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Tinkering with the iPad

I said I wouldn’t succumb to the hoards of early-adopters to snatch the first round of iPads. So much for resisting temptation.

Let me preface this with the wise words of one Clay Shirky to keep all this “buzz” in perspective: “…a revolution doesn’t happen when society adapts new tools. It happens when society adapts new behaviours.”

That said, this is a pretty fun whiz-bang tool. And I think the behaviors associated with how we use this tool could really start changing communications. (see my old post on this for more)

There are a lot of things to talk about, but in hopes that I don’t sound like an over-enthused child on Christmas morning with her new awesome toy, just wanted to give my quick observations. And my terrible photos which are purely illustrative…

Physical Design: Is ridiculous. It’s about the same thickness of the iPhone, so is remarkably light and portable. It’s so “Apple” to design something so inexplicably personal. Viewing images is a joy, as the whole iPad experience is so intensely visual.

As an iPhone user, it’s second nature to use the touch screen (fingerprints are going to be an issue, that I already know), just bigger and less likely for those little slips. Picture quality is a dream. Only thing that I’m having some trouble with is the keypad. A little annoying and sticky (like the iPhone), but I’ll get over it.

The Apps: Now I’ve only been playing for a few hours total, so my reviews are limited. Some of the ones that are of particular note: Tweetdeck,  ABC Player, NPR, Coolhunting, Epicurious and NY Times Editors Choice apps. And yes these are websites or iPhone apps that I currently use (with exception of ABC), but the interface on iPad surpasses both by a LOT.

The ABC Player: now that was brilliant thinking on someone’s part–as the only video broadcast “free” streaming content app from the launch, I’m sure there are more people than just myself who are (for the first time in a long time) watching ABC content again. And realizing that some of it actually isn’t terrible.

Tweetdeck is great–being able to link out and not leave the tweetdeck interface is quite lovely. I’ve heard the other twitter APIs are even better, but I’m a tweetdeck loyalist, so it works for me.

Interfaces: Not all apps are created equal (we know this by now), nuances are everything. NPR did a really fantastic job of creating a fun and functional navigation system. This one was a great example of using the features of the iPad in designing the experience itself. Lots of play with the navigation which is essential. Like iPhone apps, it’ll be important for designers to design FOR the device and UX rather than just make it a “website with touch interface”.

NY Times (lite) is good, and feels like picking up that oh-so-iconic newpaper (thank you grid system), which is lovely on this size screen, I think it’ll take them a bit of time to get everything where it needs to be for all their content.

The other lovely surprise was the Coolhunting app. Kudos to the folks at BBH for the partnership of Cadillac and Coolhunting, lots of thought was put into the design and has some nice product integrations, without feeling overly “marketing-y”.


This app was unique from the others I’ve downloaded thus far, it has two discrete nav panels which allows for “thumb navigating”, which makes it easy and just a visual fiesta. Good quality video throughout, and the experience getting to them is quite seamless. I love the new Cool Hunting site-great content, slick interface- so this one is really a joy.

Next to test will be the more utilitarian things like pages and keynote, but until then, I’d say if you like gadgets, Apple and perhaps travel a bit– snag one of these bad boys. It’s everything you love about your iPhone and much more.

And as I write this, I’m becoming more and more aware of how funny this post will probably be in a few months, let alone a few years…so all I’ll say is there’s a first “exciting” day for everything. Just like this newsfeature from 1993:

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