The iPad may be the world’s number one selling tablet, but using one has progressively turned into a usability nightmare for me. I will describe the iPad as the pretty girl you see in the school hall, fall in love with, marry, and then find out that she cooks terrible stuff, lacks manners and just generally gets in the way of how you do things.
So, what are my gripes against the iPad. Here are the iPad’s best kept secrets:
1. Pseudo Multitasking Woes
You know Apple’s drill here. Move away from an app and it is frozen in the background. Sounds good, except if you do a lot of web browsing, what happens when you return to a page many times is that the page is reloaded afresh.
That costs me time. And costs me internet data. Why can’t it freeze my pages there and simply present them to me the way I left them? Oh, it does that SOME of the time. Consolation.
2. Apps Shutting Down in the Background (and Foreground too)
Yes; and you thought that was a Symbian/Android problem only? How come reviews of iOS devices NEVER mention this?
You know, you have five apps running. Just five. Yahoo Messenger, Safari, Mail, TwitBird, and Twitter. Well, you are done on TwitBird and return to Messenger, only to find it restarting and reloading. There was no notice, no “out of memory” error, but the app was shut down all the same.
Another precious waste of time.
PS: My Nokia E7 runs at least 8 apps – all ACTIVE (not frozen) – in the background before beginning to shut down anything.
And I can’t tell how many times I am writing an article with the WordPress app, or on Safari, and the very app I am working on shuts down just like that.
3. Occassional Laggy Performance
Who said that this thing was fast? On the average, yes, the iPad performs well (not fast, but fine enough). But there are those times when you hit an icon to launch an app, and you see the lag. The processor simply struggles at those times to get things done.
Switching between windows on Safari very often means that I have to tap the windows icon a number of times before I get a response. Yes; its true. I’ll give a demo to anyone who does not have an iPad and wants to see for himself. A free demo.
I asked a friend who has an iPad too whether or not he had experienced this during web browsing. He confirmed the lag and said he just taps the windows icon once and WAITS for the windows view to come up. Great.
It was good to find out that I wasn’t making this up. I was beginning to think that something must be wrong with me, since NO-ONE else ever seems to mention these performance issues.
When you switch to an app in which you are typing something e.g. Messenger or WordPress, very often the very first keys you punch don’t get registered. Or they get registered in slow motion, Matrix-style. Serious.
Just to be sure that I am not making things up, I stopped this article to launch the Twitter app, and there it was – about 3-4 seconds of blank on the display before any information is loaded for viewing. That sounds like something that devices running 600MHz CPUs on a well known mobile Os are regularly chided for by reviewers.
Yet, this baby is supposed to be running a 1GHz processor. Please.
The million dollar question is, Why does no-one else mention these issues? Oh, yes; all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
The Usual Suspects
How about the usual suspects? Those ones are public knowledge.
Transfering documents and non-media files are a royal pain. No USB mass storage mode. Limited Bluetooth functionality. Limited everything.
Nice UI. Lots of eye-candy. Great performance in some areas. But those aside, the iPad is a usability nightmare for me. Perhaps the iPad 2 with a dual-core processor takes care of some of those issues. But who knows? No-one mentioned these issues on the iPad 1; why should they with its second advent?
Going forward, I have had enough of the iPad. I am increasingly getting frustrated with it. Does it mean that it is a terrible device? No; just a highly frustrating, over-hyped, over-priced one.
I am glad that I got the chance to use one though. It is my job to review devices. Now, I have to find someone to buy it off me. And I’m not sure that I would recommend it to anyone besides Apple fans who are not likely to enjoy anything else anyway.
Will I go back to carrying a netbook around? Maybe. Or maybe I find me another tablet to try out for a while.
I hear that the HP TouchPad running WebOS is amazing. If that gets to these parts, I will look in that direction too.
The BlackBerry PlayBook doesn’t seem ready for work yet, though it plays nicely. Those missing features…. tsk, tsk, tsk.
Any of the Android tablets? Perhaps the Tab 10.1 will save the day.
If I don’t find a buyer for the iPad though, I am stuck with it. I can reluctantly and grudgingly live with it, but if you ever run into me attempting to tear my hair out, you know why already.
Before you iFans go into turbo-mode, go read my earlier article on what spending a few weeks with the iPad as a netbook replacement was like. I praised your darling toy.
But I doubt if that will make any difference, so bring it on! Daddy’s got your number!
In the meantime, to everyone else I say, Don’t believe the hype. Its just that – hype.