What does an iPad do?
Back in April, I was lucky and fortunate enough to win a sponsored NCAA Tournament Bracket contest, and the grand prize was an iPad. As I do not have the discretionary funds to spend on something like this (or seemingly the general need), it goes without saying I was pretty excited by my windfall.
Prior to holding the device in my own hands, I knew very little about what this product did. I knew this:
1. It was bigger than an iPhone or an iPod Touch, but had it had no phone capabilities.
2. You could buy and use "apps" on the device to do a variety of things such as games, news, and internet.
3. It was an incredibly hyped product.
That’s it in a nutshell.
Once I received the iPad and figured out what version I was holding, I have to admit there was some minor disappointment. It was a "1st Generation" iPad, and not the iPad2 that had just come out in the previous few months. Additionally, it was the 16GB model, which is the smallest memory version, as opposed to the 32GB and 64GB. But after quick consideration, I decided that I couldn't complain because it was FREE, and I would never buy something like this to begin with. So I might as well enjoy and appreciate what I have.
My family was just as excited as I was when I got home with my new toy. We opened it, read the minimal instruction card, plugged it into my PC to link it up to iTunes and waited for the newest IOS software version to load. After about 40 minutes, we were off and going. We easily linked it to the household Wi-Fi, and were surfing the internet, and enjoying the factory installed You Tube app. We checked out the Apple "app store" to see what was there, and saw that they had apps that were free and some that you had to purchase.
After a few moments I let the kids take it as I seemingly was done with it for now. I found myself in a minor state of confusion. I kept asking myself “What is the purpose of an iPad? Seriously.”
For the rest of the evening it really bothered me. I had in my possession an item that has had more than its share of publicity and media hype. People stood in lines to get this thing when it came out, and bragged to everyone when they got one. The reviews in the tech magazines and online were raving, and called the device “groundbreaking.” Criticisms were few in numbers, and even those were merely suggestions for possible future releases. Maybe this was because they had nothing to compare it to. The overbearing message that I came away from all that was that Apple had “outdone” itself and its competitors again with this advancement in technology. That confused me more. What had they outdone?
I found myself sitting at my computer using various search engines to find out “what do you do with an iPad?” What did I find, lots of other people on message boards asking similar, if not the very same questions. My queries for an answer provided little help. The information that Apple itself provides in advertisements doesn’t even directly tell you the purpose of the device. But yet somehow those ad geniuses created a campaign that made it sound like everyone had to get one.
Eventually over time, I came to discover on my own what this thing could do. It was not a replacement for the regular PC, but a supplemental tool. However I have learned recently that many companies are issuing iPads to their employees and asking that they use them exclusively. The “apps” are meant to facilitate obtaining information while on the go, as opposed to searching on a clumsy laptop. Instead of going to a “favorites” file, you just tap on the app icon and you are off. This provides a versatility and ease of use that normal computers can’t provide. While there are iPhones, iPod Touches, and other “smart phones out there that do what the iPad does, the larger screen provided much more visibility and capability for entertainment. This serves my family well as they love playing games like Angry Birds, or viewing things on YouTube.
New “apps” are added everyday that are enhancing the capabilities and versatility of these machines. If you look under the “productivity” category in the App Store, you find hundreds of things to help the business person and regular person alike. Print capabilities and reporting functionality are becoming a reality, and making things more possible. Other "apps" make it possible to do almost anything you can think of. Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Target, Amazon, and all the news channels all have their own apps.
While Apple likes to flaunt that its product can do many things, there are lots of people out there who want it to do more. Computer developers, hackers, and enthusiasts continue to find ways to get around the tight security Apple prides itself on and have discovered how to “jail break” their iPads. A “jail break” allows unofficial software and apps not authorized by Apple to be loaded onto the iPads. Most of the apps are actually beneficial to the iPad and its capabilities. It can change various settings to allow the user to update icons, wallpapers, and many other tweaks Apple does not provide. You can read more about “jail breaking” by just entering the term in your favorite search engine. You will find many sites telling you the “whys” and the “hows” to do it if you are so inclined.
Because of Apple’s introduction of the iPad, the “tablet” format has become quite popular. All of the companies that create smart phones have put their version of the iPad into the marketplace. Based on the reviews, the iPad is still by far the most popular and the best.
As I have learned more about this device, I am very glad I have one. However I don’t know that I would run out and spend in excess of $600 to get one. It is definitely a great gadget to have, but is not a necessity. As the world becomes more technology-driven, I can see where the functionality will become more mainstream, and the ideas used within these tablets will infiltrate all of our purchased products. New apps come out every day that brings the device closer to the needs of a standard PC user. It probably won’t be long until the PC and the tablet are one and the same.
$600 is a lot to spend on a gadget. If you have the money to buy one, I’d say do it. It’s a lot of fun to play with. If you don’t have the $600, don’t worry. I would bet they will come down in price in the near future, making them affordable and useful.
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