Part 2 of my iPad (32GB, WIFI, iPhone OS 3.2) Review:
- General Review
- List of Areas for Improvement (here)
- iPad for Consumers
- iPad for Business Users
- iPad for Photographers
- My Current Favorite iPad Apps
So while working on the iPad, there are a number of small gotchas and issues that I found and have documented here. The hope is that these items may help other iPad users/prospective customers as well as (ideally) be found by Apple and corrected in the future…thought I’m not holding my breath on the latter. I may add to this list over the next few weeks as I continue to find additional stragglers; I’ll add a date to the items I add after the original post.
(May 7th, 2010 Update: I added to my list based upon my time using the iPad at a 3 day technical conference…)
Issues & Areas for Improvement
- Mail Doesn’t Cache: If you are not online there is no way to do things like delete or move email since the mail app doesn’t cache changes locally, tries to connect to server to do change in real time. (exchange/does cache for imap, though it complains about not finding server later).
- Mail Has No Setting to Auto Download Attachments: this would be nice to have especially when you are using the iPad offline while traveling. We can only hope that there will be a setting for this in OS4 to do this in the background.
- No Airplane Mode: Unlike the iPhone, there is no simple switch for an airplane mode to disable the wireless. This mode should start to force caching and cancel all network related warning messages. Blame here can also fall on the applications as well, they shouldn’t always assume a network connection and throw error messages when you launch the app. Lack of this mode is even more confusing considering the 3G version of iPad.
- No System Usage Data: was planning on monitoring a full battery drain by resetting the usage stats, but realized that there weren’t any. Not critical but it would have been nice to have (especially for the 3G version). I hope to see this get added in any updates for the 3G version.
- Notes App: not sure why, but I always had a problen activating the keyboard when I would jump into notes and the keyboard was hidden. Touching the note to edit it didn’t always seem to bring up the keyboard…
- Pop Up Menus: This is a very nice usability enhancement to the OS. There are many more places where it needs to be used for easier access to applications and there are times when data entry pop ups become unusable when the keyboard is visible and you are filtering a list (try clicking on an address or phone number in an email and then try adding it to an existing contact that you need to look up…)
- Numeric Lock Code Keypad Need to Randomize: unlike an iPhone’s small screen, the large screen on the iPad can make it easy for someone to see your lock code if it’s only numeric (the iPad pops up a numeric keypad automatically when you set a numeric lock code). Making the keys change their layout randomly would be a nice added security measure to prevent someone from seeing your number pattern. NOTE: I recommend everyone to set a lock code on their iPads for security; my employer requires this and once configured exchange to connect to their email system I was forced to set a code.
- No Way to Sync clock on iPad with Internet Time Sources: I quickly noticed that my iPad and my Mac/iPhone clocks were off when alerts from iPad would go off just a minute or two later than my other devices. Sadly, no way to automatically set the clock using an internet based time source.
- Email Still Doesn’t Support Meeting Invite Standards: This is 2010 already! Anyone who has spent a few days working for a company who uses Exchange and deals with conference calls knows that the location field often contains a phone number or web meeting address (except apparently Apple Engineers). Yet the iPad OS still doesn’t automatically turn those fields into clickable links. This has been infuriating on the iPhone and sadly the iPad doesn’t do any better. This is another item that I hope gets changed in the OS4.
- Calendar Invites Don’t Cancel Meetings Correctly: Another modern day business use case that is glaringly not handled. When you get an meeting cancellation (and you click “cancel”) the iPad’s calendar doesn’t actually delete the meeting. This can be very confusing for busy people who depend on their electronic calendar to run their lives (or allow others to schedule meetings in their lives).
- Email Synchronization issues to IMAP Accounts: I still have problems (just like with the iPhone) of IMAP email accounts syncronizing correctly. I’ll read eamil on the iPad/iPhone and delete messages, etc. When I go back to my main computer and check that IMAP account, the messages are still there (even when they are gone from the iPad/iPhone).
- Alert Pop-up Messages are Disruptive: It would be nice to have a less disruptive alert message when you get a calendar invite or have a meeting alert go off. The dialog in the middle of the screen is frustrating when you are engage in some other application (like watching a movie!). It would be much nicer if there was an option to have a small message in the title bar or a self canceling alert in a corner.
- Web Sites Incorrectly send you to Mobile Version of their Site: I’m not sure if the iPad’s web browser can be differentiated by websites from the iPhone browser (I assume yes), but a number of sites default to their less functional mobile version of their site when I connect. This is frustrating now that I have a larger screen to view the site. Once of the biggest annoyances I found was with Google Reader and not being able to do certain things thru the mobile version of their site that I can do on the full version (like manage RSS subscriptions); even though I prefer using Google Reader using the mobile version on the iPad.
- There is No Front Facing Camera: While this is an obvious item, I feel this is so important that it’s worth mentioning. For as revolutionary as the iPad is, it would have been even more so if it had a front facing camera to do video chat/video conferencing. I honestly don’t see the value in a rear facing camera as the iPad is too big to be used as camera. I find it hard to believe that the processor in the iPad couldn’t handle video capture (it does a great job with video playback). I think it was a combination of legal agreements with the cellular companies and a product marketing strategy on Apple’s part. I’m sure the AT&T can’t handle the iPhone data explosion still 3 years after it’s launch, and the added bandwidth consumption of video must scare them (as I think ahead to June release of new iPhone…). But if there was a video camera, then how would Apple sell the next generation of iPads? By putting the video camera in the next generation of iPads (based upon iPhone product releases, expected in 1 year), they have a second wave of customers who will swoop back in for more iPads.
- iPhone OS Really Needs a Centralized File System (at least on iPad): Currently all data and “files” can be stored at application level which makes sharing of files between apps and between iPad and other devices harder than it should be. A OS based file system, ideally one that could be synchronized to the cloud (via mobileMe perhaps?) is such an obvious omission. (20100505)
- Quick Access to Key Settings: there are a number of key settings on the iPad which you should have easier access to via the app (home) view. The ability to activate airplane mode (oh, wait…), wifi network, VPN should be a quick finger motion away from where ever you are in the iPad. (20100505)
- Apps Have to Get Smarter at Network Syncing: Apps shouldn’t always expect a network, allow me to work without one and sync upon request or when the network is detected (or ideally in the background with the next version of the OS). A great example of this is Evernote which tries to sync with the online service every time you open the app. Which makes it unusable if you are offline and trying to use Evernote to do something like….take notes. (20100505)
- Adding Contact from Email Should be More Automatic: Why can’t the email packages pull out contact info from the email signatures? We have been dealing with this long enough that this should be a standard feature by now. For the iPad at least allow me to move the bubble-like contact add window so I can see the email message that the bubble window is floating in front of. Currently it is a very cumbersome process that is not very user friendly. (20100505)