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Sunday, December 26, 2010

iPad - How Would I Make It Better?

Let's see. I have been using Apple iPad well over a month now. I still concur with my initial impressions. The device is simply put great even though it has potential to become even greater. It's the perfect device for some casual browsing and media consumption.

As I have gotten more experience with the device, I have encountered a few more problem spots besides the ones mentioned in the original post. In this post I'm going to re-iterate the ones discovered earlier and discuss a few new ones. I will also provide some ideas to help fix them.

Note that I still consider myself an iPad newbie so some of these issues may or may not be so pertinent. I believe Apple won't even consider fixing some considering the way they do business.

Original Issues

My original issues with the device had to do its weight, lack of full screen mode in Safari, display ratio, display glossiness and a lack of slot for a memory card.

I still consider many of these pretty major. There are some cases in which my mind has changed a little, though.


The device is, well, chunky. It probably wouldn't hurt to build some extra muscle... Still a lighter device would be great to have.

I believe this is one the areas in which we are going to see some major improvements during the following years. There are some technical limits of course. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw some interesting innovations, however.

According to some rumors Apple might replace iPad aluminum casing with a lighter, carbon fiber based one. That should help to bring the weight down by some extent (tens of grams?).

No Full Screen Mode in Safari

This is something Apple could fix if it wanted to. I really see no reason why Safari should not have a full screen mode.

I know there are technical ways to work around this problem already. It's kind of fiddly, though, and quite cumbersome.

I'll keep my fingers crossed. Till then the easiest solution is just to use some alternative browser like Atomic or Terra.

Wide Screen For The Win?

I don't believe that having a wide screen is a necessity anymore. There are times when I like to use the device in vertical orientation. This is particularly useful for reading books. Having a wide screen would sort of break that idea.

Considering the screen size I might be willing to actually bump it up to 11" or so. There's still room for that in the bevel. It would also be awesome to have a little higher resolution (think Retina :) ). That would be just stunning.

Glossy Screen - Smudge Magnet

This is still one of my favorite pet peeves with the device. I know almost everything you buy these days is glossy (laptops ie. anyway). Still, it just isn't practical. I would gladly pay some extra just to get a nice matte screen.

Installing a screen protector of some sort should provide remedy to this issue. In my opinion that shouldn't be needed.

No Slot for a Memory Card

I still consider the omission of a memory card slot a major flaw. I know Apple offers a camera connection kit. Even that is bit a crutch that simply shouldn't be needed.

Perhaps if there was some way to connect a camera to the device wirelessly the situation would be different. Sadly not too many cameras support this by default yet.

In addition I would love to be able to connect my USB devices to the iPad. It looks like the kit mentioned before did allow this before iOS 4.2. Since then this has apparently changed as Apple decided to restrict the amount of power provided by the USB port of the kit.

Discovered Issues

Besides the issues discovered before I have come upon a couple of new ones. Some of these are quite subjective of course but that's part of the game.

My main gripes with the device have actually more to do with the software side than hardware. I find the hardware quite solid and fitting for my usage patterns (web browsing, casual gaming).

Augmented Reality - The Missing Bits

Perhaps one of the most glaring omissions of the device as compared to iPhone is the lack of a gyroscope and cameras. Providing these features would make iPad the ultimate augmenting reality platform.

This would make it possible to treat iPad more as a window through which it is possible to navigate in a real world. Layar reality browser provides perhaps the most known application for this particular purpose. I wouldn't be surprised if we saw an implementation of it for iPad 2. It might very well be one of its killer apps.

App Store is a Sore

I consider App Store, the interface via which you manage the applications installed on your iPad, a mixed blessing. It simplifies the installation of applications greatly. In addition it makes it relatively easy for developers to release their work.

There are still some issues with the concept. It's incredibly hard to find some specific type of apps from it. You pretty much need to know what you looking for or stick to the recommendations. Often you are better off researching the apps beforehand and then just using App Store to purchase and install them.

I have listed my main sores with the App Store next:

Arbitrary Categories

The categorization system it uses seems a bit arbitrary. Why many of the painting applications belong to "entertainment" for instance? I would expect there to be a category for "art" related applications. Perhaps there should be more flexible way to define categories (tags?). This could possibly be user driven even.

No Trials

I find it a bit upsetting that there's no easy way to test a demo version of an application unless the developer has created one for this specific purpose. Sometimes there are free, "lite" versions of applications available.

It might be nicer if there was some generic, perhaps time based, trial system available. Many times just reading the description is not enough. You have to try out the application to see if you like it or not.

Misleading App Reinstallation

I have to admit I got a bit freaked out the first time I needed to reinstall an application I had already paid for. The installation button still contained the original price of the product. I would have expected it to be free now since I already paid for it.

Apparently it has not been designed to work this way. The installer checks for payment later on and only then announces that you don't need to pay for it.

I find this counter-intuitive and hope that this is going to be fixed. Sure you have to "freak out" just once. Still you might be better off without having to do that at all. :)

Books are Apps?

It's really weird to have the App Store filled with various books. Isn't this why iBooks was invented?

Just moving the books to the right place would make the situation a bit nicer. Books don't belong to the App Store. Period.

Syncing - No Wires, Please

This must be one of my main gripes about the iPad. Why do I have to connect the device to my computer using a wire in order to synchronize it? This seems a very backwards thing to do for me.

I would appreciate it a lot if it was possible for syncing to handle wirelessly. Perhaps having some sort of automatic sync in place would be great even. That way I wouldn't have to worry about that anymore.

I really hope this is one of the issues Apple truly intends to fix. It's at least something the competition may be able to use against it. :)


It's cathartic to complain a bit every once in a while. Don't get me wrong. I consider iPad a magnificent device. With some tweaks it could be pretty mind-blowing.

I have no doubt we'll see many interesting innovations during the next few years. Some of those probably go way beyond of what I could imagine. It's going to be interesting to see if any of the issues mentioned will get fixed one way or another.