Thoughts on the New iPad

In hopes of doing my best Shawn Blanc impersonation, I wanted to share my thoughts on yesterday’s event.

The iPad Itself & iOS 5.1

First things first: I did -- of course! -- pre-order the new model. I ordered a black, 64GB, 4G (via AT&T) model and a black, leather Smart Cover. My original iPad is black, 64GB, and is 3G-capable. Before purchasing almost two years ago, I debated heavily whether or not to spend the $130 premium for 3G, but I’m glad I did. The reality is I don’t use the cellular connection very much, if ever, but I love having it just in case. To me, it’s better to have it and not need it than to not have it and need it. (This is especially true when travelling because I can justifiably leave my 11" MacBook Air at home, depending on my workflow.) Another added benefit of going 3G/4G is these models should, in theory, have higher resale values if ever I decide to go that route.

As for the new iPad itself, I’m really excited about getting mine next Friday. The only reason I didn’t upgrade to an iPad 2 last year was because it had no Retina display. Well, now it does, and I can’t wait to feast my eyes upon it. The display on my iPhone 4S is awesome -- particularly to a visually-impaired guy like myself -- and I have no doubts the new iPad’s Retina screen will be any less gorgeous, if not more so. In terms of the other hardware updates, 4G is great, as is the new A5X chip, but i’m not excited about the camera. I’ve said this before, but I don’t see the point in shooting pictures/video on the iPad (or any tablet for that matter). The front-facing one for FaceTime makes sense; everything else, you just look like a big dork.

I’m glad to have iOS 5.1; I was hoping it’d come out soon in hopes it’d address the battery issues I’d been lamenting. After a full day’s use on 5.1, it seems like there’s a big improvement, but it’s too early to say with any definition. Also a welcome change is the permanent camera shortcut on the Lock screen. Swiping up to launch the Camera app feels faster and more intutitive (not to mention more fun) than double-pressing the Home button, then tapping the icon. On the flip side of things, the new “4G” indicator in the status bar is complete and utter bullshit. Shame on Apple for caving to AT&T.

iPhoto for iOS

I’ve only played with the app briefly on my iPhone -- it’s universal -- but I really like it a lot. The animations are slick as hell, and I love the concept of Multi-Touch photo editing. I’m excited to see the iPad version.

One interesting tidbit about iPhoto for iOS is that Apple apparently isn’t using Google Maps for location. This is noteworthy mainly because it could be interpreted as Apple giving a big “fuck you” to Google. It’s a gesture which, given the crumbling of Apple and Google’s relationship, shouldn’t be a surprise in the least. It also means that Apple’s plans to reimagine the iOS Maps app are progressing.

Scott Forstall

None of the pieces I’ve read on yesterday’s event mentioned this, but SVP of iOS Scott Forstall didn’t appear onstage. Watching the keynote last night, I kept waiting for him to come on and demo something, but he was nowhere to be found. Tim Cook talked about iOS 5.1 and Randy Ubillos showed off iPhoto.

Maybe Forstall’s on vacation or sick. Or maybe he was too busy working on iOS 6.

Miscellany

John Gruber and MG Siegler had the best takeaways of the event and the iPad in general:

Gruber:

No other company could today produce something like this new iPad. Not at these prices, at these quantities, at a worldwide scope, with a content ecosystem and user experience of the iPad’s quality. Apple is in a league of its own, and the iPad exemplifies it.

Nothing is guaranteed to last. The future’s uncertain and the end is always near. Apple’s position atop the industry may prove fleeting. But right now, Apple is Secretariat at the Belmont. And the company, to a person, seems hell-bent on not letting any competitor catch up.

And Siegler:

As predicted, some folks were disappointed by the iPad announcement today. They’ll undoubtedly remain disappointed as they wait in line to buy the new iPad next week.

For whatever reason, we’re wired to only think something is truly new if it looks completely different. But that line of thinking is foolish. Apple didn’t change the form factor of the device because it works. They have the sales figures to prove it. You don’t call back your homerun and say you wanted a double instead.

No other tablet is close to the iPad right now. That was true yesterday, it’s even more true today. If and when that changes, that’s when Apple will undoubtedly switch things up from a design perspective. There’s no use in competing against yourself. Lure the competition to come to you as you’re about to sprint the other way. Next year.

Gruber’s Secretariat analogy, in my opinion, is especially apt. He nailed it.

In Closing

Next up: Retina Macs and the iPhone 5 (with 4G LTE). Tim Cook’s right: Apple’s just getting started.