Ever since I got myself an Apple iPad (64GB, Wifi only) in early April, people have been asking me why I bought it, and how I use it. These questions just got more common once people saw me on the NDTV techlife awards, with the iPad glued to my hand. And since Twitter is such a “smoke puff in a hurricane” medium, people keep asking the same questions over and over again – enough for me to put together this blog post. Which has been languishing for a while now, until Kishore Bhargava, who was also putting together a rather broader post about iPad usage, pinged me and asked me for inputs. I’ll update this post and link to his when he publishes it.
1. Why did you buy an iPad?
Short answer: My name is Atul Chitnis. That should completely and comprehensively answer your question.
Long answer: I have, for several years now, been studying and talking about the concept of The Next Billion Users – people without a PC/Mac background using technology the way we use our wristwatches (we don’t think of our wristwatches as “portable time computing devices”, do we?) and who have consciously stayed away from PC/Mac-type of devices, because they are “computers”.
I have been gathering information that I can share with developers who need to target this new audience – you wont believe how hard it is for a developer with a PC background to wrap his brain around the concept of “technology for non-technology-users”.
The iPhone, the iPod Touch and now the iPad (and soon to come iTV) all address this audience, not the lemming-like PC (or even Mac) crowd.
So I got myself an iPad in early April 2010 for one primary reason: I assumed that the iPad would represent a tipping point, and I needed to be able to understand it and its use by The Next Billion Users.
Oh, and it seemed like a fun device.
Both points proved to be right.
2. What do you primarily use the iPad for?
Short answer: to feed Steve Jobs.
Long answer: I don’t use it as a notebook replacement. I don’t even use it as a computer. In fact, the second someone suggests that I “try this great ssh app for the iPad”, my hackles stand up. I do have a few “computing tools” on the iPad, but I deliberately bury them on one of the screens.
I don’t do wordprocessing, I don’t do spreadsheets, I don’t create presentations. I barely create email, though I do use it for reading mail.
And I don’t take my iPad to client meetings (it distracts too much and wastes time – for that kind of work, I prefer a notebook, or a USB stick with my stuff on it).
I know that many people actually acquire the iPad for “zap value”, but the iPad isn’t a one-to-many device, it is a personal device, and though it does have a VGA out adaptor, that is defeating the purpose of the device.
I use the iPad the way I expect The Next Billion Users will use it – as a personal content consumption device, without consciously doing so.
Since I got the iPad, I have watched children, grand-dads, housewives and other people (who wouldn’t use a PC/Mac even if someone held a gun to their heads) take to the iPad like fish to water.
Clearly, Apple is onto something that the others are missing, and I want in on that.
3. What are some of the apps you use often?
Short answer: Steve Jobs ain’t gonna starve.
Long answer: I have 200+ apps on my iPad, and at least 600 more on my mac, downloaded over time.
I have been an iOS user since 2008 (ever since the concept of iOS apps and the AppStore kicked off), and I have been downloading (and often paying for) apps for ages. Since all these apps also work on the iPad, I naturally had a good selection to start off with when I got my iPad.
Some of the more common ones I use:
- Safari, Email. iPod, Maps, Photos, Youtube and Videos: Built-in apps I can’t do without. In particular I use Videos to watch video podcasts (will make a separate post about that) and movies, especially when I am on the move.
- iBooks: I have been reading eBooks since the mid 90′s, and hence have a HUGE collection of ebooks. Using Calibre, it was a cinch to convert them to ePub format and install them in iBooks. I think that iBooks could be done a whole lot better, but it (along with the Kindle app) is a usable way to read books.
- Last.fm: LAST.FM client (only available in US, UK & DE appstores)
- Kindle: I own a couple of physical Amazon Kindles, and honestly – I prefer those for reading books. But in a crunch, the Kindle app lets me read them as well.
- Facebook: I don’t actually use the Facebook app for iOS on the iPad, because it isn’t native iPad, and in any case, the iPad is big enough to simply use the Facebook site in the browser. Not that I use Facebook that much.
