iPad Air (the Good and the Bad)

As of this writing, I've been using my iPad Air for a couple of weeks; this is my first iPad ever, and I'm ready to write my (unasked for) first impressions. Instead of delivering a long boring article about my experience — why would you care? — I came up with list. Because you like lists. We all do. Also, I'm lazy. As usual, I'm going to write things as they come to my mind, therefore you won't find any of the usual reviewish stuff.

As a sidenote: I wrote this piece on the iPad itself, and the photos embedded below have been imported and edited on the iPad too. No Macs were harmed during the writing of this article.

Let's begin.

The Good

I'm having fun with this thing, let's see how.

  • Being a long-time iOS user, after a few days with this new device, it already felt like I've been using it for years. This is what you would expect from an iOS powered device, yeah, but still it's worth mentioning.
  • I love iOS monotasking even more now. I focus on whatever I'm doing because whatever it is, it fills the screen.
  • Everything is almost instantaneous. This thing is and feels powerful.
  • Writing and reading on iPad are a real pleasure as they say. I have no problem typing with the on-screen keyboard, especially in portrait mode, but I have to say that I do most of the 'serious' writing with my Apple Wireless Keyboard anyway — when I use it, the virtual keyboard disappears leaving more room for the content, and there's nothing like a high quality physical keyboard to write long stuff. I'm using an Origami Workstation to take my Wireless Keyboard with me wherever I go. It's a great iPad stand because while the keyboard is attached to it, the iPad is free to move. I often like to switch from landscape to portrait, and if I need to surf the web or watch a video, I just take it out the Origami, and put it back in if I need to type something.
  • Related: Right now my go-to writing app is Editorial. It's just perfect in every possible way. I know it looks like an app for people who enjoy making complicated workflows and scripts and like coding stuff, but it's actually a great app for everyone who writes anything. The user experience is fantastic. Anyhow, I've made a couple of workflows too: one is to quickly switch between two documents, the other one creates markdown links in a blast; I'm also using this one when screenwriting to preview my screeplay. Bear in mind that workflows can be triggered by tapping on a button, it's that easy. On a side note: I'd love to assign keyboard shortcuts to workflows, but I honestly don't even know if that's allowed by Apple.
  • This is the perfect video consumption device. My MacBook Pro has quickly become a media center, streaming TV shows and movies to my iPad thanks to AirVideo HD. If I want to download something, I just log in to uTorrent Remote (you need to configure it first in uTorrent's preferences) and feed it a delicious Magnet link. If for some reason uTorrent Remote is not responding, I make sure everything's ok on my Mac without leaving my couch, logging in remotely using the free version of LogMeIn.
  • Related: To have slightly better sound than the iPad speakers one, I'm using a very cheap Bluetootsh speaker you can find on Amazon (Italy). If your priorities are low price and loud volume, buy it, otherwise look for something more expensive.
  • Drawing on an iPad is actually great, but it's unique and has its own learning curve. Moreover, different apps requires differents skills and drawing styles. For most of us, Paper is the way to go. If you're looking for something more advanced, I think Procreate may be the best choice. Both apps have pixel perfect UIs and great UXs.
  • Related: I bought a Bamboo Stylus Solo after reading all the praise it received, first of all from The Wirecutter. It works great in my opinion, but you won't use it for anything other that drawing. Don't expect to take notes with it. You can sign or make some stylish big words, but if you need to write something longer, grab a real pen and Moleskine.
  • Watching photos with this wonderful Retina screen is very nice, and editing them it's even nicer. Of course you woudn't EVER take photos with an iPad, WOULD YOU? That's why I'm using this adapter to load photos and videos from my Canon 600D and edit them on my iPad. The best app to edit RAW photos is PhotoGene. The fact that I'm able to load and watch videos shot with my DSLR really surprised me, since I read that there wasn't any compatibility. Maybe it's because I installed MagicLantern on the camera, I don't really know but it's great.
  • The size and weight of this device are great for every possible scenario, and I wouldn’t even consider buying an iPad mini, but that’s just me.

Before moving on, here’s a photo I took before buying the Origami Workstation (I was using a homemade stand made by me).

iPad Air

The Bad

You'd better read what follows with dramatic music playing in background.

  • When I'm watching a movie or television show, I don't want see any notifications. It's not enough to silent them via the mute button. I wish there was a quick and easy way to completely hide notifications. Update: I feel like an old man, since I didn’t know that now Do not disturb allows you to hide notifications even when the screen is unlocked. Thanks Twitter.
  • Multitasking is so limited that it makes a very powerful device like this seem dated and toyish. Example: I'm watching a YouTube video and I want to quickly check how my torrents are doing; I switch to Safari to check my uTorrent Remote tab and two things happen: the playback stops, and the tab is not even open anymore; Safari has to load everything back, sometimes requiring a login. iOS could definitely do better than that.
  • Crashes. Safari crashes A LOT. The Springboard crashes. And too many times (at least 6 or 7 just today) everything freezes and I have to restart the device. When I'm working, this is no fun at all. Just a few minutes ago the screen turned black and the white Apple logo appeared. Go to hell white Apple logo.
  • iOS, after seven major releases, is still not meant to be used with an external keyboard properly; I can't Cmd+Tab to switch between apps, I can't Cmd+Enter things and so on. Since Apple is doing everything to make people believe that this is the future of computing, I really can't make any sense of this.
  • Web navigation has a major flaw for me. No Flash Player! Just kidding. What bothers me is the fact that tabs don't stay open, as I mentioned before, and since I'm used to leave tabs open all the time on my Mac, this is driving me nuts.
  • Some games are a bit sluggish. When I receive a notification while playing Clumsy Ninja, the framerate of the game goes down in a very unpleasant way, while on the iPhone it goes on just fine. I guess this is due to the iPad screen resolution and I'm fine with it, since I prefer playing it on my iPhone anyway.

As you can see, the bad is not that bad after all, but I know it could easily be better and that’s what bothers me a little.

Other toughts

Some random stuff.

  • 16 GB are not enough. My mistake, yeah. I thought that now that we live in the cloud blah blah blah but actually, on a powerful divice like this, you're probably going to need more space that you thought.
  • I've started watching Scandal. The first season is very entertaing, but some characters’ storylines are totally made just to advance the main plot in certain ways, and some scenes are way more inspired and well made than others. It's a good show, but sometimes it feels like a second rate The Good Wife.
  • Almost nobody will get this far in the article, so I can say pretty much whatever I want. Game of Thrones sucks. Now let's see how that goes.
  • One more thing. Before buying an iPad, or any other tech toy, make sure to think it through; don't let subliminal advertisement affect your choices. Make the right choice, you don't need to have it now.

iPad Air bokeh

That was one last photo to wrap this up. I took it my sweet 50mm – see that bokeh? I guess that's all folks, I'll see you on Twitter.

Scritto da il 14/12/2013 in Best of Feelmaking, English, Tecnologia.