The Consumer Matters is the blog of Leslie Grandy, aka Gearhead Gal.  My passion is creating and delivering compelling products that delight customers through simple and elegant user experience design.

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Entries in iPad (9)


Who Really Has Influence?

There are a million ways to measure your influence across the social web. But it seems that being the Mayor of something or having a big Klout score really doesn't define us when we want something we can't have. 


All I Want For Christmas Is...



Getting Comfortable With My iPhone XXL

Part Two in My Technorati Series - First Published May 11, 2010

The current iPhone 3G and 3Gs are just on the edge of being too large to be comfortable devices to use with just one hand. Of course, it is impossible to hold the iPad and use it with just a single set of digits.

The iPad has some challenging ergonomics, defined by the as "the applied science of equipment design,intended to maximize productivity by reducing operator fatigue and discomfort." It's also not always as intuitive as you might think.

dock keyboardCan I Just Lean Here For A Minute?
If the soft touch and grip-ability were the only reasons you needed a case, then a silicon rubber condom would be enough. But the fact is, the little angle that the Apple case provides makes a huge ergonomic difference when the device is set on any flat surface.

To view videos, or use two hands to type, you have to lean it against something, and the darn thing just slips and slides constantly when propped up. I have a case that converts to a stand for my iPod Touch, and there is no way around it - you need the same thing for an iPad. It's simply not a one handed device, and holding and poking at the keypad is just no fun.

That's An Accelerometer Lock, Not A Mute Button

It seems iPads have a tendency to be confused when it comes to recognizing their orientation. Maybe it is a commitment thing. Apple added a new lock button where the ring mute was on the iPhone. I had not realized mine was engaged, and that resulted in some strange behavior.

I purchased Apple's Pages software, but had not realized the accelerometer lock was there, or that it was engaged. (It was easy to toggle it accidentally because of its proximity to the volume control, and my fingers inadvertently must have engaged it).

When I opened Pages the device launched the program with no application menus visible. The keypad was the only thing besides the Getting Started page I saw. For the life of me, I had no clue how to open or create a new document. Later, a friend showed me the purpose of the lock button, which I had thought was a mute key similar to my iPhone.

Even after the lock was dis-engaged, I found I was opening Pages in landscape mode wanting the largest keypad to type on. Unfortunately, Pages never displays the application menu when the iPad is in landscape mode, whether the accelerometer is locked or not. It never occurred to me that there'd be no way to invoke the menu, only the keypad, when the device was most comfortably positioned in the horizontal layout for typing. It takes a sharp move from horizontal to vertical in order to reveal the difference in the UI.

Skip The Apple DockiLounge ipad dock
This bias towards resting the device in the portrait, or vertical, mode is a flaw in the iPad's design thinking that continues with the dock.

The dock only allows the iPad to rest in the groove in portrait mode, because it must use the connector at the smaller end of the tablet. If you want to keep your iPad on your nightstand sitting in a dock to charge it while falling asleep to movies you will have to watch them play in the wrong aspect ratio.

And don't think you can leave it in landscape mode as a picture frame while giving it the juice, either. It makes for a compelling reason to get the Apple case, which biases towards landscape mode, making it great for typing and watching movies. It also lets you use the charging connector with the USB cable and power adapter.


Bonding With My 3G iPad

Part One of My Two Part Series, First Published on Technorati, May 10, 2010

So many reviews have been written about the iPad, it is hard to believe there'd be any unexpected surprises left to discover. But, one of the most delightful things about a new gadget is how you integrate it into your own real life. It is like dating someone new - early on, you don't know how much you're willing to change to discover your soul mate.

It has been a week since I bought my 3G iPad, and most of that time I was on the road, attending the Digital Hollywood conference. I challenged myself to see how much I could rely on just a touchscreen tablet, a real test being the laptop-lugging road warrior that I am, and I left anything resembling a keyboard at home.

Here's what I discovered during some quality time together getting to know each other:

The iPad Increases Your iPhone Battery Life
Yes, you read that correctly. Your iPhone battery life will extend remarkably if you buy an IPad. It is true what you have read that the iPad battery life is amazing. It blows away the iPhone, even with 3G. My iPad lets me do everything I did with my iPhone, and now that I don't do those things any more on the iPhone, my iPhone battery lasts so much longer! It is an unexpected and amazingly cool benefit. I can now make it more than a day on an iPhone charge. And I am using it so much less for web browsing and email and videos and games that I am thinking maybe I should just go back to a great feature phone with a decent camera and a low voice and messaging rate plan.

3G Is Useful, If Everyone Around You Doesn't Have An IPhone
AT&T has provided me with a sluggish and unpredictably unavailable service experience to my iPhone and it is no better with an iPad. I could feel when I was at the airport standing in the security line holding my iPad and waiting to place it in the X-ray tray that I was competing for precious bandwidth with other bored travelers tapping away on their iPhones.