- MindNode: A very nice mindmap tool that I also use on my Mac, but it makes much more sense on the iPad. I use mindmaps a lot while brainstorming, so this tools gets heavily used.
- Goodreader: The Swiss Army Knife of PDF reading and file management.
- Pulse: RSS reader par excellence.
- Mundu IM, Mundu Radio, Spokn and Mundu SMS: Instant Messaging, Internet Radio, Voice over IP and SMS apps from Geodesic.
- Air Video: Let’s me watch videos stored on a computer on the network, with on-the-fly conversion. I’d rate this one as one of the top apps I use. Also great for converting AVI/MKV/etc to iPad/iPhone/iPod compatible m4v format.
- SimpleNote: A simple note taking app that syncs to the web, and has clients for almost any device and OS. Once I make a note with it, it is available on any of my devices.
- Toodledoo: Great ToDo app, with lots of bells and whistles. Replaced Things on my iPad after the Things author tried to gouge his iPhone customers.
- Echofon: I have tried other twitter clients, but until Twitter/Tweetie for iPad comes out (its a iPhone-only app now), this is my top client that I also use on my iPhone.
- We Rule: Think Farmville for the iPad – but no Facebook required
- Angry Birds: Terribly addictive game!
- Scrabble: Fantastic version of this game, and even lets you use your iPhones & iPods as “tile racks”.
- Mahjongg 2 HD: What can I say – I am a Mahjongg addict. It calms me and provides me endless hours of gameplay.
- Myst: If I have to tell you what Myst is, then you probably are not much of a game-player Technically a PC game, but makes far more sense on a toouch device like the iPad.
- Bejeweled 2: Bejewelled has been on my mobile devices since the 90′s. Hopelessly addictive.
- Cool Hunting: Find and read about cool stuff in art, tech and other things.
- Nimbuzz: An all-in-one IM app that also does VoIP. I use it rarely (I use Mundu IM and Spokn far more) but keep it around to troubleshoot connections or the rare time that I use Yahoo Messenger.
- Billings: I am a professional consultant. Tool of my trade.
- Idea Sketch Another mindmap-kind of app. Rarely used, but useful as an outliner.
- MagCloud: A great app for discovering magazines on the net.
- ITC Mobile: Apple’s app to track AppStore sales.
- Amazon.com: I have to tell you what Amazon.com is????
- houzz: Heavily used (along with similar apps) during the design and construction phases of my house.
- WebMD: OK, so we all have our little hurts and aches. This one lets me at least figure out the possible issues.
- Firefox Home: Syncs my Firefox bookmarks and other info (including open tabs) with my other devices
- Clockradio: Nice app to show me a clock and play internet radio when I am not using the iPad.
- Dropbox: Really – I need to tell you what Dropbox is?
- Setlist: App to show me songs in a setlist while I am practicing guitar, also lyrics and other useful info.
- L&M Guitar Gibson’s guitar tuner, metronome & Chord diagrams
- Remote: Remote control for iTunes
- PressReader: My daily fix of newspapers from across the world.
- Skype: Skype is… well.. Skype. ’nuff said.
- Kayak: Flight timings, routes, tracking, etc.
- iBanner HD: Great app for running LED banners. Good for telling people on stage that they should hurry up and finish, so we can go have food.
- VNC: The only PC centric app – used to access my Macs and other VNC-capable devices.
- Google Earth: Fantastic version of Google Earth for the iPad.
- iDraft: Great sketching app. Especially nice for simulated press-sensitivity and variable thickness on the fly.
- Epicurious: A gorgeous cookery book.
- Aquarium: Does nothing but show fish in an aquarium, but the sound makes people rush to the bathroom
Many of these apps also exist on the iPhone and I use them there as well.
Note that I also bought and have installed Pages, Numbers and Keynote for the iPad, but I don’t use them for anything but demonstrating them to people who want to know about them
This is far from a comprehensive list, and keeps changing as I discover new apps. Unfortunately, no one has written an AppList kind of application that looks at all installed apps, looks them up on the appstore and creates an exportable document that lists the apps, descriptions and frequency of use. (Hint, that’s an app idea you could exploit!)