Ten months into using it, I’m finding the iPad to be my preferred mobile working platform. When I leave the house these days, my iPad is what I take with me, not my MacBook. The only reason my MacBook makes the trip is if I’m going to play World of Warcraft, or I really need access to a local file storage.
It’s not all gumdrops and unicorn tears, though. There are some serious shortcomings I hope Apple fixes in future hardware and software releases, and the unveiling of the next generation of iPad Mar. 2 is a perfect opportunity to see some of these dreams realized. Here’s what I’d love to see, from a business user’s perspective.
Matte Screen. It seems I always get stuck under a light when I’m typing on my iPad. The resulting glare is killer. I really hope Apple gives us a matte screen as an option. This will also make reading outdoors a whole lot easier, rendering Amazon’s Kindle ad campaign less potent.
Rear-facing Camera. It’s a given the next iPad will have a camera, most likely a front-facing one for FaceTime. However, for business uses, I’m a strong advocate of a rear-facing camera. While the iPad isn’t a good alternative to an iPhone as an out-and-about camera, when I’m in meetings or a lecture, I’d miss having the rear camera to integrate a picture of the whiteboard into my notes. Also, I can see the rear-facing camera as a huge boon to field service personnel.
Support for Bluetooth Remotes. This may be a software issue, but I’m hoping Apple allows me to use a Bluetooth remote when giving presentations with the iPad. Right now, the lack of any remote for iOS Keynote is a major downfall.
Pass-through Accessories. The VGA dock connector is great, but Apple needs to make a solution where I can use that and charge my iPad at the same time for when I’m giving presentations. I also tend to hook up my iPad to a monitor for watching videos, so being able to charge and watch is a definite necessity.
Centralized Document Storage. The biggest problem I have with the current iPad is how hard it is to move data from one app to another in iOS. Plus, using iTunes to side-load a file into an app’s sandbox is cumbersome. My hope is Apple creates a Documents app similar to the Photos app. If you connect a USB storage device, it would ask if you want to import files (and allow you to choose which ones are imported), and it would make these files available to all applicable third-party apps. This will greatly improve interoperability.
Uploading in Mobile Safari. The second biggest problem is that Mobile Safari can’t upload files.This is a gigantic pain. It means I can’t use my iPad to upload files via my school’s Blackboard, insert inline pictures with WordPress’s web UI, send files using a corporate webmail client, or do just about anything else involving uploading from the web.
Better Bluetooth Control. I mentioned I want Bluetooth remote support, but overall, I need better control of my Bluetooth devices. For starters, the Bluetooth range is a little long — I’ve walked 50′ away from my keyboard and still had it paired. This is fantastic for a remote, but a pain when I need to type on the virtual keyboard. Unfortunately, the only “clean” way I’ve found to shut off the keyboard and not have to re-pair it is to shut off Bluetooth altogether. I’d like to be able to pause an attached device, or specify a smaller range.
Overall, I’m fairly happy with using my iPad as a mobile writing platform. It has its limitations, but I think the advantages outweigh the negatives. It’s lighter than my MacBook, it’s a wonderful device to read and surf on, and when I need to bang out some copy with a Bluetooth keyboard it’s fantastic. I’m going to be at a local four-day convention soon and I won’t be bringing my MacBook with me; everything I need to do, I can do on my iPad. Even still, improvements like these will go a long way towards removing some of the iPad’s limitations.
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