The conference hotel didn't have free wifi, and so having 3G connectivity was good, when it worked. I often saw full bars when web pages were loading and then would time out. I do like that the 3G and Wifi combo keep the device always connected, so if you don't know whether a wifi location has a log in page to join the local network, you can remain continuously connected to receive push notifications and email as you traverse free, paid, and secure wifi networks. That's something my MacBook Air laptop doesn't provide me when I am mobile. Continuous coverage is nirvana.

If You Only Buy One Accessory, Make It This OneiPad case
Throwing the iPad into my carry on without a case was a non-starter for the trip, but the Apple iPad case was sold out in all local stores. Apple previously made a leather case for the iPod, and sold a few handfuls of them for the premium price of $99. It was a beautifully elegant, leather sleeve, but sleeves are not a popular iPod case style, unless you are a tween girl wanting a knit sock to cuddle your treasured Justin Bieber on an iPod Mini you got as a hand-me-down. Thankfully, the company brings their iPad case in at a more affordable price and in a cheaper faux suede that adds some much needed grip-ability to the slick back.

It is hard to believe that the Apple case is so critical to enjoying the iPad,but the fact is that without it, there is no way to balance the device and keep it from sliding off the round edges of your lap, as mine did several times in flight. The fact that the case is sold out everywhere, and has a 3-4 week wait when you order it online from the Apple Store, should tell you something: it's mandatory gear for any iPad user. 


PANEL: What iPad Means For The Future of Mobility

On the eve of attending adTech in San Francisco, I attended a local panel discussion for app developers organized by Noah Kravitz of PhoneDog, a mobile blog that's part of the NetShelter Technology Media network that includes IntoMobile and, my personal favorite, Panelists included:

  • Will Park, Editor-in-Chief,
  • Damon Brown, Daily Media/Tech Blogger,; Author of “Damon Brown’s Simple iPad Guide”
  • Aaron Watkins, President, Appency Press
  • Jesse Lindeman, Director of Product and Technical Marketing, Mobile Iron
  • Anthony Ha, Assistant Editor, VentureBeat
  • Nitin Chitkara, VP, Business Development, Mobclix

As is often the case in these intimate sessions with this many panelists, the evening took a while to take shape. But Noah did a stand-up job managing his moderator duties - talking to the live streaming audience and tweeting fans on his iPad and juggling a panel that was insightful, if not articulate. After a bumpy beginning talking about whether iPads legitimize "man-bags" and rambling panelist self-introductions, Noah steered the discussion to elicit a few interesting comments and insights.

On the topic of app pricing: "$4.99 is the new $.99". Panelists were divided about if and how the iPad will normalize pricing for paid apps on the large screen iPad versus the iPhone. One panelist remarked that the extra screen real estate will not be enough to justify a higher price for an iPad app than the same app on an iPhone/iPod. IntoMobile's Will Park noted simply, "Crappy apps will only look crappier on a bigger screen."  However, there was little consensus about how developers should consider setting prices for iPad apps to harmonize costs and volume.

A New User Experience: Developers should re-think their iPhone app strategy for the bigger form factor to increase a consumer's engagement with their app's content. The panel seemed to agree the iPad was an immersive experience that could be leveraged for monetizable value. And there was clear consensus from the bloggers on the panel that they weren't prepared yet to ditch their laptops for the sleek tablet. "It's not that cool yet." Park was balancing his teetering iPad on his knee in its case, allowing him to tip the screen so he could (I'm guessing) type during the session.

Early Adopters Sharing: There was only a brief mention of developing apps for other tablets than the iPad, although the topic was merchandised more broadly than simply the iPad. About half of the audience indicated they owned iPads, and 90% of those seemed to have been expensed. Panelists stood in line the first day, they streamed to their blogs from the lines, and they even admitted they take their iPads into the bathroom to read. A few confessed to cuddling their iPad in bed, an experience they claimed they never had with their laptop, which gets overheated. "It's the last thing I see before I go to bed."

Apps, Books, and Stores: The most popular app among the panel was Netflix, although one panelist, Damon Brown, pointed out that Alice for the iPad was really an app, not a book. I thought that was an odd distinction. So I went to iTunes and noticed "books" appear on the App Store, and books appear in the iBook Store. There are apps that are sold to read electronics books you can read on an iPod that doesn't have the iBook store yet.  Confused yet?

As panelists summarized their final thoughts, one common theme emerged: the iPad is important to this group not because of what it does, but because of what it enables for designer,s developers, advertisers and consumers.


iPeek Because I Can; So Should You

Check out this fun website, iPad Peek, that lets you see how your website will render on an iPad. Although I use Squarespace to host my site, and it does a good job of optimizing it for mobile viewing, it was interesting to me to see how the ads and widgets and embedded content I've added to the page would render. Just remember when you enter your own URL to disable your browser's flash plugin since the iPad won't really play that media on your page. You actually need to trick the browser into thinking it's got the iPad webkit version to get a taste of the real experience. Mashable explains how to do that if you don't know.


Why I'm Waiting For A 3G iPad

A number of folks who read this blog or follow me on Twitter have commented that they expected I would already be cuddling my iPad, glowing in assurance I am a true early adopter of technology from having pre-ordered or waited in line at an Apple store. I actually did neither and each time I got close to placing a pre-order, I relented and abandoned my purchase.

