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Handhelds Apple

The iPad Questions Apple Won't Answer 671

Posted by kdawson
from the silence-speaks-volumes dept.
snydeq writes "Apple's reticence to reveal details prior to a product's launch is legendary. But when Apple extends this silence beyond a product's unveiling, historically this has meant that the product cannot deliver the functionality that analysts and journalists are asking about. InfoWorld's Galen Gruman lists eight key questions for the iPad, about all of which Apple has kept silent. Can you save and transfer documents to the iPad? Does the iPad support Microsoft Exchange email? Does the iPad support VPN? Configuration management? 'I have no doubt the iPad will be compelling to some users. But I now have major concerns that it will fulfill the potential beyond being an iTunes delivery screen that I and other industry observers saw,' Gruman writes."
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The iPad Questions Apple Won't Answer

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  • Just pollin' (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bytesex (112972) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:40AM (#31070126) Homepage

    I know I could Google it, but I'd much rather have an expression of US 'sentiment' if you will - perhaps things are different across the ocean. I don't see a market for this thing and it leaves me puzzled. My question is this: does anyone there actually own something that could be seen as a precursor to this machine ? Is every other person in the US walking around with an e-book reader, that they are ready to replace with an iPad or something ? I mean, the iPod was launched in an existing portable MP3-player market, the iPhone was launched in an existing (even crowded) mobile phone market. This makes me wonder, since I do not have anything that looks like an iPad already (I don't need it) - is there a widespread need for this product ? I mean, I have a netbook, but i wouldn't compare that - it is much more capable.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Beelzebud (1361137)
      That's what I've been asking. What is it for? Seems like a simple enough question, but I see no answers.
      • Re:Just pollin' (Score:5, Insightful)

        by that this is not und (1026860) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:55AM (#31070204)

        It is to serve as a locked-down platform for sales of books, magazines, videos. Entertainment content.

        Apple used to be a company that was all about content creation. Now, with the Adobe customers, etc. having mostly migrated to Windows, Apple is rapidly becoming a company that produces only content delivery hardware.

        You know. Shiney plastic stuff.

        • Re:Just pollin' (Score:4, Insightful)

          by immaterial (1520413) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:33AM (#31070368)

          Apple is rapidly becoming a company that produces only content delivery hardware.

          Shit! They cancelled their "Macintosh" products?
          Oh wait, I just checked their website and they all still seem to be there. It appears that Apple added some media-consumption devices to their lineup in the past decade or so, but their full-fledged-computer business also still seems to be going strong - and 90% of that product line is made of metal, not plastic. You had me worried there for a second!

        • perhaps the biggest shock is how much Apple (read: Jobs) has cast the end user aside and now sees the publishers (books, music, and even video) as the customer.

          Its because of his greed that we are going to get soaked on e-books. Amazon had to cave into new pricing because Apple has attempted to hand our wallets to the big publishing houses.

      • Re:Just pollin' (Score:4, Insightful)

        by vertigoCiel (1070374) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:33AM (#31070372)

        It's not for you. It's for your Mom.

        No filesystem, locked down OS, sandboxed apps = impossible for the average user to screw up.

        The touch UI is stupid simple. My Mom still struggles with computers since she has trouble remembering UI conventions. I don't see that being a big problem with this device.

        People need to stop comparing this to netbooks & other computers. It's a web appliance for people who don't want computers.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by c_sd_m (995261)
          My mom's definitely going to end up with one. She has a netbook which results in regular "service requests" for us and complains for weeks every time Facebook changes anything. Her iPod Touch she loves and uses all by herself. If she asks for help with it, it's always like "someone told me you do X, can you show me how?" Since she's confident and motivated she remembers those tricks much better than where her files magically hide on her netbook.
          • Re:Just pollin' (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Raffaello (230287) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:09PM (#31074092)

            she remembers those tricks much better than where her files magically hide on her netbook.

            This bit is key, and it's the paradigm shift few are seeing here.

            The shift is from document centric computing to task centric computing.
            Document centric computing got its start on command line interface machines as "files."
            It was copied over unthinkingly to the first WIMP machines via the desktop and GUI folder concept.
            Task centric computing has users do tasks via apps, each of which stores its associated data
            however the app developer sees fit. The user is blissfully unaware of where or how the data is stored.

            This is the part that surprises most /. readers:

            For the overwhelming majority of users,
            not knowing or having to know where data is stored is a huge improvement.

