What Would You Do With an iPad?

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From the moment Steve Jobs first held up the iPad at Wednesday's media event many a pundit and critic has stood up to decry the device's shortcomings and proclaim it a failure. In the course of publishing our own opinions on the device, including my column, "Understanding the iPad Starts with Understanding Apple," a few of our readers have responded with something I found particularly interesting, and that is describing what they wish they could do or planned to do with the device once they could get one.

Personally, I'm not overly interested in what the iPad can't do - that was one of the subthemes of the above-mentioned column. The device will not succeed or fail in the marketplace based on what it can not do, but rather what it does well, what it does better than a laptop and better than a smartphone.

As smart as the folks at Apple are, even those seven tasks that the company claims the iPad does better than a laptop and better than a smartphone (Web browsing, e-mail, photo-viewing, video-watching, music listening, games, and reading eBooks) are not likely going to be all the ways iPad owners apply the device.

Accordingly, we're asking our readers to tell us what you think you'll use it for. Tell us what kind of plans so you have for the device.

As I noted above, a few of you have already begun doing so in our article comments, but I'm asking you to send me an e-mail with your thoughts. We'll take the best submissions and publish them on TMO next week.

Send your notes to the e-mail address in my byline (where it is automagically hidden from spambots by the magic of Javascript), and remember: Succinctness is next to Steveliness.

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I’ve been looking for a mobile Skype device. The iPod Touch is small for my hands (and eyes). The iPad seems like it would fill the bill. No video but for on the go calling it would be great.

The other task would be network sniffing. I support several locations with multiple WiFi networks that I have to periodically test. There are a couple of apps that will show WiFi details and relative strengths. The iPod Touch screen once again seems just a bit small. Carrying the iPad would be a lot easier than the full (Win) laptop from place to place.


I will carry my graphic design portfolio on there.


As an artist, I’ll be using it to display all my art. I’ll be using iTunes as my main music player on my desktop. I’ll be using it as an eBook for reading in bed. I’ll be using it for shopping lists, though not having a camera truly sucks. I use Red Laser.app all the time. I’ll be using it as a photo frame. So for $499, I think its a steal.

But truthfully, I would normally buy the high-end model, and if it had cell phone and camera, I would gladly pay $1000 for it. Yes it would have less battery life, and guess what, I could not care less.

Bryan Chaffin

Send me e-mails, folks. smile


So many possibilities:

doctors and nurses in hospitals
Patients charts (one per patient at admission and kept on the end of their bed for updates)
display advertising
dental records
credit card processing


What people do with iPads is going to be far beyond what we can think of now. Here’s an AppI just heard about for the iPhone to report handicapped parking space cheaters. It combines photo’s of the car and plate with GPS data for location.


Who would have thought of that before the iPhone came out. I suspect we’ll be astonished by the things people are using iPads for in a year or two.


Obviously it’s a great device for travel, especially when backpacking in Europe (light instant-on device vs 3.5 pound laptop) but the one thing my laptop has that an iPad doesn’t is Adobe applications especially Photoshop. What to do about photography while on the road?

What I’d like is to use a Wi-Fi SD card with my camera that would immediately load the pictures into my iPad. That capability already exists but then I need a Photoshop replacement that lets me enhance, resize, make panos, and upload photos to the ‘net while I travel. My laptop has always been great for that but if “there’s an app for” using the larger screen and multi-touch, then I can finally do everything on an iPad while traveling I’ve needed a laptop for, without the weight! Maybe iPhoto for the iPad someday?


Looks to me like the iPad (not sure on the name but hell I wasn’t sure of MacBook either -and that didn’t fare too badly, and iPad fits well with iPod to be sure) will sell like hot cakes on a cold day!

The Technorati (of which I am probably a member) mostly don’t get it because they are looking at it through “geek eyes” - but I don’t work in tech, I just use a hell of a lot of it and like to understand it - but you nailed it previously… what it can’t do that geeks and techno’s care about doesn’t matter to the “target consumer”, most of them want the simplicity of the iPhone/iPod Touch with a lot of what a “Netbook” is about… but these consumers are the ones who are baffled by (or don’t want to have to deal with) files and directory structures or even saving stuff…

It doesn’t do real “multitasking” - no, but nor does my iPhone… as a geek that very occasionally bugs me… rest of the time the leave and come back to how you left it works for me - and will bet my left kidney the target users of the iPad don’t even really know or care why they should need “multitasking”.

My only real surprise was no iSight type camera for iChat or Skype; I have seen some pretty good rationalisations of that omission, but for me that is the only “mercenary” move in the whole set up… I fully expect iPad 2.0 next year to have one… Apple/Steve seem to have become very adept at avoiding creating “built in obsolescence” devices whilst always building that can have a “must have” feature in the next revision… (BTW I bought two original iPhones (one for me and one for the wife, and here they didn’t come cheap)... then sold them on when I could change to 3G, recently my 3G was sold to the guy who bought my 2G on a swap back deal… he took the 3G and gave me a bit of cash and the 2G returned to me for my daughter as I upgraded to the 3GS… Geekosphere trades can be very helpful :D

Truth is I see people everyday who are baffled by “Computers” - yet grannies and toddlers “get” the iPhone - I could name 10 clients of mine right now who have laptops they could easily trade in for an iPad without noticing anything but a gain in ease of use!

