Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: iPad Impressions

360 Responses

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  • giovanni tiso,

    Presumably it won't stay that way forever. Otherwise seriously, if the future of books is being sold exclusively via iTunes, we're screwed.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Jimmy Southgate,

    it was getting the books that was difficult.

    And still is difficult in the NZ iTunes bookstore - there's only the free public domain titles.

    I suspect it will end up like the iTunes movies store & be a complete clusterf$%k of arbitrary - this one thing is available but this other thing isn't - type nonsense. But then i'm still fuming that I can't buy Mad Max from iTunes :-)

    Wellingtown • Since Nov 2006 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Can I humbly suggest we take a step back on this thing? Because if this device really is the future, it's the future of what? Is it going to enable people to do without having to buy an iPhone? A desktop computer? A laptop? Because if people are still going to need all of those things, then I think the future just got more expensive to the tune of around $500 a year, plus data charges.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • John Holley,

    Well here is my first post from my iPad (just arrived from Canada)

    I haven't installed apps yet as I need my credit card details which are at home :(

    But that being said, the email (exchange and Mac.com) experience is great!

    I am looking forward to leaving my laptop on my desk :) (one at home and one at work) and exploring this "tween" device.

    Happy Birthday Russell!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 142 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    The future doesn't have a keyboard. I am very disappointed in you, future!

    I think lack of keyboard on a machine is an indication about how we've failed to communicate properly with our machines. It's somewhat bizarre that we learn a special skill simply to convert our thoughts to letters on a computer when we can all talk fine. There was an uproar when macs didn't provide disk drives with iMacs as well.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    It's somewhat bizarre that we learn a special skill simply to convert our thoughts to letters on a computer when we can all talk fine.

    I'm not sure what you're saying there. Are you saying we should ditch keyboards and just speak into things? If I had a magic dictaphone that wrote down unfailingly what I say into it, I'd still rather have pen and paper (or pen and tablet, assuming equal ability to convert into perfect script) or, better, a keyboard. I can type faster than I can handwrite, and I can manipulate text on a page much better via a mouse and keys than I could giving my magic dictaphone verbal instructions. Besides, I'm still going to want to be able to do my writing silently.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Presumably it won't stay that way forever. Otherwise seriously, if the future of books is being sold exclusively via iTunes, we're screwed.

    There's already a Kindle app for iPad/iPhone, and I gather it's pretty good. There's nothing to stop anyone else getting in on it either, so long as Apple can clip the ticket on third-party sales.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Whereas if the Kindle made an app for my netbook or tablet PC, Microsoft wouldn't clip any ticket, right?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just experimenting with getting third-party video playing on the iPad.

    Oddly, the iPad does support .avi files out of the box (so long as they're compatible with the Motion JPEG standard) -- but the roadblock is iTunes for the Mac/PC, which won't recognise .avi or .mkv files.

    The easiest workaround is just to covert to MP4 using this and use iTunes to sync.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH,

    Presumably it won't stay that way forever. Otherwise seriously, if the future of books is being sold exclusively via iTunes, we're screwed.

    I hope and expect that it won't just be iTunes and there's already been movement from others. For whatever reason, no one seemed that interested in supplying books on tablets until the iPad. But I'm sure it was coming anyway as the Kindle et al gained popularity.

    Is it going to enable people to do without having to buy an iPhone? A desktop computer? A laptop? Because if people are still going to need all of those things, then I think the future just got more expensive to the tune of around $500 a year, plus data charges.

    I could imagine living with an iPad and a non-smart phone rather than an iPhone. But I won't as I don't plan on carting the iPad around with me that much. I could also live without my laptop because most of the time I'm home on my desktop machine anyway. But just as laptops have not replaced desktops, tablets won't replace laptops - they're complementary. So maybe the future has just got more expensive.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    My friend Matt spent a while interviewing those queuing in the rain for one of these on Friday. Interesting results:

    http://passthesource.org.nz/2010/07/23/waiting-in-the-rain/

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • John Russell,

    I mostly use the iPad for reading twitter, facebook, tumblr posts, my google reader RSS feed, and the usual magazine-style apps like BBC news, the Times editors choice, NPR, and now the NZ Herald. None of these things really needs much of a keyboard, although the onscreen one is fine for tweets and other relatively short bits of writing.

    You wouldn't use the thing for serious work involving typing- although it will talk to a bluetooth keyboard, so if you were stuck then it is an option - but it wouldn't be your first choice.

    Also ... stuff.co.nz, your web site is pretty okay in Safari, but a native iPad app, even one that just scrapes your site and presents that content in a nicer format, would make me happy.

    The Herald app is actually quite usable and easy on the eye, though I am pissed off that it pauses any tunes or podcasts that I'm listening to, just to play a "Whoosh" sound on the intro video, then doesn't bloody well unpause them again. I hope they fix that, because it's a small thing that causes big hate, and it's otherwise nice.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2008 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Whereas if the Kindle made an app for my netbook or tablet PC, Microsoft wouldn't clip any ticket, right?

    Actually, I had to download the Kindle app to check -- and I was wrong.

