Category Archives: Opinion

5 Things I Hate About My iPad

No device is perfect, and as enamored as I am with my iPad, there are times when I want to chuck it out the nearest window. Here are five things I hate about my iPad:

  1. The Touchscreen Keyboard.
  2. It makes me feel like an inarticulate chimp when I try to express my thoughts using its arbitrary sensitivity. Usually the autocorrect steps in, but that creates a whole host of new issues for me. When it corrects something I’ve legitimately mistyped (due to my fat fingers), it feels like it’s patronizing me, and when it gives a suggestion for something I’ve typed correctly because it thinks I must mean a different word, it feels like it’s censoring me. Either way, there’s no way I’d be able to produce content at a decent speed without my bluetooth keyboard, at least not without going through several window-chucked iPads.

    iPad with Shattered Screen
    For sale, one iPad, slightly window-chucked. (Creative Commons Image by iRepairUAE)
  3. The Home Button is Prone to Accidents.
  4. Especially while gaming. It’s a vicious cycle, really: I get so focused on blowing up enemy fighters in Galaxy on Fire 2 or exacting my revenge in Grand Theft Auto 3 that I forget the Home button is even there until suddenly I’m staring at the app screen screaming, “NNNOOOOOOOOO!” in the middle of Starbucks and everyone’s staring at me for some reason. While the game stays in memory and always picks up exactly where it left off when I re-launch it right away, it takes me out of the moment and spoils a perfectly good experience. Considering how many games are best played in Landscape mode, there really has to be a better place for the home button than right where my thumb naturally goes. And speaking of gaming . . .

  5. The Absence of a Universal Bluetooth Game Controller.
  6. While there have been several promising advances, there is still no one controller that works for every game. This is a problem, not only because of the Home button problem mentioned above, but because Touchscreen controls are unimmersive because they have no physical feedback. With a controller, you can feel the push of the button, and steer with a small joystick, even feel the rumble of a hit. While there are some workaround hardware solutions, they don’t really compare to the comfort and immersion that you can get from a physical, XBox-like controller, not to mention the questionable ergonomics of gripping a two-pound tablet.

  7. No USB slots.
  8. This isn’t really a huge complaint for me since I have a habit of syncing my iPad with any files I need from home before I head out for the day. But it speaks to a perceived arrogance on the part of Apple that their portable device doesn’t play nice with other commonly-used portable devices. Even one jump drive slot would be enough, I would think, and if the designers are really concerned that it will mess up the aesthetics, they can always use a cover that’s similar to those on smartphones and digital cameras. Maybe some day we’ll live in a perfect world where everything is wirelessly connected and no one ever needs to use any kind of physical media, but we’re not there yet.

  9. Mobile Sites.
  10. I have kind of a love/hate relationships with “Mobile Sites,” where I completely adore the ones that work well (like Zoho Mail, which I use to host my email account), and want to kill with fire the sites that look terrible, are unintuitive, and basically useless (I’m looking right at you, Google+). Unfortunately, most Mobile sites fit into the latter category, and so my online experience is sometimes hampered by poor design, lack of accessible content, and thrown-together interactivity. While Chrome has a handy option under the menu called “Request Desktop Site,” it seems to only work on a page-by-page basis, and as soon as I navigate to another page on the site I have to request the desktop site again, which sometimes leads me back to the homepage and ALL I WANT TO DO IS LINK TO THIS FUNNY ARTICLE ABOUT NAPOLEON BONAPARTES’ OBSESSION WITH COIN-COLLECTING WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LIVE?!

Still the one

At the end of the day, the iPad is still my preferred device and platform for maximum produtivity. It works great, keeps me focused, and is fun to use, which makes it perfect for me. If you have some iPad frustrations of your own, send me an email: editor[at]iPad4Life.net and maybe I’ll find a solution in a future post.

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iPad5: Four New Features I Want

A Better iPad

With the Worldwide Developers Conference still underway, iPad enthusiasts like me are hoping they’ll unveil the 5th Generation iPad, but they almost certainly won’t.

So while we wait, here are Four features I would like to see in the new iPad5, in order of preference:

  1. More RAM

  2. The iPad4 is incredibly fast considering its relatively paltry 1GB of RAM. It’s a testament to good software design what some games and high-end image editing programs are able to do with such limited resources and they should be commended for their constraint and programming discipline. But enough is enough – give us another gig or two!
    Just imagine the iPad with 4GB of RAM. It wouldn’t just be fast – it would fly! And couple that with the already-impressive Quad Core Graphics in the processor, you’d have a lean, mean, gaming-and-professional-quality-visual-editing machine! No more would budding visual artists, photographers and video editors have to incorporate a “real computer” into their pipeline. It could all be done on an iPad.
    And Gaming? Forget about it. The iPad already has an impressive lineup of games, but this would put it well over the top. You think the recent release of Knights of the Old Republic was a big deal? Wait until you see the iPad version of Crysis3 or Aion. With mention of Gaming comes the inevitable mention of . . .

