iPad: my first impressions

I was fortunately able to borrow an iPad from Code in the first week of release. I was surprised by how futuristic and special it feels, purely based on its’ aesthetic appeal. When I sat down in front of the television it reinforced my view that this is going to have mass appeal for the most simple of reasons. It is so easy and enjoyable to sit back and check your emails, browsing the internet, reading and watching videos while lounging around. Laptops, normally used for this purpose, suddenly feel incredibly cumbersome and unnecessary. The ease of browsing while watching the television gives it great scope for being used in conjunction with TV programming to support audience interaction. It  could also put more impetus on TV advertising supporting e-commerce sites. I can see it being much easier to drive someone to a website to make a purchase based on viewing a TV ad, and this could influence who and how brands are currently advertising.

It could be down to the space dedicated to them but my impression was that the price point is much higher for apps than on the iPhone, and they are pushing the premium apps more strongly in the app store. They are more akin to considered software purchases rather than short-lived, disposable amusements. This offers brands a new medium for added value, innovative services. The limitations on multi tasking mean that viewing apps requires dedicated attention and this is of great value to brands.

Of the apps I viewed, the newspapers and blogs were the most impressive. I find the screen easy to read with imagery and videos looking the best I’ve seen. I can certainly understand why papers are considering this as a new revenue option through paid for subscriptions. I was also surprised at the quality and potential for the gaming industry. I must admit, I spent far too much of the short period I had with the device playing on the racing game Asphalt 5! The graphics were impressive and the controls for steering (physically moving the device from left to right like a steering wheel) puts it in competition with the Wii for this time of gaming experience. Think Mario Karts.

Typing is surprisingly easy. The onscreen keyboard is just large enough to allow for touch typing, giving the iPad scope for a business market as well as consumer. The app iWork offers access to Microsoft Office documents making it ideal for mobile working, instead of a laptop.

One last point is that I found some apps quite frustrating to use and can see why it has been criticised by some usability experts . There were times when I was waving it round pressing everything I could see to try to get something to change within an app or struggling to find any sense to the organisation of content (notably the Wired app). However, I’m sure these issues will be ironed out as we spend more time using the device and for at least the time being, I think it is best suited to displaying highly visual, exploratory content. Overall, I was impressed and although this is very much an early adopter market at the moment, there is vast potential in both business and consumer markets.

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Posted in UX

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