What Is Actually Missing From The iPad?

  1. Wireless printing APIs/Drivers. The iPad desperately needs access to print documents now that you have a real document editing suite of software available. Fortunately WiFi printing is becoming extremely popular. It’s easy to see someone sending you a Word document which you edit on Pages. Save. Then need to print.  UPDATE: There are several programs that provide printing to the iPhone, but none are system wide and provide all application access to print services.
  2. MobileMe data storage. MobileMe backup of the folder that you sync with the home computer. It’s fine if you don’t want to provide a true file browser, but at least provide Cloud storage for key files and documents. And natively sync those documents between iPad/MobileMe/home computer. The applications on the iPad should be able to access this folder depending upon their file type to replace the need for a file browser. Pages should see Word docs, Pages docs. Numbers XLS files. Keynote PPT files. UPDATE: According to Appleinsider this is all coming with the iPad and should extend to the iPhone.
  3. Email access to this synced “documents folder” on the iPad and to MobileMe shared folder. It’s not clear from any of the presentations that you will now have access to files/documents to send them as attachments inside Email. This is a must. Now I just saw a video of  Jobs talking to Walter Mossberg and they had an exchange where Steve said that Mossberg could write his review on the iPad in the Pages app, export it to Word, and then email it to his editors. So all this functionality maybe there, but it wasn’t demonstrated during the keynote.
  4. iPhoto.  Maybe they are leaving that space for a 3rd party to step in. But ideally, out of the box this device sould have a simple photo editing program. Again, this feature should be able to both update existing MobileMe galleries, and create new ones.
  5. Second 30pin dock port to allow the device to be docked in landscape mode . Also, if Apple is going to go the dongle route on video out, USB add connectivity, etc.  you really need two of these ports. One for power, one for expansion. Apple’s plugging the great battery life of this device, but if you are really going to use this as a road warrior type device you’ll have to have a dedicated power port.
  6. Wireless data transfer over WiFi and Bluetooth. This should be a capability built by Apple to work over Windows and Mac. There are all kinds of 3rd party apps that allow for this, but it should be there natively for the iPad.

Early Criticism Of The iPad: Counter Points

Some people clearly get what the iPad is including;

Daring Fireball obviously

This recent editorial from Gizmodo (after a day of criticizing the device)

Stephen Fry

And linked from DF  Cruftbox

Generally though the technoblogosphere has been pretty harsh to Apple’s latest creation. So let’s breakdown the primary critiques;

  1. There’s no camera. I’d say a pretty small population actually uses video iChat, which is what we are really talking about. And I’d say that Apple knows this better than anyone. Other than that function, there’s no real reason to put a camera onboard either facing inward or outward. It would make a clumsy camera experience, with the big screen I guess you could argue it would make for an interesting video camera experience. But to really be a great video camera it’s going to need a lot of video camera tech that’s going to significantly increase thickness which is clearly not going to happen. So to me the camera is not really a deal breaker or a game changer for the device. It’s a one application piece of hardware.  UPDATE: Great piece in Ars Technica on this very issue. 
  2. Flash Support. Apple is clearly on a crusade against Flash, so anyone actually believing the device would support Flash was completely ignoring reality. It wasn’t going to EVER support Flash so it’s not a missing feature. Apple didn’t say that the iPad would support Flash, and then change its’ mind. If Apple was wavering at all, the HTML 5 trials by YouTube and Vimeo have only emboldened this crusade against all things Flash. Now, the iPhone has never supported Flash, and in 2.5 years of using every iteration of the iPhone I cannot once recall ever going, damn what I really need is Flash. There’s the occasional video that’s it. Now, on my Mac, Flash is heavy on a number of websites predominantly ESPN.com. However, I never go to espn.com on my iPhone. I have apps for that. BBC news, app for that. AP news, app for that. CNN, app for that. All of those information type services, which use Flash video and have all packaged their content into an application to create value for their specific service. Hulu might be the number one actually real example that makes sense in all the articles that I have read. However, that’s only because Hulu is currently free. Once Hulu goes to any kind of paid service, the folks touting it, will start trashing it. Hulu with a subscription plan or paid access, is basically iTunes for TV shows. Apple is already trying to negotiate TV show subscription access for Macs, iPhones, and now iPads.
  3. Some kind of multi-tasking. Let’s put this in a parking lot for now. I’ll get to this in an upcoming speculation article
  4. No Verizon, still only on ATT, I’ll get to this issue as well in the speculation article
  5. More of Apple’s closed eco system. Again, this is a matter of expectation. Did anyone really think that the app store was not going to be the delivery method for installing software to this device? Did Apple indicate something different? No, because they didn’t say anything. So at this point, the app store really isn’t an iPad criticism; it’s an overall Apple criticism. This for most folks is not an issue. It’s an issue for tech geeks, but for 98% of users not an issue. And if Apple has proved anything over the last 7 years, they are not making devices with features that only the tech elite wants. They are not making devices or OSes that you hack/modify/customize. Apple is all about a unified user experience.
  6. Storage space. Now this one is silly as well. The pundits cannot get themselves outside of a Windows laptop framework where you need 500 gigs because MS Office and the OS are massive. The iPad OS is small. iPad apps are small. Apple’s been selling gear with 16 GB for years and folks have adjusted to that size easily. You load movies/music/apps and Apple has an easy interface for you to manage this. If you have a massive music/video library and you always need that with you, then Apple has other products for you.
  7. No USB port. On the surface this is the most valid criticism, if it was a MacBook or a Windows NetBook. Again, it’s not either device. What do you use USB for? Connecting peripherals and storage. The iPad is designed to sync with a laptop to provide “backup” capability. It’s designed to be an easy to carry around solo device. You don’t connect devices to it. You don’t connect a scanner to it. Now Apple has provided a dongle attachment that gives a USB port (for digital cameras only right now). Clearly there is nothing stopping Apple from expanding the use of that USB dongle, or adding an usb port down the road once the iPad is no longer regularly synced with a computer (it’s become more of a stand alone device).