            This is why old timers and tech geeks will be late to the party. Apple have already moved on.
            For the vast majority of users, the future is a task-centric, cloud computing world,
            and it will make their computing lives much simpler and easier.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by teh kurisu (701097)

          If my parents hadn't already bought my grandparents a Vista laptop a while back, I would be recommending one of these to them. It does everything that they do with said laptop, it's simple to use, and there's nothing that can really go wrong.

          Apple have released a toaster and everyone (myself included) is complaining that it's not a pressure cooker.

      • by cerberusss (660701) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:19AM (#31070610) Homepage Journal

        That's what I've been asking. What is it for?

        I see myself having a lot of fun with an iPad. You're on the couch, and the wife is watching something you don't like.

        Of course, you can start hitting her, but nowadays that's frowned upon.

        I'd grab my iPad and do some surfing. Or read a book. It's a very light device, easily held in your hand. Connect the earplugs, and play a game. Or check your mail. Or watch some movie you downloaded (paid or not). Sure you could use a laptop, but this one is easily held, and small enough to just lie on the salon table without looking ugly to the missus.

      • Re:Just pollin' (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 10Ghz (453478) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @09:05AM (#31070892)

        That's what I've been asking. What is it for? Seems like a simple enough question, but I see no answers.

        You obviously haven't been looking hard. It's for

        - websurfing
        - email
        - movies
        - photos
        - gaming
        - music
        - all those zillion apps that will be written for it

        Now you are probably going to say "I can do those on a laptop/iPod touch, how exactly is iPad different?"... And that's a fair question which I'll try to answer now:

        iPad is obviously quite different from a laptop. The UI is totally different and a lot more direct. It's smaller, has longer battery-life and is a lot simpler to use. What would it been like if Stepehen Colbert had whipped out a netbook as opposed to an iPad at the Grammys? Could you see someone using a netbook (or any other netbook) for something like that? Me neither. It would be awkward and clumsy.

        And I bet that iPad is better at many key things than a laptop is. Things like watching movies or surfing the web. iPod touch is already my websurfer of choice, and iPad would be even better.

        And the thing iPad has that a laptop does not have is simplicity. You can't hide one app-window behind another app-window. You do not have to worry about which app has focus when you try using keyboard-shortcuts. YOu do not have to worry which app is slowing the system down. You just have one app right in front of you. It's easy and it's simple. Some might find that too simple and too limiting, but fact remains that iPad offers simplicity and ease of use that does not exist in a laptop running traditional OS. And there are lots of people who will find that appealing. People want to do things with their computers, they shouldn't have to worry about cleaning up the filesystem or other crap like that.

        Well, what about iPod touch/iPhone? It should be quite obvious that iPad offers possibilities that simply do not exist on those devices. Like iWork. Running an app like that is simply impossible on an iPhone. You could view a document, but editing a document would be very hard indeed. On the iPad it's perfectly doable. And that's just one example. The level of sophistication in the apps is simply a lot better on the iPad-apps than what is possible on the iPhone-apps. The big screen really changes things.

        I bet that the device Apple introduced is just the tip of the iceberg. The key is the software. When we start getting news of iPad-apps that would simply not be possible on the iPhone, it will start making more and more sense. I mean stuff like this: http://blog.omnigroup.com/2010/01/29/ipad-or-bust/ [omnigroup.com]

        We can't simply think that "I can do XXXX on my laptop, wo why would I want an iPad?", we need to think more about HOW we do those things. In theory I could surf the web with my Nokia-phone, so someone could say that iPhone has no advantage over Nokia when it comes to mobile websurfing. But anyone with any experience with websurfing on the two would say that Nokia is next to useless for web-browsing, whereas iPhone is perfectly capable websurfer.

        With the iPad we are still stuck at the point where we stare at paper-specs and use them to determine the value and use of the device.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BlackCreek (1004083)

      I have a e-reader (Hanlin v3) which I use and like a lot.

      I won't go into the merits of e-books and e-readers, they are not for everyone. But as a recent research shows there is a target market that loves it [engadget.com]. Many e-readers I've read reviews about are great but all are still seriously lacking (as reading devices). So most users I know of would like to have something even better to use for **reading**.

      But the ipad thing has this LCD screen of sorts, I don't doubt many Steve Jobs fans will buy into the hype,

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Trepidity (597)

      Not a lot of people currently own e-book readers, but it's a rapidly growing market, so that can be considered one of the existing markets the iPad is entering. I think that was actually true with the iPod too: there was an existing portable MP3-player market, but it was much smaller. Stuff like the Creative NOMAD never really caught on among the non-techie public the way the iPod did.

