Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The Joys of the iPad

I don't know why I ever hesitated before getting an iPad; I suppose it was its superficial resemblance to my iPhone. But a friend showed me the iBook reader on hers at - appropriately enough - the Antiquarian Book Fair, surrounded by illuminated manuscripts - and I could immediately see that it was a completely different experience from even a very clever and versatile mobile phone.

I love reading books and magazines on it (my son suggested Popular Science, which is brilliant); and I read The Big Short by Michael Lewis on the plane to Japan and it was a joy. What's more the battery barely blinked. My only disappointment at the moment is the selection of books in the iBooks store. Mostly new stuff. And even then I tried to find the Life of Isaiah Berlin by Michael Ignatieff, but it's nowhere to be seen. I had better luck with the Kindle for iPad as it grabs stuff from Amazon. And there are a number of amazing free apps that give you access to hundreds of old classic books, so there are compensations - and anyway the publishing world will soon catch up.

Actually, the thing that I didn't anticipate is the sense of ease and freedom that come from not having to muck around with a mouse and keyboard. The keyboard on the iPad is pretty good, and as I'm such a poor typist the auto-correct function actually makes it faster for me to type on it than on a laptop. And no mouse - well it's like using keyboard shortcuts, only with added functions that are completely intuitive.

The Advantages of the iPad

1. You can read it on summer evenings without turning on the lights
2. The absence of a mouse and the ability to touch and manipulate the screen gives the iPad greater freedom and flexibility than a laptop. It's also easy to type fast as the auto-correct is so efficient.
3. The Apple case makes it much easier to use; held like a book, or propped up for easier typing.
4. You can chuck it onto the sofa when you have finished using it for someone else to pick up. It's far easier than lugging your laptop around.
5. You can stay with people: you don't have to go to your desk except for heavy-duty stuff like uploading photos or writing long screeds.
6. Its huge battery life means that you don't have to charge it up all the time.
7. Not only is it fantastic for book and newspapers, but with TV Catchup, you can watch live TV anywhere - even out in the garden in the evening.
8. No one know what you're reading or watching. If you want to watch Zombies v. Cannibals Part III you can. Everything can be done privately - as with a mobile phone.
9. It's perfect for looking at photos from Flickr and the other photo sites, though the absence of Flash means that you can't view a slideshow
10. It would be great for marketing visits - showing people catalogues, videos, photos and other stuff.
11. The 3G version would be best for 'out and about' work as wi-fi can't then be guaranteed, but it's a one-off cost and not that expensive.

Using the iPad in Marketing (Japan)
The Japan Times reports that the iPad has taken off far faster than the iPhone did (which is logical anyway) but that it's being snapped up by businesses who give it to favoured customers loaded with their website, catalogues, links and videos (I guess they would set up an app linking everything they wanted the customer to see of theirs - or send him an e-mail with the necessary links in - as of course the customer would have to set the thing up on his own via iTunes - or maybe they go round and help with the set up and just put in the appropriate links). Salespeople carry one around with catalogues, videos and links in to use in sales.

Shops are buying them to leave around (there's no risk of theft in Japan) so that people can find out more about their wares through eg a video or a FAQ - and of course just to look cool. Hotels and businesses are leaving them in reception for the same purpose - letting people pick up their web-based e-mail - and read their newsletter, or browse newspapers and magazines (having paid for access where necessary of course). No need to order lots of hard copies each day. Lawyers can pre-load all the relevant papers for use when clients come in for meetings (I would use something like iDisc or for this). Likewise execs are using them in meetings loaded with agendas and minutes and all sorts of company info. They are of course far easier to use and less obtrusive than laptops.