My iPad Experience

So after talking about how tablets are a game changing technology, I finally made the plunge. It was a toss up between an Android tablet like the upcoming Samsung models, and an iPad2. There are pros and cons to each – but in the end either would be a good choice. 

I’ve had the ipad2 for about a week now, and in many ways it truly is magical. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its frustrations – the biggest of which is how Apple designs it to depend on iTunes to share content. I’m not the only one to dislike iTunes – a lot of time and effort is put into creating apps that avoid its use. 

I started off with the easy stuff. Reading newspapers for example on the pressreader app. I have actually cancelled my home delivery of the dead-tree version. Wired magazine has just announced that one can get its ipad version for free if you already have a traditional subscription. Reading those on the ipad is a superior experience to paper.

Flipboard is an excellent way to view things like twitter feeds and Google reader feeds.

But I didn’t get it just for that. My plan is to use it like a laptop outside of my office, taking it to meetings, and using it for note taking.

Dragon dictate works amazingly well, and you can simply email the result to yourself.

I have the wifi only version, with a plan to tether it to an Android phone once I get far enough into my current cell plan later this summer that I can replace my phone. (Unless Rogers is reading this and offers to let me upgrade early at a reasonable price.)

Since we are a Microsoft shop, like most law firms, one needs apps that can deal with Office documents, and handle file movement to and from the desktop so they can be dealt with within typical document management procedures. Dropbox is the tool that most use to synch files, but I’d like to try Microsoft Skydrive instead. That’s in part because of the recent issues with Dropbox about their ability to decrypt, and the challenges of using ones’ own encryption in an iPad/Dropbox/PC environment.

For privacy and confidentiality reasons, I don’t think its wise to keep a lot of sensitive information on a portable device, so the easy ability to move documents in and out is important.

In a future post I’ll comment on my eventual solution.

And for those wondering, yes, I did download Angry Birds, and it is addictive.

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Comments

  1. David Cheifetz

    get the Hasboro scrabble game. It’s only drawback is that the programmer seem to have taken some liberty (in both the UK and English dictionary of qualifyin words) with words that qualify.

    The programmer realized there’s no point in having a challenge function when one is playing the programme and the programme is consulting built in dictionary for valid words. (g)

    David

  2. David,

    Reposting with website references which seem to have lost in my original post.

    There are ways to cut the cord to iTunes for syncing content.

    For PDF reading, check out ReaddleDocs (see http://readdle.com/ or the app store for details). You can enable a feature called Wi-Fi Drive and map the location at which your PDFs are stored on your iPad as a drive on your computer. Moving a PDF to your iPad is then drag and drop. ReaddleDocs will also read RTF formatted word processing documents and some image formats.

    To get some editing capability for Microsoft Office documents, check out DocsToGo (see http://www.dataviz.com/ for details). This will give you editing capabilities for Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. A desktop app from Dataviz sets up wireless synching – again it’s drag and drop.

  3. David,

    I share your concerns about carrying sensitive information on portable devices, but as I read the profession’s ethical obligations, password protecting a device with sensitive information ought to pass muster. In that sense, carrying around client information on a portable device is no more risky than carrying the same information in paper form. I suggest that locking your papers in a brief case is approximately the same as storing digital documents with password protection.

    On the iPad, strong passwords can be set by turning on the “require passcode” feature and turning off the “simple passcode”. This will enable you to set a conventional strong password. ReaddleDocs can be protected with its own password (I’ve tested passwords of up to 8 characters). Until this password is entered, no document can be viewed.

  4. I’ve had my iPad2 for almost a month now, and it goes everywhere I go. Although iTunes took some getting used to, I’ve circumvented it by populating my library with materials obtained elsewhere.

    I’m also using my iPad as a laptop replacement and I’ve found that the wireless external keyboard is becoming an essential accessory.

    A data plan on my iPad didn’t make sense so I do WiFi through my Android cell on an unlimited phone data plan.