  3. Gamepad Compatibility

  4. Steve Jobs’s vision for the iPad was an all-inclusive device that didn’t need anything added to it. It’s a great thought, but it means that the iPad has continually been something of a letdown when it comes to supporting third-party hardware. It is time to change the philosophy to something more like, “the average user won’t need anything besides their iPad, but we want to make the device practical for everyone including specialists and enthusiasts.”
    In short, Apple should either make a universal gamepad for the iPad (iGamepad? iController? iPwn?) or at least write compatibility with existing generic devices into iOS. And speaking of iOS . . .

  5. A Better File Management System

  6. I am currently trying out a certain 3D Modeling App to review on this site (stay tuned, modelers!). This particular App can import a certain filetype, but because of iOS’s restrictions and because there is no way (that I can find) to save a file that the iPad can’t attribute to a certain app, I have to transfer the files from my desktop like a sucker. What happened to the all-inclusiveness?
    While file systems can end up being just as disorganized and messy as their owners, I don’t think it would be that difficult to write one in, at least for downloaded files. If they like, it can even make “clean-up recommendations” once in a while, or have a limit on the file size. I think this would do a lot to attract more Windows Users like myself, since they’re used to seeing all their files in a list or as icons. We shouldn’t have to use third-party apps for this – it should be built in.

  7. More Compatibility With Desktop-Quality Apps

  8. You know what I would like to do? Put CS6 on my iPad so that I can use Photoshop or Illustrator on-the-go rather than wasting precious time doing it at home when I could be playing with my children. This would require something along the lines of item #1 actually happening, but I believe this step would be a significant nail in the coffin of traditional, stationary, mouse-based computing and would add yet another layer of deeper, more significant user interaction to an already very user-friendly and handy device.

So will we see improvements like some of these in the next iPad? From what I’ve been hearing, probably not. It seems that Apple is still focused on making it lighter and giving it a slim bezel facelift likely similar to its little brother. Not necessarily bad changes, but still not the leap that some of us are waiting for.

Google Drive App Review

The Free, Cloud-based Office Suite

Google Drive was my primary word processing tool when I was using my laptop. The all-inclusive, browser-based application was so useful that it left Microsoft Office in the dust. Google Drive, then called Google Docs, restored my faith in free software, and allowed me to finally stop carrying around that pesky jump drive.

So how does the App compare to the regular browser-based version? Short answer, not well.

The Good

Proficient Google Drive users will feel right at home with the minimalistic interface, which is easy to navigate and organize. All of my files synced up without a problem, and I especially like the ability to save documents and spreadsheets offline and be able to edit them regardless of WiFi availability. Just make sure you select the “Make Available Offline” option while you have an internet connection.

The Google Drive App Interface

The App truly preserves the feel of the original Google Drive.

Documents have all of the same writing, editing, and formatting options that you’d find in the original, and while the interface is a bit more nested in the App, it’s nested intuitively, and all the options are easy to find.

The Spreadsheets are a little less evolved and are a LOT slower and therefore more frustrating to edit than Documents, but you can edit them, so that’s good. But if you need to zoom in (which you probably will because of how tiny the Spreadsheets can get), you will experience some lag in the App. Just take your patience pills beforehand and you’ll be fine.

A Sample Google Drive Spreadsheet

Just typing this took about 5 minutes, what with the column resizing and all.

With Documents and Spreadsheets, you basically have the same functionality as the original Google Drive, with a little bit of lag sprinkled mostly on the Spreadsheets. Lag is bad, but overall functionality is good.

The Bad

Presentations and Drawings are read-only, and the App has no way to edit them at all. To be fair, it does give a lot of sharing options for both, from PDF to JPG, but still – no way to create or edit Presentations or Drawings. This is a big minus, since I do throw together the occasional presentation or want to make a quick sketch in a Document.

Also, while you can edit Spreadsheets, I have no idea why you would choose this App for that function. Resizing the columns (which is a pretty frequent task) is like playing Operation: the resizing control is so small that my fat sausage fingers literally never grab it on the first try.

As I’ve already mentioned, this App is also a little temperamental and can occasionally be a little slow to respond. This is more frequent in the Spreadsheets than the Documents, but it is a problem nonetheless. How much RAM can these functions really need? The original version is browser-based for goodness’ sake!

Summing Up

Big-time positive points for offline editing and collaboration, big time negative points for general slowness and especially for the lack of support for Presentation and Drawing support. Here are the stars:

User-Friendliness: 4
Functionality: 3
Aesthetics: 5
Performance: 3.5
Honesty: 5

Overall: 3.75 Stars!

3.75 Stars!

Closing Advice For Google

Take a page from Evernote and specialize Drive’s capabilities. Make an App for Google Documents, Google Spreadsheets, Google Presentations, and Google Drawing and link them to one another. That way, you’ll get maximum functionality and usability, while also giving your users a more stable and pleasant overall experience, which is after all, what iPad users especially are looking for.

Standard Review Disclaimer
All of my reviews are done on the 4th Generation iPad that is about five months old. I can’t vouch for the functionality of something on an iPhone, an iPad Mini, an iPod Touch, older generation iPad, or a steam-powered spaceship. If you agree or disagree with any particular rating, please feel free to leave a well-reasoned comment, or send me an email: editor[at]iPad4Life.net . Thank you for reading!