      In a lot of ways I think Apple is hoping to basically repeat the iPod's success, by getting in to a market that is almost on

    • It fits our needs. We have a web-based application that our sales people need to demo. A cell card for each rep is $60 a month for 5GB. Laptop is another $850 - $1300 depending on what they get. The iPad has unlimited data for $30 per month and has everything we need for sales reps to do demos. We already have an iPhone app for them to process sales.

    • ... My question is this: does anyone there actually own something that could be seen as a precursor to this machine ? ... I mean, the iPod was launched in an existing portable MP3-player market, the iPhone was launched in an existing (even crowded) mobile phone market. This makes me wonder, since I do not have anything that looks like an iPad already (I don't need it) - is there a widespread need for this product ?...

      The larger bookstore chains in the US all have floor space dedicated to eBook readers. Barnes & Noble (and subsidiaries like WaldenBooks) are all pushing the B&N branded "Nook". Competitors like Borders show off the Sony eReaders and their kin. They typically have a functional unit tethered to a display stand that's loaded with eBooks. Some smaller stores have non-functional display units. And some just have paper flyers.

      Though eBook readers are more common to see in airports rather than coffee shop

    • Re:Just pollin' (Score:5, Insightful)

      by wfolta (603698) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @11:57AM (#31072862)

      The short answer is that there are two markets for the iPad.

      First, there are folks like my parents. They have never really gotten into computers, and simply want to accomplish a few simple tasks in much the same way they would use a VCR, a microwave oven, or a car. Put an iPad dock in their living room and the iPad can sit there displaying photos like one of those electronic frames. Dad can grab it and take it into the Den to browse the web and read his newspaper. Mom could grab it and take it into the dining room and plunk it on a keyboard dock and can check email, etc. It just works. There are no CD's to install, no registration codes to remember, no visible OS to maintain.

      Second, folks like me. I have a laptop and it's great: I have a dozen programming languages on it, email, multiple web browsers, even multiple OS's (via Virtualbox). But I have to interface with it in the classical computer posture: sitting in front of a screen, using a keyboard and fine-grained pointer, with a desktop OS and desktop GUI, with the machine held in the standard position (keyboard at bottom, screen in landscape orientation). But there are times when I want to interface with the machine more like a calendar, book, magazine, or piece of note paper, and the iPad allows this.

      I also have an iPhone and like it a lot, but the screen is so small that I can only ever interact with bits and pieces of my data. I can't even see an entire day's activities at once. The iPad will let me see all of my data at once. The iPad will let me share information with someone else, much as I do in the physical world. Using a laptop/netbook is a lot like sharing a pair of binoculars, not like sharing photos or drawing on a piece of paper. The iPad can be used at any orientation, and consequently it is viewable from any orientation, and hence can be shared naturally.

      When you say that a netbook is "much more capable", you have to consider "for what?". How you interface with it? No, you interface with it as a desktop, hands on a keyboard, screen oriented properly, not really shareable with anyone else -- especially with the cheaper, low-viewing-angle screens on netbooks. Writing a Python program or a thesis for school? Yep, netbook's better. Browsing through a boatload of research documents (say, using the unbelievable Papers app)? The iPad will win on that one. Sharing photos with a friend, watching a movie while relaxing, reading a magazine? The netbook can certainly do it, but only as a tiny desktop rather than as something like a photo or magazine.

      Simple.

  • seat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StripedCow (776465) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:41AM (#31070132)

    Sigh, when do people get it.

    With the iphone, ipod and ipad, you do not buy a full fledged computational platform... you only rent a seat in a theatre.

    • Re:seat (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jeffehobbs (419930) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:19AM (#31070322) Homepage

      That is ok-- choice is good, and it's not a zero-sum game. Put another way: Some people do not want to install the projector, screen, soundsystem and seats of a home theater. Some people just want to watch a freakin' movie.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by _4rp4n3t (1617415)
        Sure, the problem being that you are renting a seat but paying enough to buy the cinema outright!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by whisper_jeff (680366)

          Sure, the problem being that you are renting a seat but paying enough to buy the cinema outright!

