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Five Ways Apple Can Fix the iPad

By - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 116 comments

The iPad, Apple claims, is revolutionary and even magical.

No it's not.

"The bar's pretty high. In order to really create a new category of devices. Those devices are going to have to be far better at doing some key tasks. They're going to have to be far better at doing some really important things. Better than the laptop, better than the smartphone." -- Steve Jobs.

It's got so many teething problems. Even the product name, in one day, has become the butt of jokes on the interweb.

I've had the opportunity to sit down and talk to several analysts and industry professionals about their thoughts on the iPad. Views seem to be split, but everyone appears to think the same: the iPad could have been so much more.

Some people say that perspective needs to be had: the iPad isn't supposed to be a full computing device, it's supposed to be an iPod Touch on stereoids. Um... no. Even Steve Jobs himself compared it to a laptop, and said that it's supposed to be better than a laptop at doing several key things, and is supposed to be better than an iPod Touch at doing everything.

So why then does the iPad fail miserably at doing some very fundamental things that even a cheap laptop, like a netbook, can do? I mentioned a few of those points in my previous iPad post, so let's get straight to what Apple can do to make the iPad what it should have been--and could be:

1. Enable multitasking

The iPad needs to have multitasking. It's practically begging for it. It's understandable that on a screen/device size like the iPhone and iPod Touch that they can only run one application at a time, but even competing devices like Android phones can multitask. A device like an iPad, with a screen size of 10-inches, should not be doing less than an Android phone. Period. Apple needs to enable this. There's no sense in not being able to have an IM application running while browsing webpages or reading an ebook.

The iPad has enough horsepower to support multitasking, so I'm sure that the limitation is merely in software. iPhone OS 4.0 is supposed to bring multitasking, and so this should be fixed by the time the iPad is actually available for purchase.

2. Open the OS / Make an iPad specific OS

Again, Steve Jobs compared the iPad to a smartphone and a laptop in his presentation. But developers are tied into the App store. If Apple wants to keep its app-ecosystem closed for the iPod Touch and iPhone to maintain "quality," then fine. But let's not gimp the iPad, eh? With Android devices on the rise, making an iPad specific OS that's open to developers will be seen as a competitive advantage. If it's going to be truly better than a netbook, then it's got to support development like a netbook. Users want to be able to install their own stuff, it's that simple.

Make the iPad support open software development, while still supporting the large number of App Store applications. What happens if you want to run Firefox or Chrome on your iPad? You can't.

But I fully understand why the iPad isn't going to support custom apps. Apple wants you to use their App store. It wants the App store to be the largest software distribution system in the world. It wants to take a cut of the money when you sell your iPad specific software too. It's a very succesful business model and I doubt this will change.

3. Enable the full web experience

Where's Flash support? Again, this is largely a software issue, and hopefully will be addressed down the line. Not everyone who uses a mobile computing device only cares about Flash for YouTube, and so many websites actually have Flash elements today. Perhaps HTML5 will change all that but that's yet to be seen. The funny thing? During Jobs's keynote where he demos viewing The New York Times website on the iPad, the areas with Flash showed an error box.

Jobs said that the iPad is the best web experience. It clearly is not. It doesn't even have tabbed browsing.

4. Enable HDMI output or DisplayPort

We have 2 full months before the iPad is supposed to be available for purchase. Apple needs to have some form of high resolution digital video output. Boasting how amazing the device is for video playback, it's criminal not to allow users to output video to their big screen TVs. Somehow we doubt this will get added before the iPad goes on sale.

5. Expandable memory

Why the iPad doesn't have an expansion slot for flash memory boggles my mind. It should at least have an SD card slot. The iPad supports high resolution video playback, is supposedly your ultimate tool for viewing photos with people. Yet, I can't stick in an SD card and see my photos.

Update: Users have commented that it should also have a built-in webcam. Apple just announced that it's allowing VOIP over 3G, and that makes Skype and other VOIP apps a must have for the iPad. Apple should have launched the iPad with a built-in webcam as well.

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Top Comments
  • 43 Hide
    darkknight22 , January 28, 2010 1:57 AM
    Tuan you better be careful, if Marcus Yam gets wind of this you know he'll be coming for you.

