iPad 3G In The House!

| Free on iTunes

Today is Friday, April 30, 2010, and I have an iPad.

All of you iPad haters will yawn and move on. Please do, because, as you may have guessed by now, I will be talking about the iPad.

The operative word here is, “talking,” not “gushing.” I see potential in the iPad, that potential is largely unrealized, so just talk, no gush.

I ordered a 3G iPad about a month ago because I thought that there may be occasions where I will need to review an app that is iPad 3G specific. These would be apps that take advantage of 3G, of course, but also GPS, which only the iPad 3G model sports. I imaged turn-by-turn navigation on a monster screen, and chat and VOIP calls when there’s not a Starbucks in sight.

I’m chaffing at the US$15 to $30 dollar extra I need to fork over to take advantage of that 3G portion of my new iPad. I’m already paying through the nose for my iPhone service, I don’t know why 3G on my iPhone is any different from the 3G on my iPad. I doubt I’ll be using both connections simultaneously. Heck I don’t use my iPhone 3G a lot as it is. I don’t understand, if they had to charge iPad 3G users something, why AT&T couldn’t just charge me another $5 dollars a month for the extra connection. That’s guaranteed cash flow whether I increase my 3G usage or not, and I likely won’t. In fact, I doubt most iPad 3G users will warrant using $15 worth of 3G a month. I understand the company has to make a buck, but I don’t believe us consumers should be mugged in the process.

Consequently, though I have a 3G capable iPad, I won’t be 3G-ing much.

I’m also chaffing at Apple’s new Orwellian credo that is becoming increasingly restrictive. No porn, no social commentary, no this, no that, no the other. I understand that Apple wants to run a clean and upstanding shop, but restricting applications based on what they might expose people to is totalitarian and completely opposite to image Apple portrayed of itself in its famous ‘1984’ commercial. I’m not a child. If I want to read politically charged cartoons or watch bouncing boobies on my iPad then that’s my business. If I don’t want Junior to see such stuff then give me tools to restrict his access and warn me that the content may not be suitable for young eyes.

Understand that I agree that many of the apps that Apple purged from the App Store due to adult content were lame to begin with and they should have never been allowed there, but removing apps because they don’t align with Apple’s social sensibilities is just plain wrong.

It’s easy to safeguard the kiddies and still have adult content. Create a category for adults and key that access on a credit card or other identifying data. Most kids don’t have credit card (yet), and the ones that do could be challenged before accessing the content. The point is, instead of actively denying content, which makes Apple appear evil, create a walled garden, which makes Apple appear to be the concerned corporate citizen it likes to think it is.

OK, down from my soapbox. None of my aforementioned chaffing diminished the anticipation I felt before my iPad arrived. I’ve played with the WiFi versions in the store and while I liked handling it and playing with some of the apps, I knew I wasn’t getting the full appreciation of how personal this device appears to be. Many of the early reviews say the same thing; it’s hard to understand the iPad until you get one into your own environment and use it. I haven’t had chance to get to that point yet. To me, the iPad is still too new, and I am still uncertain where it will fit in the scheme of things. But I’m sure I’ll find a place.

In the meantime, I’m gonna show this bad boy off to anyone silly enough to stop and look. This means I’ll need some ‘showoff apps’. My wallet is still smarting after spending a tad more than US$750 for this slab of glass and aluminum, so buying a boatload of apps is out of the question. That means only one thing…free apps!

I haven’t had my iPad long so taking more than a cursory look at iPad apps just wasn’t gonna happen this week, but I will be able to take more in-depth looks at apps I report on in the future. So, to play it safe I’m going to point you to apps I already use on my iPhone, but have iPad counterparts.

First up is WeatherBug Elite for iPad.

I’ve always kept two weather apps on my iPhone; WeatherBug and Weather Channel. Both apps do a good job of reporting the weather. I like WeatherBug for its current conditions page, which offers up all the main weather points at a glance. However, I’m not a fan of its radar page, which is static. The Weather Channel app on the iPhone was recently updated, and the current conditions page is cleaner and offers much of the same info that WeatherBug does. WeatherBug Elite now sports animated radar, which is a must. This is ideal when you are trying to see what is coming your way.

The iPad version of WeatherBug is even better because you don’t have to squint see the maps. Also, all that screen real estate lets you see more detailed forecasts in a glance, which means a lot less scanning and flicking through screens to get to the info you need.

I like the WeatherBug app on the iPhone, I like WeatherBug Elite for the iPad even more.

Next up is the NPR for iPad app. National Public Radio’s iPhone app was a good way to keep up on the shows you liked on NPR, but the diminutive screen made for less watching and more listening. With the iPad you can reverse that.

