As a happy iPad user and one who chose the iPad because of specific features rather than “because it’s cool”, it’s often easy to be mistaken as an Apple fanboy. That is especially the case because of all the misconceptions people have about what the iPad can and cannot do, such as transfer files through USB, outputting video trough HDMI and so on. Rest assured that I in no way think the iPad is Thor’s gift to mankind, so in no particular order, here are 10 things that I don’t like about the thing. Note: if something’s not on the list, it simply means that I didn’t fit it in, or I don’t personally consider it an issue- it doesn’t mean it’s not an issue for someone else.
#1: iPhone apps are still only 320×480
The iPad can run any iPhone app in either 1x mode (match pixel for picel) or 2x mode (“full screen). When the iPhone 4 came out and had a 640×960 screen, people thought that it would be the end of pixelated iPhone-only apps on the iPad and the beginning of apps that were still physically oversized but at least not upscaled to look like a NES game. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Apple decided that wasn’t going to happen. Why? Who knows, but it’s one of the most annoying feature exclusions on the iPad in my book.
#2: Default multitasking on 256MB RAM is stupid
Sometimes it feels as though most of the time I spend using the iPad is for closing apps that run in the background. Despite uninformed Apple fanboys trying to convince everyone that the OS is intelligent enough to allocate enough RAM to the primary application on its own, anyone with half a brain who has ever used any iOS device for more than 5 minutes will tell you otherwise. If you want to make sure you don’t end up with a stop motion interface, you basically have to clear all running apps when you launch a new one. What I want is to be able to choose what apps will run in the background and which ones will not. Some apps are even more job when they don’t close when you exit them, specifically apps who refresh on startup (such as postal tracking apps, social media apps) but won’t do so when you just “return” to them. I see no reason why a program that takes 2 seconds to start and that you use maybe once a day should be ready to continue where you left off. It should be enough to tell music apps and similar apps to multitask and then have the rest act like they’re actually running on a device with 256MB RAM. I’m sure the iPad 2 will have more RAM, but that’s still no reason to let apps go nuts all over the place.
#3: Crappy apps and messy app store
There are who knows how many apps on iOS now, and even though no other OS including Android is anywhere close to matching the amount of useful apps, most of them are still bullshit. I wish Apple was a bit more “evil” and “unfair” with regards to developers who spew out crappy apps left and right in the hope that something will stick. I’m talking fart apps, flashlight apps, books-as-apps (seriously, there are bookstore apps for a reason) and any other sort of obscure apps that only the developer themselves ever download. Even if denying them access is over the top, I wish they’d create an A list and a B list and put all the apps with questionable usefulness in the latter group. The app store is hard enough to navigate as is with the lack of subcategories in the mobile version of the iPad app store, so anything that helps to make it easier to find apps would be a big plus.
#4: Podcast subscriptions
While I understand while iTunes is needed for some things, I do not understand why in Thor’s name we can’t have podcast subscriptions on the iPad itself. You can go on iTunes and find any podcast episode you want and stream or download, sure, but forget about having your list of podcasts automatically updated with new episodes. Make it WiFi only, make it require a manual push of a button and a confirm to download, do whatever you want- but add the feature.
#5: Bluetooth file transfer
While most people I know have moved on from the kind of ancient technology that still relies on Bluetooth to transfer files, some still have those kinds of phones. The Bluetooth receiver is already there, so just add the feature to receive files via it! At the very least let someone else make an app that does it.
#6: Audio plugins
The iPad is an ironic bastard. On one hand it has features such as gapless playback and support for USB audio devices, but on the other hand you don’t even have an equalizer. Add some APIs to let developers create plugins for the audio player! I want my BBE effects on the iPad, and I want them NOW. At least this way we wouldn’t have to use hardware solutions to get some audio enhancements.
While this will no longer be an issue with WiFi hotspot features on the iPhone, that doesn’t excuse the last year where the iPhone has had perfectly functional tethering capabilities and the iPad has had absolutely no way of using them, Bluetooth or USB. All in the name of selling more 3G iPads that also cost more, I assume.
#8: Proprietary Mobile Me bullshit
Third party apps are pretty good at integrating things like Dropbox, but the same can’t be said for Apple’s own apps- included and optional. They prefer you buy a Mobile Me account to do things like file sync and contact backup, even though those features are readily available in the shape of Dropbox and Google Contacts.
#9: Web browser plugins
Add plugins to the web browser. Period. This should have been there from day 1, and I don’t care if other browsers don’t have it either. I want LastPass and Xmarks in Safari, and I want it last year.
#10: Game controllers
The iPad is a great gaming device, but limited byt the lack of physical controls. Some companies have tried to fix this, but Apple hasn’t made it easy for them. The iPad should have shipped with an open invitation to use readily available APIs to link on-screen touch controls with plug-in (or wireless) controllers. Give Nintendo the final death blow once and for all!