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Apple iPad - Interface & Native Apps

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

As the physical design is so similar to that of the iPhone and iPod Touch, it's no surprise to be greeted by the familiar grid interface. Unlike Apple's other devices, however, it rotates between portrait and landscape modes. It can also fit more icons: 20 per page, plus up to six docked apps. It would have been easy for Apple to cram even more apps in, but the number is about right - any more and it would look cluttered.

While this grid layout is simplicity itself and plays to the strength of Apple's burgeoning App Store, it does feel somewhat limiting. If one takes the view that, among its many other functions, the iPad is a very large personal organiser, some kind desktop designed along those lines would be very desirable. It feels like a missed opportunity, especially as the high resolution screen would make creating a more dynamic interface much easier.

Unlike the basic interface, all the pre-installed apps have seen iPad makeovers of varying degrees of severity. One of the best is the Calendar app, which visually resembles an old-style personal organiser. Thanks to the greater resolution of the iPad screen, it's a really practical, streamlined way of organising your life.

By comparison the Mail app has changed little, but it makes good use of the extra resolution to list your inbox alongside the preview pane when in landscape mode. In portrait it appears as an overlay. Notes has a similarly minor tweak to take advantage of the extra real-estate, but it still feels neglected compared to the other apps.

Google Maps, whose redesign is also largely cosmetic, probably benefits most from the change of format by dint of the screen size and resolution being perfect for navigating maps. You'd look a bit of berk wondering around London trying to find your way around using an iPad, but the hybrid and Street View modes look awesome on the massive screen.

The Videos app still does nothing outstanding beyond showing you the videos you have in a visually appealing way. More fulsome is the revised iPod application, which more than ever resembles a pared down version of iTunes. Its more efficient interface makes it easy to imagine using the iPad, in conjunction with the separately sold dock and a set of speakers, as a kind of living room jukebox.

Lance Uppercut

May 7, 2010, 3:59 pm

It does seem a bit of a mish mash, but I still want one.

Jones

May 7, 2010, 4:05 pm

Good revie, one that's changed my opinion on the iPad slightly. I had this written off but reading through the review I can definately see the potential for future generations (or in software updates). The iBook reader looks like a joy.





I have sort of understoof Apples reluctance to allow multi tasking on the iPhone but I do think it is a missed opportunity on the iPad. Im sure the usual replies of battery life limitations, slow performance and what not will be used but why not set a cap on open applications then?





The functionality of Apple's products tend to eventually catch up with my expectations so looking forward to what they churn out in 2 or 3 years time but this is way over priced for how I would use the device in its current form. Wont be the case for others (millions!) though.

rav

May 7, 2010, 4:11 pm

What's the value score based on given that we don't have UK pricing yet?





For me personally it's far too limited and overpriced but no doubt for others who can't wait 20 seconds for their laptops to resume it's perfect.

Alvin

May 7, 2010, 4:11 pm

looks aesthetically nice and works.. however no flash.. and sitting requirement to use the on screen keyboard at a decent speed = fail in my opinion. When would it actually be used? at home? (desktop/laptop/notebook) on the go? (smartphone) If it were used on the go, it would require carrying a bag when sometimes you don't even need one...

Runadumb

May 7, 2010, 4:15 pm

That the UI is slick as hell, im sure it goes a long way to whoo people into buying it. Also I wonder about eye strain from reading on an LCD screen, is it really an issue? Im sure outdoor reading would be much more of a problem.


I do wonder if my current monthly publications went fully digital with their own apps would such a device start to maybe begin to kinda interest me...sorta. I could imagine PCgamer with trailers embedded in the review, interviews with video and such like. Would push them into spending more though I guess and may not be worth it. Also would this really improve the experience or would it feel unnecessary?


I certainly don't want one now and most of the current uses Ive heard seem absurd to me but maybe it really is the beginning or a viable product. Just for the love of god people don't, DON'T say it replaces your pc/Laptop because it damn well doesn't.

Runadumb

May 7, 2010, 4:15 pm

Oh forgot to add, wheres the podcast?

Malderon

May 7, 2010, 4:17 pm

A really nice balanced review. I'm a bit of an Apple hater, but I think in my heart I knew that the iPad wasnt going to be a terrible device. The software is proven, and the hardware and design impressive (with the exception of ommitting some important ports). But I think its also clear that the device as it is now is certainly not a game changer in the way the original iphone was. I think if another company had made this exact product then it would be impressive but niche, but the apple brand will lead to wider adoption than it perhaps deserves.

Jonas

May 7, 2010, 4:54 pm

A tablet that cant multitask gets a 8 for performance...really?





Other than that, very nice review, one of the few fair and objective ones that i have cn.

BOFH UK

May 7, 2010, 5:42 pm

Review seems fair, although I'd have liked to see consideration of how well it works for the less-technical user that is going to make up a fair old chunk of the userbase for not just the iPad but all of these mobile OS tablets.





Two things do jump out as missing though: 1) Web browsing. This is kinda a core element of the iPad and I didn't see it mentioned anywhere. Yes, it doesn't do flash but what does the browsing experience actually feel like? 2) A fair evaluation of eInk. This is hardly unique to TrustedReviews but we do see a LOT of reviews pick up on the downsides of LCD versus eInk displays (direct sunlight, battery life) but very little about the major downsides of eInk versus LCD (refresh times and, most importantly, that eInk displays are just as unusable without an external light source as LCD's are in direct sunlight).

Retset

May 7, 2010, 5:45 pm

I love my iPhone, my (gaming) laptop and desktop. However, I fail to see any need for an over-sized iPod Touch - certainly no need for one in the Retset household.





