by Anton Shilov
01/28/2010 | 10:51 AM
Apple has finally announced its highly-anticipated iPad tablet. The device seems to be impressive, but it is far from ideal. The iPad seems to have a lot of limitations that were either conditioned by technology or implemented with a clear intention to address them in the second generation. Let’s see why the iPad is not perfect and how the iPad 2 could change that.
One of the most important shortcomings of Apple iPad is the absence of Adobe Flash support. Just like on the iPhone, one may still enjoy YouTube videos on the iPad, but it will be impossible to play flash games or navigate on web-sites that use flash in the menus. Considering that even some corporate sites use flash too extensively nowadays, this does seem to be a huge drawback for a device designed for the Internet. Perhaps, Adobe and ARM will finally enable flash on the ARM processor of the iPad, or Apple will have to somehow implement it on the next-generation iPad.
Another crucial disadvantage of the Apple iPad is the lack of web-cam. Even the cheapest netbooks are usually equipped with one and the vast majority of modern phones can make video calls. It is rather strange that the device developed for those, who browse the Internet often will not be able to support video conferences of calls. Besides, with no camera, the iPad will also not allow to quickly grab a picture and send it to a blog. It will be quite logical for Apple to incorporate a high-quality web-cam into the iPad 2.
The nonexistence of multi-tasking is a yet another strong disadvantage of the iPad. It makes impossible to leave tasks (instant messenger, a book, a game, etc) in the background to quickly check a web-site and write an email, a rather strange thing for an Internet-centric mobile device. It is unclear why Apple decided not to implement multitasking for the iPad at launch, but it is highly likely that the technology will be available in the iPad 2.
Apple has been selling high-definition 720p (1280x720, progressive scan) videos for quite a while now. As a result, the absence of high-definition screen (1024x768 resolution supported) and high-definition output (up to 576p resolution supported) on the iPad seems to be odd. It was logical for apple to stick to 4:3 aspect ratio since iPad should act like an electronic book reader too. At present there are probably no reasonably priced small screens that support 1280x960 resolution, but in the future similar displays may emerge and find themselves on the second generation iPad.
A very strange thing about the iPad is the lack of support of GSM voice calls. Of course, Apple needs to sell iPhones, hardly anyone will use a 680 gram device as a mobile phone in general and besides, no notebooks or netbooks with WWAN support allow to make voice calls. Nevertheless, the feature might be appreciated by some users and Apple may at least consider it for the iPod 2. Of course, instead of incorporating GSM voice call support, Apple may introduce its own VoIP application, like Skype, that will be always online and will enable voice communications between the users. Since computers, mobile phones and now tablets from Apple have rather large install base, such an application would get a formidable amount of users at day one.
There are other disadvantages Apple iPad has: it comes with mini-SIM card that is only available from AT&T at the moment and this does not allow end-users to choose their network carrier themselves or use the 3G-enabled device outside the U.S. or other countries where it will be sold; it does not have USB ports, unlike netbooks; it does not feature SD card reader to transfer photos or other content; it cannot run software that does not come from Apple App Store; it does not support sharing of electronic books or music files like Barnes & Noble Nook or Microsoft Zune; Apple iPad carries price-tag that is much higher compared to netbooks, digital media players or portable game consoles. However, Apple will hardly address the majority of those issues with the iPad 2 that will be available sometime in 2011.
Almost all devices from Apple lack critical features in their first generation. The second-generation usually addresses the issues and brings in improvements necessary to popularize the gadgets. Time will tell what happens to the iPad.