That Thing You’ll do With Apple’s iPad 3

| Analysis

If you’ve never before owned an iPad, but merely ogled other people’s iPads and wondered what all the fuss is about, here are some thoughts on what you’ll be doing with a new iPad 3.

Back before the iPad 1 went on public sale in early April of 2010, I wondered what I would do with such a device. My initial argument was that there wasn’t any user space between an iPhone, which you wear, and a notebook computer which, while portable, sometimes stays put.

The scenario I described was visiting a friend at the beach. You take your MacBook and your iPhone. You do some work at the condo. Then, you go to lunch, and take your iPhone with you. The MacBook stays put: it would be awkward in a cozy restaurant. Maybe overheat if left in the car. But Safari on the iPhone is perfect.

And that may still be your thinking. Simplify. Avoid extra expenses and devices to manage.

But was I wrong about the iPad. The iPad has fit into my life in unexpected ways that have been tremendously convenient. What I think happened to me was that, after using a notebook computer regularly since about 1999 (first generation iBook clamshell, blue), I became all too accustomed to the drawbacks of a notebook computer and just lived with them. After I started using an iPad, those drawbacks became quickly apparent.

iPad maniaThe iPad 2 (image credit: Apple)

iPad Advantages

The iPad advantage lies in speed of access, simplicity of use, and physical convenience. Here’s what I mean.

A notebook computer is often turned off. An iPad is designed to be always on. A notebook computer has to be opened, the battery checked and power supplied if necessary. If you’re being security conscious, you’ll have to log on. Then you have to navigate in the Finder to find the app you want. Quickly the screen can become cluttered with overlapping windows. You have to type a lot.

The iPad presents your key apps on a grid. You just select one and do a quick task. It sits comfortably on your lap, and if, perchance, it slips onto the carpet, no harm done. The chance of damage is much smaller than for a notebook with its hinge mechanism.

With a notebook computer, you are forced to type and point. The modern trackpads on MacBooks are great and support some gestures, but they can’t beat an iPad. It’s either like being a kid again or a starship captain. You point, swipe, pinch — and the job is done. Glee follows.

These advantages may seem small to you, but they make a huge difference. When I want to look something up on the Internet or check the weather really fast, I reach for the iPad with its nice large screen, not the iPhone with its rather small keyboard. As for notebooks, the fact is, there are many daily tasks for which a notebook computer is inconvenient overkill.

My Usage

If I’m going to spend a little time at my doctor’s office, I take the iPad. (They all have Wi-Fi in the waiting rooms now.) If I’m on vacation at a Bed & Breakfast, and not planning to write a lot, I’ll take the iPad in preference to a MacBook. I watch TV with my iPad in my lap. If I set it aside by the armrest, it’s safe and stays on for hours without needing a battery charge. It’s also a nice device to have open next to my office iMac when I want to basically “picture frame” an app that has data I need. (Never mind that my office already looks like Harold Finch’s (Person of Interest, CBS.)

The iPad is basically a book that you can carry around the house. It doesn’t have to be pampered very much. It can lay on the kitchen counter to read a recipe. It’s easy to use with Skype. It’s one page with perhaps hundreds of books. My wife uses it at work to reference O’Reilly technical books that would be a pain to carry around the office or bring home.

If find myself checking Twitter during TV commercials, if the DVR is out of buffer. (Osfoora). I never watch a movie without the IMDB app and open to that movie’s page. My wife likes to cuddle up in a recliner sometimes and catch up on past episodes of Bones. There is even some anecdotal evidence that some people prefer iPads to big screens. It’s intimate and easily controlled.

I particularly like fast and easy access to news, magazines, and weather and astronomy apps. Sky Safari is one of my favorites. The iPad is perfect for that app on a warm summer evening and a pair of binoculars. It won’t take you long to figure out that an iPad is just indispensable for activities you never would have considered a notebook computer for. It’s a liberating experience.

But my goal isn’t to tell you every app I use; that would bore you. You’ll find your own favorites. So let’s move on.

Expectations for the iPad 3

All we know about the iPad 3, expected in a few weeks, is based on rumors, industry insiders, leaks, and educated guesses. Here’s what I and most other people are thinking.

