As with most Apple devices, the iPad has indisputable good looks, silent operation and sleek styling. These are good for showing off, and whilst the iPad is slightly heavier than you would think it certainly a pleasure to use because of how it sits in the hand, but these factors score no points for improved business use.
With over 5,000 iPad-specific applications (apps) along with 200,000 iPhone apps, many of which have strong business uses, the iPad is ready to become an essential work tool. The iPhone apps don’t look as good as dedicated iPad versions, marooned in the centre of the screen or enlarged to the point that they look blocky.
But many of these apps are gaining iPad versions, often free and achieved simply by updating your iPad. Most are free or inexpensive, such as PayRecord (£1.79) which is good for road warriors eager to keep a record of time worked and calculate payment earned. This info can be emailed to an employer client or accounts department. There are many more of these, almost certainly enough to make an iPad useful – just check out the Business category of iPad apps in iTunes if you’re not sure.
But what else is the iPad good for? It’s not great for typing – there’s no feedback to let you know you’ve hit a key, so touch typists will want the optional Bluetooth keyboard. This is not ideal as it compromises portability. Even so, Pages (£5.99), Apple’s own word processor built for the iPad, is sophisticated, elegant and capable, not to mention very cheap. Pages, which creates Word-compatible documents, goes a long way to redress the iPad’s keyboard deficiencies.
And if you want to travel light, you can carry hundreds of books in the iPad, though the glossy screen is backlight and so not as easy on the eye as paper.
The iPads lack of Flash does mean that some websites which have streaming media, or video clips on them like the BBC’s don’t work and this doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon as Apple have made a decision to not have the software on their devices, which does spoil your use/enjoyment of the device.
The iPad lacks extensive connectivity, though you can connect USB devices with a suitable add-on, and there’s no camera on board to power augmented reality apps. What’s more, a front-facing camera that would allow video conferencing is also absent.
The iPad is however a highly desirable piece of kit, with exceptional capabilities and a fast-increasing number of brilliant apps. So the device that Apple has created has enormous potential and will change its purpose quickly. Even so, you may want to hold off until the inevitable second edition which may have improved connectivity and extra capabilities – if you can wait a whole year.