Saturday, April 3, 2010

8:30 AM – Waiting in line outside the Hillsdale Apple Store, lots of anticipation, good energy level, free donuts. The line is not as long as I thought it might be. They are very efficient at getting people through the line once the store opens and I am walking out the door, iPad and a case in hand, by about 9:20.

9:30 AM – Time for the un-boxing. Always a delight with Apple products. This one, however, falls a little flat. Not as interesting as opening an iPhone. No cleaning cloth, no headphones, just the iPad, a cable and a power adapter.

The documentation is incredibly thin, including a few pages of text and a quick reference card.

iPad Docs

iPad Documentation is very light.

The iPad is already 80% charged, so I can get going right away, but only after syncing it with iTunes on my laptop (argh, why?).

Once synced, I begin playing around. I start by setting up mail and installing a few apps like Twitterriffic and the New York Times. The UI is responsive and smooth as silk.

10:30 AM – Okay, I’ve held this thing in its naked state long enough. Time to slip it into the official Apple case lest I drop it or scratch the shiny Apple logo on the back.

At first I was a little angry about the $39 price tag, but as soon as I’m holding the iPad in the case I’m glad I bought one. It folds into multiple different arrangements, allowing you to prop it up at an angle for use on a table or in your lap (so you don’t have to cross your legs all the time). It can also act as a stand for viewing video or slideshows on any flat surface. Lastly, it’s rubberized, so it stays where you put it, even when typing or when it’s sitting on the passenger seat of your car.

iPad Case

iPad Case

11:30 AM – Okay, I’ve been playing around for a couple hours now. It’s time to take my daughter to fencing class, so this is a good opportunity to try the iPad in the wild. Of course, there’s no WiFi at the rec center and I haven’t downloaded many apps, so this thing is essentially a brick (or a door stop when the $40 case is arranged correctly). Panic begins to set in. Should I have gotten 3G? Too early to tell, but at the least I should have downloaded a few more apps, maybe a book, to keep me busy sans WiFi.

1:00 PM – Lunchtime. The kids and I head to a local restaurant, but before we leave home I install Checkers World (free!) so that we can entertain ourselves while we wait for food. The checkers app works like a real checkers board. We play checkers across the table from each other and I get the sense that this is a great device for sharing. The kids love it.

Checkers World is a great example of two user UI

1:30 – 6:30 PM – Holy crap. It’s 6:30?!?

I’ve spent most of the day tweeting and installing apps (over 20 of them by this time). I’m starting to hate the way iTunes takes you back to the home screen after each install. I just want to install a bunch of apps without returning to the home screen.

I’m finding that many apps I install look nice (or at least interesting) on first use, but the simpler apps are more engaging and enjoyable. For example, Twitteriffic versus TweetDeck. When I first tried Twitteriffic I thought, “is that all there is”? They have taken the Apple Mail model and applied it, quite literally, to the Twitter feed. It’s simple, clean and intuitive, but is it too simple?

Twitteriffic for iPad

Twitteriffic for iPad uses the standard 2-panel layout.

TweetDeck, on the other hand, looked impressive with it’s multiple columns of tweets and a viewing panel on top. It seemed like they were making the most of the additional space on the iPad screen.

Tweetdeck for iPad

Tweetdeck uses an unusual screen layout.

However, after using both apps multiple times, I found myself returning to Twitteriffic. Its simple and intuitive interface was just more enjoyable to use than the more complex TweetDeck. I have a feeling that a lot of app developers will be drawn to more complex UIs with the additional space, but that few will really be able to pull this off well.

Okay, gotta eat some dinner.

7:30 PM – Dinner is over and I’ve been consumed by the iPad all day. I realize I’d better do some dishes or my wife is going to kill me. Does that mean I need to stop staring at my iPad? Hell no! I turn it into a TV for the kitchen using the Apple case that doubles as a stand! The ABC app lets me watch the latest Jamie Oliver episode while doing the dishes. Image quality is great, but the app is buggy. I suspect ABC and many other app developers were in a bit of a rush.I’m sure a patch will come along soon.

9:30 PM – Bedtime for the girls. I read the first chapter of Winnie the Pooh to my 5 year old, courtesy of iBooks. I let her turn the pages and she is delighted.

iBooks Winnie the Pooh

iBooks Winnie the Pooh

10:00 PM – I start reading a sample of The Paradox of Choice from both the Kindle app and iBooks. I go back and forth, trying to decide whether Kindle or iBooks is better. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. The Kindle has more book titles available and you can take notes. iBooks looks much prettier.

The irony of doing this comparison with The Paradox of Choice as my sample is not lost on me.

10:30 PM – Time to try Netflix! I pull up a movie and start watching. The app looks to be browser -based with an HTML5 video player wrapped in an app. The video quality looks great and never stutters.

11:30 PM – Seriously, I have to go to bed. I put the iPad on the charger and hit the hay.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

7:30 AM – I get up and unplug the iPad. I need my coffee, but before getting that started, let me check Twitter…

8:30 AM – Still haven’t made my coffee and now my wife is up. The first thing she sees is me staring into the iPad, mouth gaping open, as I read Don Norman’s post on NUIs. “I wonder if it’s going to rain today,” she asks. “Let me check…” I say, as I launch WeatherBug.

To say that the iPad is immersive is an understatement. I only hope that over the next day or two I will find a reasonable iPad / life balance or my family is going to disown me.