Will I be buying one? Probably not I have an iPhone, a MacBook and desktop Macs at home and work… but once again “I am NOT the target market” - if it had an iSight for iChat/Skype I probably would… but I am a geek…

Prediction = this thing will sell, maybe not as many as the iPhone - but it will go stratospheric anyway

Ref Librarian

What will I do with an iPad? I like to use a desktop computer at home and I bought a MacBook for travel and writing at workshops but I hate having to lug it around. The iPhone solved part of the problem because I can check email and that sort of thing when out and about. I love the apps! I put on Pzizz for sleeping, listen to audiobooks, keep a shopping list, a diet app, find out where I am when I’m lost, keep a calendar and a work a to-do list. But the iPhone isn’t much good for writing and the screen size is small. I can read on it and check the web but it is a little too small for me.

Enter the iPad. It will be my travel and workshop computer, replacing the heavy laptop I don’t need. It will be the computer I hand to company so that they can check their email. It will be the one I sit in bed with and read books and play games and send out emails. It will be the computer I take to the bathroom when I want to take a long leisurely bath while watching a video. It will be the computer I take to Writer’s Group and the one I use at work for workshops. I’ll download apps, just like I do on my iPhone only now it will be even more fun.

I also hope that school textbooks will soon be available on them. That would help out high school and college students a great deal.


I will use it in every way that it can be used. I will like having a larger screen to see everything on. I will love the book store too.


Oh yeah the bookstore
The Treatise on Invertebrate Palaeontology on the iPad. A dream come true.
I could spend weeks with that. :drool:

Oh I am so gonna get one of these things.

Dr. Fyzziks

@Red Librarian: “I also hope that school textbooks will soon be available on them. That would help out high school and college students a great deal.”

Indeed - I’d love to see that as well. The iPad really interests me because it represents an intersection of a number of areas in my life - I used to work as an embedded software developer, building prototype tablet operating systems back in 2001. I also recently completed a degree in physics as a mature student, and I’m currently employed by the same university as a “collaborative media specialist” -> basically, I look at ways the university can integrate new technologies into its learning systems.

When I look at the iPad, I see a *lot* of potential for students and faculty. eBooks are a big topic on campus, but one of the issues with them is that none of the current eReaders are suitable for displaying textbooks, for two reasons:

1. Small screen size. The basic Kindle and Sony eReaders have 5-6” displays - much too small to display a textbook with its native layout. You can reflow the text, or pan & zoom, but there are problems with both of those approaches too.

and more importantly:

2. eInk displays are easy on the eyes, but their lack of color causes problems when displaying textbooks. While a greyscale screen is sufficient for reading novels, science, engineering and math texts tend to use a lot of color in their diagrams to convey information. Just consider the periodic table, in which the various metal groups are often highlighted in color.

If you’re a student or instructor and thinking about buying an eReader, it’s pretty much the Kindle DX or the iPad. The DX is $489. For $10 more you get 4x the memory, a color screen, the capability to display PDFs and other document formats, as well as email, web browsing, media playback (and access to your existing iTunes library)

I think in a scenario like this, the iPad is a no-brainer over the DX.


I won’t do anything on it until it comes with a hi-def camera.
When that happens-and you know it will- as a cool media device I would read books on it, chat, view media - photos, movies etc. and browse/use the web. These are all things I’d use it for even in the same room as my Mac tower!
What I would NOT use it for- nor expect it to run- is Adobe apps; you guys that wish it would run full blown apps don’t get it - that’s why there are laptops.
Games - only quick, little games like the ones in the App store but if I’m near the tower, the games I like can only be run on a big-boy Mac.
E-mail obviously.
It’s the quick-n-easy way you can do the above rather than bootin’ a big tower or struggling with a laptop that intrigues me.
Most of the Apps store apps are gimmicks - you don’t need an app to bust a handicapped parking cheater - it’s quicker and easier to drop a dime from your cel for example. Hence Appstore stuff doesn’t matter to me, especially if you have a kick-ass browser everything you need is on that cloud.

other side

So many possibilities:

doctors and nurses in hospitals
Patients charts (one per patient at admission and kept on the end of their bed for updates)
display advertising
dental records
credit card processing

Are we talking about the iPad or the Newton?  This is word-for-word from when people were trying to figure what the Newton was good for.

That said, I’m not completely dismissing the iPad; it may prove very useful in specialized areas, as the Newton did.  I’m just having a hard time seeing the iPad going mainstream.


The Newton was a great idea a generation too early. Power consumption was a problem and I think peoples’ imaginations were very stilted and limited. We’re in a new century, a new Internet driven world, and some people have larger visions and are willing to share them with society. The iPad has a place in this world. It may just be a stepping stone to something greater, but then again, aren’t we all hoping for something greater? Did the person who invented the wheel also conceive of a Ferrari or Corvette?


