Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Welcome to the iPad

Congratulations Missmediajunkie, you are now the co-owner of a brand new iPad, alongside your much more tech-savvy significant other. You had no particular desire to own an iPad or really any Apple product aside from the iPod shuffle that you listen to podcasts on. But you had no idea what to get him and he had no idea what to get you, so when he suggested getting an iPad jointly, it seemed like a perfectly good idea, so you said yes.

And you have no idea what you're going to use this thing for. Oh sure, it's handy to have around. Just today, you took it with you while visiting relatives so you could set up a Skype call with some other relatives on the other side of the country. And it sure is nice to be able to take your media with you wherever you go, without having to lug along your heavy, six-year-old laptop that barely squeezes into its laptop bag. However, you can't imagine browsing the web regularly with the iPad because the keyboard input is so difficult to use, really no better than the smart phone that your SO already lugs around. And you definitely can't imagine typing out blog posts or doing any significant amount of work with the thing. It's just not practical. The mobile-friendly versions of popular websites that have been driving you crazy over the last few years certainly make more sense for an iPad or iPhone user, but they're still infuriatingly compromised.

However, the iPad is a great time waster. All the most popular games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush Saga are tailored for it. You've played through 33 levels of candy Crush Saga already, and it's only been two days. Your SO has latched on to Plants vs. Zombies 2. You've started getting a pretty good look at the way these games are monetized. Some companies ask you to watch ads to build up the credits to continue playing some games. Others ask for subscriptions to turn off or reduce advertisements. The dollar amounts are small, and it's so much more tempting to pay up to get more or better gameplay than it is when you're on a regular computer. You're already willing to pay a dollar or two for useful map and phone apps, so it's not much a leap to pay a dollar or two for games. Or a dollar or two for other media.

The thing is, of course, you're a cheapskate. Always have been. Always will be. You're always extremely careful and selective about paying for anything entertainment-related online, so it surprised you that you were looking over the lists of cheap games, contemplating which ones might be a good buy. You realized that you were looking for something to do with this new iPad, a big shiny new piece of technology that seemed to be so full of interesting possibilities. However, the more you looked at it, the more you realized that the iPad is really designed as an entertainment consumption device. It's difficult to create your own content or do much work beyond writing simple notes and text messages. You're sure it would be helpful for education - Duolingo is one of the best regarded apps you've found - but the main event is clearly games and media. iPad is currently the only device you own that came pre-installed with the players for Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant, the three streaming services that you subscribe to regularly.

To an extent you're okay with that. You knew before you bought the iPad that it was most likely only going to be a toy, certainly not anything you planned to do anything specifically practical with. However, you can't get past the nagging feeling that we probably could and should. You already consume plenty of media without the iPad's help. Right now you're still getting to know the device itself. You love that the battery life allows you to spend hours on Candy Crush Saga without having to worry about a recharge. The navigation still trips you up, but you're getting the hang of the super-simple commands. You have yet to watch a movie or television episode on the iPad, but your SO has already gone through a few anime episodes on Amazon Instant without any trouble. The screen size is big enough that you think watching a full film on it would be fine - once you get a stand for it. You probably should have gotten one of those Smart Covers at the Apple Store.

Oh well. You did manage to do something really neat with that Skype call, and you're sure you'll find other ways to justify the purchase of the iPad in the future. It really is a nifty machine, and once you get better with it, you'll probably find more things it can do for you.

Assuming you ever get it away from your SO.
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