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So last year I spent a while being very grouchy about Steve Jobs’ vigorously defended walled garden, put my money where my mouth was, and got an Android phone. The Droid X has served me relatively passably, with a couple significant problems: It sucks batteries, and the UI experience is startlingly uneven, particularly in core areas like, say, _being a phone_.  (the contact list app in particular pisses me off – sluggish and difficult to navigate compared to the iPhone).

I’ve also been watching the unfolding Android tablet rollout and been… terribly unimpressed. It feels like Google’s throwing software out on the breeze and hoping it takes root. The end result is a platform with poor adoption and branding, with the same problems as the phone version of the OS, so far as I can tell.

With that in mind, I bought an iPad 2 this weekend. Just getting started owning it; I’ve pitched about $40 into the app store to round out my toys, mostly on games, but a couple basics for me  like an RSS app tied to Google Reader, and am SSH client.

So here’s my first impressions:

To hell with flying cars: this thing’s future cool. With the level of usage I put into it, I’m getting 2 or three days out of it; they’r not lying about the 10 hours of active use average. Netflix’d the first episode of the recent Dr Who series, and yeah, that chewed up a little under 10%, but games and websurfing generally are easily forgiven.

The UI is responsive and simple – the lack of settings and options menus in standard locations still annoys me, but I’ll take it if it means that I don’t have to deal with stutter-stepping application behaviors allatime.

There’s an insanely simple thing that also makes it ‘just right’ – the cover. Instead of having a clunky slipcase, I’m using the apple-standard cover, which is very, very thin and flips into a convenient stand. For bonus awesome, if you flip the cover off, the slate wakes up immediately. Very intuitive.

I miss widgets a bit, and the modal notification mechanism is really primitive. I’d love to see those improved.

Being able to use a hard switch to lock and unlock orientation is pretty much perfect UI for me.

the Twitter client in particular blows my mind. The interface is very much like turning or shuffling pages – a visual stack mechanism that works perfectly for me. MobileRSS uses the same scheme.

No official Facebook client. Very odd. Halfway decent third party apps out there, but it could use the real deal.

The profusion of front ends to news organizations is occasionally disconcerting, and the UIs vary a little much. Bloomberg’s is gorgeous; if only I wanted to read more Bloomberg articles. NPR’s still seems to want to play random audio clips too often. No idea why. Ars Technica’s always starts with an ‘updating’ splash screen, which just seems clunky. What if I don’t have a ‘net connection?

the iPod client… Well, good and bad. The biggest issue I have is that I don’t adhere to the death of the album idea.  I often want to go troll through a genre, find an album, and play it, and a number of the categories’ UI elements discourage that particular method. Clunky here and there. Lots of experimentation. I hope they clean that up someday. It plays music, though, which again, Android? not so good at. Lots of crap music clients, lots of inconsistent playback.

There’s first impressions. Mostly positive.  Enjoying it, to be sure; here’s hoping it continues to please!

(crossposted from The Dream Library)

December 2016

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