This app junkie prefers to wait until next year before upgrading to a new iPad

Mar 9, 2012

I was surprised by the visceral punch that came with not seeing Steve Jobs take the stage at yesterday’s Apple event. It’s not the first time, but it still feels wrong. Tim Cook did a great job and I had to chuckle when, while comparing the iPad to a Samsung tablet, he said, “you can […]

I was surprised by the visceral punch that came with not seeing Steve Jobs take the stage at yesterday’s Apple event. It’s not the first time, but it still feels wrong. Tim Cook did a great job and I had to chuckle when, while comparing the iPad to a Samsung tablet, he said, “you can do the tweets.” For a moment it was like he was channelling George Bush discussing “the Google.”

That was the first impression I had after stalking Apple’s web site waiting for them to post the keynote. I was impressed by Tim Cook, but there was no jaw-dropping moment like we sometimes saw with Steve Jobs.

Here’s what I saw. First a whole lot of nothing: Siri will be rolling out on Japanese iPhones and Apple TV now supports 1080p resolution and looks better. There was a lot of hope for Siri on the iPad, but its not to be. Frankly, I don’t see the need for it on what Cook twice called “the poster child of the post-PC world.”

Thoughts on Apple TV

That phrase is very telling, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I want to touch on Apple TV. I don’t think anyone realistically expected the iTV, but Apple is going to have the same tepid success with Apple TV in any resolution. The only way I would convert – that is drop my cable provider and Netflix and rely exclusively on Apple for content – is if they offer a subscription service with unlimited access. For new-to-DVD movies and music purchases we’re all accustomed to paying per item. But for streaming older movies or anything on TV, consumers want a flat fee. Were Apple to offer a few subscription levels Apple TV would be a must-have in my home. The way it stands now, it’s a $100 box that gives me access to what I have already or can get cheaper elsewhere with no extra hardware.

The main event

But, to the main event. The New iPad, which is what the new model is officially called, first startled me with its ubiquitous moniker. But remember that quote about a post-PC world? Apple is not taking aim at its own bread and butter by relegating the smartphone or computer to the past. They want the iPad to replace our gaming consoles, e-readers, and netbooks. Perhaps dropping the number is a reflection of that. I tell people I have an iMac. I can’t remember the last time I mentioned specifically which iMac unless it was relevant to an article. If the iPad is to be a post-PC computer, Apple likely wants to adopt computer, not smartphone, jargon to switch our thinking.

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It is also a nod to shelf life, which is reflected by the fact that Apple is not discontinuing the iPad 2, only dropping the prices. I’ve had my iMac for three years now and it still feels newish. I’ll upgrade in a year or two, but the constant pressure on consumers to buy a brand new device in a semi-annual ritual is too much on wallets and psyches. What I got out of the event was that The New iPad is awesome, but my iPad 2 is still a great gadget that will run all but what seems like a select few gamer-games.

The quad-core graphics processor is hard to resist, but in truth I don’t need it. I am not a hardcore gamer (for whom this new iPad must be a dream) and while I spend whole days making art and playing with pictures, I‘m a dabbler and have never found myself limited by the iPad 2. But the other group that will likely see this as a must-have are professional photographers and digital artists, particularly when coupled with the new Retina display.

Retinas and cameras

Apple was quick to laud the new 2048×1536 iPad display. App presenters from Autodesk and Epic Games peppered their speech with terms like “luscious” and “visual feast”. And this is really what Apple is selling. Scott Brodrick in Apple’s video states, “The display is what the iPad is all about.” Once I had a chance to see some of the apps and particularly the crisp text, I confess I was almost drooling.

The upgrade to the camera is not impressive. The back camera can now shoot 5-megapixel images and videos are HD, but I confess I have never seen how the iPad is a useful camera except when it truly is the only one you have with you. I love the voice dictation, and think it’s the only real use for Siri technology on a tablet. As to 4G LTE, like most consumers I am sticking with Wi-Fi.

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Apps for all

As an app junkie, my attention, and the audience’s, was most captured when things turned from iPad specs to software. The iWork updates are great, but for me the best news is iLife’s suite of consumer-oriented creativity products, especially now it’s complete with the introduction of iPhoto.

GarageBand now has iCloud support, Smart Strings, and I can’t wait to try a Jam Session. iMovie trailers are awesome. And iPhoto is a star. It’s brilliant: simple, innovative, and from my 10-minute test, it just works. The use of brushes is a stroke of genius. And finally, it offers easy uploading to Facebook and Flickr.

The last thing I took away was what Cook tucked into the end of the presentation when he announced that iPad 2s were not going anywhere. Apple has made an aggressive push in the educational realm, targeting high school adoption. They have the best infrastructure and the finest partnerships, but the big issue is the prohibitive cost of putting a device into every pupil’s hand. While $399 hardly makes the new base model cheap, it puts it closer to Amazon’s Kindle Fire. That has done so well because it’s primarily a consumption device, but one with apps, and people can pick them up for less than half a paycheck.

I’m not sure if I’m upgrading. I have to wait and see what users and critics report when they have them in hand. But I’m actually grateful that I don’t feel the pressure to line up next week. And, if enough apps take advantage of the better screen and processor I’m sure I’ll be buying soon.

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Lisa Caplan

Lisa Caplan writes app lists and guides as well as reviewing iOS apps and games on various tech sites, most recently on her fledgling iPhone and iPad giveaway blog, AppTudes. She is thrilled to be joining the stellar reviewing team at Appolicious. Located in a balmy Montreal suburb, Lisa has an advanced degree in Creative Writing, and has had an Apple computer by her side since 1979! She is a talentless art nut, bibliophile and accessory junkie. Lisa looks forward to sharing her gaming addiction and love for all tech that promotes culture, communication, social awareness and education at every level.

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