After weeks of feverish anticipation, the day came when my iPad was delivered by FedEx, a full day ahead of when it could be bought in shops. Typically, I wasn’t there to receive it as I’d started my new job, but fortunately the girl was in and took receipt of the delivery.
If you’re a fanboy, then the anticipation of opening the packaging is as much a part of the user experience as using the damn thing and this was no exception. Over the years, Apple has definitely got skinnier with the packaging (remember the early iPod packaging, it was a work of art) but it still delivers everything you’d want from a packaging design – building anticipation for its contents and looking beautiful too.
The web is littered with box opening sequences for Mac products (and there’s none more exciting than Stephen Fry’s iPad opening sequence) so I won’t go there. Here’s a gratuitous shot of it anyway.
OK – but what is it like to actually use?
Firstly, the heft in the hand is remarkable. It just feels good. Well made. Long lasting. The aluminium case sets it apart from the iPhone and moves it up towards the Macbooks and gives it a cold, metallic sharpness that just feels right. The sharper edges too of the exterior case move it on. I expect next generation iPhone will follow these design cues.
After the initial excitement of gliding, swiping and sliding on the screen (just like the iPhone) then you kind of settle into a right – ‘what content can I get on here’ kind of mood. There’s some lovely free (and paid of course) stuff on the iPad store and I can see that just growing day by day. It’s the scale of the presentation and the crispness of the display that hits you when you’re looking at apps for the first time.
For instance, the marvel App which looks cool on the Iphone, looks awesome on the Ipad and that’s not hyperbole. The Wired magazine app really does feel like a whole new genre with embedded video, interactive ads and content that looks incredibly handsome and also linked smartly throughout. This mass of content has the tendency to overwhelm too, but I think that’s more to do with the new medium – after all, this was a paper based magazine where you just turned the pages, last time I looked.
Websites render differently and some are better than others with the Safari interface being different, it takes a little getting used to if you’re used to browsing on a laptop. The standard Apple Apps all look and feel great on the iPad too, as you’d expect, and the seamless connectivity with Itunes is definitely par for the course these days. I did think it took ages to hook it up for the first time and I had a few issues with downloads, but they’re sorted now.
One gripe – I have a lot of movies and content that I have downloaded on to my Apple TV (am I the only person who uses and enjoys this forgotten bit of kit?) and I just can’t get them on to the Ipad. I’ve paid for them, but can’t get them on to there, which seems wrong to be honest.
Quite a random post in terms of my experience so far with the Ipad but I think it sums up the user journey I’m on with it – excitement, anticipation, expectation, all tempered by the reality of everyday use and where it fits in my wide array of existing mac products. I think it does sit perfectly in between the iPhone and Macbook Pro and I’m already using the iPhone less for Apps like Tweetdeck which just work better on the iPad when you’re at home.
I think it will crystallise the use of each device and make them more about delivering great user experiences rather than making do with one device that does lots of things but not super well.
All in all, you can probably tell I’m happy with my iPad.
I just can’t wait to see what’s going to be designed and produced for it that will drive it forward just as the Apps have changed the iPhone from just a telephony device into something genre defying.