Father Christmas left an iPad under the tree

Father Christmas still comes to our 12 year old.

This year she only had one thing on her Christmas list. Smart move as there’s not much wiggle room for Father Christmas and his elves when there’s only one item on the list…

And so it came to pass. The Garton-Hill household now has a shiny new 16GB Wifi iPad.

I have been a bit of a knocker of the tablet format in the recent past (not because they are Apple but I couldn’t see the point in carrying a big phone around that couldn’t make phone calls). But after a few short weeks with the iPad I must say I am quickly coming around.

Tie the iPad to wifi and cloud based resources like Google Apps and you have a very useful device indeed. Google are slowly getting their apps to be fully iPad enabled so effectively with wifi and a free gmail account you have a fully functioning word processor, spreadsheet, file storage and email system on a portable, easy-to-use platform. Add the optional external keyboard and we almost have a desktop replacement.

Ease of use is what makes this device work. What hit this point home for me was when my daughter was showing her 70 year old grandfather my blog on her iPad. Without any instruction he intuitively understood how to use the device by touching stuff on the screen. I have been trying to show the same grandfather how to use Windows, a browser and a mouse for years and then this thing comes along and he just knows how to use it by looking at it. No keyboard, no buttons, no cables – nothing to confuse you or scare you. Even the full screen, no desktop, no task bar, no (dare I say it) windows – helps a lot in its utility.

We have been using “multitasking” mouse based UIs for so long that we have forgotten how non-intuitive they really are.

The iPad is an absolute pleasure to use. Not only because of its minimalist design but also because of its simple, elegant user interface. Imagine what Microsoft would have done to this device – we’d have stylus and be moving mouse cursors and sliding windows around… pfft.

Oh and it syncs to gmail, plays music, videos and great games. Now if it could only make a phone call…. Wait it can – over Skype.

I still hate the fact that you need to connect your iPad to a PC running itunes to get started – thats just dumb. A device with a supreme intuitive UI has to connect over USB to a stupid PC and some of the worst bloatware on the planet –  just to be used.  In that one decision Apple have added a huge layer of IT support that just shouldn’t exist.

The Apple iPad will be a disruptive device and a nightmare for corporate IT departments. The iPhone was bad enough but what do you say to a senior exec when they want to use their iPad to access their work LAN? How do you explain that it won’t open Word files or access file shares? Or can’t print to the shared office printer?

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