Apple iPad – Don’t Expect Everything to Magically Just Work

I finally am getting around to this post now that I have been working extensively with my Apple iPad since its release. Yes, it is a very productive tool when targetted at specific work tasks and processes. The iPad’s mobility and simplicity give it an edge in many situations where a PC or Mac Book could certainly do the job, but their overhead is an obstacle.

Having said that, my iPad has disappointed me in many instances, none of them show-stoppers, but certainly aggravating enough to spoil the “it just works” aura of the device. I have highlighted some of my frustrations:

1) Natively, there are limitations to document handling and manipulation within applications. Some of these are attributed to data network imposed limitations, some are application limitations. The screen shot above says: “This file is too large – This file can not be viewed on your iPad because it is over 30MB.” The file in question is resident on my iDisk, another Apple application and is 31.2 MB in size. Call me old fashioned, but 31.2 MB in today’s world of graphics intensive, high resolution documents is not too big. I don’t want to debate whether this is a bug in the application or an imposition of a limit of a data network; not being able to simply open a 31 MB PDF ruins the experience of things just working. Author note: The PDF opens file in Goodreader, but not in iDisk, so it is an application limitation.

2) By design, there is limited ability to exchange documents or content between applications. The iPad’s design forces each application to effectively stand alone. This simplification insures that bad things within one application do not spill over to another application. Effectively, each application functions within its own sandbox and manages everything associated with that application within its sandbox. So, a “Pages” document exists within the “Pages” application and can only be moved to another application if the linkage has been created and works. This design has pros and cons – apps are effectively independent so they can be easily added, run and deleted without impacting the overall integrity of the total system. The big downside is that content is associated with and managed by the primary app it was created for or opened with. Unless there is a mechanism for moving the content out, it is captive to that application. Here, some analysis does need to be done to insure that content can be moved and shared across applications as needed to again insure a higher degree of productivity. Selections of new apps shoulkd include criteria for how well content can be moved in and out of an application.

3) Large downloads are forced to wifi. Although I have an unlimited data plan, its value and my productivity are impacted be limitations imposed on the size of downloads. My favorite example here was attempting to download an Apple video of a Steve Jobs presentation from iTunes, only to get a message that the video was too big to download over the data network and that I would have to switch to wifi to accomplish my task. So much for an unlimited data plan. Of course, I understand that moving too much data over too slow a connection doesn’t make sense, but in my case wifi was not an option at the time; I wanted to gain access to the Steve Jobs presentation while travelling and I was limited by iPad constraints. In this case, I needed to plan ahead since my spontaneous productive use of the device wasn’t allowed. Don’t expect everything to magically just work.

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