Some notes on the iPad

I bought my wife an iPad a few weeks after our son was born in July last year. After the baby was born, she rarely had time to sit down, much less sit down at her computer, and I thought that the iPad would be ideal. It’s highly portable and can do most of the things she uses a regular computer for. To be honest, I was also looking for an excuse to get one. At first, she wasn’t sure what she could do with it, but it didn’t take long for her to start using it for nearly everything. Apple treats iPads as adjuncts to a “real” computer, but they aren’t really. My wife didn’t update or even sync it to her desktop computer for over 4 months, and during that time she took hundreds of photos, edited them, and uploaded pictures and text to her blog. She has updated her blog more frequently and consistently than I have, with a full laptop at my disposal.

If the WordPress blogging software for iOS was better (it’s still buggy and has no visual editor, only HTML) she would only use her desktop computer for the kind of fine photo editing that you really need a mouse and a fuller suite of tools for. The majority of the time, she uses Photogene on the iPad. (One of her favorite things to show off to people who are interested in the iPad is how fun and easy it is to resize and crop pictures with gestures.) For most blog posts, she’s okay with using the WordPress email posting feature, but some layout options are only accessible through the full web interface or the iOS app.

For most purposes, an iPad is the equivalent of a full computer, only better in some ways. It boots almost instantly and can be used anywhere. One of the reasons my wife said that she only uses her computer when she has to is because it takes at least a couple of minutes to start Windows XP up. Two or three minutes isn’t a long time to wait, but compared to two seconds, it’s an eternity.

Another thing she likes is that most apps save automatically, so you don’t even have to deal with a save dialog or losing your work. You can drop out of the program at any time and come right back to where you left off. Ironically, not having access to the file system is something that bothered the crap out of computer geeks, but for regular users it has become a boon since the problem of saving files has been offloaded onto the programmers, where it belongs. I can’t believe people put up with computers losing their work, or having to dick around with file systems for literally decades before this. System-wide autosave (which is showing up in the upcoming OS X Lion) should have been implemented ages ago, but for some reason it took the impetus of a deliberately limited OS to show that it was a really good idea.

I was working on a more detailed section about how Apple treats iOS devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) mostly as peripherals, but as usual, Gruber beat me to it, and probably said it better than I could have.