I’d love to use an iPad to read my local newspaper (already available on the Kindle) but, since the NYT is writing their own app for the iPad, it appears that each newspaper may have to write their own app to display their newspaper. Sounds like a nightmare to me if each newspaper has to write their own app. A generic newspaper app, similar to iBooks, is a serious omission from the iPad, IMO.

Newspapers are a category, even more so than books, that is in serious danger of disappearing soon without an alternative way of presenting them and the iPad could be a perfect opportunity to save the newspaper industry. Don’t try to tell me that a newspaper’s website is a good alternative because a newspaper’s website is not at all comparable to a printed edition (just try to find one of the obscure articles that is in a printed edition on their website). Hopefully, the iPad will offer something for newspapers before it is released.

But, overall, I love the features of the iPad and almost surely will be purchasing one.


Sounds like a nightmare to me if each newspaper has to write their own app.

Tough. If you wanna stay in the game, change and do it now.
I have no sympathy for the (L.A.)“Times” that fires 2,500 people and still treat their “online” department like a “fad” compared to the old school deals on ink and dead trees, pressmen, and status quo.

You are LUCKY to get in now with your unique version for an e-reader type device of the iPad’s yet to be seen potential as the Sport’s Illustrated iPad app will be different than the NY Times app. The last thing we need is a generic ‘reader’ format for newspapers. You have a platform to be touch sensitive and animated - use it , please!!! rant over.

John Mitchener

It looks like I will be able to run most of our real estate business on the iPad. The Multiple Listing Service will be browser agnostic this year as well as contract forms and electronic signatures. Coupled with mobileme, we should be golden. I can very nearly do it on an iPhone, but it will be much more pleasant on the larger screen. I don’t expect a light weight portable device to do video editing or other heavy lifting.

Now if someone would just release a COBOL compiler for the iPad… smile



Tough. If you wanna stay in the game, change and do it now.

You are indeed a boy.



  Tough. If you wanna stay in the game, change and do it now.

You are indeed a boy.

Why do you say that? rackjobber?

You’re saying we should adopt a boring standard specially for newspapers? Sounds like you want to keep the newspaper publishers as dumb and cheap as they are now.
If print is dying it’s because it’s irrelevant. Now you have a new platform…use it.  or die, drone. signed, the Music Business


Isn’t i strange..

That the same people that hyped the Crunchpad is now dissing the iPad?


the ipad will be a “real computer”. all you need is client software, such as jaadu, that already exists on the iphone, and you have your “Real computer”, wherever you are with a network connection. Want to run photoshop? it runs on your computer, you interact with it on your ipad. this will be huge?..


I am a serious iPhone Upgrader.  Every phone that comes out Im in line to get!  I also have a Macbook and the 27” iMac.  For me I am actually thinking of getting the iPad and extending the life of the iPhone 3GS on my hip!!.  If they are going to have the same OS and have very similar features but the iPad will have a better screen size for reading material and the games and apps will play better then its going to be n my hand!!  I also use Eye-Fi in my iPhone to wirelessly sync the pics from my digital cam to my Iphone, if that app will run like promised on the ipad I can use the iPad for so much more and not lug my macbook on trips where it can be stolen!!!  Its never happened to me knock on wood but there is a lot more sensitive info on my Macbook then will be on the iPad.


We’ve already seen the iPad thousands of times and never complained about what it can and cannot do. Where have we seen it? Well on Star Trek and it’s called the pad. Load you assignment for the day, do your research, call up the results, share the info.
Today’s iPad is a nascent Pad, it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. One variant I’d love is the drinks tray. Pick up a pad, choose your drinks, hand over the pad, the drinks are served on the pad, need another just cal it up, place your card on the pad one rfid call later and all paid for, don’t forget to add the tip.


I will carry my graphic design portfolio on there.

That’s actually a pretty good idea. I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but Flash CS 5 will be able to export projects as iPhone apps… put together your portfolio in Flash, export as a custom-designed presentation. I could definitely see taking an iPad and an easel to a client presentation or job interview; prop it up, touch a couple of buttons and off you go.  smile

all you need is client software, such as jaadu, that already exists on the iphone, and you have your ?Real computer?, wherever you are with a network connection.

I was hoping for - and slightly disappointed to not see - a demonstration of the iPad being used in conjunction with a computer. But the ground work is definitely there, since there are already so many iPhone apps that already let you control your main box. Air Mouse is one that I use, and highly recommend if you’re into that sort of thing. Being able to turn an iPad into a gigantic multi-touch track pad would make a very strong selling point, for me.


What would I do?

Not buy one for at least 6 months.

Wait and see what happens. I think it will be good, but version 2 will be better.

Ramon Pedrosa

It would be great as a teleprompter for my talks and speeches. Is there a way to scroll/control it from a distance?


It would be great as a teleprompter for my talks and speeches. Is there a way to scroll/control it from a distance?

You could always try the Fing-Longer


I agree, we need to focus on what the ipad can do rather than what it can’t do.
I am exited to be able to read comics (French and Belgium mostly) and also reading books, and having my photo albums ready to display.
I have a desktop and laptop for browsing the net or sending emails. Also I don’t see the point of a camera.
I think the ipad is a brilliant idea.

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