Sunday, March 27, 2011

Me and my iPad, round 3 (oh, and I've made some jewelry, too)

Well, the iPad and I have reached a detente.

Here are the things I like about it:
  • its portability
  • the web browser (and everything else, duh) boots immediately, unlike my laptop
  • SplashID: a terrific app for securely storing passwords and other sensitive info. You can toggle between the browser and splashID whenever you need to look up or create a new password.
  • Netflix: the iPad is perfect for streaming video content
  • the games: great animation, resolution, graphics. But my left hand and wrist get sore from holding the iPad, because while it is light (though my case adds some weight and dimension to it) it isn't weightless. And I only have one hand free for game play. My case has a built-in stand, but it isn't the right angle, or I don't have the right height stand to set the whole unit on, in order to have it be at an accessible distance both for my eyes and my hands, so there you have it.
  • my calendar app: very handy (and portable) - and also serves as a To-do list. But this app has drawbacks - it takes far longer to make an entry of any sort than it does to jot in down in a day-planner.
  • readers: they are all terrific (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, etc) - well organized, back lit; just a pleasure for reading (but far heavier than a Kindle, and easy to inadvertently turn pages by touching the screen)
  • the native Notes app: great for quickly jotting down grocery items, reminders, etc
  • the photo album: I have finally loaded my entire jewelry portfolio onto the iPad. But this has drawbacks, too - you have to load all photos through iTunes on your laptop/PC, and it must do a full sync every time you want to add even one photo, and with 1850 photos and counting in the album, this takes a considerable amount of time (a full 30 minutes on my laptop to sync the photos).
In all honesty, most of my time on the iPad is spent playing games.

These are the features I find mediocre, and certainly NOT as functional as my laptop:
  • document handling: I looked at at a number of apps, and finally chose the pricey DocsToGo, because it supports .doc, .ppt, .xls, and .pdf (possibly more, but these are the big 4 for me). It also must be synced though iTunes IF you want your documents to be hard-stored on your iPad. If you are OK with them being out in the cloud, and therefore only accessible if you have WiFi access, then that is another way to go. But I needed the ability to read and modify certain docs at any time, so iTunes it is. At least with the document file transfer mode in iTunes, you can quickly just add docs one or 2 at a time, without having to do a full document sync each time. 

My biggest issue with documents on the iPad is the #&$^% iPad keyboard. As I said above, I really need to hold the iPad to keep it steady AND at the correct focal length for my vision, and at the right angle. The built-in stand in my iPad case is great for reading, but not for using the keyboard or the touchscreen - the pressure of my fingers knocks it right over. So when reduced to one hand to type with, on that crazy iPad touch-screen keypad, I am basically typing with one finger (can't retrain my right hand to do the whole Qwerty keyboard by itself), so it takes forever to do data entry anyway, and add to this the fact that my fingers (which are truly average size) hit the wrong keys fully half the time, so I have to type very very slowly, and make a lot of corrections. So I try to do all document writing/editing on my laptop, and save the iPad document app for reading only. Not as efficient, but that's my solution.
  • Zite: I am crazy about the idea of this customizable, intuitive news app. But I have to rate it as mediocre, because of the scrolling issues mentioned above - every touch of the finger opens something I didn't want to open. And even more annoying, the articles are often abridged articles from the web, and usually contain hyperlinks, and in order to access the links or the additional content, after clicking on the link, you get a pop-up asking if you want to open the content in Safari. This really seems like an annoying, duh feature to me - admittedly, Safari is the only browser I have on my iPad (does Zite know this?) - so of course, I want to open the link in Safari. Why do I have to click yes every damn time? Just open the link, please.  And since Zite seems to be a mini-search engine of sorts, much of the content in the individual sections is repetitive (for instance, Star Trek is a module I have added to my Zite, and while it has great content, this week it has had article after article from various sources wishing Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner a happy (80th!) birthday. So, happy, happy birthday Kirk and Spock.

Here are the features I try to avoid at all costs, and reserve for when I can be on the laptop
  • web browsing: This is simply a comedy of errors on the iPad. I use the native Safari browser, but doubt any other browser would be different. And the same issues exist with many specialty web apps: The webpages are too small to be seen on the iPad, so you have to pinch to enlarge, and then scroll around endlessly, as each finger swipe sends you farther than you wanted to go. And in so many apps and webpages, so much of the content is clickable that if you touch the screen at all to try to slow down the scrolling or just to scroll a bit further, you are likely to accidentally click a hyperlink, and off you go...  And oddly enough, one of the worst apps for this accidental hyperlinking is AppAdvice, the iPad app guru - I can't scroll anywhere in that app without clicking into an article I didn't want to open. And if you touch anywhere near the bottom of the screen, you will likely be taken (inadvertently) to another section of the app
  • e-mail: takes forever to read in the iPad - for the same reasons as the web-browsing. And to try to reply to e-mails from the iPad? Same issues with the keypad. Not a time-saver at all
  • anything involving more than a few taps of the keyboard.
And here are features I personally find no use for, at least not yet:
  • iPod: Yes, I've loaded my tunes onto the iPad. But there are far better options for listening to music in the situations I find myself wanting to listen to music. Would have to have headphones for listening to iPad tunes at a doctor's office, or on a plane; and I have a stereo iPod doc at home and at work, which provide better sound quality.
  • GPS: I have one in my car, and really don't see how the apps that offer GPS/traffic info on the iPad would work without active WiFi access. Which one doesn't usually have while driving.

I've probably left some stuff out, but that is certainly most of it. So while I like my iPad, I can't say I love it, and I'd be fine without it. But we are peacefully coexisting.

Here are a couple of things I made this week: I beaded around a gorgeous raku cabochon, and forged and enameled a copper palmetto tree pendant (a custom order). I am still working on some ideas of how to creatively design a necklace to support the beaded pendant.