5 Features that Would Have Truly Made the iPad A "Magical" Device

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By: Hillel Fuld

So, as I assume you know by now, Apple released their extremely over hyped and some say most important product ever this week, the iPad. Steve Jobs, when first introducing the iPad referred to it with so many different adjectives, like only Steve Jobs knows how to do. The two words that stuck out among the bunch were “Magical” and “Revolutionary”. Now, here’s the thing, the iPad has been out for days now, and it has gotten endless positive reviews, however, with all its amazing graphics and smooth UI transitions, the iPad is hardly magical or revolutionary.

I know it has somehow, in one week, become cliche to call the iPad an overgrown iPod Touch, but let’s be honest, with the exception of a faster processor and a few other minor enhancements, that is what it is. However, the bottom line is, the number of iPads sold, as well as the number of iPad apps downloaded, are groundbreaking. There is no debating that this was a successful launch. Having said that, there are many people who have not taken the bait and will wait for iPad 2nd generation due to the list of missing capabilities that leads you to the only possible conclusion that Apple left them out so they can have what to include in the next version.

So, Apple, the company known best for its closed philosophy, has done it again. You know what would have been magical? If Apple would have changed their ways. The introduction of a new type of computing device, which is what the iPad is supposed to be, would have been the perfect time for Apple to introduce a new philosophy. The general concept of this new philosophy should have been “we trust our users to make the right decision about how they use our devices”. That would have been revolutionary and magical.

The following is a list of features that would have showed that Apple has really gone all out to make the iPad the ultimate device:

  • Multitasking: Yes, I know everyone is talking about this, but there is a reason for that. Let’s be honest, most of the people buying iPads, at least at the early adopter stage, are geeks. Geeks need the ability to multitask. Just imagine a laptop that allows you to edit a Word document, but while you are doing so, you are unable to run an IM client in the background. Imagine a computer that will not allow you to have your email application running because you are now making a Skype call. That would not fly, would it? Slap a nice Apple logo on the back of the machine and that is supposed to solve everything? Well it seems to have worked for over 300,000 people so far, but I think the true geeks among us need more from our computers. Apple is providing a sneak peak into the iPhone 4.0 OS within a few days. The most anticipated new feature of the new iPhone software is multitasking capabilities. I don’t know about you, but the way I see it, if Apple would have implemented this new functionality upon release of the iPad, now that would have been brilliant. The day Apple allows multitasking, that day will be magical and revolutionary.
  • USB, USB, and another USB: OK people, time to be real and honest with ourselves. Would any other computer with no USB ports manage to sell even a quarter of the amount of iPads Apple has sold? Not a chance! It’s one thing to leave out any connections on a mobile phone, but a computer? I don’t know about you, but I am always running out of USB ports on my home computer, there is never enough. How does Apple get away with this stuff? Well, I guess the answer is supreme marketing, an ultra sleek and intuitive UI, and a whole lotta Apple fanboys out there. The day Apple adopts the market standards of external ports, that day will be magical and revolutionary.
  • Memory Card Slot: This is just a continuation of the previous point. The iPad, like the iPhone and the iPod Touch is completely closed. Apple wants to dictate to its customers exactly how to use the device, or more precisely, exactly how NOT to use the device. Now, 64GB of storage aint too shabby, but do they even make computers with such small hard drives anymore? Now, I know the basic assumption here is that the iPad is a computer, but based on what the experts are saying, that is what Apple’s intentions were. The iPad is supposedly intended to replace the laptop, or at least the netbook. However, with HD content and cameras that take 12 and 15 megapixel pictures, the capacities that the iPad comes in, they just don’t cut it. The day that Apple allows its customers the freedom to upgrade their storage capacity, that day will be magical and revolutionary (by the way, out of the things on this list so far, this is the most unlikely to ever happen).
  • Camera: The lack of a camera on the iPad just gets me angry. There is no way to explain this without coming to the conclusion that Apple just saved it for the next version. The presence of a webcam on the iPad is as natural as a steering wheel in a car. With the amazing screen, and the Web capabilities, the first thing I would want to do is test out Skype video calling on the iPad. I cannot help but think that the ability to video call on the iPad would have made it into a device we would have seen in the movies or possibly an episode of 24. There is absolutely no doubt in anyone’s mind that the iPad camera is coming, in fact, I believe I read somewhere that the software foundations for an integrated webcam are already in the current iPad. An iPad with a camera, front facing or regular, now that is something I would call magical or revolutionary. Yes, I know it exists on computers and phones for years, but computers and phones have never been this sexy…
  • Flash Support: Why does Apple have to be so stubborn? Anyone? Flash is too buggy for you? OK, so include an option in the browser’s settings to disable it. This is the kind of freedom consumers want. Why can’t Apple get off their high horse and allow support for Flash? I want to watch Hulu on my iPad, is that so much to ask? This feature (if I can call it that) is by far the most unlikely to ever pass the strict Apple jail-like standards, but a man can dream, right? The day Apple reverses a decision as crucial as Flash support, that day would TRULY be magical and revolutionary, but sorry to say, I do not see that happening any time soon.

