The Apple iPad runs iPhone OS 3.2, which is a debut version of this operating system. It’s almost identical to the OS that runs on Apple’s smartphones and handhelds, which has pros and cons.
And because the iPad uses the same OS as the iPhone, it can run most of its 150,000 or so apps. Though many of these were designed for a 3.5-inch screen, they can be pixel-doubled to almost fill the iPad’s screen. However, fonts and images are a bit pixilated (see an example). Still, a growing number of titles have been tuned for the iPad’s 9.7-inch display.
The primary downside of the iPhone OS is its anemic support for multitasking. Apple’s software can run in the background, but third-party apps close when you switch away from them. Apple has given developers some work-arounds for this, so you can be notified if you get a chat message, but it still hobbles the potential for what’s possible. The good news is there is growing evidence that Apple is building much more support for multitasking into iPhone OS 4.0. It has yet to be confirmed, however.
Because of its much larger and higher resolution screen, the iPad definitely offers a better option than the iPhone for almost everything you do, and nowhere is this more obvious than when you’re surfing the Web or watching video.
Using the device to access websites is like you’re using a desktop, not a smartphone or handheld. There are few compromises thanks to the high-resolution screen and powerful browser. The only caveat is that there’s no support for Flash, and Apple is doing everything it can to make sure that doesn’t matter.
I can easily see watching a movie on the iPad, an activity most people won’t do on a pocket-size device. Even video on YouTube look good. I’ll have to come up with a stand that that can hold the iPad when it’s in landscape mode, however, as the docks only offer portrait mode.
I’m not going to go into third-party games in the preliminary review, but I’m really interested into checking out some new titles that have been created for the iPad from companies like Electronic Arts.
EBook reading will be a major function of the device, if Apple has its way. I need to explore this area more, but Apple’s iBook app isn’t pre-installed on the iPad … it won’t come out until tomorrow.
And right now I’m a little concerned. The iPad is lightweight for a small computer, but it’s heavy for an eBook reader – about 50% heavier than the Amazon Kindle 2. It’s not something I’d hold in one hand and read on for an hour, or even 15 minutes.
Email can be drawn from consumer services like Google or Yahoo and business users can connect to an Exchange Server.
I really like how the the PIM apps have been designed so it looks like you’re working with a paper calendar or address book, with the different panes being the different pages.
The Notes application literally looks like a notepad, with a yellow background and ruled lines. The font looks like it’s been handwritten.
For an extra fee, Apple is offering software to allow users to do word processing, spreadsheets and presentations. I’ll be testing these stripped-down versions of iWork apps, and bringing you more information in a later article.
I’ve been in the market for a netbook for some time, and I think I’ve found it. The iPad is the best light-duty computer I’ve used in a while, and it hits the sweet spot of being very portable while offering the features I need when I’m on the go.
Of course, this is just a first impression. If I run into any significant problems I could change my mind, which I’ll raise in the full review. You can expect it in the next week or so, once I’ve had a chance to fully test out the iPad.
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