We tend to buy gadgets and then rave about them: they’re new and exciting and there’s a lot of things this particular gadget can do. A few months later said gadget is in a closet somewhere. Or is it? Two months ago I bought the second iteration of Apple’s iPad. How do I use it these days?
Gaming: not really
When I first got the iPad I tried a lot of games. I found that all of the games left me wanting. This is from the perspective of a gamer who enjoys a good story-based game (recently: Portal 2 and The Witcher 2 for example) or a game with deep, intricate mechanics that take a while to master (Starcraft 2; Civilization series). There are a couple of good arcade games like Death Rally but nothing that can keep your interest for more than half an hour. Most of these arcade games are easy to finish or open-ended (e.g. Geometry Wars).
The fact that there are no AAA titles for iPad is of course logical, since making a deep game requires at least 2-3 years of development time and a lot of money. The iPad as a platform is barely 2 years old (iPad 1 release date: April 3rd, 2010).
One area of iPad gaming I haven’t tried yet is the casual multiplayer type of game: Words with Friends (apparently insanely popular in the US but who would I play it with?) or iPad adaptations of board games like Settlers of Catan.
Use it for work? Nah!
I tried using the iPad for work related things (writing, e-mails) but the virtual keyboard is such a pain in the ass I tend to use a computer nearby if I’m at home. I only use the iPad if it’s the only option (e.g. on the train)
I bought Numbers and Pages for iPad but only launched the apps once. Most of my spreadsheet and writing work involves transferring information from e-mail and the web to documents like proposals. The iPad’s way of multitasking makes this very hard to do. A “simple” task like an e-mail with a few links in it and a few attached images is quite a hurdle if you don’t have a file system, a browser with tabs and instantaneous app switching (or multiple apps on one screen).
I know there are browsers with tabs (like Atomic Web browser). This works so much better when doing research type of “work” where you’re juggling around information from different pages. But Safari is so deeply ingrained in other apps that you end up browsing in Safari whether you want it or not e.g. the “Share” link in Instapaper leads to Safari; the “view in browser” in Reeder leads to Safari.
What do I use my iPad for then? I use it daily to read things. And that’s basically all I use it for. I read books from the Kindle app, I read articles saved to Instapaper, I read my RSS feeds in Reeder. If I’m bored I check Flipboard. I watch the occassional short video. I read Twitter.
I love how you can sample a book from the Kindle store: basically you get the first 20 pages for free. This way you can get a feel of whether you’d like to read the rest. I don’t know about you but I don’t feel comfortable doing that in a book store.
Regarding RSS, I have this system in place where I scan my feeds, anything I feel I should read goes to Instapaper, anything that I read through Instapaper that was any good gets sent to my Pinboard.in account. This way I have a reference archive for things like the link style posts, year in reviews, and also a searchable archive of the “knowledge I consumed” in case I ever have to find something back and my memory nor Google’s cuts it.
I find it very relaxing to use in the couch or to read something before I go to bed. Working through my Instapaper on the Mac feels more like “work”. And most days the last thing I want to do after a day’s work is sit behind the computer for a few more hours.