Why Should I Buy An iPad?
This question was one I was asking myself for a considerable amount of time. What real benefit could having an iPad (or any pad device) bring to my life? Should it even need to? Can’t I just have a new gadget to satisfy my technology craving?
I’d like to present my reasoning for you, since after purchasing the unit, so many people have probed rather defiantly “why?”.
“What, are you some sort of Apple fanboy toss-pot or something?”
I’ve owned an iPhone since buying a 3GS on the day they were released, unharmed in to the wild and I’ve never owned a better phone. I’ve never looked back and wished I had an Android, or whatever unresponsive, struggle-to-get-it-to-do-anything tripe people are bleating about being able to customise to within an inch of actually working these days. My iPhone has served me well and I expect it will continue to do so for some time now.
I’m familiar with iOS, and so an iPad felt like it might be a good move, if I was to buy any pad device. I know the system, I know the apps and everything synchronises nicely across devices. I suppose this is perhaps not the strongest point of them all, but it was a contributing factor none the less.
Read More, When It’s Convenient
One of the first advantages I was told about, that appealed to me was the ability to rack up all those Instapaper articles during the week when you didn’t have as much time to digest them, and then treat yourself to a shiny digital newspaper every weekend, when you had more time to sit and enjoy them on the couch, instead of hunched over your workstation keyboard like some poor kyphosis-riddled perv’, Googling for hot pictures of Esméralda.
I love the notion that a piece of technology can serve as a transition between phone (or no phone) and laptop (or desktop). I don’t know if that was a gap that needed filled really, but it’s nice none the less.
An Infinite Photo Album
OK, so not infinite, unless you count the “infinite” potential within cloud storage, but what happens when Nan comes round and wants to see your boring pictures of your boring holiday when you went to boring France with your boring girlfriend?
In the days of digital photography, Flickr accounts and suchlike, we’ve pretty much lost all hope of using photo albums to catalogue pictures of our lives. We take too much shit with our camera to be able to realistically fill albums without bankrupting ourselves, and so we put shit on hard drives or on Flickr, or dare I say it… Instagram. Remember, there are a generation of oldies who possibly don’t even own computers to be able to check a URL you’ve sent them. They don’t “get” digital cameras, and remember when you got your mum her first point-and-shoot digital camera and she kept putting her eye up to the LCD display? Yeah – all of that, plus more is almost incomprehensibly complex for those who seems to be verging on senility.
Instead of telling poor Nan to bung herself down in front of the computer (probably the equivalent of you being dropped in to the main seat at mission control at NASA HQ), or forcing her to sit with a burning-hot laptop on her weak, trembling, leathery thighs, you can simply pass her your iPad and say “just swipe Nan”. You can even demo a “swipe” if you must.
Handing round an iPad is probably as nice an alternative as you can get to sitting and flipping through those photo albums. Probably far cleaner, and less chance of it falling apart too.
As a music producer, I’m intrigued by the sheer vastness of the musical apps you can get for the iPad. Not just the soft-synths and drum-machines either. When I can hook up a midi-keyboard to my iPad, and use the entire surface as a midi-controller its self, then I can’t help feeling like there’s some wonderful possibilities to be had with this thing. Not that there isn’t some terrible stuff out there too though. Anything that can be used to make a beautiful sound can also be used to make a bloody racket.
The potential to use it as a live performance tool (combined with my DAW of course) gets me thinking, and despite the seemingly over-inflated cost of some of the audio apps (That means you Korg), I do intend to check them out eventually and see if they provide any new avenues to explore.
Reclaim Your Couch
Gone are the days of needing to boot up a big machine for a few minutes in order to see if anybody besides the penis-enlargement companies have sent you any email. You can return to the couch and sit next to your other half for the first time in years. Maybe even give them a wee hug or whatever.
I realise laptops provide the opportunity to do this too, but when you have to sit and watch it boot up and load the operating system, by the time you’ve checked your email, you’ve had to reach over and plug the thing in to the wall, and your lap has been heated, as well as the awkwardness of most average sized laptops. It’s kind of like holding a baby for the first time, and personally I find the stress of lugging a laptop around a bit pesky.
Yes – I shouldn’t have bought such a large laptop – but like some people, it was a desktop replacement, and I needed something powerful enough to run music apps, graphic apps and play the occasional game. Whether or not it can launch external LEDs and strobe to the beat of music is irrelevant!
I like that the iPad gives way to allowing your desk to be a place of work, and your couch to be a place where you just keep up.
As a designer and front-ender, I tend to test sites on a number of devices. In an ideal world I’d love to test on all possible devices, to cover as many user scenarios as possible, but the reality and budget requirements of that dictate that it’s possibly slightly beyond my reach right now, but without any sort of pad device, and their usage increasing so rapidly, it seemed daft not to have something to test visuals and builds on regularly.
This one might be unique to me, but until I got my iPad, I was a firm believer in paper calendars/schedules. I’d print out the calendars from ReprintMe and often make my own too. I loved the fact that I could see what I’d written in the boxes, and it was easy to add to. I could literally pencil things in and so on. Month-view all the way.
I wasn’t convinced that the dots in boxes on my iPhone calendar month-view were particularly useful, and in such a limited space constraint, I didn’t feel like I could have a clear “at a glance” idea of what I had on this or next month. I felt a bit lost day-to-day when I couldn’t see more than one day’s worth of stuff at a time.
Now that I’m working with a slightly larger screen on the iPad, I can see the items in each box in month view, I can edit them more quickly, and I feel like I can finally embrace a properly synchronised Google calendar or two across devices, and on the move. Perhaps I’ll save a tree or two in the process. Probably not.
Perhaps a bit of an obvious one, but any commuting or travel I did often involved a 15-30 minute train or bus journey. Getting a laptop out, setting it up and booting, as well as waiting for it to shut down meant that actual usage time was rapidly reduced. Not only that but with wires and such everywhere for plugs, the whole thing felt like a bit of a rigmarole.
I can grab my iPad, prop it up on it’s keyboard case and get shit done right away. That means more time playing solitaire, and less time looking out the window wishing I had a faster laptop, or an extortionate solid-state hard drive.
So I’m not saying you should go and buy one, I’m not even sure that a year or two down the line I won’t want something else, but I’m sure that when I made my purchase, and dropped a rather painful half-grand on my iPad, that it wasn’t just a daft spur-of-the-moment sploodge of cash, and then yes – I had thought about it in quite a bit of detail.
I’d be very keen to hear about anybody else’s justification for their purchase. I expect there’s a number of reasons I’ve yet to discover.
About The Author: Alex Cowles
A largely cynical and often sarcastic designer and front-end developer by day. Unknown international DJ & music producer extraordinaire by night (and at weekends). You probably won't like him.