The iPad is spectacular at many things. If your experience is like mine you will find that it is great for surfing the web, reading eBooks, watching movies and TV shows, playing games, and light document creation. But given that this product is probably a bit ahead of its time, and manufactured by Apple, it is going to come with some limitations.
The following questions and answers are designed to give you a better picture of the current strengths and limitations of the iPad. If you are a proud new owner or still on the fence about buying one, this will hopefully shed some light on the device. By better understanding, the iPad’s strengths and weaknesses, your experience with it should be more enjoyable.
Can I print from the iPad?
Yes and no. The iPad does not have any ability to print built into the device, however, there are some apps that bring this functionality. Some of the most popular include Air Sharing HD, PrintCentral for iPad, Print n Share for advanced printing, and PrinterShare (a freebie!). This is not a full list, and expect more apps in the future as this is likely to be a popular request.
However, if you just want a quick, low-quality print job, there is always this solution.
Can the iPad play my home movies? What about other video formats?
One of the iPad’s advertised features is a video player. It does an admirable job of this, as long as you go through Apple’s ecosystem. Movies can be rented or purchased directly through iTunes and third-party apps like Netflix. ABC offers many of its popular programs for free within its own app. There is also hope that Hulu will do the same.
If you are planning for a long flight that leaves you without Wi-Fi, it would be best to load up first with movies before heading out, as there are no external ports that would allow you to connect the iPad to another device.
Can I play Facebook games on the iPad?
No. Popular games like Farmville, Mafia Wars, and Texas Hold ‘em run on Flash, which the iPad does not support. So, if you are a heavy user of Flash-based games, you may want to think twice about buying an iPad. The best way to play games is through those available in the App Store. (Addicted gamblers and Mafiosos can find similar made-for-iPad versions of these games).
What about geolocation games like Foursquare?
Only the 3G model (which Apple labels on the iPad site as Wi-Fi + 3G) has Assisted GPS (a step above regular GPS). While the Wi-Fi model does not include this technology, it is location-aware by using your Wi-Fi network to roughly find your location.
So if you have a Wi-Fi-only model, you could use Foursquare as long as you find a wireless network. Otherwise, you will need to wait for the 3G version, which ships in late April.
Will my iPhone apps work on the iPad? What about iPad apps on my iPhone?
All iPhone apps can be downloaded and used on the iPad. If you want the iPad will upscale them to fit the larger screen, but I found most look horrible since they are pixilated. You can use them at their original size, but it feels a bit awkward to have a giant screen filled with nothing as you use this tiny app. This feature was heavily advertised by Apple, but right now it’s pretty clunky.
The apps that are built specifically for iPad will not work on the iPhone. Fortunately more and more apps are being built to work on both iPad and iPhone – Evernote is a prime example.
Can I read my Kindle books on iPad? What ebook formats does the iPad support?
You can read any book purchased through the Kindle store and sync your location between the Kindle for iPad, iPhone, PC, or Mac. The Kindle app does not have as many bells and whistles as iBooks, but there is a significantly larger selection of titles.
The iPad’s eBooks use the open EPUB format, which many hope will lead to giving authors the ability to submit books to the iBooks store directly. Currently, iBooks can only be read on the iPad, but Apple is planning on releasing an iBooks app for iPhone with the OS 4.0 release this summer. The plan is to allow the same kind of syncing as Kindle.
I have Microsoft Word on my MacBook. Can I install it on my iPad, too?
No. However, Apple redesigned a version of its popular iWorks software specifically for the iPad, and it works quite well. Pages, Keynote, and Numbers all have a touch-friendly interface and can be used in both portrait and landscape views for creating documents, presentations, and spreadsheets. Typing on the virtual keyboard is better than expected, though for longer-form writing I would recommend the iPad Keyboard Dock or a Bluetooth keyboard.
Getting documents in and out of the iPad right now is kind of a pain, as it must be done through e-mail, iTunes, or iWork.com. Another annoyance is that Google Docs cannot be edited in Safari – only viewed. If the iPad is to gain adoption among business/productivity types, some of these issues will need to be streamlined.