Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Snags with the iPad

I've had my iPad for over a year now, and although I like it a lot, there are quite a few things about it that I definitely do not like.

For starters, there is no File Manager. Now, I understand why Steve Jobs was keen to keep things very simple - good idea, and remove complications from the user - also desirable. But you can take things too far, especially when you are a perfectionist like Jobs.

Lets take a simple example. I used the Times app (when it was free), and it was super - a great way of browsing the paper. But - it kept all previous issues on the iPad. I looked for the files, so I could delete some. Not possible. Eventually I found that in 'Settings' there was one for the Times app, where you could set 'clear cache' - OK, but that deletes all previous issues. There is simply no way of deleting some, and keeping others. On a Windows laptop, this is trivial.

This kind of problem repeats all over - any transfer of files between one app and another is cumbersome at best, and impossible quite often.

Now for the browser. Well, its great to start with, very easy to use, and the zoom in/out is excellent, though the screen does rapidly get smeared, and have to be cleaned often. But then I find that a finger flick to scroll down or up can easily be mistaken for a click on a link, and then the browser dives off somewhere that I do not want it to go, and I have to go 'back' again. This happens too often, and I find it a real nuisance. And then, if you want to use more than one window, it is clumsy - simple, yes, but clumsy. It is far better to use a tabbed browser on a Windows machine, where moving between windows is a simple rapid mouse click, rather than having to watch the fancy zooming out and in of the limited number of windows in the iPad browser. And when you swap between windows, it always seems to reload the page, which is a real pain .

To be fair, I haven't bought the 'office' apps for the iPad - but I can't see using it to do things like cutting and pasting between browser windows and documents. I find the text selection, cut and paste to be again, clumsy. It looks cool, but its not actually that easy to use.

I know that some people are using the iPad, with a separate keyboard, instead of a laptop or notebook as a 'creation' device, rather than just a consumption one. Personally, I think this is being perverse. Its like trying to use a motorbike instead of a car; you might be able to do it, but its hard.

Keep the iPad for simple browsing, checking emails, listening to iPod, looking at photos and videos. Its good at that. But for more complex tasks, use a Windows machine or Mac. It makes sense.

I'm just adding another grumble - the photo app doesnt have nested directories. If you have lots of photos of one country say, like Australia - I have photos of each main city in separate directories on my laptop. iPad just dumps them all into one overlarge section. Not good. For goodness sake, multi level directories have been with small computers since Unix first appeared. Even I was young then.

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