In conclusion, the iPad is a success and there is no denying it. People seem to love it and its numbers are sure to continue growing. However, it seems Jobs was at his best when he was presenting the iPad for the first time. If you have ever watched one of his keynotes, you know he is the expert at using impressive and exaggerated adjectives to describe Apple’s devices. I thought for once that the iPad would be an exception and it would really be the magical device he kept calling it. Unfortunately, it is not, and it is just another Apple device following the pattern of Apple mentality we have grown accustomed to since the introduction of the very first iPod.

I do not know what exactly Apple will announce on Thursday at the “sneak peak” of iPhone 4.0, but something tells me, we are not in for too many magical or revolutionary moments, more like the same old Apple tricks.

What do you think? Can the iPad be described as “magical” or is it just another cool looking and well marketed device? Please let us know in the comments.

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21 Discussions on
“5 Features that Would Have Truly Made the iPad A "Magical" Device”
  • The potential of this device is magical, and judging on the things we already see, the future is looking pretty bright for the iPad. Top content publishers are getting their share of the iPad pie, while the internet has gone kookoo for HTML5.

    Apple obviously is notorious for being locked down and strict about their devices, but a lot of their decisions make sense. YES it’d be nice to have Flash in the browser, but if it hardly works, why include it as a option? WHEN it doesn’t work for people, they’d blame Apple because that’s what they’re using, and they don’t know any better. No one cares that Flash is in 10.1 beta and it’s a WIP. All they care about is that it doesn’t work. Apple doesn’t want this negative image.

    This is why they chose to support web standards with HTML5 and so forth, and so far, I don’t think people are losing too much without Flash.

    Multitasking and the Memory Card slot are the two things are even make sense at this point. The others just don’t really matter (yes, including the camera). Also, I have a feeling come this Thursday, Apple is gonna talk about some form of multitasking, like widgets of some sort. The memory card feature would be sweet for quickly transferring/loading things like photos, office documents, etc.

  • Its nice to see an Apple fan boy who can at least appreciate the devices shortcomings. I bet you still bought one though, right?

    Imagine if another hardware manufacturer, dell or HP, for example, released a similar device with no USB ports, multitasking or Flash support – It would get slated by every corner of the internet and ultimately fail, it bemuses and astounds me that people will buy sub standard hardware all because it carries an apple logo.

    Ah well, its still pointless.

  • 1. Even the option of allowing certain, low memory programs multi-tasking abilities would be fantastic. Wasn’t push supposed to solve this problem? What happened to that?

    2. I suppose we’ll have a dock connector to USB device soon. Didn’t something like that exist to transfer pics to a 3G iPod?

    3. Having a usb port would negate the need for this, as thumb drives are cheap!

    4. No camera doesn’t make a damn bit of sense, unless they haven’t figured out a way to make video chatting perfect.

    5. No. Flash needs to go away. I have enough problems with this crap on my laptop and desktop, I don’t want my iPad burning up every time Flash decides not to work.

    Damn…guess I should wait until the second version…

  • Can’t agree more (except maybe Flash: better it dies).
    Apple could lose this new market it just invented with these stupid omissions.
    What a pity once it got (for once) the price ALMOST right (3G should not be an expensive option, either)…

  • 1) The reason they can get away with #1 is because your example and 99% of the examples you can come up with already work! I can be logged into chat and be working on a pages document and at the same time receive emails and be streaming an audio podcast from the iTunes store or playing any of the audio content on my iPAD. It is not that the iPad doesn’t multitask it is that Apple has not yet given third parties the ability to multitask.

