iPad Thoughts

Alright, so I know everyone has heard of the iPad by now, but I thought I’d take a few moments to address the hype.

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I never had any intention of buying this device, even before the announcement, and I’m much more interested in Android as a platform than iPhone. That said, it’s the reasons I favor Android over iPhone that is behind a fair number of my complaints with the iPad.

At the end of the day, the iPad is nothing more than a giant iPhone. And for a lot of people, that’s all they wanted. Certainly there are experiences that can be realized on the device now that it has the larger display, the e-mail app (at least in landscape mode) was far more interesting. And there are plenty of more apps that will really shine on this display. But, the iPad has some problems that make it not just a non-starter for me, but in my opinion, a completely waste of time for everyone.

  1. First, the lack of Flash support. This even became an issue during the presentation. I’m not a huge fan of Flash, by any means, and I understand why it was left out of the iPhone. But, for a device of this class, it is simply inexcusable. There are thousands of games, videos, and other widgets dependent on Flash, rightly or wrongly. This may well change (I sincerely hope it does), but until then, this is required support. Especially for a device claiming to offer the ultimate browsing experience. At the end of the day, if it can’t run Hulu, it’s a no buy.
  2. Closed app distribution mechanism. Especially since the mechanism that is available is controlled entirely by the whims of one organization, one with a history of poor definition of standards and practices, is inexcusable. Just because Apple doesn’t want it on the iPad, doesn’t mean that I don’t.
  3. Lack of support for development tools. Requiring all developers to be on Mac, specifically one running the latest software, cuts out a huge pool of potential developers.
  4. iPad and iPhone apps are completely separate. Porting an App to iPad isn’t going to require building a completely new application. Yes, the code should port cleanly, but it still leads toward two divergent code bases that is going to require some work to keep in sync, if you intend to continue upgrading the software for both platforms with new functionality. You should simply be able to design new UI, and bind it up. Admittedly, Android can’t do this yet (I don’t think, though Android does have better support for multiple screen sizes).

So, most of those complaints don’t matter to the average user, but they do cement my decision to not be interested in buying this product. It’s unfortunate, because it is nice hardware, but with a device like that, good hardware isn’t enough when there are such fundamental problems with the software.