Though the Apple iPad's interface may look familiar (see our hands-on impressions for more on the iPad), the hardware is clearly bigger than its iPhone/iPod Touch siblings. The main menu mimics that of the current iPhone OS, with four icons across and four rows down, plus Safari, Mail, Photos, and iPod icons in a row at the bottom. The icons have the same design as those on the iPhone, and include calendar, contacts, notes, maps, YouTube, iTunes, App Store, and Settings. One new item is a dedicated icon for videos.
The back is smooth, and looks much as the original iPhone did.
Dock Connector and Speaker
At the bottom of the iPad are the dock connector and the speaker grille.
A Page of Apps
This particular iPad is loaded with applications currently available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, a demonstration of what a full menu screen of apps will look like on the iPad.
Ready to browse your library of books? Here they are, with their covers facing forward for easy, visual browsing.
This landscape view shows how a book will appear in iBooks. In this horizontal orientation, the reader application allows you to have two pages on the display at once. It also tries to mimic the experience of reading a book, right down to the visuals of additional pages on the left and right, and the darker area in the center, where the spine would be.
iBooks Page Navigation
This image shows how you can easily scroll along the bottom of a book to jump to a specific page. I particularly liked how it showed what page of how many you were scrolling to, and how it indicated the number of pages remaining in the chapter. (Just one more chapter before I go to sleep...I swear!) Dedicated e-readers could learn something from this part of iBooks' design.
iBooks Page Turn
The iBooks reader's page animations are both cool (as shown here, midturn), and annoying. The flicker for a quick page turn bugged me--nevertheless, it was better than suffering through the multiple flashes that one endures on most E-Ink readers as they try to redraw the page.
Here is a PDF attachment to an e-mail, being previewed through the Mail application. Notice, in the upper right, the Open button; it's greyed out in this instance, but if you wanted to see, for instance, a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, or a PowerPoint file, you could preview the file first and then click the Open button to open the document in Apple's new iWork for iPad apps (Pages, Numbers, or Keynote, respectively).
Apple demonstrators did not directly answer a query about how those apps would work if your document was stored in the cloud (for example, in Web-based e-mail or storage) but you wanted to edit the document on the iPad. Unfortunately, the unit has no logical file system, so you can't just save and open files as you would on a laptop.
Pictures work far better on the iPad than on the iPhone. The iPad's roomy screen gives images a chance to shine, and it permits you to preview many more images, more easily than on the smaller iPhone.
The on-the-fly slideshow creation tool is easy to use, and it creates fun, intricate slideshows. Simply choose from five transitions and pick the music you'd like to add (if any), and you're off. I don't see the iPad replacing inexpensive digital photo frames, but I certainly do understand how an iPad might double as a photo frame while it's standing upright in its dock.
iPad's E-Mail App
In landscape mode, the e-mail app shows recent messages and a search bar at the left, and displays the selected message at the right.
Vcard in E-Mail
Vcard attachments are presented in a pop-up window when you tap them, though adding a contact to your address book doesn't appear to be possible.
Apple has redesigned the Contacts app to take better advatage of the iPad's roomy, 9.7-inch screen.
The Calendar day view shows how the iPad's improved basic apps can take maximum advantage of the display's extra space.
Here's another example of how a redesigned app--the Calendar, in week view--can take advatage of the large display.
Access Multiple Calendars
With this drop-down menu, it's simple to switch among different calendars for your household.
This is the satellite view for the included Google Maps app.
Google Maps Settings
As with the iBooks app, you can pull back the top layer of Google Maps--in this case, to find the options for switching among the map types.
The iPod library looks very different on the iPad. Like the other core Apple-supplied apps, the iPod app has been reimagined to use the additional space that the iPad's 9.7-inch display provides.
This landscape view shows how video-playback chapters look in the Video player. Enterprise, beam me up to chapter 5!
In this landscape view of the iPod video player, you can see the information display on the left and a preview of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video on the right.
Playing iPhone Games
Yes, the iPad will play apps designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch--but they'll seem like postage stamps on a big screen, with both letterboxing and pillarboxing. The Oregon Trail, shown here, is a perfect example of what an app will look like on the iPad. If you use the 2X option to double the pixels, you will see pixelation; text-heavy apps such as Facebook will seem soft and fuzzy, too.
This portrait view of a YouTube video shows one of the rare examples I encountered in which the app didn't seem to take full advantage of the screen's real estate. The display changes in the landscape view, where you get a list of similar videos in a pane to the right of the playing video.
The YouTube app, like others, makes use of the iPad's extra space. Unfortunately, the keyboard--shown here for searching YouTube, but the same as the keyboard offered in other apps on the iPad--does not do the device justice. You get no feedback, visual or physical, when you press a key, for example.
iPad Stand and Case
The iPad Case ($40) has a triangular kickstand that props the tablet up at comfortable angles--upright for watching media, and inclined for typing. Though it looks like leather, it's reportedly made from a soft, rubbery microfiber material.
In something of a tacit acknowledgement that the on-screen keyboard may not be for everyone, Apple will sell a $70 keyboard dock for the iPad as a separate accessory. The iPad slides right into the docking port, and can charge via the dock.