screen gets smudged and covered in finger oils very quickly. Finally, I found out that the iPad is a pretty decent device for small games in terms of form factor and touchscreen interface.

In regard to the overall concept of a tablet (be it iPad or Android), I'm not sure I'm fully sold. It looks great, and it feels futuristic holding it in my hands, but at the same time data entry becomes a huge nuisance (I can type around 90 words per minute, but with any sort of touch screen, including a large screen like on the iPad, I'm reduced to ten to thirty words per minute). This may be a level of lazy that most humans aren't prepared for, but I also found my hands getting tired or bored holding the screen up for long periods of time. These could be solved with an attachable or bluetooth keyboard, and a case that allows propping the device up, but I'm not looking for a workaround for the iPad, I'm looking for a solution to my problems. This means that in most cases I would recommend a netbook or laptop with a touch screen.

The Biggest Failure of the iPad

I'm not sure if this is something others have run into, or if it was just me. On the other hand I can't believe this happens to anyone, when apple is so famous for "intuitive user experiences". Today when I attempted to copy a photo or two to the iPad, I plugged it in using the provided cable, and iTunes told me that the device could not be connected to, and would need to be reformatted back to factory settings. I was shocked. It still told me there was a connection, it told me my software was up to date, and showed me the serial number of the device, but I couldn't connect or sync or transfer any data.

After fuming for a few minutes about the devices' inability to retrieve my data or recent interactions, I gave up and submitted to a factory reset. After a few warnings asking me "Are you sure you are willing to delete all of your settings and data and media on the device?" (not that I had much choice), the device began reformatting. When it was complete, I was happily surprised that it asked me if I wanted to restore a backup from the previous week. I chose to do so and when it was complete, removed the device from USB. When I launched the device, I was shocked to find none of my programs or settings had been restored, all of my applications were missing. Once again being saddened, I reconnected the device to the computer and let it sync again. This time the sync restored my applications and data.

I consider myself a power user or computer expert, but even I was at a loss as to what was going to happen after each of the steps. How are normal users supposed to know that a "complete factory reset, losing all data media and settings", would later have the option to restore those pieces? This type of experience glitch probably has a lot of people going to Apple and paying for extra support, which further incentivizes them to try to maintain a faulty product, along with a culture that believes everything they make is perfect.

Apple is full of Jerks

It's been seen over and over again, with everything from multitasking to copy and paste. Apple releases a product stating "you don't need features x y or z, they are only for geeks and people don't need them", and consumers buy into that. A year or two later, Apple adds those features and says "look, we added features x y and z because they are useful and good for consumers", and make consumers foot the bill for an entirely new product often. This type of capitalistic behavior is one of the worse outcomes of capitalism because consumers aren't informed enough to know they they are buying into and supporting vendor lock-in.

Comparing all of this with Android and Google's development model shows they are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum . The Android developers want you to be able to use your phone or device or microwave however you want to. This includes being able to get data off of your SD card when there is a hardware failure, as well as things like being able to use Flash. As much as I hate to say it, we need to follow the early 90's Microsoft model and build an open platform so that everyone can build applications. With Android, we can make sure that platform is truly free this time.