iPad 2 Early Impressions

I have now had an iPad 2 for a few weeks and I’m quite pleased with it.  I can’t imagine that adding my opinion to the oceans of reviews already available will change anyone’s mind, but I’d like to weight in anyway.  I justified buying an iPad to myself in a couple of ways, but most notably that it could actually improve my home life and productivity.  Now that I actually have the thing in my hand, I can admit that productivity wasn’t the top reason for getting it.  To be completely honest, it was probably the “Loot Factor”.  You know, that stupid, materialistic need to have that shiny new thing.  I have wanted one since the first iPad but held off because I could see that I really only wanted it for that one, stupid reason and the price tag was just too high for a flashy new toy.  But since Apple first introduced the product, my life has change in some subtle but pretty key ways.  So has the iPad itself, as well as the most important aspect of any mobile device’s ecosystem – the apps.

The apps available for iOS have not always been great.  In fact, most of the early ones pretty well sucked or were just pointless diversions.  A lot of those crap apps are still around, but many have been dropped or just filtered out by poor review scores.  The only noticeable problem that persists is a bit of an optimization gap following the release of each new device.  Otherwise, what is available now is pretty decent and covers a wide variety of needs and wants.  Graphing calculaters, budgeting tools, games, web browsers, music streams, and light office apps have entered the scene.  While a lot of these are pretty simple and a little too limited to be of any real value, some have actually been built in a way that they are quite useful and occasionally powerful.  Some apps are so good that they have fixed a persistent problem of mine or bolstered the usefulness of some tool I have already been using.  Banking apps come to mind for that.  Other apps have flat out replaced the desktop or web based software that I’ve been using.  In this case, I think of how the free app Mint has replaced both the myriad of banking websites I would have to visit each month and the rather pricey Quicken software I had been using to keep those visits in order.  Apps like those make it so I can look back on my arguably frivolous purchase without regret.  It was a good buy and as the high of having new loot dissipates, the reality of a truly useful device comes into focus.

Just putting this out there – I’ve been thinking of adding iOS app recommendations to the weekly blog schedule.  Maybe every Monday has a quick something or every other Tuesday has an in-depth write up.  However, I don’t know that I’m using my devices in a way that others would be interested in.   For instance, I’m actually writing this post on an iPad, using the built in web browser that everyone seems to think is totally trash.  Maybe I got some kind of special version, ’cause it seems to work fine on mine.  Or maybe my views and thereby recommendations are just a bit off base.  It’s more likely that I’m just not experienced enough with the thing or that the disdain for the built in browser is based on previous, crappier versions.  I don’t know, but app recommendations seems like just the kind of “stunt blogging” that I’ve been looking to add more of.  Something to think about.

I will leave you with one recommendation for today.  NPR Music.  Get that fuckin app.  Do it now.  I’ll wait.

That image above is the opening screen on the iPad version of the app.  The opening screen for the iPhone version is different.  Oh, by the way, it’s a universal app.  That means it not only works on but also actually optimized for both the iPad and iPhone.  Now I haven’t tested whether or not the data syncs up so I’ll have to report back if it does, because that will make this app invaluable.  As it is, it’s pretty awesome already.  Provided by National Public Radio, the app gives access to a huge library of music and audio programming, streaming radio and Pandora-like radio stations by genre.  Better yet, it lets your pick and choose from the library of music to either listen to on the spot or queue up in a playlist.

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