I hate it when something new and cool is announced and I don’t have one; especially when I could have one if I could justify it. Such is the case with the Apple iPad. Yes, I understand the iPad doesn’t actually exist yet. I also understand that everything I’ve read about the iPad is either marketing hype or the result of a handful of analysts groping the prototypes and reading technical specs. Still, Apple isn’t likely to let misconceptions run wild, so I’m guessing that what we’ve heard is close to the truth. Why won’t I get one? Well, consider what it is that I wanted.
I was hoping the iPad would be the perfect device for a niche group of my users: those people who primarily consume information rather than create it. Today, I arm these people with fairly expensive lightweight laptops. By lightweight, I’m referring to mass, not capability. The problem I have is these lightweight laptops are very capable, and I’m paying for the capability. My hope was that a lightweight (mass and capability) device from Apple would satisfy their technical needs and be just cool enough so that these people would want one. If I could deliver an awesome tablet to this group, for less than half what I pay for the heavy-duty laptops – well, that’s got hero written all over it. And here’s the best part, I would need to have an iPad of my own, you know, for testing.
Does the iPad deliver? These people need email access. Assuming the iPad works like an iPhone, I know I can connect to my Exchange server and control the security – done! These people need to be able to read and occasionally edit Office documents. Okay, if we assume a slightly better version of Documents to Go (DtG) is released, I may have a viable solution but not a great one. DtG is good but it’s not Office. That means I have to provide training. And, since the goal was to eliminate a laptop, what does DtG sync with? I know it syncs to the Cloud, which just happened to be my next wish. I was hoping the iPad will support SharePoint. This wish may be granted, but more by Microsoft than Apple; SharePoint 2010 will support Safari but will the iPad support Silverlight and Flash content? Doubtful. So far, three goals, and I have a “done” a “probably” and a “we’ll see” – not a great start.
In addition to the unanswered questions, there are several things I don’t like about the iPad: First, no USB ports. “But wait, you can connect a USB device using a dongle.” Do you know what “dongle” means? It’s a technical term that means “small, expensive, proprietary connecting cable that is easily lost, and only available from the manufacturer, or from vendors inside the TSA protected zone at major airports” – yeah, I’m going to need to keep a dozen of those in-stock. Next dislike: multi-tasking, or rather the lack of multi-tasking. I didn’t know how much multi-tasking mattered until I tried the OCS App for my iPhone; if ever an app needed to run in the background, it’s OCS. Apple says multi-tasking consumes too much battery life but I can control that as a user; let applications have a “run-in-background” option. Third dislike: the lack of tabbed-browsing; I can’t imagine using SharePoint in a non-tabbed-browser. Yes, I know, Safari (on my iPhone) is a kinda-sorta tabbed browser but I want the real thing, complete with options to “open in new tab” or “open in new window”. I want to open the browser with multiple tabs already loaded! God help me, I want it to be like I.E. v8! Oh, and tethering; AT&T, could I at least tether my iPhone to my iPad?
The biggest thing I don’t like about the iPad, the show-stopper for me: the iPhone OS. I was really hoping for a machine I could write code on. I was prepared for it to be pathetic, I was prepared for it to be limited, I just wasn’t prepared for it to not be possible. I want to write apps for our users. To do that, I have to buy a Mac. Of course, I can build the customization into SharePoint, as long as I don’t use Silverlight, but that means I have to spend more time in Windows so others can enjoy the iPad experience.
If I’m wrong about a few of these assumptions, maybe I can buy one, you know, for testing. If I’m not wrong; and Apple, if you’re listening, give me an option in the next generation device. Give me the super-iPad with a real OS, two USB ports, Flash support and a development environment, and I’ll buy one even if you call it the Max-iPad.
iPad, Apple, Mac, Mac OS, iPhone, iPhone OS and probably the lowercase “i” are property of Apple and protected by trademark, copyright or some such thing. The image is an actual picture of my iPhone, as I doubt I can draw a red circle and line through the press images of the iPad.