          Are we trying to imply that the iPad is expensive? If we are, I think you'll have a hard time convincing anyone who's paying attention, given that other manufacturers are scrambling to deal with the fact that the iPad price was about half what everyone expected it to be...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What makes you think that the 'people' haven't already 'got it' and simply don't care? You do realise that to a lot of people, having ultimate control over something isn't an issue - I myself own an iPhone, and I have lots of apps on it. I am a software developer by trade, and have several publicly available private projects - but the perceived lack of 'openness' of the iPhone doesn't bother me in the slightest as its a tool that functions as well as I need it to. I made a choice when I bought into it.
    • Re:seat (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MrMickS (568778) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @01:01PM (#31073960) Homepage Journal

      Sigh, when do people get it.

      That's the only relevant part of your post. However we are talking about different things. What you, and the majority of people posting here, don't get is that people want a simple interface. They want fewer choices. They want to be able to make simple decisions of what to do.

      I have a TV. It has HDMI, it has component, it has VGA, it has SCART. I have cable STB which can output three of these. Now I know to use HDMI, but that's because I'm into technology. Not everyone knows, they have all of these different connectors, which is the best to use?

      I have a PC laptop. It has serial, a mouse connector, and USB. What type of mouse should I buy to connect to it? More complicated questions for anyone that doesn't have a good grasp on technology.

      What the geeks here don't get is that choice can be confusing. A vast array of different choices is a barrier to a lot of people. It challenges them to pick the right one when they don't have the requisite knowledge to make an informed choice. You can argue that they should get that knowledge but that's both elitist and unnecessary. As technologists it should be our aim to make technology more accessible not less. Apple get this, slashdot by and large doesn't.

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:42AM (#31070138)
    That's the key thing I still haven't heard anyone explain. What is an Ipad for, exactly?

    Maybe it's just me, but the ipad seems like a monumental waste of money.

    If you're trying to sell me something for $300 minimum, and you can't tell me with a straight answer what the device is for, then you have a problem.
    • by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @06:57AM (#31070222) Homepage Journal
      Purpose of the ipad:
      • Play video files on a comfortable screen while I'm doing cardio at the gym.
      • Browse web in non-sitting positions.
      • Read digital books.
      • Play casual games on comfortable-sized touch screen.

      The people like me who will buy the iPad are not looking for a device that is a computer. They're looking for a media access device that doesn't carry the drawbacks of a computer. If you still can't comprehend the iPad, you need to look at the Kindle DX and complain about how little that does and it's just ten bucks less than an iPad.

      Seth

      • by MrHanky (141717) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @08:06AM (#31070540) Homepage Journal

        Wrong. The Ipad isn't built for Apple's customers, it's built for Apple.

        When you say it "doesn't carry the drawbacks of a computer", you're simply being dishonest: it would cost nothing in user experience to allow multitasking or free installation of software. A full OS X with the iPhone GUI would be fantastic, and relatively easily accomplishable. It would come with no extra draw-backs for the user whatsoever. And you know this perfectly well.

        But this would cost Apple a lot, in that a user with choice wouldn't be tied to iTunes. The question is: why are you being dishonest? Apple probably doesn't pay you a cent for your work as a freelance advertising agent. And why is this bullshit so prevalent among Apple fanboys? There's a reason why you guys are called a cult: you are one.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by nscheffey (1158691)

          A full OS X with the iPhone GUI would be fantastic, and relatively easily accomplishable.

          You've never designed any software have you?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by MrHanky (141717)

            The OS core is already the same (if we are to believe Steve Jobs (which is naïve, I admit) and also a few people with jailbroken phones), and many of the non-iphone parts of OS X are already available, like the BSD subsystem. It's not so much about redesigning the OS as adding the restricted parts back in [iphonepassion.com].

            That's all I meant with "full OS X". I wouldn't want PPC or i686 emulation or something fancy as that; hell, I'd even do without 100% source compatibility. I just want the basic tools I expect from Da

    • by Fzz (153115)
      The Register got it right. It's a portable TV [reghardware.co.uk] for the 21st century. If you think of it that way, you will be less disappointed.
  • If they are not answering, doesn't this mean that most of those functions are not available?

    On a side-note though, I am still not getting the point of iPad. It's not an iPhone but runs its OS and its too big and expensive to just be an audio/video player to say the least. Probably I was impressed by Hitler [youtube.com], but still....

  • Alright, I just coined RIC (Real, Important Concerns). Fifteen seconds of blogosphere fame for me.

    There are Macs in my house and I like 'em. I've been with OS X since 10.0.0. But the iPad is a big iPhone. If I wanted to enlarge a mobile phone to create a "netpad", I sure wouldn't pick the iPhone. A phone that runs Android would be more interesting to me.

