Three Apple iPad Questions

Nope, I didn’t pre-order the iPad yesterday. However, it’s highly likely we’ll purchase Apple’s netbook in the near future. Especially given the intense spousal pressure — my role as CTO of the Zatz household has been challenged. Yet I see no reason to float Apple loan without having even touched the device… and without addressing several open issues. Computerworld put together a list of 15 iPad mysteries, some now answered, but they failed to address my three biggies. Keeping in mind this will be a shared device.

1. Multiple User Accounts?
Will the iPad offer multiple user accounts? Melissa’s got her email, Facebook, and wallpaper; I’ve got mine. So it’d be nice if the iPad OS could accommodate us with global user accounts.

2. App Sharing?
Will we be able to share apps? Between devices. And between users (assuming multiple user accounts). We’ve got two iPhones, obviously hosting a number of apps, many pay. Is there a mechanism to duplicate or move them onto the iPad… without redownloading and repurchasing?

3. Network backups?
To position the iPad as something more robust than a supersized iPhone, and given a launch app like iWork and the camera kit, I’d think Apple needs to offer some sort of backup and sync mechanism. So will we have to periodically tether the iPad to a computer to backup apps and app data, as we do with the iPhone? Or will Time Capsule and MobileMe options be made available?

Unfortunately, I fear the answer to each question will come up negatory. Making this more a list of iPad shortcomings and iPad 4.0 OS feature requests. And I have one non-iPad bonus question: Will the keyboard dock also work with an iPhone? Technically, I see no reason why it wouldn’t. But from a business perspective, the lines between iPhone and iPad are already too blurry – so I could see them drawing this line in the sand.

19 thoughts on “Three Apple iPad Questions”

  1. If I recall, the answer to #2 is sort of. The iPhone apps you’ve purchased will work without rebuying them on the iPad. How each vendor handles the transition between iPhone and iPhone/iPad Universal (contains both UIs for iPhone and iPad) apps is up to them – if they release a *new* product that is universal and charge for it, then you have to rebuy. If they release a universal update to an existing app, you don’t have to rebuy. Much like the Tweetie/Tweetie 2 scenario.

  2. Assuming the iPad syncs just like the iPhone and iPod Touch, Anthony is exactly correct. I have a number of games that are both on my iPhone and my son’s iPod Touch. Apple’s FairPlay DRM limits you to the number of copies of iTunes that can host the files. But AFAIK there’s no limit to the number of devices that can sync the content.

    I wouldn’t hold my breath on network synchronization. Apple has made a decision to sync the iPod/iPhone with iTunes, period. I’m not hopeful about multiple user profiles. But both the iPod Touch/iPhone let you access multiple email accounts, so you might be able to setup accounts for you and Melissa, though you’ll both have access to each other’s email.

  3. The model set forth by the iPhone and iPod Touch set the model for the iPad.

    (1) There won’t be multiple user accounts just as there aren’t multiple accounts on other devices running the iPhone OS. This is meant to be a personal device beyond even what a laptop or desktop computer is.

    (2) Your account for apps on the iPad will be the same as your iTunes account that you presumably have already. So whatever apps you have on the iPhone or iPod Touch will be available for the iPad without having to repurchase them. This works the same for people who already have iPhones and iPod Touches.

    (3) Your iPad will back up everytime you sync it with your computer just as an iPhone or iPod Touch does now. Of course, you’ll still need to keep your computer backed up :-)

  4. Right, but given this is something more than a phone why do I need to sync it to anything? iWork and the camera photo import kit mean I can use it as a stand alone device. So why back it up to another computer? Or even require another computer. When I can back it up to a NAS or cloud. If Apple doesn’t solve this problem, maybe someone like Mozy will. As I can see replacing my mom’s computer and DSL with a 3G iPad. (Printer support?)

    Also, the app syncing is a bit more complex for a family. (Does Jobs live alone?) Melissa has her iPhone and computer with her own Mac account. As do I. How do we merge stuff? Do we merge stuff at all? And, again, why must I sync via a cable? Surely we can do better.

    Some may say I’m trying to make the iPad into something it’s not. But it clearly has the power/capacity and is being positioned as a netbook competitor…

  5. It will work exactly like the iPhone/iPod with the apps. Apps from multiple devices will be synced to all devices. As far as backup to the cloud, forget it. Apple wants you in iTunes for everything. As long as you buy everything from iTunes, you are synced to Apple’s cloud.

    My only thing with this is that for 500 bucks, you only get a 16GB device, with no external media to plug in. That’s just not a lot of capacity for a supposed multimedia juggernaut. But, it’s still probably enough..I am torn. I want one. But it may end up being $500 toy.

  6. Sadly, there is no reason any BT keyboard should not work other then Apple seems to hate BT with all their corporate might (well ok maybe not as much as adobe but clearly close). Never have I seen such a half-assed BT stack on a popular device. Keyboards be dammed the very idea that we still need a proprietary hardware connector to even sync is utterly galling. and seems to be true for the ipad as well. Utterly bone headed.

  7. It amazes me that people are pre-ordering/thinking of dropping money on the iPad when it hasn’t been fully spec’d out or explained. Your questions are totally valid. At least with a “full” computer you have complete control over the questions you raised, especially backup. By going with iPad, you’re stuck in Apple’s little fantasy land, where unless you play by their rules, you’re out of luck (or on your own with jailbreaks, etc.)

    I have an iPhone 3GS and it’s jailbroken so I can multitask, use internet tethering, etc.– stuff that I should be able to do with a “stock” iPhone but thanks to Apple’s rules, I can’t.

