Thoughts on the iPad, from an Apple hater

Before I get started, let me make a couple of things clear:

  1. Apple is evil; pure and simple. I’m fully convinced that Steve Jobs has weekly planning meetings with Lucifer himself1.
  2. Apple’s policies are anti-everybody. From bloggers to developers2, Apple seems to make life as hard as possible for those that use their products for profit.

With these facts in mind, I tend to shy away from their products when I have a choice (which isn’t always the case); though a while back I decided to buy an iPad for some reason. I’ve wanted a tablet for quite some time, and despite my hopes of there being a Microsoft-based solution that would do what I needed, there wasn’t anything announced that had the features I wanted in a price range that I could justify.

When I first powered it up and was met by that familiar instruction to connect to iTunes, I was really questioning the wisdom of buying an Apple product. But, I took a deep breath, installed iTunes and took the plunge.

That was about 3 months ago, and I no longer question the wisdom – it was a great purchase, and has become a key part of how I work. Between my favorite applications (Evernote, Penultimate, iA Writer, and Dropbox), I’ve been able to streamline my workflow, keep better notes, and keep the information that I need available – no matter when or where I need it.

The device itself is ingeniously designed, with Apple’s typical focus on simplicity first and foremost. It has a ~10-hour battery life ensures that you’ll make it through the work day (and probably with enough left to do some reading after work); though your PC probably won’t be able to charge it. The only thing missing from a hardware perspective is a ‘back’ button, as I would quite likely use that more than the ‘home’ button.

I was quite concerned initially that it would be like so many other devices and gadgets that I’ve acquired other the years, interesting for a couple of weeks then doomed to spend the rest of its life buried in one of my ‘junk’ boxes. Within the first few hours I was sure that wouldn’t be its fate; far from it. At this point I rarely leave home without it, even if only going shopping. While I do still rely on my Moto DROID for a number of things, I’ve found that the iPad does a much better job at serving most of the roles my phone was once responsible for.

For example, I’m a huge fan of Evernote – it’s by far my favorite service and I access it from every device I have. Prior to the iPad I often took notes on the DROID to avoid having to use hand-written notes that would need to be transcribed later; thanks to its small screen and tiny keyboard my notes were as terse as I could get them, often missing details I later wished I had. With the large screen and large, better designed keyboard of the iPad, I’ve found my notes are now clearer and more detailed – exactly what I need them to be.

A friend of mine who bought one shortly after they came out referred to it as a media consumption device, not suited for work or anything serious. While this is what I expected, it’s not what I found; it’s a great media player (despite the lack of a 16:9 screen) and thanks to the Kindle application, it’s also a very good e-reader, but with the right applications it has a strong business side as well.

What I feared would be a toy relegated to the abyss of abandoned gadgets has turned into a key tool helping me keep my chaotic life in order.

1Before anybody says anything, yes, this is just a joke.
2While Apple has made a lot of progress in opening up and making rules more clear, though they could still do better.