Apple's iPad: Awkward in Any Position?

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Seems like the iPad might be awkward to hold no matter how you position it. It'll be too heavy to hold in one hand, you can't operate it if you hold it in two hands, and it will be impractical to use for long periods in your lap.

Will the iPad be too difficult to use in any position? That's one of several questions emerging as iPad availability looms closer.

Will the iPad be hard to use?

Lee Mathews, writing at Download Squad, analyzes the first iPad commercial, which aired Sunday night at the Oscars, and asks, "So why is everyone in the iPad commercial sitting down?"

Everybody in the commercial is sitting, and holding the iPad in their lap, Mathews notes, and speculates that the iPad is hard to use any other way. It's too big and heavy to be held in one hand, he says.

Does that mean the iPad is comfortable when held in the user's lap? Not necessarily, he says. The commercial also doesn't show the angle of the user's head and neck, which Mathews says would have to be held at an uncomfortable, 90-degree angle to use the device from a user's lap. Mathews quips, "That's not a position I've ever found comfortable, though there is one place I read in that position -- which is what makes me think the iPad will be a great thing to keep next to my toilet in the magazine holder."

It's a lot of speculation to rest on a single TV commercial, but it's important to consider when deciding whether to buy an iPad. The device might be hard to use -- in any position. I plan to take my chances and get one as soon as I can, betting on what we've seen so far and on Apple's string of success stretching back more than a decade. But that glowing record could mean Apple is overdue for a strikeout, and the iPad could be that failure.

I don't think it will be -- but it could.

Why isn't the iBooks app shipping with the iPad?

The iBooks app and accompanying online bookstore seems to be strategic to the iPad. But if it's so important, why isn't Apple pre-installing it on the iPad? It'll be available as a free download from the iTunes Store.

I wondered about this Friday ("Apple announces iPad availability: April 3"). A couple of readers posted plausible theories in the comments thread. "Adam" said:

The app isn't ready yet, and won't be in time for the production runs needed to get the iPads into distribution in time.

Apple is still hammering out deals with publishers and making last minute tweaks and changes to the app.

And "gwb3" replied:

I agree that the app has probably not been finalized in time, but there is another reason. Apps that come preinstalled on the iPhone/Touch are only updated with system updates. By requiring iBooks to be downloaded, Apple can update it at any time.

Thus, new features can be pushed out at any time while the iBook store and iBook app technology evolves.

Will using iPhone apps be weird on the iPad?

The iPad boasts compatibility with all the 100,000-plus iPhone apps in the iTunes App Store. But running them on the much larger iPad screen requires a hack: Either doubling the size of the app window using a technique called "pixel doubling," or running the apps in a small window with a huge black border.

Either way, iPhone apps on the iPad will be funny-looking, says Apple blogfather John Gruber at Daring Fireball. They'll be a temporary bridge until native iPad apps come out, in which case running iPhone apps on the iPad will be forgotten, much as Classic app compatibility was a bridge until native OS X apps came out.

What's on Homer Simpson's iPhone?

Ha! Classic! (Via Cult o fMac)

This story, "Apple's iPad: Awkward in Any Position? " was originally published by Computerworld.

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