  • A 9.7-in display, as before, but awesome 2048 x 1536 pixel display.
  • Much better front and rear cameras with a rear camera at possibly 6 or 8 megapixels.
  • A quad-core processor, faster GPU (Graphics Processing Unit).
  • Possibly up to 128 GB of user storage.
  • Possibly stereo speakers.
  • Possibly 4G/LTE data with some carriers.

The better rear camera and higher resolution will appeal especially to pilots (for hires maps) and better navigational aids with sextant replacements (only as backup!) like Spyglass. Movie buffs will appreciate the sparkling, 1080p HD display and the ability to throw it over to an HDTV with AirPlay. (That may be why we’re about to see a third generation Apple TV with 1080p capability.)

A quad-core processor and faster GPU will definitely help with action games, animation and CGI. Developers are proving that a camera in a tablet can be used effectively for science, surveying, astronomy/navigation and real estate. Basically, there will come a day when we take our tablets everywhere — the notebook computer not so much. Maybe, only if we’re in that hammock writing a novel.

The iPad 3 will be your book, your newspaper, your navigator, your entertainer, your movie player, your technical reference, your email client, your photo album, your travel atlas, your weather watcher, and your gateway to your friends via Facebook and Twitter. The screen resolution, in a device that size, will take your breath away. If we get 128 GB of storage and stereo speakers, it will be TV and movie heaven.

The iPad is evolving fast. If you don’t have one now, the iPad 3 is the perfect time to jump aboard. Otherwise, you’ll risk being left behind, as perhaps your grandparents were left behind without computer savvy. Even though it’s a simple device to use, the aggregate of all the technologies that it uses and the things you must be aware of to operate it, like household Wi-Fi, GPS, location services, system updates, security, notifications and app management are best learned early and well. This iPad train is leaving the station: be on it.

Most of all, you’re just going to have a lot of fun. These days, we need that.

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I hope to expect a better file transfer to and from the iPad to iMac. Also to have the mac versions of apps show a menu for building for the iPad. Guessing what works and what doesn’t, doesn’t get it with me. More volume from the speakers would be nice, stereo or mono, mox-nix. I love my iPad 1 and look forward to more of what I need in the 3.


I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. My MacBook is most likely at the end of its update life. Such is true for my iPt. v2.

So, do I do as planned and get the next MBA or do I save some silver and get the iPad 3? Regardless, I suspect, I lose out on the full iCloud experience either way. If my MB could take MLion all would be dandy and I’d go for the new iPad. The MB still meets my meagre needs. But no MLion, ugh!

I do a lot of writing on my MB that would not be as expedient on an iPad it seems, though I have not checked out attachable keyboards that might make couch authoring as elegant as on a laptop.

I am a creature of habit and the thought of a mouse and keyboard-less life seems eerie. As I have noted before, I was lost without Stanza but eventually got so used to iBook on my iPt that when I reinstalled the workable Stanza from my backups, I found it dull and tiresome compared to iBook. Maybe a weekend camped down at the Apple Store is due.


Though I’m a rare commenter, I’m a frequent reader - thanks as always for your thoughtful analysis and excellent writing John. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and make a list of three additional predictions for the iPad3:

1.  Microsoft will feature in the announcement event, as many are also predicting. Yes, Office for iPad will be revealed. This will all but ensure Android tablets are not widely adopted in the Enterprise; Win8 tabs (whenever they do come out) will be your only other option for Office apps on tablets. 
2.  Apple will announce that Bing will become the new default search engine for iPad 3 and all forthcoming iOS devices (Google will remain an optional download from the App Store for those who want it).
3.  Apple will finally unveil it’s own Maps app (whatever they choose to call it - Mapple?) and it will blow away Google Maps. Naturally, Google Maps will also remain available as a download from the App Store, but…who will download it if Mapple is so much better and comes pre-installed with iOS?

This is payback time for Apple (and Microsoft) against Google; it makes extraordinary business sense for both companies to take these actions, and the timing is now.  So Happy Birthday Steve - for unlike the rest of us, you will get to see the look on Sergei and Larry’s faces on the day these announcements are made and no doubt break into a big smile. As metaphorically speaking, this is the day Apple drops the H-bomb!


Thanks for writing this piece, John.

You may recall that I’ve been something of a moper about making the iPad3 my very first iDevice. 
“But what can I do with it,” I cried.  I feared above all, that I was just being techno-suckered by the cool factor.