    2) How they get away with this is, that the device has a USB port with a proprietary connector. It is called the dock connector and they ship it with a USB cable! The reason they don’t include a standard USB port is because 99% of the USB products on the market don’t currently have drivers for the iPad. Those companies who wish to make iPad compatible USB devices can simply ship them with a USB dock connector.

    3) Sure, additional storage would be great but of course you could then run into the problem of certain things having to be stored in one place and not the other like many smart phones that support this feature. It is just not a huge benefit for most users.

    4) You may even be correct on this, but if you are it is just evidence of how poor the competition is that Apple can hold back features and still be successful. My guess is that getting iChat mobile working and getting their hands on enough cameras for both the iPad and iPod touch while also getting ready for a new iPhone release is the bigger issue.

    5) Because they want to weaken flash! For decades flash on OS X has SUCKED!!! in comparison to flash for Windows. And I’m sure when Apple approached Adobe on the subject they were given the market share speech and dismissed. Adobe may be motivated to make a solid version of Flash for Apple now (which was probably always the plan) but now Apple sees an opportunity to push big players off the platform for good, so that Adobe can never again be a weak point in apple’s armor again.

    Oh ya! and with Netflix already on iPad Hulu can’t be far off so come up with another site you miss because of the lack of flash? I’m thinking webkinz for you!

  • Sorry, you just don’t get that Apple’s taking us on a journey, and those things are distractions. Only the camera is a reasonable complaint, but maybe AT&T wouldn’t do the half price data contract for an iPad with camera, so Apple left it off. For the rest – go buy a netbook; it looks to be your perfect device.

  • Strange. You want iPad to be magical and revolutionary, and yet all improvements suggested by you are so 90s. Maybe there is something more in human world than yesterday’s features… A new and easier way to interact with information, especially for children, seniors and non-nerds? But perhaps there’s an even simpler answer to all your laments: iPad is not a computer, don’t look at it this way. Grab and dissect your netbook instead.
    Now comes the complicated part:
    1) iPad HAS secure multitasking, and more applications will get access to it as soon as security issue will be resolved. 2) WiFi is new USB, and improvements in printing, sharing etc. are not a rocket science 10 years away. 3) Yes, I agree on that. But I’m a nerd. My mom will get confused by it as she is by digital terrestrial receiver’s card slot. 4) Maybe, if it will be implemented better than in iPhone. 5) Flash ad banners kill my MacBook’s battery every time I open a news portal. I’m fed up. Defending Flash as a web platform is the same as defending Microsoft Word as a part of our ability to write.
    Go back to computers where all requested features exist for decades and let others experiment. “iPod = just an MP3 player.” See?

  • Magical is for movies and games. Compromise is what we do in the real world. Compromise for battery life. Compromise for ease-of-use. Compromise for price. I agree with sleepy the camera is the main disappointment in the first version of the iPad. Oh, and I forgot, “magical” is for marketing.

  • While it’s valid to be irritated about the lack of certain features that seem common-place at this point, I find it incredible that everyone is focusing on this one, single release instead of the larger picture.

    With Apple successfully dropping a tablet on the market, everyone else will finally hurry up and release the ones they’ve been sitting on for years because they didn’t think there was a market for it. Apple will respond with an uber-upgraded version, the competition will respond in kind, and within a couple of years we’re all going to be walking around with tablets of one make or another and marveling at how dumb we used to be for lugging around those bulky laptops.

    I’m far less interested in whether or not this first release is worth buying and far more interested in how this is going to change the pace, tone, and expectations of portable computers.

    I suspect that 3 years from now we’ll all be chuckling over this antiquarian device (“Can you believe it, they didn’t even have USB ports! How quaint!”) and doing amazing stuff on our 5th Gen iPad or Sony tablet or Dell tablet or whatever else slides out there.

    I’m just really excited that Apple took the leap. Seems like they’re really good at building a market, then everyone dogpiles in with various features and improvements, then Apple has to step it up.

    That’s the nice thing about the computer industry…the consumer eventually wins, no matter what. Just research what you buy before you buy it, and you’ll be fine.

