Here’s a quick video of what it was like to be me (about 18th in the queue) at the Fifth Ave Apple Store in NYC last Saturday. All that travel for this moment, but I can honestly say it was worth it. Not just from a developer point of view (and we’re finding that it’s very helpful having the device to test on right now) but just from the overall experience of being at Apple’s flagship store for a product launch of something entirely new.
And here’s a handful of other photos from the gazillions that are now filling up my hard drive:
As I sit here, 34,000 feet in the air and almost 23 hours since departing New York, I thought it would be a good idea to note down my first impressions of Apple’s new device.
One of the first things that struck me is that the iPad is solid. It’s not exactly light, but what I mean is that it just feels like a well built, sturdy product. Some reviewers have been quick to point out that it feels too heavy but if the casing were made of plastic, no doubt there would be as many reviews pointing out how flimsy it is.
After you’ve used it for a while you’ll also realize that the battery just keeps going. When the 3G version ships, the battery life won’t be quite as exciting, but for now I’m more than happy. To give a real life illustration, as I type this post, I’ve already watched a full length movie, played Real Racing, Flight Control and Harbor Master numerous times each, read five comics from Marvel, explored the UI of the default apps and the battery indicator still sits at a juicy 48%.
Another surprise is the difference between perceived and real user experience of some applications. I’ll explain. Prior to actually using the iPad, I looked at the screenshots for apps like Twitterific and thought the developers may have misjudged the scale of their UIs. I guess I also wondered if Twitter apps on the iPad would generally feel like you were trying to cut a steak with a chainsaw – 140 characters on a 1024 x 768 screen seemed like overkill. But once you start using the device you realize that it tends to defy your assumptions and the Twitter example is just one.
The software keyboard takes some getting used to, particularly in portrait mode. The keys are way too tight to touch type, and I found that I ended up using two fingers, (which is actually still quicker than using the iPhone keyboard). In landscape however it is actually possible to touch type, though it does take some practice and very keen focus one what you’re doing.
The display is bright and crisp, giving application graphics excellent sharpness and clarity. The UI is smooth and elegant, seamlessly moving from this to that with style and flair – Apple’s signature.
But easily the most profound thing about the iPad is it’s OS and display size. It’s a new canvas for developers, and what excites you about it today will no doubt be different to what excites you about it in a week from now or a month from now or a year from now, as developers once again explore unchartered territories and create what was once impossible.
Just a quick post to let customers of The Early Edition know about some of our plans. Firstly though, thank you to those who have used the feedback sticky note to write to us and tell us your initial impressions and give us your suggestions – we love hearing from you!
Now, down to business. As with any new software release (particularly in this case where we hadn’t even touched a real iPad until yesterday) there have been a few small bugs that some users have experienced. You’ll be glad to know that we’ve already issued an update addressing these issues, which is now in the hands of Apple’s review team.
But more significantly we’ve also begun work on some of the features we planned to have ready for the launch but ended up having to shelve temporarily in order to meet the deadline. These include Google Reader and Instapaper integration. I know that’s going to make a few people quite happy, so to them I say thanks for your patience.
But we’re not stopping there. We’re really excited about The Early Edition and we’ve got a lot of ideas for making it an even more fluid and enjoyable news reading experience on the iPad. So as they say… Watch this space.
I have to admit, the first 10,000 miles (my flight to NY last Tuesday) weren’t very comfortable. Let’s just say the plane was fully booked and I was allocated one of the last two seats. But thankfully the next 10,000 will be a different story. I do have a better seat, but the thing that will really make the difference is at last having an iPad in my hot little hands. That’s what I came here for after all!
After waiting in the queue since 1.30am, I was very excited to open the box but even more excited to get the device out and install The Early Edition on it. To finally be able to test our iPad app on a real-life device was very cool, if not a bit nerve-wracking. All in all it worked well and I managed to impress a few journos and Apple staff which was fun.
My first impressions of the iPad were that it was smooth. Yes the glass is smooth, but that’s not what I mean… It’s just a smooth device. Apps spring open and the interface responds to gestures in a very refined and spritely way. You can tell that details matter to Apple to a degree that very few of their competitors can match. That’s not to say everything is perfect in iPad v1. But to be honest I’ve barely touched the surface (excuse the pun). I’d like to spend a lot more time going through the finer details of each new app that Apple have developed and some of the amazing new apps from developers.
It’s just as well I’ve got 10,000 miles left to do just that.
Raise your right hand if you’ve ever had an application crash on you? Okay now keep it raised if it’s happened and you didn’t save your work? Good, now keep it raised if you felt like picking up your computer and hurling it out the window? Excellent. Now keep it raised if you’ve actually hurled it out the window? Right well I think you have a problem. You should see someone about that.
The screensnap above was taken 15 minutes ago, at the moment I realised that Illustrator was about to crash on me and that I hadn’t saved what I was doing. It’s that dreadful few seconds when you see the spinning beachball and realise what you see on the screen is about to wave goodbye forever unless you do something about it NOW. So I did what any fool would do and frantically hit Shift-Command-3, otherwise known as a full screen capture, (in this case my screensnap didn’t help much, due to the image being zoomed in so far).
So. What is the point of all this? Well I guess it’s part advice for you, and part therapy for me. Okay it’s mostly therapy for me. If I didn’t write this blog post, I’d probably have a broken window to deal with.
Okay, so the last couple of weeks since my last post have been pretty eventful. On the home front, my son – who’s in Kindergarten – fell out of a tree and ended up looking like he’d done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. Then after driving 50km home from the hospital at 2am I came down with a terrible flu (not just any old flu I’ll have you know… Man-flu, which is the worst kind).
On the iPad front, Apple have also been busy, airing the first iPad TV commercial during the Oscars, and announcing that the wifi version will be on sale from 3 April in the USA.
We’d really like to test our iPad app on actual hardware as soon as possible, so there’s only one thing for it. I’m off to New York to get my iPad test-unit as soon as the doors of Apple’s Fifth Avenue store open on Saturday morning of 3 April.
Needless to say I’m pretty excited.