    I understand that Mr Jobs wants to build a new market by extending an established market. He's good at doing what he does -- but he makes mistakes. I think

    • by VShael (62735)

      But the iPad is a big iPhone.

      I wish people would stop saying that.

      It's not any type of phone, never mind an iPhone.

      At best, it's an iTouch.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Using a modified version of the iPhone OS is exactly what Jobs has done right. Putting a full desktop OS into a tablet is where everyone has been going wrong.

  • of "But the Emperor's wearing nothing at all!" comes not from a child, but from a member of the 4th estate?

    Colour me shocked.

  • That's all I really see this as. There's something to be said for that, and I think this is the kind of device I'd be using while spending time in the bathroom (I use my Palm Pre there now, but if it had a larger screen, it'd be nice). But that's about it. Maybe it could replace the laptop while sitting in front of the TV, but not until everything that's flash based that I use (IE games on Facebook) was able to run on the iPad, one way or the other ...
  • strawman article (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SethJohnson (112166) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:03AM (#31070256) Homepage Journal
    Can the iPad display 8 questions in HTML without having to spread them across 6 pages festooned with advertisements? Perhaps the object of the author's criticism is a more efficient content delivery platform than his employer's website.

    Seth
  • by Funnnny (1409625)
    The only question.
    Is it a Apple Product ? Yes then Buy.
  • by 91degrees (207121) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:28AM (#31070348) Journal
    The most important question is "Has Apple found a niche for this product that other Tablet PC manufacturers have been unable to find?"
  • by aclarke (307017) <spam.clarke@ca> on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:39AM (#31070402) Homepage
    It sounds to me a bit like the author of that article is a little miffed that he's been disintermediated. He mentioned several times about how Apple PR hasn't gotten back to him on this or that, therefore these features must be absent. He also mentions how Apple views the press as an extension of their marketing arm.

    It all smells a little like sour grapes to me. Boo hoo Apple won't tell *ME*, a member of the PRESS, things that I want to know! Therefore they must be absent! Yeah, that'll shame Apple into talking to you. Way to push them around.

    My own take, which is just about as informed as the writer's, is that the iPad will include the same Microsoft Exchange, VPN, multitasking, document saving & transferring, etc. etc. capabilities as the iPhone or iPod Touch. And why not? It's the same OS? The only place they're likely to differ is if the iPad doesn't include a camera.

    I can't understand why Apple would REMOVE VPN functionality from the iPad when it's there already. I suppose they might ship without Exchange support as it's a new mail client, but if that is the case I'll expect it in a forthcoming new version, just like what happened with the original iPhone.
  • by nicknamenotavailable (1730990) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @07:46AM (#31070442)

    Apple excels at creating beauty, in both hardware and software (BTW, I'm using an Imac right now). This iPad is no exception.
    My only question is: Will I be able to put my own Operating System on it?

    The old G3,G4,G5 macs were open enough so that I could load my own OS on them (sometimes BSD, sometimes Linux).
    The same goes with the current Intel macs.
    While I sometimes marvel at the beauty of OS X and how Apple has created a user friendly UNIX, I want more freedom.

    Unless Apple is open enough to let us (the minority) play and tinker with the internals so that we can install an OS that
    might be visually inferior(to most) but is philosophically superior, unless Apple can allow us to do this - I will never buy one.

    I will patiently wait until the other players create a tablet that will run x86.

    All the other stuff in the article is not much use to me, all I need is make; make install.

  • by Theovon (109752) on Tuesday February 09, 2010 @10:01AM (#31071412)

    Plenty of good arguments have been made about Apple wanting to keep tight control over their walled garden, those being the reasons for some missing features.

    But keep in mind that this is also the first-generation of this product line. Trying to cram too many features in all at once is a recipe for disaster. It's important for engineers to set reasonable goals to strive for. Incremental development is easier to develop and most importantly easier to debug.

    If Apple had tried to pack in the 10000 additional features people are demanding, the iPad would not have been out for a few more years. Instead, Apple has gotten a product to market. And plenty of people will buy it. Revenue can be reinvested into developing the second and third generation products. Just as recent flash-based iPods are more sophisticated and powerful than the very first ones based on mechanical hard drives, later generations of the iPad will be more capable and more elegant.

    Perhaps in 5 or 10 years a later generation iPad will be appealing to more of us geeks. Perhaps not. I think MY next Apple purchase will be a 17" MacBook Pro. Because what I need is more like a desktop system I can carry around. YMMV.

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