Perhaps by the end of March, I can move away from my desk once in a while.  Maybe going so far as to make a return appearance to my living room, if I can just remember where it is.

Lee Dronick

Apple will announce that Bing will become the new default search engine

It is already my default search engine on my iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, I may soon switch to it on my Macs.

Apple will finally unveil it?s own Maps app (whatever they choose to call it - Mapple?)

The Simpsons have the rights to Mapple


It is already my default search engine on my iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, I may soon switch to it on my Macs.

Hey, Lee.  Can I ask why?  Is it better than Google at finding stuff you want?

As for the maps, Google have their own satellites for their maps; do you reckon Apple will take a part of the $100 Billion cash, and launch their own?  Seems kind of pointless, to me.

Lee Dronick

Hey, Lee.? Can I ask why?? Is it better than Google at finding stuff you want?

Jack I think that they both pretty much find the same results. My decision was more of an anti Google reaction than anything.

Apple could probably buy satellite imagery from a government or a private satellite business (if there are any other than Google).


Lee said:

The Simpsons have the rights to Mapple

Wow - thanks for that!  It’s precious!  (You never fail to disappoint Lee!)  Like you, I changed my default search to Bing on my MBP recently for the same reasons.

ijack said:

As for the maps, Google have their own satellites for their maps; do you reckon Apple will take a part of the $100 Billion cash, and launch their own?  Seems kind of pointless, to me.

Apple bought Placebase in 2009 and C3 Technologies in 2011.  What would be pointless is to make these purchases and NOT utilize them to come up with a better integrated solution that also conveniently allows them to ditch Google Maps.

Lee Dronick

Thanks MacFrogger

Apple bought Placebase in 2009 and C3 Technologies in 2011.? What would be pointless is to make these purchases and NOT utilize them to come up with a better integrated solution that also conveniently allows them to ditch Google Maps.

Good point.

Sure Google has their own satellite, but couldn’t Apple use NOAA satellite images? Maybe Google has higher resolution images than NOAA is willing to give up except to the military and spy agencies.



Check out the C3 article - the sample images/video are awesome!  It would appear that Apple/C3 don’t need no stinkin’ satellite - with respect to where they get their images, the article says:

The company [C3] uses advanced missile targeting technology to create 3D maps and ?seamlessly integrate them with traditional 2D maps, satellite images, street level photography and user generated images.?

Lee Dronick

Those are some impressive videos!



The only question is when will they have these purchases integrated into a single mapping app that is up to Apple’s standards.  It has to be better than Google Maps starting from version 1.0 for maximum impact - maximum “Wow!”  So while I’m hoping “Mapple” gets introduced with iPad3, it may need a bit more “polish” that could delay its launch to iPhone5.



At the risk of stating the obvious, replacing Google Search with Bing and Google Maps with Mapple hits Google right where it hurts - it deprives them of essential ad revenue, esp the growing base of iOS users.  And there is no way for Google to retaliate against Apple, as Google needs the eyes of iOS users (and OSX users as well) to sell their ads to.  IOW, as long as Apple can provide at least satisfactory replacements for search and maps, it is Google that is far dependent on Apple (and vulnerable) than vice versa.

Lee Dronick

MapQuest was great until Google Maps made look it like a rough sketch so yeah, Mapple needs to send them to the cheap seats.

Remember when Steve Jobs threatened to go nuclear on Google?

I am off to bed, 4:00 AM comes early in this town.



At the risk of stating the obvious, replacing Google Search with Bing and Google Maps with Mapple hits Google where it really hurts - it deprives them of essential ad revenue.  Google is far more vulnerable to Apple than vice versa, as they need the “eyes” of iOS platform users (and OSX as well) to maximize their revenue.  What might Google do to retaliate?  Pull gmail from the Mac maybe?  Ha - that would deprive them of even more revenue!  Anything they might do to retaliate would be cutting off their nose to spite their face!


Apologies for essentially duplicate comments - got an error message after first post and should have checked to see whether it went through…


couldn?t Apple use NOAA satellite images?

I seem to remember that Google Maps/Google Earth began life as enhanced NOAA maps, and while they beat the crap out of Mapquest, one quickly began to realize that they weren’t all that great.

I just looked at the C3 vids, and I have reservations about mixed photos and virtual landscape. 
I wanna see the real deal, warts and all.

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