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.