The iPad is an incredibly versatile piece of technology that genuinely changed the world when it was unleashed. Ultimately it’s little more than a ‘large iPhone’, but what this meant in reality was that we would finally have an intuitive and elegant way to surf the web on a large screen.
If you wanted to read your favourite website you no longer had to wait for your PC to boot while sitting at a desk – you could now turn your iPad on instantly and enjoy the news while reclining on a sofa. Throw in the countless apps to fill pretty much any need and provide a host of unique experiences and you have a device that had a place in every home.
But amazing and ground-breaking though the iPad is, it is also somewhat frustrating and always has been…
The Problem With Apple
The problem of course is with Apple, who have strict policies regarding how they want to market themselves and present their hardware. They operate on large margins, and sell their products as hip-yet-premium pieces of well-crafted technology that ‘never go wrong’. They adhere strictly to minimalism and focus on just a few flagship products every year in order to keep their fans hooked and to maintain their image of perfection.
But this dedication to minimalism and smooth performance also has downsides – in particular it prevents the company from ever taking significant risks in the design or function of their products. Apple products all follow a very specific formula and are intentionally limited by the company that makes them.
What iPad Could Be
For instance the fact that you can’t get iPads with more ports is a frustration that many feel. iPads present the perfect interface for a range of small-business purposes and are finding themselves being used as self-service kiosks, POS systems for restaurants and even digital menus. This is all possible, but it could be much easier if the hardware had more than one port – for say a charger and an external display, or a cash drawer and a barcode scanner.
iPads are also highly limited in terms of their hardware in other ways. For one they simply don’t provide much choice in terms of form factor or features. If you decide you want an Android device then you can go out today and choose from a hundred different units all with different screens, inputs and more.
For all intents and purposes the iPad offers the most powerful hardware on the market, and yet you can only have it in one of two sizes with no options for extra features. That’s pretty disappointing when you think how useful a built-in keyboard would be (like the Asus Transformer) or a stylus (like the Galaxy Note 10). A proper stylus (non-capacitive) would be nice even if it was forced with the main line of devices – as that way businesses could sign documents and designers could better use the many paint apps.
Oh and it’s really high time that iPads had a micro-SD card slot. A removable (and upgradable) battery would be nice too.
The Software Limitations
These are the hardware limitations of the iPad that really don’t need to be there, but really it’s the software that is truly unnecessarily limited.
Because Apple are so set in their ways, there’s still no way for applications to share data (you can’t open attachments automatically for instance or share photos to Twitter through the camera app), there’s still no way you can run multiple applications side-by-side on the same screen (multitasking in the true sense which is now available in some form or other on most Android devices) and there’s still limited access to your own files.
These limitations are annoying for consumers who know that they could have had hands-down the best tablet on the market if not for Apple’s simple stubbornness. For businesses though who would otherwise embrace the iPad wholeheartedly they can be somewhat crippling. There are still countless uses for iPads in business, but there could have been so many more…
The author of this article, Jimmy Mason, is a part of the team at Aireus, leading providers of restaurant POS systems. Jimmy is an ardent traveler and loves to go on road-trips whenever he can.