    NOBODY CORRECTS APPLE'S MISTAKES...I MEAN FEATURES! NOBODY!
  • 34 Hide
    nukemaster , January 28, 2010 1:52 AM
    They need to save those items for the version 2.0 of it. Or else they will not be able to make sure all users get 2 :p 
  • 34 Hide
    pullmyfinger123 , January 28, 2010 1:49 AM
    You forgot the most important way: Change the name of the menstrual device.
Other Comments
    Display all 116 comments.
  • 34 Hide
    pullmyfinger123 , January 28, 2010 1:49 AM
    You forgot the most important way: Change the name of the menstrual device.
  • 34 Hide
    nukemaster , January 28, 2010 1:52 AM
    They need to save those items for the version 2.0 of it. Or else they will not be able to make sure all users get 2 :p 
  • 43 Hide
    darkknight22 , January 28, 2010 1:57 AM
    Tuan you better be careful, if Marcus Yam gets wind of this you know he'll be coming for you.

    NOBODY CORRECTS APPLE'S MISTAKES...I MEAN FEATURES! NOBODY!
  • 24 Hide
    SneakySnake , January 28, 2010 1:58 AM
    Haha yes, I agree with nukemaster. They're saving this stuff for gen 2/3. If they had all of this on release there wouldn't be much to expand to. and you missed two key things:

    1. front facing camera
    2. GPS
  • 1 Hide
    mlg779 , January 28, 2010 2:00 AM
    you also forgot the web cam
  • 6 Hide
    enyceckk101 , January 28, 2010 2:00 AM
    A camera would be nice

    so u can skype with people
  • 5 Hide
    B-Unit , January 28, 2010 2:02 AM
    Only some of them nuke. Dont forget version 3. And 3G. And 3GS...
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 28, 2010 2:02 AM
    and the front facing camera would be realllllly nice, although maybe a camera accessory can be made? Maybe GPS will work on the iPad I dont see why not, I mean you can get 3G and it has a compass
  • 1 Hide
    koga73 , January 28, 2010 2:05 AM
    Id agree to all of the above... its basically a big ass iTouch, it even looks like one.
  • -7 Hide
    pharge , January 28, 2010 2:08 AM
    Tuan, I agree with most of your point. iPad can defintely be better .. and many of the problem can be addressed by some software modification.

    However for your information, Apple does have an optional accessory that will allow us to read our SD card. "iPad Camera Connection Kit
    The Camera Connection Kit gives you two ways to import photos and videos from a digital camera. The Camera Connector lets you import your photos and videos to iPad using the camera’s USB cable. Or you can use the SD Card Reader to import photos and videos directly from the camera’s SD card." (http://www.apple.com/ipad/specs/)

    I am pretty said that the video outpout of iPad is not even 720P.
  • 1 Hide
    tuannguyen , January 28, 2010 2:08 AM
    SneakySnakeHaha yes, I agree with nukemaster. They're saving this stuff for gen 2/3. If they had all of this on release there wouldn't be much to expand to. and you missed two key things:1. front facing camera2. GPS


    It does have Assisted GPS like the iPhone. But you're right, a built in webcam would have been nice. I'll add that.

    / Tuan
  • 14 Hide
    cadder , January 28, 2010 2:20 AM
    and it needs a USB port
  • 2 Hide
    jasperjones , January 28, 2010 2:21 AM
    tuannguyenIt does have Assisted GPS like the iPhone. But you're right, a built in webcam would have been nice. I'll add that./ Tuan


    Only if you buy the 3G version. The basic WiFi model comes without GPS.
  • 0 Hide
    haunted one , January 28, 2010 2:27 AM
    I wonder what's next.

    ipants, ibras and iloos?
  • 9 Hide
    copenhagenlc , January 28, 2010 2:29 AM
    Can someone please tell me what this thing really does. Why would anyone pay 500 dollars for this toy?
  • 0 Hide
    michaelahess , January 28, 2010 2:36 AM
    Pharge, video output is 768p ;)  But yeah, it's still a couple k of pixels away from 720.

    I see soooo many problems with this device. At the same time, if I had a choice between a kindle DX and a 16Gb iPad, not hard to say which would win for the same price!
  • 4 Hide
    maigo , January 28, 2010 2:38 AM
    Can't wait for the iCar
  • 0 Hide
    JOSHSKORN , January 28, 2010 2:39 AM
    You also forgot sync with car radio, BlueTooth capabilities for your phone. Come on, really. They already have the capability to do these things. How can they be omitted?
  • 0 Hide
    tipmen , January 28, 2010 2:39 AM
    Yeah, USB would be a big fix. You can get adopters to deal with SD cards or potable HDs so you can transfer/view your media. Please change the god damn name. I wouldn't be caught dead with an ipad. I would be mocked by my peers (I would do it to them too) but really ipad... I could stand itablet or itouch-roid ED. but ipad no thanks. Apple has their work cut out for them to make this "revolutionary" because i don't see anything considered "revolutionary" besides its new underused CPU.
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