So why don't I already have my iPad? The main reason is that I am waiting for the 3G version. When I have asked why other folks aren't waiting, I have often heard that people believe they will just use their iPad at home. These people maintain that wifi in their home is readily available without an additional monthly fee to access it. To them 3G, and a 3G data plan, is superfluous. I am just not convinced that's true. I want coverage, and 3G helps ensure coverage when i am mobile. On a long road trip, a larger screen and a connection that lets me surf the web could be just the ticket out of boredom. (And no, I won't be tricking out my SUV like the Sound Man has, but it illustrates my use case effectively.)

I also use my iPod Touch in addition to my iPhone 3Gs, and I find that when I travel the iPod Touch is the go-to entertainment device to ensure I can extend my iPhone battery life. And entertainment for me isn't just downloaded content I remembered to stock up on before leaving the house. Streamed content, online games on Facebook, and catching up on my friends feeds are all forms of entertainment that I enjoy when I am mobile, but which suck the life out of my iPhone when I may need to make or receive a call. 

Like most consumers, I tend to overbuy on hardware, hoping to extend the lifecycle of my purchase. That tends to be especially true for products i am not sure how I am going to use. Megapixels, memory, and now radios. More always feels better, giving me greater comfort that I won't outgrow the product, even if I never use all of what I buy. It's the movie popcorn theory, which maintains that consumers perceive there is a better value in the mega-bucket, even though they can't finish the contents of the bucket.

Waiting for 3G also has the added benefit of not being part of the first batch of hadrware assembly. If any parts or processes have created defects, I have the opportunity to let the real early adopters alert me.


Product's Not Out Yet, But Reviews are In

First published on Technorati

Although the sleek new device announced today is not available, social media is already buzzing about missed expectations and opportunities squandered. The financial markets always anticipate a letdown when Steve Jobs, the company’s favorite presenter, walks on stage and today was no exception. Just after 10AM Pacific time, Apple’s stock (AAPL) took a tumble below $200, although it closed at nearly $208.

Most notably absent from the portable device was a camera. One of the main complaints iPod Touch users have had is the lack of camera, and Jobs’ demo of the amazing photo application on the iPad only served to highlight this missing component. One Apple fan, @itshenry, wrote, “iWish they had iAdded an iSight.”

Another loyal Apple user posted his disappointment with Apple’s continued lack of flash support, @markhall pointed out, “You can’t claim it’s great for browsing and not support Flash.”

Other add-ons many had hoped to be featured but were never shown include: expandable memory, USB ports, multi-tasking, a multi-user interface for shared usage and a better media management experience to improve on the Apple TV product, a less popular member of the Apple family.

On the services side of the equation, the most noticeably missing rumored feature of the iPad was an announced partnership with Verizon, which has long been expected to sell the iPhone, but which requires support for its CDMA network. Although the iPad will be sold unlocked, since a version that supports CDMA was not announced, Verizon’s customers will only be able to use the Wi-Fi versions of the new tablet. 


Is It Time For My Kindle Break-up?  

I still love my Kindle, although it now already feels like an 8 track stereo compared to the iPad. I am certain the bright color screen and page flipping will be more compelling than having the physical keyboard, although I can buy a keyboard dock for the iPad to compensate for any challenges I have with its onscreen multi-touch keypad. However, there is one thing I don’t think the iPad will do better than my Kindle and that is seamlessly connect me to wireless networks. With my Kindle, I never have to log in to a wireless hotspot, know an SSID or worry about proxy servers and sign in pages.    

The nookTM, which also uses AT&T hotspots, has a post on its help board online helps me clarify this point:

nook is programmed to automatically connect to the free AT&T Wi-Fi in any Barnes & Noble store...We see there are lingering questions about Wi-Fi ... So, for a point of clarity, you can connect on any 802.11b/g Wi-Fi hotspot, or wherever you have the SSID password. The exception to thie is Wi-Fi hotspots that use proxy settings (like you typically see in a hotel), where you have to enter a password or some other information before you can connect.

The truth is, for most consumers, even though free wifi is all around us it can still be somewhat confounding to connect to a hotspot with an iPod Touch, nook with a wireless-enabled device. Interstitial pages sometimes don't require logging in with credentials, but do require a web page to be clicked on. Occasionally, the iPod Touch is connected to the wireless network, but there is no Internet connection, making it unclear what state the device is in, until a browser is launched.

I  never have to ask someone for their network password to access wifi on a Kindle, and it doesn't ask me for a log in password to use my Amazon account when I lose connectivity and then re-connect. Every time my iPod Touch falls out of range of a wifi network, it seems to ask me for my iTunes login credentials when it discovers the wifi again. Once authenticated to the Amazon store, it sends me what I need as long as my Amazon account has a current credit card.

The frictionless access connectivity and consumption have spoiled me on my Kindle. I'm hoping Apple has fixed the machine to machine connectivity to be more seamless on an iPad than it has been on my iPod Touch. If so, somewhere during the 60 days till I can get my hands on an iPad, my Kindle and I will have the "it's not you, it's me" break up conversation.