iPad 3G In The House!

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.