The NPR for iPad looks like a multimedia magazine. Stories and photos fill the big screen, and little pop-up menus offer options no iPhone can. What’s more, you can download articles and shows for offline listening and reading.

In fact, you can read an article while listening to another NPR show. How’s that for multitasking?

The NPR for iPad app has it all, and it’s hard to believe that it’s free. Well, maybe it’s not. This is your tax dollars at work so take advantage.

Ok, last up is pretty cool.

Your iPad has that big, gorgeous screen that’s just begging for a movie or TV show to watch on it, but your discretionary funds are at an all time low. To make matters worse, you have an affinity for films that feature aliens and spaceships, and you’re hungry. You could rent Serenity (no aliens, but lots of spaceships) for three bucks; thus, feed your cinematic hunger and settle for a PBJ on toast…

… or …

You could grab the pilot to a remade TV series, where aliens come down to rip us off and impregnate our women with reptilian hybrids, for free and watch it on your iPad while noshing on cheap pepperoni pizza.

If you choose the latter then go grab the free pilot episode of V.

Those of you who remember that far back will recall that V was an interesting series back in the early 80s that started off cool, but degenerated into a bad SciFi soap opera. This new series on ABC has a lot of promise. Of course, the special FX have been updated, but so has the storyline, and the alien leader no longer looks like a high priced call girl, as the old series portrayed her. The alien honcho in the new series is played by Morena Baccarin, who, ironically, played a high priced call girl in the ill-fated, much loved, but short-lived Firefly series. Ms. Baccarin does an excellent job allaying fears of alien takeover by expounding, “Peace, always,” but you know she has a hidden agenda which, hopefully, does not include an alien-human love child.

Morena Baccarin as Anna in ABC’s “V”

I suppose that’s inevitable, all the aliens are hot and healthy human curiosity is bound to intervene. Ah well, at least the pilot episode is cool. Grab it and see what you think.

That’s a wrap for this week. To those of you getting iPad 3Gs today, welcome to the club.

One final note: Grab these free apps now even if you don’t think you’ll use them. The reason is that I’ve notice many apps are free one day and cost cash money the next. For instance, I was going to tell you about Night of the Living Dead and the Weather Channel Pro For iPad, both were free as late as yesterday. Today they both will cost you; Weather Channel Pro is $3.99, Night of the Living dead is $.99. I suspect WeatherBug Elite will start charging as well. Get them while you can.

More free stuff below with direct links.

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20 Comments Leave Your Own

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

@Vern… I’m still looking for the Android porn store. But I agree with you on one thing about the iPad. Turn by turn driving directions for that baby would kick ass in the car. That form factor would kick ass in the car with a few good apps tuned for safe use while driving. Music, turn by turn driving directions, backup and front bumper cams, instant voice messaging…

Turn by turn absolutely rocks on my Nexus One. They’d theoretically rock on any future Android tablet with a GPS.

spudgeek

Vern, does the Assisted GPS work if you don’t subscribe to a 3G contract.
Location services work over 3G, WiFi, and AGPS. However I don’t think the AGPS can work solo, I think it needs a network connection: WiFi or 3G… I’m not sure. If you’re not certain, please test on your new device: before you subscribe to a 3G contract (or if there’s an option, turn it off); turn off WiFi; test location services with Google Maps or some other location services based app.

Thanks smile

xmattingly

Awesome props to Firefly there, Vern. I realize homage isn’t the intent of the article, but I can’t help but feel

many apps are free one day and cost cash money the next

could have been “cash-ey money”. smile

Dean Lewis

Vern, does the Assisted GPS work if you don?t subscribe to a 3G contract.

I’ve been looking for an answer on this as well. If and when I can afford an iPad, do I save up for the coolness of GPS? And does the GPS only work if I’m connected via 3G, or does it default to WiFi location if I don’t pony up for the month?

If it defaults, I don’t think I can justify the extra expense, since my interest in GPS right now is more for a toy rather than for anything useful. smile

Vern Seward

Spudgeek, Dean: I haven’t had the time to give this slab a full shakedown, but I’ll take a look at GPS over the weekend and let you know what I find.

Xmattingly: I was tempted to use my most favorite Jayne quote, but decided against it for being too obvious. That quote being, ” If wishes were horses we’d all be eating steak.”

So profound!

Vern

SlimJim

Vern, thanks for your article on the iPad—I enjoyed it. However I must disagree with some of your comments on complaining that Apple is too restrictive on your “rights” to watch porn or whatever. Remember, this is Apple placing these restrictions on their product and their software—not on your personal rights in general. If you don’t like these restrictions, that’s fine—just don’t buy an iPad. Go use a PC and browse whatever you want. Apple has the right to place whatever restrictions they want on their products. You agree to this before you’re able to use the product. Don’t agree then complain afterwards. I like what Apple is doing, otherwise the apps for the iPad, etc., would be filled with all kinds of sleazy stuff. You don’t like these restrictions? Fine—buy something else.