  • You are right in your observation that there is nothing magical about the iPad. Technologically its actually a little crippled with the available spread of tech (as all the lists point out, including yours here on this page).
    What Apple does offer that is in my opinion a factor in the mass appeal is:
    – The compatibility: Unlike some other platforms that require endless driver hunts and version matching, most Apple products play nicely together in true plug and play style. This is very enticing for non-geeks who dread the install process and driver installation.
    – The TCO: While Apple products can be pricey, in general they have great after sales value. Look on eBay for a PC with the same or equivalent specs as an old iMac and see which ones command better prices. I usually churn over my Apple products before buying a newer one and it does make a difference.
    – The support: While nerds like us will never avail ourselves of the support offered at every Apple store, it is so nice to refer my parents and friends to drop by an Apple store (in so many places now) to explain something or teach a short lesson on some software rather then me spending an hour over the phone doing the same thing.

  • @tdhurst and the rest of your apple fanboys, flash isn’t shit, its not overly buggy, and it tends to work all the time, for me, on my windows PC.

    The problem lies with Apple, not adobe. How on earth a program can run perfectly well on a PC, and not on an Apple, and you can actually blame the software company is totally beyond me.

    I bet you mac gays used to use a PC, and when an application crashed on that you would shout “fucking windows” and blame Microsoft for the particular software manufactures shortcomings, however when it happens on an Apple, it cant possibly be the system or the OS.. how could it?!?

  • Don’t get me wrong kids, I love my iPhone. People that are defending the iPad at this point are the old people target market, or just blind loyalists whose opinions receive no serious consideration. It’s tripe. The whole bit. “New and interesting way to interact with information?” Are you serious? We started developing touch screen (with a stylus) since before 63, friends. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USyoT_Ha_bA&feature=PlayList&p=7E281E457A02EC44&playnext_from=PL&index=0&playnext=1 And they still cant get a single unit right? People ARE bitching about no camera no flash, no SD, not being able to manage your data efficiently, because it’s what they want! It’s what the market wants. And apple is shoved so far up its own, it doesn’t care what the people want. And that’s where they’re fail in my book this time around. They should have knocked it out of the park in my opinion. “Its compromise to save battery life”? Are you serious? You wanna save energy? Go get a pen and a piece of paper. Or, you know. actually read a friggin book. Giving up features for battery life is stupid. You’re not going to buy a car with one seat, no heat and A/C, Manual windows, No cruise, no radio, and pay full price because its “a trade for better gas mileage” you are going to buy the car with all those things AND the iPhone hookup because they make it better and its what peole expect. Then you work around those things to make the gas mileage better. Look, I’m just a guy, I love my iPhone. And until release date, I was excited about the iPad. But the HP Slate is looking more and more awesome every day. They’ll get it right, hopefully and that will make apple wake up. And that’s what I cant wait for. They wont be able to just slap a camera on there with more space and and call it 2nd gen. It will have already been done. For cheaper. Then Apple will get frustrated. What they come out with after they hit that low and wake up to their elitism… THAT will truly be amazing. Think Different.

  • So the first thing that makes th iPad magical is to hang bits off it?

    If it REALLY needed all this stuff, and I’m not convinced it does, it should come with it not be pasted on.

    Things that get added to the iPad should be wireless as well. Wireless cameras, keyboards, storage devices, scanners, chargers, and other sensors that ergonomically won’t fit the tablet form factor.

    Now those will be magical! Wouldn’t be better for the iPad to connect automatically with a galaxy of networked devices? Even though I haven’t printed at home since 2004, even wireless printed would be a step up. I say quit pasting bits to it and pick up the nearest laptop to use all that legacy garbage.

  • ” But the HP Slate is looking more and more awesome every day. They’ll get it right, hopefully and that will make apple wake up. ”

    Nope, sorry.

    No HP Slate. They shelved it until they can figure out if WebOS works better for a tablet than Windows 7.

    And M$ cancelled the Courier tablet also.

    ““Its compromise to save battery life”? Are you serious? ”

    Absolutely serious. If the iPad had come out with Flash support and a two hour battery life, there would have been a wave of mockery that Apple would push a device with such short battery life.

    Instead, they said it would be a ten hour battery, and it runs LONGER than that.

    ” You’re not going to buy a car with one seat, no heat and A/C, Manual windows, No cruise, no radio, and pay full price because its “a trade for better gas mileage” ”

    Wrong again. Auto racers, who crave power over convenience, do exactly that. They buy a car, soup it up, and then strip out everything else.

    They end up with a car with one seat, no radio, no spare tire, etc, just to go faster.

  • “Apple’s becoming evil… very evil and joining M$ ”

    M$ is successful because they’re evil. They copy other people’s ideas and sell them as their own.

    Are you saying Apple is evil just because they’re successful?