I understand the Spirit jailbreak (worked a treat on my 3.1.3 iPhone 3GS) will JB the iPad and so people can multitask whilst waiting for 4.0. However, and this will probably come out wrong, I reckon the sort of people buying it are not the same sort of people who will be JBing it ...





One day digital magazines and books will achieve a critical mass. This is when such a device will really rock.

Andy C 1

May 7, 2010, 6:07 pm

Well done on a balanced review. Yes, OK there were a few things missing perhaps, as detailed above. But I for one am gratified that the review was balanced and, well, trustworthy. I look forward to deciding whether to be an early adopter or not.





A question; Is there anywhere one can go to see the books which are on sale from the bookstore now, to try to ascertain whether this will be usable at this time?





Thanks.

Jones

May 7, 2010, 6:20 pm

I had a sleep at my desk over lunch and had a dream that Footy Manager was brought to the iPad - I mean a full PC version. Forgetting the fact that I can get away with sleeping at my desk at work I woke up thinking that that would probably sway me into buying one!

Cliff

May 7, 2010, 6:27 pm

Runadumb,





The podcast is now live at http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

Aidan5ea

May 7, 2010, 6:30 pm

* 16GB WiFi-only £429


* 32GB WiFi-only £499


* 64GB WiFi-only £599


* 16GB WiFi+3G £529


* 32GB WiFi+3G £599


* 64GB WiFi+3G £699

lensmann

May 7, 2010, 6:52 pm

This is an excellent review{*} guys - no hyperbole, no hype, just a balanced summary of the device's strengths and weaknesses. So the gadget's definitely not for power-users as yet, but the 3rd or 4th generation iPad (and its Android / MeeGoo / other equivalents) just might be.





{*} (known in Applese as a magical review)

Kieran

May 7, 2010, 7:00 pm

Can i just ask what the appeal is in ebook readers (i don't read so i think im missing the point somewhere)





You pay £300+ for a reader (in the case of the ipad)then you "PAY" for the books on top of that at the same price you can buy then in a shop without the need to buy a £300 piece of equipment.





I wacthed the video review and the biggest impression i got was its main selling point is as a reader, and i wouldn't personally pay over 300 quid on something to read a book.

Chris

May 7, 2010, 8:20 pm

@Aidan:


Really?!?





£429 for the base model? At £90 less they might be onto something, but that's ridiculous, though not entirely surprising.





@Kieran:


a) Average ebook readers cost less than £300


b) The iPad does a lot more than just read books, or else it would be competitive, as you point out.


c) It's convenient to be able to carry 100 books around with you, and that's got to be worth something. Add to that the usability and convenience features that an ebook reader brings (bookmarks, navigation, search for text, instant purchases, etc.)


d) Ebooks are hideously overpriced, but there's a decent free catalogue and hopefully the prices will come down in time.

Tim Evans

May 7, 2010, 8:44 pm

I'm wring this on my iPad now and sort of agree with most of the review apart from the stuff on the multitasking because that's a bit of a mute point now. You can see in OS4 that it's coming and you cab Spirit jailbreak the iPad to use backgrounder. The iPad seems to have quite a lot of memory to run background apps. I have Spotify, early Edition and Safari all working well.

GoldenGuy

May 7, 2010, 9:08 pm

@Aidan





I've been toying with iPad price projections as well, and I agree with that entry point of about £425-£429 too.





For what it's worth, I converted the US iPad prices based on the exchange rate on April 20, plus an average 7.25% Sales Tax, so this is roughly what the US pays :





16GB iPad £349


32GB iPad £419


64GB iPad £489


16GB + 3G iPad £440


32GB + 3G iPad £510


64GB + 3G iPad £580





If you replace that average sales tax with our VAT instead, I got this :





16GB iPad £384


32GB iPad £461


64GB iPad £539


16GB + 3G iPad £485


32GB + 3G iPad £561


64GB + 3G iPad £639





Once you throw on top the anomalies of the dreaded 'Apple Tax', 'Being British Tax', and 'We Prefer Psychologically Satisfying Numbers Tax', I basically agree with your figures.

Hugo

May 7, 2010, 9:18 pm

Kieran - eBook readers are awesome because I can carry one device that is no less portable than a single reasonable-size paperback and much smaller than a hardback, but which contains hundreds, if not thousands, of books. Also, eBook readers save the effort of covering a copy of "Harry Potter" or "Twlight" with the dust cover of "A Tale of Two Cities" - an important consideration, I am sure you will agree.

Leonardo

May 7, 2010, 9:21 pm

I'd like to second what many have already said and also praise you guys at TR for a fair, balanced review of a very divisive product.





However, I also agree with people who have said the review could have been a bit more comprehensive. I'd be interested in your opinions regarding web browsing, the audio experience (is the iPad not Mono?), and the ergonomics of the device. You mention the aluminium back being a bit slippy, does the weight and thinness of the device make it difficult or painful to hold for longer periods?

Ataripower

May 7, 2010, 11:35 pm

Great review!


2 killer uses for me have pursuaded me to buy this:


1. A superb living room SONOS controller


2. A Slingbox client enabling me to watch my TV anywhere using the Slingmedia app





Also considered the only other alternative, the JooJoo but lacks the two requirements above

Aidan5ea

May 8, 2010, 12:58 am

@Chris, @GoldenGuy





Not a guess with pricing - http://www.engadget.com/2010/0...

Kieran

May 8, 2010, 2:16 am

@Hugo. fair enough I don't read books so I just probably looked over the practically of it

hankb6d

May 8, 2010, 3:00 am

The Ipad does have sex appeal judging from the import in our office. Among the geek girls it has serious pulling power the only shame is the sales rep is gay. Well maybe he swings both ways that is one nice feature the Ipad owns.





Nice but hideously overpriced I will stick to a netbook thanks.

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