Vern Seward

Hi SlimJim,

It is not quite true that Apple is restricting it’s software, it’s restricting third party software, and doing so selectively (Playboy app is still around). Restricting apps that have political commentary should never have happened.

I will admit that mine is a weak position. Apple is analogous to you corner store that sells bubblegum and Hustler magazines. The store could choose to not sell bubblegum, which would mean that if I want some I’d have to go else where.

Even so, Apple is changing the rules as we play. I’ve already invested money thinking that I had a more open environment, only to find that Apple has hoodwinked me.

This is not to say that I don’t believe there should be controls in place, just that they should be applied without so heavy hand, and more equitably.

Just my thoughts,

Vern

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Vern, Would you be willing to do a little battery benchmark for us? Here is a fairly simple animation done with HMTL5 Canvas, no Flash at all!

http://cs.helsinki.fi/u/ilmarihe/canvas_animation_demo/mozcampeu09.html

This very simple animation is pegging my 2007 MBP at 98% CPU, as indicated by running “top” in the Terminal.

So I wonder what the battery impact on iPad might be of running this animation 20 times. I think you have to reload the page to re-animate once you hit “The End”.

dave256

I can confirm that the GPS in the iPad 3G works even if you are currently not paying for the 3G service. I have not signed up for the data service and ran an errand while using the Navigon app and it worked fine. I’m not certain how long the battery will last without a car charger as in just a few miles I think it dropped 5% (I did have the brightness all the way up on the screen too).

Does anyone know if any of the iPhone car chargers will charge it or is it like the USB ports on computers where there’s not enough current to charge it while it’s in use. I think I’ve found with my iPhone that the car charger just keeps up with the GPS draw (i.e., the battery doesn’t lose or gain charge while running Navigon with the car charger I have) so I doubt it will be able to charge the iPad while it’s on. I guess that’s the next experiment.

Dave

Vern Seward

Hi Dave,

Yep, you are right. I haven’t signed up either and GPS is working just fine thank you very much. You need to get apps that download maps beforehand, but it works.

Bosco, I’ll run that graphic now.

Vern Seward

Well Bosco, the iPad could barely run that HTML 5 animation. I stopped it because it was excruciating to watch.

We’ll have to find another test.

Vern

Vern Seward

Bosco, found another animation a bit more complex than the Goat. Been running it for 5 mins now and battery still says 100%


I’m going to leave it running for 1/2 hr and see what’s up.

Vern

Sarah

I’m pretty sure I too will wait to gush when this product actually becomes cool and not just an oversized paper weight bearing the Apple logo.

It’s coming one day. And I shall be patient until then.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

It’s funny… I think I figured out what makes that particular animation so slow. The developer is having the Canvas redraw all the objects for each frame rather than just the area that changed. Now, what’s totally hilarious about that is a Flash animation not only wouldn’t be that inefficient, but Flash developers wouldn’t have to worry about that detail, leaving it to Flash to get it right in the first place.

If you followed that, that’s an example of a clear advantage of middleware. Often, it doesn’t let you screw up what the lower level API makes easy to screw up.

Sorry it bogged down your iPad Vern… The power of HTML5!

Vern Seward

Sarah: this is definitely NOT a paperweight. That I can reply here without sitting at my Mac and without eyestrain is but one small reason why it’s not. Besides, real men don’t gush. grin

Bosco: it’s all good, but it does show that this does have its limitations. I wouldn’t worry about middleware, that will come and creating animation with be just as simple as it is now with Flash.

Also, I did find an animation and ran for more than an hour (forgot it was running) and it only sucked down 1% of my fully charged battery! Not a scientific test, but it shows HTML 5 promise.

I’d also found some HTML 5 based movies and ran it a few times ( it was short, maybe 30 sec) and saw no battery drop.

Vern

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Vern, you should check out CanvasDemos.com. My favorite is Tetris.

For those of you who would just like to see a video, check out this extensive demo of these HTML5 apps on an iPad.

I have to say, this really might change my mind!!

Guest

A little off-topic, but NPR actually only receives 2% of their funding from government sources. Members, your local NPR station, and private sources make up the rest. They’re providing your free app….which is one of my favorite iPad news apps for many of the reasons mentioned.

xmattingly

If wishes were horses we?d all be eating steak.

In light of Jobs’ thoughts on Flash letter, I like “Do you know what the chain of command is? It’s the chain I beat you with, to show you who’s in command.” smile

john

NIIIIIIIIICE

Ipad 3G

In France ipad More expensive he sold 599? / 699$ for 16 go 3G look here http://www.forum-ipad4g-pro.com

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