I’ve come late to the iPad party, a principle to do with its lack of Flash support, but work is work, times must, and I wanted to jot down my impressions as I enter into… iPad world.

Steve Jobs recently announced big changes to the first time user-experience for the iPad so I will try not to dwell on its failings too much. Apple clearly knows there is work to be done in this department and they do plan to fix it.

Suffice to say that syncing with iTunes is required before you can do anything on the iPad. In my case I ended up with all my iPhone apps (177 in number) transferred over to my new iPad – and it took 30 mins to do this. I then spent an hour getting rid of them all. More on that in a moment.

I let out a chuckle when the hilarious-I’m-surprised-more-people-don’t-talk-about-it “oversized iPod” interface finally appeared on the iPad, and after clicking on my first app saw the app presented at the size of an iPod.

This rather hilarious irony evaporated fairly quickly as I realized I would now need to remove almost all of the apps I’d spent half an hour syncing.

By sheer fluke, I noticed a filter setting in iTunes that lets you see a list of only your iPad compatible apps, as opposed to the apps which the iPad will run but which appear at the size of an iPod. I saw that 10 of my 177 iPhone apps were compatible, meaning I had to get rid of 167 apps. Your mileage may vary.

Since there is no option to view the apps which are not native to both systems this is literally a manual process. Figuring out and deleting the offending apps is thus a massive pain, error prone, and time consuming. If I were to do it again I would probably not sync my iPhone apps from iTunes – but that would raise yet further questions and issues.

As mentioned above however, Apple are promising to ‘cut the cord’ and stop syncing their devices with iTunes in future. Good riddance. iTunes is god awful software and a viable contender for the most annoying software on the planet. But recent stories have suggested that moving to the cloud may not all be plain sailing for Apple, and I have no desire to be the first troop into battle when iCloud launches publicly. I foresee major potential problems as I’ve speculated before.

Has Apple fully calculated how much demand there could be for its service?

Basically Apple knows how many devices it has sold but does it really know how many songs, shows and photos we have on all our devices and how many of us are going to want to sync that content with the cloud? They’ve built a pretty impressive data center to service this tidal wave of demand, but cloud storage is not a core competency for Apple, and people with a lot more experience than Apple have had major problems in this area. And they’ve not had to turn it all on overnight.

It may be that now is actually a good time to get an iPad before Apple starts shipping iCloud later this year. If you get in beforehand you’ll be able to upgrade to iCloud a few weeks after its launch. If it turns out there are major problems, you can weather out the storm.

Having synced with iTunes, and sorted out the apps I already owned, the real fun began…

My first step was to check out the iPhone apps that had survived the culling process. There’s little logic as to which ones are left, they are simply the iPhone apps where the developer has distributed a universal app to your phone. More confusing is that a number of apps (Angry Birds for example) appear to have an iPad app, but they’re selling it separately from the iPhone version. So in these cases you will have to purchase the iPad version again, even if you already own the iPhone version. It could be worse though… Apple might have engineered the system so that all apps had to be repurchased for iPad. It seems this decision has been put into the hands of the developers.

I enjoyed checking out ‘much larger’ versions of certain games. Flick Football is a lot more fun and accurate on the iPad’s larger screen. I checked out a few dedicated iPad apps, and so far Flipboard is my favourite.

Quick Observations

  • The official Twitter app bares little relation to its iPhone version
  • No official Facebook app at this time?
  • Does the iPad have GPS? Actually it seems there is some confusion on this

Keeping it Safe

My over-riding concern at this point is breaking the precious thing. The Apple supplied Smart Cover cover offers little protection to a 3 year old dropping it, and crucially the Apple warranty does not cover accidental damage. I tried googling ‘ipad screen insurance’ and amazingly it seems there are policies out there for around $50 per year. Apple’s extra year of warranty which does not cover accidental damage costs $79. Good deal for Apple..

Perhaps the biggest problem I had on my first day with the iPad was being able to use it. Other members of my family monopolized it immediately and I couldn’t get near the thing. Hilariously clich├ęd but true.

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