    I figured it would simply use the iTunes transaction engine, but you actually need to have an Amazon customer account. I'll let you know how that goes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    It seems when Apple releases new product that the line between 'yay, new toy to play with, it's really cool, and I want one' and 'the world is ending, and computing will never be the same' gets a bit blurred sometimes.

    We likes 'em, me precious, that is all.

    ETA: Things moving on here, so removed the mid drift.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If I had a magic dictaphone that wrote down unfailingly what I say into it, I'd still rather have pen and paper (or pen and tablet, assuming equal ability to convert into perfect script) or, better, a keyboard. I can type faster than I can handwrite, and I can manipulate text on a page much better via a mouse and keys than I could giving my magic dictaphone verbal instructions.

    Yes. But you can only type faster than you can handwrite (or indeed, possibly at all), because we're still using it as an interface to computers. It's a skill created because of an interface problem - converting thoughts to individual characters - in relation to typewriters/computers. It's the ongoing inability to create or use a more efficient interface that uses existing skills that ensures it continues.

    Tablets show the same problem with the computer mouse - it's an interface that we have because you couldn't manipulate the screen directly. Now that's no longer true in many cases.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Yes. But you can only type faster than you can handwrite (or indeed, possibly at all), because we're still using it as an interface to computers. It's a skill created because of an interface problem - converting thoughts to individual characters - in relation to typewriters/computers. It's the ongoing inability to create or use a more efficient interface that uses existing skills that ensures it continues.

    And what would that more efficient interface be? What's quicker than typing for writing?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    From the computers perspective, Morse code would be best (it's all 1s and 0s). For humans not so much.

    As an aside, the visually impaired person I know who bought one rates it better than other smartphones they have owned, using voiceover + touchscreen.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

  • Tony Siu,

    I don't need an iPad. I don't need an iPad. I don't need an iPad. I don't need an iPad.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 82 posts Report Reply

  • SteveH,

    And what would that more efficient interface be? What's quicker than typing for writing?

    Whatever it might be (and personally I've got no idea), it looks like speech recognition isn't going to be it. According to http://robertfortner.posterous.com/the-unrecognized-death-of-speech-recognition the accuracy of general speech recognition topped out at 80% in 2001 and hasn't improved since. Maybe someone will make a breakthrough, but right now it looks like it's a problem of similar difficulty to true AI (and may even be closely related). So I'm not holding my breath.

    Since Sep 2009 • 444 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I think we're forgetting how utterly perfect the technology of writing already is. The alphabet has been around for nigh on four thousand years (edit: make that five). It requires some form of inscription, and a pen or a typewriter are pretty hard to beat. We may improve on the latter somehow (although I'm similarly not holding my breath) but it will be by means of another technology simply because writing itself is a technology - and a digital one at that, as Ben would no doubt point out.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Kindle on iPad report:

    1. You can't actually buy within the Kindle app -- it sends you out to Amazon's not-so-optimised website.

    2. You'll need an Amazon account for the website.

    3. There are new books there. I bought The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest for $9.89 ($US, I presume).

    4. While the Amazon website is decidedly not multi-touch-friendly, it does work. It's a One-Click (TM) purchase, and the site automatically displayed "Russell Brown's iPad" as the destination for the purchased book, then returned me to the Kindle app, where the book loaded in what seemed like about 20 seconds (Kindle doesn't do pictures). Extraordinary.

    I presume Apple's getting some slice of the action here, given that iTunes is where you get the Kindle app, but I'm not quite sure how.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I figured it would simply use the iTunes transaction engine, but you actually need to have an Amazon customer account. I'll let you know how that goes.

    That sounds promising. I mean, if you happen to have bought a kindle with the same price structure of the real thing than that's a pretty big leap in value for the machine right there.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And what would that more efficient interface be? What's quicker than typing for writing?

    My point is, typing was a skill you learnt solely for the purpose of interfacing with your computer. It's a skill that we have to learn because of the limitations of the interface.

    In the context of a discussion about the ipad, which has itself limited the keyboard options (quite possibly limiting your speed at typing), other ways to interface with the device are relevant.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That sounds promising. I mean, if you happen to have bought a kindle with the same price structure of the real thing than that's a pretty big leap in value for the machine right there.

    Bearing in mind of course that in the US, the Kindle's connectivity is free. So you're not paying for data, but you can only use that connection to buy books from Amazon.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • David Hood,

    I am not expecting anything much changing about input technology in the next while. What I do expect is machines to get a lot smarter about assisting us to our end point- we are only seeing the beginning of this with location based services.
    Human beings are actually creatures of habit, so look out for the operating systems to do a lot more logging of our habits so that it can shortcut actions for us. Things like most people only use a very small subset of the total English language, and have a distinctive grammar and phrasing style. So a device can learn it's owner's writing patterns to make autocompletion a far more powerful tool (multiple words, favouring you personal lexicon). I note that to be accepted, OS companies would need to resist the temptation to obtain, and sell, the user profiles. I would also add, for future prior art patent cases, that I suggested this 4:14pm 26 July 2010 (New Zealand time).

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report Reply

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