My collection of iPhone apps is pretty large (maybe not as large as other more iPhone-crazy kids), so yes, I am “locked” into the App Store, but totally by choice. There are so many wonderfully creative photography-related apps for the iPhone, and they are the ones to which I am most loyal. After the photography apps, my collection of social networking apps gets the most play — Tweetie 2, Facebook, Foursquare, Gowalla, BuddyFeed, etc. Then a couple RSS aggregators, Bento, Amazon.com, Kindle, IMDB, and PhoneFlicks round out the bunch. Yes, I have games, but I don’t play them as much as I use the other aforementioned apps. Words With Friends is currently my most-played game.
My current set of installed apps. Most of the games I’ve left there for my nephew to play with when I visit him. 🙂
As I said, I chose to “lock” myself into the iTunes ecosystem because I like and get much use out of several of the apps being offered there. Yes, I think that the App Store approval process has a lot of kinks to get worked out, but the quality of apps coming from the iPhone developers is so good that I chose to invest in this platform over any other. When I used other smartphones that ran Windows Mobile, S60, or UIQ, I didn’t feel any such enthusiasm for apps offered for those platforms, so I never really invested any money in shareware, instead opting for free apps. I also was flipping back and forth between platforms, never knowing which one would catch my eye next, so it didn’t make financial sense to buy apps that I might use for a month or three or four and then “lose” after moving to a completely different device. For a while, I had a smartphone and a 1st-gen iPod touch. I loved using the apps on the iPod touch, but increasingly there were apps that would work with the iPhone only because they needed speakers or mic input or GPS input, and I grew tired of not always having a Wi-Fi connection. I finally bought the iPhone 3G after I found out it would have GPS and 3G support (such as AT&T’s 3G network is… :P). It totally fits my smartphone needs. This isn’t to say that the iPhone is a perfect device, though. Multiple experiments with jailbreaking has shown me what features and functionality Apple has chosen to omit (at this time?). But even playing around with “jailbroken” apps has shown me a creativity, level of innovation, and enthusiasm for a platform that I haven’t seen for other mobile device platforms. [Editor’s Note: I have not yet been able to properly play around with an Android phone or a webOS phone, and these two platforms seem most similar in creativity and innovation to the iPhone platform to me, so my opinion may change.] In the meantime, I changed my way of using a smartphone slightly to adjust to how an iPhone works. The iPhone’s limitations weren’t a dealbreaker to me at all. I have no problem typing up huge e-mails or long blog posts on my phone. I am quite productive with my iPhone.
However, there have been times when I wished that I had just a little more screen real estate when working on my iPhone. Or I wished that my MacBook were just a little smaller, lighter, and easier to carry around. I took the MacBook with me on our trip out to CA a few months ago because I thought there might be some things I couldn’t do on the iPhone, like edit travel photos, or do some serious multi-tabbed browsing, looking up information on several neighborhoods in the area. However, I ended up worriedly leaving the MacBook in the hotel room because it was too damn heavy to be lugging around all day. And because we were out and about so much, my iPhone was my workhorse, though poor network coverage in the Bay Area *really* hampered things. For the longest time I lusted after a MacBook Air — full OS X, thinner and lighter than a regular MacBook. However, since I was an avid Tablet PC user before I switched to a Mac, I also dreamed about how Apple could take the Tablet PC concept and “Apple-ify” it. This was helped along by the news of the Axiotron Modbook. Around that time, it seemed that more speculation about an actual tablet device from Apple sort of bubbled up. The iPhone OS and App Store were doing really well, and Apple started incorporating more multitouch input devices into the MacBook line. I even thought to myself that the engineers at Axiotron were probably sweating about whether or not Apple would make a tablet device that would render theirs obsolete.
Enter the iPad (after many months more of wild speculation). It is not the device I was expecting (well, before I saw the rumor that the device would be running a version of the iPhone OS). I was hoping for a slate device with a special touch version of OS X that would allow me to run apps like a photo editor, have a full Safari/Chrome/Firefox browser, and basically most laptop functionality in a smaller, lighter package. I didn’t get what I wished for, but I’m pleasantly surprised by what the iPad is, and am happy enough with its functionality that I plan on buying one (or two…I think the hubby wants one as well). No, it’s not a tablet computer, in the Microsoft-Tablet-PC sense, but as I rambled above, I have been able to get a lot done with my iPhone, and prefer many of its single-task apps to their “desktop” counterparts.
Image credit: Apple
This is the version I want, a 32GB or 64GB version with Wi-Fi and 3G.
The iPad leverages the iPhone OS and apps very well, from what I’ve seen in the announcement. Ironically, this may free me up to get a different smartphone — I’m very curious about both Android and webOS — since I’ll still able to use iPhone apps on the iPad. I have said in the past that I wouldn’t want to completely drop my iPhone if I tried a different phone because of the apps that I like, the photography-related ones, especially. But with the potential to use the iPhone photo apps on the iPad with pictures taken with different cameras or cameraphones, I wouldn’t feel like I’m giving those apps up. I’m not an uber-smartphone-user like some people are, carrying and using several phones at a time, on different carriers. So the iPad would be quite helpful to keep the iPhone apps in use without needing to carry a redundant iPhone along with my other phone. Sorry, Apple! 🙂
The iPad also makes another Apple product “unnecessary” for me. For the longest time I wanted a MacBook Air because it is thinner and lighter than my aluminum unibody MacBook. Surprisingly I don’t have a netbook, and I no longer use a desktop computer, so my MacBook is my primary computer. For trips or photo outings, I sometimes need a device to offload pictures to clear out memory cards, so my MacBook would be my go-to device for that. The problem is, it’s so friggin’ heavy that it’s a pain to lug around in addition to camera gear. I thought having a MacBook Air would help the issue, but now that the iPad is here, I think it would work even better as my photo bin, and maybe as a photo uploader, depending on how much “real” photo editing I could do. So, sorry Apple. Instead of the MBA, I will be buying the iPad (and accessories).
I actually have more general ideas about what the iPad is and what it isn’t in separate blog posts, so if you aren’t already tired of my rambling and haven’t read them yet, you can check those articles out to get an even better picture of why I think the iPad is a great new mobile device with lots of potential.