  8. I think the three questions are quite valid. Definitely different to sync something in your pocket vs. something that lives in the living room. Already I sync very rarely due to the inconvenience of it. I think your three questions are all wrapped up in eachother. Multi-user requires consideration for app syncing… Then for tethered syncing, are you really syncing all user data or just yours? Wireless/cloud/background sync would really solve this issue.

  9. As for email, use a 2nd email app, there are many. As for Facebook, there’s a logout/log-in function. This is not all that difficult. The wallpaper is a real issue. Don’t know what to tell you.

    If backing up without a wire is a dealbreaker then you are probably out of luck. However, if you’re willing to spend money on an iPad and not use the functions that require syncing — where you get a backup — then why in the world spend the money at all. Seems to me a high price for very limited functionality.

    The apps all move without additional payment. This has been clear since day one. There are a ton of comments on the web looking for answers to questions that have existed on Apple’s site for months now. Problem is people would rather flap their mouths than read.

    “It amazes me that people are pre-ordering/thinking of dropping money on the iPad when it hasn’t been fully spec’d out or explained.”

    We’re called “early adopters”. We have enough technical knowledge and common sense to figure out what appears vague to others.

    “By going with iPad, you’re stuck in Apple’s little fantasy land … I have an iPhone 3GS and it’s jailbroken”

    Have you ever considered installing an app is not much different than jailbreaking. Does not sound “stuck” to me. Nor to Apple which could easily kill jailbreaking but has choosen not to.

  10. Your questions have been answered for the most part. For file syncing you can use DropBox. I use it on the iPhone and it works. My concerns are file system and printing. My use case for the iPad is that I’m in a tv truck. Now I can make format changes and notes when I’m in the booth talking to an announcer or in the dugout talking to a coach or in the tape room putting together highlights. My issue is how am I going to print those changes out? Do I need to sync and get the file on a laptop first? What’s the point of launching with iWork if I need iWork on my “base station” just to use my new documents. Seems like I should be able to add a wireless printer in the Settings panel.

  11. Ray, ‘early adopter’ is an interesting descriptor. Wonder if it applies given the OS is quite mature at this point and this is a mass market device with at least tens of thousands pre-ordered. My Nokia 800 Maemo tablet was probably a better example, or my 7″ Windows Sharp ‘netbook’ imported from Japan before ‘netbook’ was part of the lexicon.

    Cloud syncing/backup is not an unreasonable expectation, given other Apple’s MobileMe and Time Capsule. And we still haven’t addressed syncing multiple iPhones (two accounts, different apps) to one iPad device. Wire or no wire.

    Interesting thought on jailbreaking. However, Apple may not be able to stop the exploit on shipped products. But they could look for evidence during app installs or OS upgrades and do something to shut us down. (Think Xbox 360.) So, yeah – they seem content to leave it be. For now.

  12. I can see linking the iTunes account during the user setup process. I think the OTA sync would still need some desktop management capability that you get with cable based sync. This also introduces the potential for the device becoming unsynched or changes occurring while in use.

  13. everyone in Jobs house has their own iPad and their own apps to go with their own iPhone with its own apps when they are not playing with their iPod Touch ;)

    but seriously this is the shiny world Apple wants you to be a part of – it is a wildly sucessful business model for Apple and people get products that work without them having to invest a lot of time in making it work. That is shiny and very fine for those that want such.

    People that read tech blogs and want to dig under the covers however find the walls thrown up limiting and even more so when the Apple gadgets get bigger than personal size. If someone gave me an iPad I would very likely have months of fun using the thing anddecidely like the idea of a bigger screen to watch video.

    However for my money spent I will wait for a the more open platforms coming from other companies wanting to make some moeny from this new market Apple just created. I also do not plan to buy any video from iTunes. I am a monthly subscription kind of person

  14. I am curious what changes the next OS update in June will bring, but – honestly – iPad has been a letdown so far. Not going to write off something that’s not out yet, but NotionInk’s Adam looks more fun.

    I guess, I’ll wait a few months and play with my brand new Alienware M11x :)

  15. I’m not holding my breath waiting for over-the-air syncing. If the Zune were more successful, it might be coming, but otherwise…

    I recently had to take my wife’s iPhone in for a battery “swap” which of course Apple does by swapping her iPhone with another one (new or refurbished, you aren’t told). Which of course means you better have EVERYTHING backed up. And since we’ve got LARGE collections of music and photos and such things AREN’T backed up automatically by iTunes. I ended up having to do a lot of the backups manually, though I bought a third-party utility (iPodToComputerFull) to help out, though it only did part of the job. Still, the whole thing was a pain. Surprised there isn’t a WHOLE PHONE BACKUP option in iTunes anywhere… There isn’t really a whole phone backup program available either that I could find…

  16. Over the air Synch? Depends what you mean.

    I use Google’s Exchange integration on the iPod touch, and contacts, calendar, etc. are synched properly.

    If you mean backups of other app data, I doubt it will happen soon. Most of the data is Movies, Music, and apps, which came from a computer anyway, so no need to back it up again.

  17. Rob,

    Personally the main thing I’d like would be podcast updates over the air. My computer updates these every hour automatically, but I have to walk downstairs and plug in my iPhone and wait for 5 minutes to get them updated on my phone. Kinda stupid.

    Often I’ll just download them to my phone directly using the Get More Episodes … link to launch iTunes later when I’m on the go if I didn’t plug the phone in. Of course iTunes doesn’t recognize these updates and will not mark the show as watched, and will put it on my phone again later when I do drop the phone into the cradle. Kinda stupid.

  18. This a question, not a comment. I think that reading from this devise might be a good thing, but when I read I dog-ear a lot of pages and do a lot of writing in the margins or take notes on a pad. It seem a small thing to add a stylus and note taking abilities on these gadgets. Is there a unit out there with this ability, or is there plans to add this ability later?

    Steve Blackwell

Comments are closed.