The iPad 2

I've been meaning to write about the new iPad for a while now. I got it last Saturday and have been playing with it every day since then. The thing is, I don't really know what to say about it. I generally dislike Apple. I dislike their software, their software policy and the way they force their preference onto their users without giving a proper alternative. And most of all, I hate iTunes. Words cannot describe how much I hate iTunes. It's been the worst piece of software on my Windows PC for years. Lately it's gotten slightly better, but you can still see that Apple really doesn't spend a lot of time on making their software perform well on somebody else's OS. Despite my dislike of all those things, I bought an iPad 2.

Why? That's very hard to define for me. If anything, I'd say "because there's a place for it in my life". The iPad doesn't replace any activity for me, instead it extends, improves. Anything that I would do with a laptop but didn't because it would be too [troublesome, awkward, annoying], I can do with an iPad. I use it mainly to surf the net in the living room and to read books before I go to sleep. It's great because I don't have to worry about the battery life, and because it's just so much more lighter than a laptop. If I was flexible enough to stand on my head I'm sure I could still find a way to comfortably use an iPad.

There's practically no flaws in the device. Sure, there's some things it can't do, but everything it can do, it does perfectly. Well, except for one thing: playing videos in any format other than Apple's preferred format. I found two nifty apps that can play H.264 and xvid movies in either mkv or avi containers, but neither is fast enough to handle 720p or higher. There was once an app that would have saved us all: the VLC player for iPad. But Apple pulled it beause it doesn't like open source software licenses. That pretty much summarizes my thoughts perfectly: I love the device, but I still don't like the company.

Still, no one can deny that the iPad is the mainstream tablet right now. And mainstream means bullshit. Ridiculous apps that probably only cost programmers 1 or 2 hours to make, will cost you several euros. For any other platform they would have been free. Applications that do happen to be free will bother you with ads or nag you constantly that you should buy the paid version, because some teenie tiny bit of functionality only works in the full version. Evil people are on this platform, and there is an active need to beware of them, or they will mislead you to spend your money on something idiotic. But that's what the app platform is all about anyway: pure consumerism. Nothing more, nothing less. I mean, why bother making your website accessible for mobile browsers when you can make an app instead and make money on it?

As closing words I do want to emphasize that I really love the iPad. Like I mentioned at the top of this post, it already has a unique place in my life that cannot be replaced by anything else. It even made my mother say she wanted one! And that's part of its charm. It's a wonderfully fine piece of engineering. Well done, Apple.

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