My iPad arrived yesterday afternoon via a friend in the US, and yes, it largely lives up to the hype: it's shiny, elegantly realised and above all potentially very useful. Well, apart from a few wrinkles, which range from a mere raise of the eyebrows to an exasperated WTF?
First, Apple: why on earth did you leave out the Clock app? That omission alone means I can't ditch my iPod Touch on my travels because my iPad won't wake me up. The iPod Touch has a built-in Clock app which will set off an alarm at a given time; the iPad doesn't.
Sure, there are loads of third-party clock apps, free and paid-for, available via the App Store, but none of them run in the background/when the device is asleep as the native app does, which means if you want your iPad to be an alarm clock, you'll have to leave it on all night and your chosen clock running.
On the subject of missing apps, what has Apple done with Calculator? That's a basic functionality of even the dumbest smartphone these days. And no Voice Memos either. Nor Weather. I'm more annoyed by that than I expected, as Weather is a simple but nicely executed app that I rely on more than I realised. And yes, again, I know you can get third-party versions, but it would be nice if Apple had included them (or the original) with the iPad.
I'd also like haptics (that's touch feedback) for the onscreen keyboard, please. It's a very good stab at a virtual keyboard, and you can toggle keyboard click sounds on and off, but the very fact that the screen is finally big enough to touch-type on means that the absence of tactile feedback when you hit a key is a big omission. I don't think I'd like to type for long periods of time on the iPad.
Other annoyances: it doesn't charge while it's syncing – which could mean you go off leaving it to suck in your huge music library and equally huge photo library only to come back and find that it's died in the middle of the process. Make sure it's charged up before you start syncing.
Next (though this could be me being useless, but I don't think so) I couldn't get it to exchange files via Bluetooth with my Macbook Air, which means that you can't dump a few photos on to the device on the fly – you have to fire up iTunes and go through the whole syncing process.
Mostly, the size is about right – though I can't see myself reading ebooks in bed as it's a bit weightier than I expected. However, it is too big to be just an iPod: I felt like Dom Joly with his oversized mobile when I dug it out of my handbag on the underground to fire up some music; plus you can't manage it single-handed as you can with an iPhone or iPod Touch. In fact, the need to use both hands when doing stuff is something I'll have to get used to – one of the things I love about the iPod Touch is being able to everything with just one hand.
Still with the iPod app, the interface has been revamped, as indeed have the other native apps such as Mail and Contacts, but in this case I'm not convinced it's an improvement. It feels busy and harder to navigate, and if there's a way to turn off the Coverflow view, I haven't found it yet.
And of course the usual gripes about the lack of Flash apply, but it is even more infuriating on the iPad than on its smaller siblings; on those you're more often going to pick a steamlined mobile version of a site. Websites look gorgeous on the iPad, especially in portrait orientation, but all too often there's a big black hole where content should be.
Presently - though I'm hoping this will be fixed as soon as it lands - that also means that the mobile streaming version of the BBC iPlayer doesn't work. I'm hoping this is just a browser recognition issue; iPlayer works brilliantly on the iPod Touch/iPhone but for now sullenly refuses to play on the iPad. So no catching up on EastEnders in bed, then. Maybe it will be the ebooks after all.
I'm hoping most of those wrinkles will be addressed by the upgrade to iPhone OS 4.0 – due in the autumn for the iPad. Until then, be seduced by the hype – but do bear in mind the flaws.