  5. Thanks, David. Interesting post.

    As I wrote a few months ago (From Blackberry to Android), I made the jump from RIM’s platform to Android and I haven’t looked back. So when I was in the market for a tablet, I skipped over both the Playbook and the iPad and went for Android. Part of the reason was that I wanted to have the same apps on both my phone and my tablet. Also, I hate iTunes and am not a fan of closed platforms. I’ve had the Motorola Xoom for few weeks now. I bought it at Costco in the states, since they have a 90 day return policy and I wanted to be sure I could justify it for work and not just as a cool toy. Within two days, I was sure it wasn’t going to be returned.

    It’s great. The screen is larger and higher resolution than the iPad 2. It’s slightly heavier, but I didn’t have the patience to hold out a couple of weeks for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 (which is about the same depth and weight as the iPad 2).

    My office Exchange-based e-mail is flawless with Touchdown, I can read and edit documents very easily and I can log into my office computer using PocketCloud. (It also works on my phone; if you’ve paid for an app once, you get it on all your Android devices.)

    Unlike the iPad, there are widgets galore and I can switch keyboards in an instant. As for getting documents on and off it, I can e-mail them to myself, fling them into Dropbox or Google Docs, squirt them over with Bluetooth, or log into my network server and copy them over. Piece o’ cake. As for security, you can encrypt all of the storage system and I can remotely wipe it if it gets into the wrong hands.

    The model I have is WiFi only, which is not a problem because most everywhere I work has WiFi, or I can tether it to my phone if I’m out of WiFi range.

    The only possible knock against an Android tablet at this stage is that there aren’t as many tablet-specific apps in the market. All the apps I need are there and the number is growing daily. Remeber, this is the second generation of these devices and it’ll only get better.

  6. Your experience with the iPad generally mirrors mine, albeit I have the first generation iPad. However, I can’t agree with David Fraser regarding the clear benefit of Xoom over iPad. In my experience, most of the features he describes are also available on the iPad.

    – iTunes is a pain, but, it can be fairly easily bypassed for most functions. For example, I never use it for document transfer.

    – Exchange email integration is generally flawless, with the only key missing feature is the ability to flag emails. However, as of November, 2010, that feature was also lacking in BBOS 5.0, allowing only local flags (on the device). It’s great if this has been fixed now, allowing synching of flags with Exchange. iOS is promising flags in 5.0 release, but no word yet on whether they’ll sync with exchange.

    – I am not sure what is meant by “switching keyboard”, but the iPad also allows you to very easily (one or two taps) switch keyboards between different languages. For example, I have two keyboards and it takes a single tap to switch from Russian to English and back.

    – Most iPad document-related apps also allow synching with DropBox and Google Docs, as well as other online storage services. GoodReader is particularly good at that and even supports synchronization, on a per-document or per-folder basis. Bluetooth document transfer seems to be lacking (although I haven’t looked for it yet).

    – There are also many ways to transfer docs to a network server. These features are either built into document apps (again, see GoodReader) or available as third party apps. For example, I use a Synology DiskStation at home, and it comes with a free app that allows you to access files on the device from the iPad or iPhone.

    – iPad also comes with an encrypted file system that keeps the files encrypted if the device is unlocked. AFAIK the encryption is done in hardware. The device can be remotely wiped and can be set to wipe itself if too many attempts to unlock it are made.

    My biggest complaint about the iPad so far is that document editing leaves much to be desired, particularly when it comes to keyboard support. Until now, the best app has been Docs2Go, which had decent wireless keyboard support (shortcut keys), but was buggy and very inferior to using Word. Apple has now released updated versions of its iWork suite apps (Pages, Numbers, etc.), and I have heard that the are much improved. I have not tried them yet.

    For PDFs, I highly recommend GoodReader. It allows you to view and fully annotate PDFs, it supports and file-level access controls, and it allows synching with all major online storage services. And it’s dirt cheap.